The hırka-i şerif, the cloak of the Prophet Muhammad, is now on display at the Hırka-ı Şerif Mosque in İstanbul's Fatih district.
The hırka-i şerif, the cloak of the Prophet Muhammad, which is normally on display throughout the month of Ramadan, was not exhibited last year due to restoration work on the cloak. İstanbul Governor Hüseyin Avni Mutlu, İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Kadir Topbaş and İstanbul Mufti Mustafa Çağrıcı were at the opening ceremony, held, the first Friday of Ramadan.
"Do not show your respect to the materialistic side of the hırka-i şerif but to God and Prophet Muhammad. The hırka-i şerif is a cloak like those we all have. Sure, this one has a historical importance and value. What makes it valuable is that it is a gift of our Prophet. Thus, we should show our respect not to the material of the cloak but to God and our holy Prophet. We should not degrade and make our visits invaluable by asking for favors from the cloak itself. We should only understand this cloak as a gift of our Prophet," Mufti Çağrıcı said.
He also called people to respect each other while visiting the hırka-i şerif, stating: "We occasionally face crowds here. While trying to visit the hırka-i şerif and showing respect to it, some can be disrespectful to people, who are most gracious beings in God's creation. Thus, we have to be careful during our visits to the Prophet's cloak."
Barış Samir of the Köprülü family, the current heiress of the relic, says the holy historical object was brought to İstanbul by Ottoman Sultan Abdülhamit I in 1611. "This year, our people are visiting the cloak for the 400th time. By the will of God, I hope that people will have the opportunity to visit this sacred trust for many hundreds of years to come. I hope we understand the message behind our beloved Prophet gifting this cloak to a Yemeni shepherd he had never before seen," she said.
Samir, who is a descendant of Uwais al-Qarani, the person to whom Prophet Muhammad gifted his cloak to, stated that the cloak was under restoration for more than a year, and thus it was not exhibited during last year's Ramadan.
Samir stated that the hırka-i şerif was being cared for in traditional ways until this year. "The cloak used to be folded and put into a silver container and this container would be bundled with fabrics and then placed into another silver container. Our ancestors have kept the sacred trust safe like this and so it has been preserved through the years until today," Samir said.
"Our family turned to the İstanbul Governor's Office in 2008 to ask for help in restoring the cloak. However, an expert capable of performing such a delicate restoration could not be found in Turkey, so we had to contact foreign experts," she added.
The experts said it was very risky to exhibit the hırka-i şerif to visitors in its previous condition. Thus the historic cloak was put aside for little while. Italian conservator Marina Zingarelli worked on restoring the sacred trust. Zingarelli used electronic tools to find and remove dust, humidity and dirt from the cloak. All this was completed successfully.
Samir says the hırka-i şerif will be exhibited to the public until Laylat al-Qadr (Kadir Gecesi in Turkish), the night between the 26th and 27th days of Ramadan. This night is significant because the Quran is believed to have been revealed to the Prophet starting on this date.
Large crowds turned out to the exhibit following the opening ceremony. Many were emotional and prayed during their visits while some stated that everyone should also come and see the hırka-i şerif and experience the emotional visit to the Prophet's cloak.
(Cihan news agency)