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Repose at Eyüp
1.       Roswitha
4132 posts
 08 Jun 2008 Sun 05:42 pm

The quarter that grew up around the tomb of Ebu Eyyub el-Ensari, Companion of the Prophet Muhammad, still preserves its age-old spiritual atmosphere.

It is rare in this world to come across an entire quarter of a city that has grown up around a single individual and takes its character entirely from him. But I know such a place: Eyüp on Istanbul’s Golden Horn, the original settlement founded by Mehmed the Conqueror, who ushered in a New Age with his conquest of the city in 1453. The Conqueror, who founded this settlement out of his deep veneration for Ebu Eyyub el-Ensari, Companion of the Prophet Muhammad. A hallowed quarter, rebuilt from top to bottom by architects with the inspiration they took from him, this individual, whom people had never once seen but whose sacred resting place they nevertheless wanted to visit at least once in their lives.

OPENING HIS HOME TO THE PROPHET

No one in the Islamic world has failed to hear of Halid bin Zeyd Ebu Eyyub el-Ensari (or Ansarî, a name that refers to the Prophet’s Helpers), who has played a key role in every phase of Eyüp’s development from its founding right up to the present. When the Prophet Muhammad fled from Mecca to Medina, every good Muslim wanted to have him as a guest in their home. So Muhammad decided to leave his camel Kusva untethered and stay at whatever place the camel strayed. Kusva went and stood in front of the home of Ebu Eyyub, where the Prophet thus became a guest for seven months. The connection between Ebu Eyyub, who fought alongside Muhammad in all his battles, and the eponymous quarter of Istanbul dates back to the year 668 when the Umayyad army, led by Yazid I, first set foot in the city it was hoping to conquer. Struck down by a violent illness in the heat of the battle, Ebu Eyyub made his will straightaway: “Bury me at the farthest point to which the Muslim armies advance”, he ordered. Shortly afterwards he succumbed to the disease, as did the Umayyads to the Byzantines. Taking a decision to retreat, the troops, albeit with a heavy heart, brought his body here for burial, for his wish was their command. Centuries later Istanbul became the object of a new siege; but this time the Byzantines raised the flag of surrender. Meanwhile, from the instant he entered the city, a question was on the Conqueror’s mind: where was the grave of Ebu Eyyub el-Ensari? Legend has it that Fatih’s mentor, Hodja Akşemseddin, was vouchsafed the answer to this question in a dream. And sure enough, when a search was made at the site indicated by the hodja, Ebu Eyyub’s grave turned up, and Fatih in turn had the first mosque complex in the city built there. Ever since the date of its construction, the Tomb of Eyüp Sultan Türbe has been a very important place for Muslims. As an indication of the great value they placed on the tomb and on Islam, the Ottoman Sultans upon ascending the throne would come here to be girded with one of the swords belonging to Muhammad or his Companions in a ceremony known as the ‘taklid-i seyf’. The site remains a popular destination with Muslims today, as it has been for centuries. Eyüp Sultan is thronged with hundreds of visitors every day of the week, praying silent prayers and making heartfelt offerings.

from SKYLIFE

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