In order to understand the contributions that Istanbul made to Islamic culture and civilization better, it is necessary to demonstrate in detail how religion was reflected in the daily life of the city. The initial step from this aspect was taken when Sultan Mehmed II transformed Hagia Sofia Church into a mosque on the second day after conquering the city, as well as when he ordered the construction of Eyüp and Fatih Mosques and their madrasas in the early days after the conquest.1 The prominent factors of religious life in Istanbul can be categorized under three headings: worship, education, and folkloric/religious or traditional.


Quite naturally, lifestyles based on worship in Istanbul included the various manifestations and practices of the five pillars of Islam, the Shahadah (testimony to the existence of one God), Salat (prayer), Sawm (fasting), Hajj (pilgrimage), and Zakat (alms giving).

Yahya Kemal’s statement regarding young Turkish children suggests the significance of the role these principles played in the religious lives of the Ottoman people, a people whose spirit, environment and land was formed on the foundations of Islam:

At the time of birth, the adhan (call to prayer) was recited in the child’s ear and they witnessed the elderly women praying in the rooms of their homes. They listened to the Qur’an recited on floor cushions on evenings of holy celebration. These children took the Book of Allah from the shelf, opened this book with their tiny hands and inhaled the spiritual fragrance, resembling rose, from the pages. Their first lesson was to learn the Bismillah (In the name of God), they rejoiced when the candles on the mosque lit up on the holy nights and when the cannonballs were fired during Ramadan and at Eid. They accompanied their fathers to the Eid prayers and listened to the echoes of the takbir (Allahu Akbar) in the mosques at sunset; indeed, these children were born into and experienced these phases of religion.2

Such statements, which encompass the lives of the Ottomans and emphasize the constituents of religion, also signify various other indispensable factors that made up the religious identity of the city, such as the mosques, imams and the neighborhoods.

Neighborhoods Based around Mosques

The mosques where people gather together five times a day, as in the examples given below, were the main locations not only for religious, but also worldly affairs. In addition to constituting the central point of the neighborhood, the mosque also formed the body from which municipal, juridical and civilian affairs were conducted.

Due to this, after the conquest of Constantinople the construction of the city and formation of neighborhoods were planned on a lifestyle based around the mosques and masjids. Although the neighborhoods of Istanbul may have been built in keeping with the Byzantine city structure, there are distinct variations in the formations of neighborhood units. The Byzantine city was made up of neighborhoods that were separated by gates, and minorities were isolated from the city community. However, there were no such divisions or gates dividing the neighborhoods in Ottoman-Turkish society. This structure formed a flexible and functional social integration in which all sectors of the society, even the minorities, could settle.3 Rather than forcing members of other religions in the regions they conquered to convert to Islam, the Ottomans allowed them the freedom of practicing their religion and worshipping in their own places of worship. Regions in which non-Muslims who complied with the Islamic administration lived, whether the people in general accepted Islam or not, were classified as a part of the Islamic world, and the Islamic fundamentals were applied as a basis for everyone.4 Istanbul constitutes the most typical example of this.

1- Muezzin reciting adhan from the minaret

In terms of the numbers of mosques and masjids, of the Islamic cities Istanbul is a leading city, hosting the richest, most monumental examples. While the imam, the head of the neighborhood mosque, acts as if a vicegerent of Prophet Muhammad, undertaking the leadership of the community, his assistant, the müezzin performs duties such as reciting the Islamic calls, sala and adhan, and reciting the iqamah to begin the communal prayers, the pillar of worship, on time in the mosque. In addition, the müezzin represents the imam on occasions when the latter is unable to lead the prayers. During the communal prayers, the müezzins contribute to the melodic function; this is a musical form known as musiki. The most refined examples of this recital method emerged in Istanbul. However, it would be wrong to perceive the musiki as an ordinary melodic format. This form of worship contains functions which increase motivation and enable the religious emotions to be expressed in a more effective manner.

