News ID: 194772
Published: 0148 GMT June 14, 2017

Prophet's (PBUH) cloak attracts Ramadan faithful in Istanbul

Prophet's (PBUH) cloak attracts Ramadan faithful in Istanbul

A long queue of men and women standing in separate lines extends from an Istanbul mosque to see a centuries-old garment pressed down flat inside a glass exhibition case: The Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH) sacred cloak made of linen, cotton and silk.

The Hirka-i Serif (the Noble Cloak) was brought to Istanbul in the seventeenth century, at a time when the Ottoman Empire controlled much of the Islamic world deep into today's Saudi Arabia.

Every year, during the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, the cloak is put on special display at the Hirka-i Serif mosque in Istanbul, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors.

The garment had been entrusted to Uwais al-Qarni, who went in the seventh century to Medina to see Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) but had to return to Yemen due to his mother's illness without seeing the Prophet (PBUH).

Impressed by the story, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) gave his cloak via companions to Al-Qarni as a present and he received the garment in Yemen.

Al-Qarni had no children and the relic was then preserved by his relatives, Istanbul mufti Hasan Kamil Yilmaz said.

In 1611, Ottoman Sultan Ahmed I brought the holy cloak to Istanbul from Kuasadasi in western Turkey where Al-Qarni's relatives had preserved it.

"Since then Hirka-i Serif has been in Istanbul," Yilmaz told AFP.

And in 1851, Sultan Abdul Majid built the Hirka-i Serif mosque in the Fatih District with the goal of preserving and exhibiting the cloak.

"There are two keys to the cloak — one  held by the foundation and the other by the family," he said.

The sacred garment has passed on from one generation to another and its current head keeper is Baris Samir — the 59th generation grandson of the Al-Qarni who was first given the garment.

"It's a very honorable duty. We are very happy to perform it, and have such a responsibility," Samir told AFP. "It's also a tough job, it is a tough responsibility, morally and financially."

Zehra, 48, said it was a great happiness for the Muslims even to lay eyes on the Prophet's (PBUH) cloak. "I believe that brings us closer to him."

Every year, over one million believers come to see the sacred garment from all over the world.

"People from Siberia to Africa, from America to Far East come and see the prophet's cloak," Samir said.

"The number of visitors usually exceeds one million. We receive many visitors especially on the Laylat al-Qadr (Night of Destiny marking when the Holy Qur'an was revealed) because the cloak can be seen till the morning."

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