A cloak worn by the Prophet Muhammad that was kept by the descendants of the man the prophet gave it to will be put on display for visitors after two years at the mosque carrying the relic's name in Istanbul. A popular place among the Muslim faithful, the site where the cloak was displayed was closed as part of measures against the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
The cloak is traditionally put on public display every Ramadan, the Muslim sacred month of fasting. Its custodians had planned to continue the restrictions this Ramadan due to concerns about the high number of coronavirus cases in December and January. However, they have now reversed the decision and announced that people can come to see the cloak at Hırka-ı Şerif (Holy Cloak) Mosque in light of the sharp decline in the number of COVID-19 cases.
Barış Samir, a descendant of Uwais al-Qarni, said the cloak would be revealed to visitors on Friday at 10 a.m. and will remain on show throughout the month.
Uwais al-Qarni, a Yemeni native, traveled to Medina to see the Prophet Muhammad in the seventh century but had to return to Yemen due to his mother's illness without seeing the prophet. Impressed by his story of filial piety, the prophet gifted his cloak to al-Qarni via companions and he received the garment in Yemen. One of the early believers, al-Qarni died some 24 years after the prophet and fought in the Muslim army during the time of Caliph Ali. Al-Qarni had no children and the relic was passed down to his brother and is still under the protection of the same family. The al-Qarni family lived in southern Anatolia for centuries; however, they later migrated to Kuşadası in the Aegean region. In the 17th century, Ottoman Sultan Ahmet I asked them to bring the holy relic to Istanbul where other holy relics of Islam were being preserved. After the cloak was taken to Istanbul, two keys were made, one for the sultan and one for the al-Qarni family, for the locked box that the cloak was displayed in.
Samir told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Tuesday that the cloak would be on display until April 29, one day before the eve of Ramadan Bayram, also known as Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday which marks the end of Ramadan. He said they only asked visitors to be careful against COVID-19. "We will have several restrictions in place and we appeal to visitors to comply with them," he said.
Istanbul hosts most of its holy relics at Topkapı Palace since Sultan Selim's conquest of Egypt in the 16th century, where he seized items of the prophet then in the custody of the Mamluk caliphate, along with the control of the global caliphate of the Muslims. Among them is a battle standard from the prophetic era, a tooth of the prophet and hair from the prophet's beard as well as his sandals and a bowl he used.