Indeed, the adhans recited at prayer time in the Ottoman period echoed into the skies and encompassed the entire city; this was a time when there was no noise pollution in Istanbul, in particular that from motor vehicles. The pleasant sounds were a remarkable feature which remained in the memories of all of society, both Muslim and non-Muslim. In terms of art, the style and mode of the adhan, which in itself is a rendition of the masterpieces of Turkish musiki, emerged in Istanbul. Regardless of the mode or key, the morning adhan called from the minarets of Istanbul concluded in the same manner and awoke the people of the city for the morning prayers with a spiritual melody. On special days and nights, the adhan recited from the two or three balconies of Istanbul’s large mosques, mosques with two, four or six minarets, add a new excitement and emotion to the spirit and harmony of the city; this is something that all, locals and foreigners, agree on. The adhan recited to announce a prayer time, resonating from the throats of the sixteen müezzins of Sultanahmet Mosque and ten müezzins from Süleymaniye Mosque5 are certainly the most remarkable mementoes of this spiritual symphony.

While the masjids serve the duty of bringing together neighborhood communities, the larger mosques and their külliye (building complex) assume the same role within the integral texture of the city. In the districts where these large mosques and külliyes are located, they are classified as the primary symbol that encompasses the city; indeed, it is these constructions with their monumental külliyes that mark the religious-cultural life of the city. The mosque, which is located in the center of the külliye, is the base of communication between the state and the people, and occasionally played the role of rectifying misinformation. In Ottoman bureaucracy the information people obtained from the mosques was known as cami tembihi (mosque announcements), and the imam was responsible for conveying such information to the people. The imams appointed the neighborhood wardens who walked the streets, striking heavy poles with metal ends to inform the people that an announcement would be made at the mosque in the evening. Thus, the official announcement would be conveyed to the people who gathered in the mosques for the isha (night) prayer.6 Most of the time, such news would be given after the isha prayers, Friday prayers and Eid prayers, times when attendance was highest. After the prayer, the imam would tell the people: “Do not disperse immediately, there is a state decree that I will inform you about.”7

2- The yard of Ayasofya Mosque (Pardoe)

Surrounding the mosques were educational units such as sıbyan mektebs (primary schools), where children began the education, the darülkurra and darülhuffaz (Qur’an schools) which provided education in reading and memorizing the Qur’an, and darülhadis, which provided education in hadith sciences, the second source of knowledge in Islamic faith after the Qur’an. However, because religion and daily life continued side by side within the community, quite naturally there were coffee shops and social aid establishments such as imarethanes (soup kitchens) and darüşşifas (hospitals) centered around the mosques. Indeed, Yahya Kemal conveyed this in the following words:

A mosque, the center of a neighborhood, does not consist simply of a building that is a place of worship, it is a külliye which signifies the era of the one who founded the mosque; the madrasa, imarethane, tabhane (guest house), hamam (bathhouse), mektep (school) and muvakkithane (time keeping quarters), the tomb of the donator beside the alter of the mosque and the graveyard where his family and dear ones were buried…In fact, the mosque as a whole is a plaque that reveals the name and period of the one who established the mosque.8

Again, in addition to fulfilling the religious and social needs of the community in the areas where the mosques were located, these structures also added great essence and spirit to the urban texture. When portraying this wealth and variety in Eyüp, Kocamustafapaşa and Üsküdar, Yahya Kemal used Maurice Barrès’ term “monuments of spirit.”9

After the conquest, külliye with these features began to appear in almost every district of Istanbul, not only forming the silhouette of the city, but also symbolizing that this was an Islamic city. Indeed, working from this perception, with the addition of several buildings around Hagia Sofia the former church was transformed into the first building complex of Istanbul and first imperial mosque, symbolizing that Istanbul was now an Islamic city. After Hagia Sofia, Eyüp Sultan Complex also contributed to the texture of the city. Another of the significant central complexes to make its mark on the city was Fatih Mosque Complex, constructed between 1463 and 1470. Due to the numbers of complexes constructed in succession during the second half of the fifteenth century, an activity that in a sense shaped Istanbul as a city of religion and knowledge, this Islamic city became one of the largest capitals of knowledge and culture in Europe. When the construction of these building complexes continued apace in the sixteenth century, signifying that Istanbul was now a city of complexes, the way was paved for a great architect like Koca Sinan and his architectural masterpieces to emerge. One of the most important silhouettes of the later periods is Sultanahmet Complex (1609-1619).10

