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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

In Istanbul, Tombs of Non secular Figures Nonetheless Draw Pilgrims


Years in the past, when her sister was identified with ovarian most cancers, Mahire Turk sought divine intervention.

She trekked to a shrine atop a hill overlooking the Bosporus, sat below an ornate dome near the grave of a Sufi grasp who died practically 400 years in the past and prayed intensely for her sister to beat the illness.

After chemotherapy, her sister was declared most cancers free — and is now anticipating a child, mentioned Ms. Turk, 40, who works in a pharmaceutical warehouse.

So to today, when worries cloud her thoughts, Ms. Turk, like lots of her compatriots on this historical, sprawling metropolis of 16 million, visits considered one of its many shrines to long-dead spiritual figures to hunt a non secular enhance.

“These are the protectors of Istanbul,” Ms. Turk mentioned throughout a return pilgrimage to the shrine of Aziz Mahmud Hudayi, the place she had prayed for her sister. “I’m certain that if I pay them a go to, they may shield me, too.”

Centuries of civilization have left Istanbul dotted with such graves. Extra than simply historic relics, many are well-kept, residing websites that obtain crowds of tourists in search of quiet locations to hope, make needs and unburden themselves from the woes of the fashionable metropolis.

The shrines mix Islamic devotion, Turkish historical past and Istanbul folklore. The town’s sailors, for instance, have historically seen Aziz Mahmud Hudayi and three different males buried close to the Bosporus, which flows by way of Istanbul, because the waterway’s protectors.

A number of the shrines mark the resting locations of documented historic figures. Others are of extra doubtful historicity, which doesn’t diminish their function within the non secular lifetime of town, a job that endures largely unaffected by Turkey’s up to date political and financial gyrations.

Turkey’s spiritual authorities have posted indicators at some websites to remind guests that Islam forbids praying to anybody however God. However most of the trustworthy nonetheless search the intercession of the interred to assist them land jobs, purchase vehicles, get wholesome, discover spouses or have kids. And a few categorical a deep affinity for the lifeless.

“I like him,” Fatma Akyol, a college scholar in theology, mentioned of Yahya Efendi, a Sixteenth-century Sufi scholar and poet who now rests in a shrine on the southwestern financial institution of the Bosporus. “I go to him fairly often.”

Yahya Efendi’s tomb sits below a pistachio-colored dome in an ethereal room surrounded by the graves of 10 others, together with his mom, spouse and son. The complicated has separate prayer amenities for women and men, each with commanding views of the Bosporus. Outdoors, stone paths wind by way of a graveyard shaded by towering timber to a terrace the place guests take images.

One current afternoon, cats dozed within the mausoleum’s marble entryway as guests drank from a stone fountain and eliminated their sneakers earlier than coming into to hope. Dad and mom introduced their kids. A mosque preacher with an extended beard mentioned he had introduced his spouse and her sister “to obtain non secular well being.” A young person in a Metallica T-shirt emerged from the mausoleum, retrieved his sneakers and wandered off.

Ms. Akyol mentioned she typically spent hours praying and studying scriptures within the shrine. She shrugged off warnings about in search of assist from the lifeless, evaluating it to working a connection to get a job.

“If you ask for one thing from God, those that are beloved by God could be a go-between,” she mentioned.

The shrine of Aziz Mahmud Hudayi sits on the waterway’s reverse financial institution.

Guests come to hope close to his grave, typically returning to distribute sweets after their prayers have been answered, as they do at many shrines.

Outdoors, academics advised ladies from an Islamic summer season faculty to maintain quiet throughout their go to. A brother and sister from a Turkish Black Sea city mentioned they every had been in search of “a benevolent affair,” that means they hoped to get married. And a retired man mentioned the buried mystic had walked on water throughout the Bosporus, proving his non secular prowess.

Omer Arik, the vice chairman of the muse that oversees the positioning, advised a special model of the mystic’s story, by which the mystic guided a boatman throughout the water throughout a storm, utilizing a route that’s nonetheless named for him. It didn’t hassle Mr. Arik that some guests believed a extra miraculous, water-walking model, he mentioned, citing a Turkish proverb: “The sheikh doesn’t fly. The follower makes him fly.”

Close to the northern finish of the Bosporus’s western financial institution sits the shrine of Telli Baba, or the Father of the Threads, a determine whose story is imbued with a lot lore that even the retired sailor who oversees the shrine doesn’t declare to know his precise historical past, and even his full id.

He may need served within the sultan’s military through the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman military in 1453. He may need carried in his turban a size of silvery thread that brides historically braided into their hair as an indication of his devotion to the Almighty (in all probability the supply of his nickname).

His grave, in a small room with hanging lamps, is roofed with silver threads. Guests lower a bit after they make a want and are imagined to return it after it comes true.

Hatice Aydin, a retired instructor who cleans the shrine and feeds the native cats, mentioned a minority of tourists wished for kids and new jobs.

“Most of them are searching for husbands,” she mentioned.

Positive sufficient, a preschool instructor quickly emerged from the shrine and revealed that she had been asking for a groom. It was her third go to.

Later, a younger lady appeared on the entrance in a blue hoop costume that was too giant to slot in the stairwell that led to the grave. Her uncle mentioned he had prayed there for her to get married and so had introduced her again on her engagement day. They snapped images close to the doorway and left.

Fatma Yilmaz, a monetary supervisor, got here bearing needs for herself and a lot of others, she mentioned. She lower 13 items of thread: 4 for her, 5 for her sister, one every for her son and her ex-husband, and two for pals.

“Now it’s on them,” she mentioned. “If their needs are accepted, they’ve to return right here.”

Atop a hill on the alternative financial institution stands the fourth of the Bosporus’s protectors, a shrine to Hazreti Yusa, or the prophet Joshua, who’s revered by Christians, Jews and Muslims.

An indication from the native spiritual authorities stops wanting claiming that he’s truly buried there, noting as an alternative that the positioning has held spiritual significance for a lot of centuries. The location is centered on a grave — a greater than 50-foot-long raised flower mattress. It might be that lengthy as a result of those that constructed it might not have recognized precisely the place the physique was buried and needed to verify it was coated.

One current night, Rumeysa Koc, 35, stood by the grave, her palms raised. She had come to Istanbul with a colleague to purchase merchandise for her ladies’s clothes line however had woken that morning after a horrible nightmare. The ladies had completed their work early and determined to squeeze in a shrine go to.

As they drove towards the shrine, she mentioned, she had obtained a name telling her that the very factor she had dreamed about — she declined to offer specifics — had not come to cross.

“With out even setting foot on this hill, God solved the difficulty for me,” Ms. Koc mentioned.

So on the grave she had given thanks, she mentioned, and left feeling that her day had been miraculous.

“I’m feeling free as a chook,” she mentioned.



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