Sultan Selim I (1512-1520) inaugurated a new
ceremony at Topkapı Palace after he conquered Egypt in 1517 and
brought the holy relics back to Topkapı Palace. From then on, every
year on the fıfteenth day of the month of Ramazan, the long sleeved
mantle belonging to the Prophet Muhammed was removed from its chest
and reverently kissed by the sultan, his vezirs and other
dignitaries. In preparation for this event the chest containing the
holy relics was removed to the Revan Pavilion, while the Pavilion of
the Holy Mantle was cleaned thoroughly, its walls washed with rose
water, its columns polished, and the air scented with incense made
from musk, aloes and other aromatics. Then the chest was carried
back to its place by fifteen royal attendants reciting prayers.
Footprint of Prophet Muhammed.
When the day of the ceremony arrived high-ranking
state officials, clerics, and the commanders of the Janissaries and
horse guards gathered in front of the Babü's-Saade Gate leading from
the second into the third Court of Topkapı Palace, When the grand
vezir was informed that the şeyhülislam had arrived at Haghia
Sophia, he joined those waiting at the gate and accompanied them to
the noon prayers at Haghia Sophia. Meanwhile the sultan performed
his prayers in his own apartments.
of Probhet Muhammed
After prayers, everyone returned to the palace and
followed the sultan in procession to the Pavilion of the Holy
Mantle. While hafiz recited the Koran, the sultan opened the chest
with the gold key which he always carried with him, revealing a gold
casket wrapped in seven layers of green silk velvet finely
embroidered with silver, Having removed these, he unlocked the
casket with another gold key and lifted the two parts of the lid.
The bow of Muhammed is 118 cm long and made of
kind of reed stem.
Ahmed I had a case made of gilt and silver niello
made for the bow.
Inside lay the Holy Mantle, also wrapped in seven
rich cloths, Lifting out the mantle, the sultan kissed it. Touched
it to his face and eyes, and asked for the intercession of Muhammed,
Then the şeyhülislam, grand vezir and other dignitaries indicated by
the sultan also kissed the mantle and touched it to their eyes.
The casket containing the tooth of Muhammed
Over the centuries not only was this ceremony held
every year, but throughout the year the Koran was continuously
chanted in the Pavilion of the Holy Mantle, This was believed to
bring about the victory of good and the defeat of evil, During the
reign of Sultan Selim
I, the sultan himself was the fortieth of the forty Koran readers
who recited from memory. This practice was revived in October 1996.
The letter sent by
Muhammed to Müseylimet-ül Kezzap
The staff of Moses made from
date palm wood which according to the History of the
Prophets came from heaven
A sealed bottle containing holy Zemzem water
After Selim's conquest of Egypt, the keys of Mecca
and the holy relics passed to the Ottomans. Some of these relics
were taken to Istanbul and others placed in the tomb of Muhammed,
Over the centuries the Ottoman, sultans and many other individuals
sent precious gifts to the tomb.
The hilt of Osman's sword is carved from black
stone, and the crossbar is decorated in relief in gold and
The sword of Muhammed is 99 cm in
length with a gold hilt. Both hilt and crossbar are studded with
rubies and turquoises in gold mounts, and one side of the blade
is decorated with flowers in relief.
The scabbard hilt of Osman's sword is decorated
During the First World War, when the Turkish
garrison withdrew from Medina, the holy relics that were in the tomb
were sent to Topkapı Palace for safekeeping, The holy relics which
had been taken to Istanbul in the 16th century were kept in various
parts of the over the palace centuries, including the Imperial
Treasury, the Armourer's Treasury, the Revan Pavilion, the Harem,
and from1808 onwards the Privy Chamber. It was Sultan Mahmud II
(1808-1839) who allocated this pavilion, which had been the Sultan's
privy chamber since the time of Mehmed II (1451-1481), to the holy
relics. From then on the Privy Chamber, Which contained the throne
room and other royal apartments, became known as the Pavilion of the
Holy Mantle. The throne room was the main state room in the
building. distinguished by a higher dome. The throne Which stood
here was made by Derviş Zilli Mehmed, chief goldsmith to Murad IV
The white felt cap of Veysel Karani and its green
The scabbard of the sword of Muhammed is covered
with green velvet embroidered with gold wire flowers
Today the holy mantle and its casket, the holy
standard, two swords and abow belonging to the Prophet Muhammed can
be seen here. The Destimal Room, which was restored in 1997, was
originally used by the pages who waited on the sultan. Here can be
seen two ancient manuscripts of the Hümeze and Tekasur suras that
are believed to be among the earliest Koran texts, written by
revelation scribes, letters written by Muhammed to the false prophet
Müseylemetül Kezzab and the governor of Ahsa, the Koran which Osman
was reading when he was killed, the stone cauldron of Abraham, the
sword of David, the headdress of Veysel Karani, seven hairs from
Muhammed's beard, the footprint of the Prophet, the sword of Osman,
cases for miniature Korans, relief wood carving of the Aqsa Mosque,
bottles of Zemzem water, Kaaba covers, and a handkerchief and block
stamp belonging to Joseph.
In the Arzhane, where the sultan used to receive official writs, can
today be seen the gold case of Hacer-ül-Esved, the letter sent by
Muhammed to Mukavkıs, ruler of the Copts, another footprint of the
Prophet, his seal, caskets containing soil from his tomb and a
fragment (now reduced to dust) of his tooth, and hairs from his
Topkapı Palace became a museum in 1924, and the holy relics were
placed on public view on 31 August 1962.
* Hilmi Aydın is Keeper of the
Holy Relics at Topkapı Palace.
THY Skylife Magazine November 2002 Page 90-96