The külliyes in the Ottoman capital gave people the opportunity to meet under the same roof as the sultans, particularly on Fridays. The sultan’s visits to the imperial mosques to perform Friday prayers gave the people the opportunity to meet with the highest state officials, or more precisely, to convey their requests and demands to these officials directly. In fact, such events are reflected in a miniature; the sultan is receiving a letter of complaint from an elderly woman. The Friday sermon also marks the relationship between the sultan and people. In addition to the importance of the sermon being read in the name of the sultan, not only in terms of establishing the sultan’s sovereignty in the country and displaying the importance he gave to the people, the people listening to the sermon were also seen to be acknowledging the sovereignty of the sultan.11

3- The yard of Sultanahmet Mosque (Pardoe)

4- Sultanahmet Mosque

The imam and müezzin were appointed on suggestion of the qadi and with the approval of the sultan; both were classified as the civil and municipal chief representing the qadi. In brief, the imams were representatives of the sultan via the qadi. Additionally, both also played an influential role in representing the neighborhood in the meetings held before the qadi to organize public services. Therefore, the duties of the imam included a vast variety including religious, social-moral, civil and municipal affairs. In order for these affairs to be conducted with ease, it was necessary to have a suitable place near the masjids. This room was not only used to gather and make decisions regarding the neighborhood, it was also used to keep the records of marriages, divorce and inheritance cases. The district’s sanjak (flag) was also kept in this room and would be submitted to the military division of the district in a ceremony at the time of war. The same room was also used to entertain guests who visited the neighborhood.12 Imams continued these duties until the muhtar (headman) organization was formed in 1829. After the formation of this organization, the imam continued to work together with the muhtar, to whom some of the imam’s duties had been transferred. In fact, during the years in question, in areas where neighborhoods began to form organized units, a regulation was introduced by which the imam would act as guarantor for the elected muhtar-ı evvel (first muhtar) and muhtar-ı sani (secondary muhtar).13

5- Nurbanu Sultan / Valide-i Atik Mosque

Fundamentally, the main duty of the imam as a religious and spiritual leader was to deliver sermons, recite and teach the Qur’an, and to educate people in religious subjects that helped them in their daily lives. Conducting activities, such as carrying out social aid, ensuring solidarity and collaboration within the community, and finding solutions to any problems that could occur were also among the imam’s duties.14 Occasionally, when scholars from outside the district were hosted here to deliver sermons and perform the daily prayers, the mosque would function as the conference hall for the neighborhood or city.15

6- The preach and prayer in Süleymaniye Mosque

It is known that occasionally certain duties in the religious life in the neighborhoods could be conducted by other members of the community in the same way that the imam did; such people included those who had been on hajj or the hafız. Due to the importance the hafiz give to the Qur’an, they were individuals who had the necessary religious identity to act as an example to others; as those who had performed the hajj were generally elderly, mature individuals who had fulfilled the highest duties of the Islamic faith, they were classified as role models for society. In the neighborhood culture, such people were individuals from whom members of the community would seek advice and to whom they listened. Istanbul is a city that witnessed how influential these individuals were.

7- Süleymaniye Mosque

8- The open place for prayer in Sarıyer Posture (d’Ohsson)

The Call to Prayer and Prayer in Congregation

The call to prayer (adhan) is one of the most important signs for a city’s Islamic identity. Indeed, when Mehmed II conquered the city, he first visited Hagia Sofia and ordered that the adhan be recited, thus declaring that Constantinople was an Islamic city. Yahya Kemal’s analysis: “This state bears two spiritual foundations. The first is the calling of the adhan as commanded by Mehmed II from the minaret of Hagia Sofia, still recited today, the second is the recital of the Qur’an that Selim I ordered beside the Hırka-i Saadet (cloak of Prophet Muhammad), which is still recited today!” 16 highlights the distinguishing features that Ottoman Istanbul carried as an Islamic city.

Another feature to be taken into consideration in the religious life in Istanbul is the congregational prayer. One of the most important benefits of praying in congregation is that it ensures the performance of the prayer together in the same place, providing a common perception; everyone, people of all classes, stand side by side. This is true, no matter the place or location. Among the benefits that the repetition of this practice five times daily has for society is, without a doubt, the contribution on forming a deep-rooted solidarity between the people. Attending the mosques at prayer times, the members of the neighborhood gather in the mosque and become acquainted with one another, while meeting and welcoming newcomers procures a warm relationship between the people. Those who attended the mosque regularly would meet their friends on a daily basis; on occasions when someone would be absent from the mosque for three days successively, those present would become concerned and visit the person to ask after his health. If the individual was unwell, members of the congregation would convey their wishes for a speedy convalescence, and ensure that the person was not left alone during these times of difficulty. Those experiencing financial difficulties would be provided with financial support from the money boxes found in each of the neighborhood mosques.17

9- Holding water ewer and towel to an old man performing ablution in an Istanbul mansion (d’Ohsson)

Friday Prayers

The Friday prayer, which is the most important in Islamic worship, was one of the main principles in Ottoman culture and in forming neighborhood awareness. It was necessary to construct a suitable mosque in each settlement area to meet the need for locations in which to perform Friday prayers. In fact, when there was more than one mosque in a settlement area, Friday prayers would be performed in the largest and most important in terms of location, allowing the people to gather in a single place. As advice is extremely important in Islam, the imams were obliged to educate the people who gathered in these places of worship in every aspect. This was accomplished in the Ottoman and Istanbul culture by establishing the appointment of a Cuma vaizliği (Friday sermon preacher).18 The fact that this duty was given to sheikhs who had influence on the masses due to their piety, and due to concern for knowledge and religious sensibility, meant that it was an effective practice. In the religious life of Istanbul, “this resulted in the establishment of an organization of spiritual guides referred to by names such as the Kürsü Sheikhood (Katar Sheikhood, Ayasofya Kürsü Sheikhood).”19

10- The congregation joins the Imam’s invocation in Friday Sermon (Topkapı Palace Museum Library, no. 1296)

One of the most important cultural legacies that occurred on Fridays in Istanbul religious life, which was later to spread throughout the entire Ottoman geography, was reciting the sala (supplication before the call to prayer on Fridays). Reciting the sala both to praise the Prophet and as a reminder to prepare for the Friday prayers constitutes one of the practices in the daily lives of the Ottomans. Originally, just as the Cuma sala or Friday sala was initially recited at the time of the late afternoon prayer the day before, it was also recited before the adhan for the night prayer on the same day and also on Friday before the morning adhan. Therefore, the people were reminded that Friday was approaching and this ensured that the Muslims made the necessary preparations for Friday prayers.20

One of the most important ceremonies in the religious life of Istanbul was the Friday procession. In view of the importance of Fridays, the sultan would not pray at the palace, but would rather select an imperial mosque; the ceremony of the sultan’s journey to and from the imperial mosque to pray was known as the Cuma alayı (Friday procession); the ceremony conducted in the courtyard of the mosque was called the cuma selamlığı (Friday salutation). This event was based on the fact that the Ottoman sultans were the caliphs of the Muslim community, and therefore great importance was given to praying with the people in the mosque as well as performing the Friday prayers in a mosque open to the public and praying in congregation.21

As there was no regular weekly holiday before the Tanzimat, with the exception of the prayer time, Fridays were classified as any ordinary day. However, as a weekly holiday was regarded necessary during the Tanzimat period, when business and trade began to develop, Fridays were declared a holiday. The people would not tend to their business before noon, but would make preparations for the Friday prayers, and after prayer would utilize the remainder of the day according to the season and mood of the era. Apart from this, as the prayer time on Friday was classified as sacred, in Istanbul culture it was not deemed suitable to dedicate any time to worldly duties, even at home. Osman Nuri Ergin states this as follows: “Abandoning worldly duties before the Friday prayers became such a deep-rooted tradition and belief among Muslims that in almost all Ottoman homes if a person was occupied with something or even when someone was sewing, the elderly mother or grandmother would call out to remind them ‘the time for sala is approaching, leave what you are doing;’ this was a widespread practice.”22

In view of the tidings conveyed by the Prophet in a hadith, the people interpreted Fridays to be distinct from other days of the week; business conducted on this day, a child being born on this day, a marriage ceremony taking place on this day and passing away on this day or night was recognized as a favor bestowed by Allah. Due to this, Fridays were classified as a day of greater importance compared to the other days of the week in Istanbul culture; it became a traditional belief that any business conducted on this day would be prosperous. Although there is no accurate information supporting this perception, in the eyes of the people this led to the belief that Fridays were also an important day in the lives of past Prophets. Among the most common acknowledgements is the belief that Adam and Eve were created on Friday, they entered Paradise and were sent to earth on Friday, their repentance was accepted on a Friday and they died on Friday; also Prophet Muhammad was thought to be born on Friday, the Qur’an sent to him on Friday, he married Khadija, migrated to Medina, conquered Mecca and also passed away on a Friday.23

The Funeral Prayer

In accordance with the principles of Islamic faith, every Muslim believes in Allah and life in the Hereafter. In addition, all Muslims are a sacred existence, and this generated the perception that the corpse of a person should be as respected as much as they were when still alive.

The main duty of the close relatives of a Muslim who is to be buried and sent on the journey to the eternal world is washing and shrouding the body.

Initially, the person in question would be turned towards the qibla. During the final moments of life, the face of the ill person, referred to as hâlet-i nez, was positioned so when the head was turned to the right it was facing the qibla. Then the kelime-i şehadet (testimony of faith) would be recited out loud by those present in an attempt to encourage the person to repeat the words. Additionally, reciting Sura Yasin from the Qur’an beside the person on their death bed, and wetting the mouth of the patient with zamzam water, when available, using cotton-wool was another common practice. After the person passed away, a cloth would be tied around their head and chin to ensure the mouth remained closed; the person’s clothing would be removed and the body covered. If the death occurred after the late afternoon prayer, the dead person was buried the following day; the body would remain in the house overnight. In the meantime, someone would stay with the body until the morning. If the death occurred on a holy day, then it was preferable for the body to be buried on the same day. In order to inform the neighborhood of the death, like the sala recited before the adhan on Fridays, the cenaze sala (funeral supplication) would be recited initially from the local mosque and then from the minaret of the mosque where the funeral prayers were to be performed before the noon or late afternoon adhan. The name of the deceased person would be declared by criers walking through the streets of the neighborhood. In the meantime, after giving information about the deceased, such as his/her name, lineage and occupation, the crier would also inform people about the time and place where the funeral prayers were to be held, using words to the effect of: “O Muslim people! Prepare yourselves. The funeral prayers of so and so, the son of so and so will be held at such and such a mosque after noon prayer. Do not be negligent of its reward! May Allah grant him mercy and glory!” 24 This practice continued until the early days of the Republic; after microphones were installed on the minarets of mosques, the traditional means of informing the neighborhood was replaced by the conveying this information from the minarets.

In order to eliminate any disturbing odors, incense would be burned beside the washing table, and the shroud would be held over the incense once or three times. The body would be carefully laid on a cloth. When the washing ritual was complete, the body would be dried with a towel. Then the process of shrouding the body began. After the body was wrapped in the shroud gown (resembling a tunic), a sweet fragrance herb known as hanît would be rubbed on the head and beard of the deceased. If this herb was not available, then musk or amber would be used; if neither of these were available rosewater would be used. Camphor was rubbed on the parts of the body that touch the floor during prostration, such as the forehead, nose, hands, knees and feet.25 Then after a short pray was made and forgiveness asked for the deceased, the body would be placed in a wooden casket and taken from the house to be carried to the mosque where the funeral prayers were to be performed. The wooden casket was carried by men in turn; in fact, those who come across the funeral parade in the street assisted in carrying the casket, even if they were strangers to the deceased. Another part of this practice was the tradition of carrying each corner of the casket for ten steps, totaling forty steps in all. If the deceased was a male, a fez or white headpiece would be placed on the head end of the casket; if he was a scholar or knowledgeable person, then a turban or a plain headscarf embroidered with verses of the Qur’an would be placed. If the deceased was a woman than a headscarf would be placed on the wooden casket. Occasionally-according to their financial status- if the casket was covered with stoles, prayer mats and small rugs, these would be donated to a mosque after the burial. The casket was carried to the neighborhood mosque and placed on the musalla (stone bier).

11- Eyüp Sultan Cemetery (d’Ohsson)

After the funeral prayers were performed, the deceased was carried to the graveyard in the same manner. Generally, it was preferable to bury the deceased beside or close to the tomb of a respected individual. Due to this, large graveyards began to appear in various districts of Istanbul, such as Eyüp, Merkezefendi and Karacaahmet. Although in exceptional cases the body could be buried in a casket, a majority of the time the shrouded body was placed in the grave, with the body being laid on the right side with the head facing the qibla; the words “Bismillah ve ‘ala Millet-i Rasülillah” (We bury you in the name of Allah and upon the religion of Prophet Muhammad) would be recited. After the body was placed in the grave, the shrouds were untied and materials such as wood, bricks, dried grass or straw would be placed on top of the shrouded body to prevent direct contact with the soil. In the meantime, while the imam who attended the funeral ceremony recited chapters from the Qur’an such as Surahs of Yasin or al-Mulk, and familiar verses such as Amanarrasulu (last verses of Surah Baqarah) and the short chapters of the Qur’an, for example, Alam tara kayfa (Surah Fil); then soil would be thrown into the grave either by hand or with a spade by those who had attended the funeral ceremony. The grave would be filled until the soil was above ground level and water would be sprinkled from a jug over the grave, three times from head to foot.

When the burial ceremony ended and people began to disperse, a reminder, known as talqin al-mayyit (prompting the deceased) was recited by the imam. Money was distributed to poor people who had attended the funeral or who were in the graveyard at the time. After the stones were placed at the head and foot of the grave, a round stone with a hole was placed in the center to allow rainwater to flow into the grave. The name, title and ancestry of the deceased was inscribed on one of the stones at the head and foot of the grave, while a brief sentence explaining the life of the deceased or passages from the Qur’an depicting death were engraved on the other. If the deceased was male, the stone would be carved in a shape similar to the turban he wore when alive; if female, then the gravestone would be carved with flowers and leaves. One of the most significant signs of the Ottoman civilization are the works of art known that are the gravestones and tombs. The most important and worthy examples can be found in Istanbul’s graveyards and burial grounds. In these terms, Istanbul resembles an open air museum (see Istanbul’s Graveyards).

12- Beyazıt Mosque

As it was customary to plant greenery in the graveyards, care was taken to plant trees at the head or foot end of the grave; the most common tree used was the cypress tree, not only due to its pleasant fragrance, but also because it is an evergreen. In fact, due to this, some of the travelers recorded that the graveyards in Istanbul had been transformed into large forestry areas, and despite large scale destruction, the view of Karacaahmet still presents this image, even today.

After the deceased was buried, food would generally not be cooked in the home; due to this the neighbors usually would bring food to the deceased’s house. However, on the evening of the burial, making halwa from flour or semolina, or distributing lokma (a syrupy sweet) was a practice that all observed. Reciting the entire Qur’an and praying for the spirit of the deceased in their home on the night of the burial was also a common custom.26

The Three Holy Months and Ramadan

In the Ottoman culture, Ramadan, which is known as “the sultan of the eleven months” and yearned for more than any other of the months by Muslims, is seen as a source of forgiveness, peace and joy. Both the spiritual and worldly preparations for welcoming Ramadan begin months before. The cleaning and redecorating of homes, acquiring the necessary kitchen equipment, doing shopping, preparing prayer mats and scarfs for prayers are among the leading worldly preparations. Ramadan in Istanbul, also known as the city of the sultans, means experiencing this holy month in the splendor it deserves. The “welcoming of Ramadan” begins with the beginning of the three holy months. Fasting for three months with this objective, that is, from the month of Rajab until the end of Ramadan, and fasting for up to three days in the days leading up to or following the holy nights during this period is not an obligation; however, it is a widespread practice, especially among women. In addition, it is also known that fasts are held a few days before Ramadan to “welcome” the holy month.

In the Ottoman culture, all the kandils (holy days), with the exception of the Mawlid Kandil (anniversary of the birth of Prophet Muhammad), are celebrated in the months of Rajab, Shaban and Ramadan, known as the holy months; Ragaib, Miraj and Berat kandil and the observance of Laylat al-Qadr (Night of Destiny) fall within these months. Fundamentally, in addition to the special nights that occur in these three holy months, this period is classified as a season of abundance and prosperity in which acts of worship such as prayers, fasting, giving alms and charity are increased. In particular, with the celebrations of the holy nights of Ragaib, Miraj and Berat, and the observance of Laylat al-Qadr, over a period of time customs that are unique to Istanbul emerged, spreading throughout the entire Ottoman and Islamic geography.

Preparations for Ramadan

In the religious folklore of Istanbul, two aspects of the holy celebrations emerged. The first is that on these holy nights of celebration the sultan would travel to one of the imperial mosques accompanied by a ceremony to worship and join the celebrations. As a result, the sultan would leave the palace and travel to and from the mosque in a ceremony known as an alay (parade); this was regarded as an opportunity to see the sultan, a kind of festival for the people of Istanbul. The route from which the alay was to pass was cleaned and illuminated; stones would be placed in suitable locations and platforms were placed on the route for those who wanted to sit and watch the alay as it passed.

Although ceremonies in the mosque varied according to the characteristics of the holy nights, the spirit of the celebrations was more or less the same. Among the leading practices of the era were the sala and adhan being recited before the prayer, the sermon and performance of the daily prayers being implemented with what was known as the Cumhur Müezzinliği, and the Mawlid being recited in special modes; the completion of the program would be carried out with a prayer, and the sultan would return to the palace in ceremony.

Ramadan was welcomed by all with great joy; indeed, with no differences between the religious groups, almost every sector of Ottoman society welcomed this month. As the exclusive Ramadan issue of the Maarif weekly journal, published by a non-Muslim citizen of the Ottoman State, conveyed, the month in question brought a sense of peace and joy to all sectors of the society; thus we can understand that this month was also respected in the same manner by non-Muslim citizens. While the family ties of those living an orderly life became even stronger during Ramadan, reaching optimum peace and prosperity, many of those not living such an organized life, for example, men of the family who drank alcohol or gambled, would abandon these habits, even though only for this holy month. Those individuals who abandoned these bad habits with the advent of Ramadan, who began to observe the “fasting from alcohol and gambling”, were positively influenced by this holy month, thus seizing the opportunity of inspiration. Phrases such as “The spiritual splendor of Ramadan influences the sense of worship in the hearts of these people, thus purifying their character” were used to describe the kind of these people. As the men of these families in question abandoned their former routine during Ramadan, they experienced the pleasures of being a happy family together with their spouses and children.27

One of the main preparations for Ramadan was the bulk purchasing of food requirements, known as “Ramadan spending”, getting in food for the evening and morning meals. As a natural result of heeding to the words “Prosperity diminishes where there is no compassion,” it was a customary practice for the wealthy members of society to send food and provisions, called ramazaniye, particularly to the madrasas and tekkes. Sending provisions, a week before Ramadan to poorer members of the family, friends, widows and orphans in the neighborhood was also one of the preparations for Ramadan.

13- Lights strung between minarets of Sultanahmet Mosque during Ramadan to form words or pictures

Because Ramadan is the month of worship and reciting the Qur’an, the people of Ottoman Istanbul made a point of spending a majority of their time in the mosque. The people of Istanbul would visit various mosques and perform each of the daily prayers in different mosques throughout Ramadan, performing the Friday prayers in different mosques as well; however, in general it was the imperial mosques that were of greater significance. Imperial mosques, such as Fatih, Beyazıt, Süleymaniye and Sultanahmet mosques, were among the most popular with the people. An example of this practice of visiting various mosques could have included performing the noon prayer at Hırka-ı Şerif Mosque, late afternoon prayer at Fatih Mosque, the first Friday prayer of Ramadan at Ayasofya Mosque, the second at Eyüp Sultan Mosque, the third in Fatih Mosque and the last Friday prayer of Ramadan in Süleymaniye Mosque. In addition to changing the order of visiting these mosques, it is also interesting that the number of raq‘ahs that made up the prayers were also increased. In addition to the prescribed daily prayers, there would be recital of the Qur’an, the sermons before and after the noon and afternoon prayers would be attended, as well as those before the Tarawih prayers.28

The Ramadan Cannon and Drummer

When discussing Ramadan, it is necessary to mention two things that occurred in the daily life of Istanbul during this holy month - the drummer and Ramadan cannon. The announcement of Ramadan and then the Eid, the time for breaking the fast and the start of the fast would be marked by the firing of a cannon. As many know, the drum is a musical instrument that is closely identified with the Turkish people; the playing of the drum is a common practice in Turkish culture.

As waking before sunrise and eating the sahur (morning) meal in Ramadan is a tradition this was a time at which playing the drum was considered important. Indeed, pausing occasionally while reciting poetic verses and playing the drum to wake people up during Ramadan, the neighborhood bekçi (warden) would call out to remind the people: “The time for sahur is approaching!” The drummers would pause in front of the mansions and homes and along with a man who was hired to recite the rhymes they would call out rhyming couplets such as:

I set out proclaiming the words Bismillah
Bestowing my greetings here and there
O my generous sir
May your fortune be everlasting!29

The advent of Eid would also be announced by playing the drum. In fact, like the beginning of Ramadan, the sound of the drum accompanied by the children’s cries of joy would convey the tidings that the following day was Eid. In return for this service on the fifteenth day of Ramadan people would give the drummers who brought the tidings of the holidays gifts; they would also do the same on the first day of Eid. These gifts consisted of money during Ramadan and presents such as cotton material, printed handkerchiefs and shirt material at Eid. The drummer would tie such gifts to the rim of the drum or to a long pole held by his assistant; the two men would continue to walk through the streets, followed by a long parade of children from the neighborhood.30

Another important symbol of Ramadan was the firing of the cannon. Like the drum, the cannon was also an object identified with the Ottoman Turks and was frequently used in daily life as a means of communication. Due to its historical importance and the accuracy of its firing mechanism, the last cannon to fire a cannonball during the conquest of Baghdad from the reign of Murad IV was placed in a special chamber of the palace, and kept loaded at all times. The cannon in question was used only once a year to announce the advent of Ramadan.31 Evidently, this cannon was first used from the Rumelihisarı at the time of iftar and sahur, in the muvakkithane (timekeeping section) that was built on the orders of the daughter of Mustafa III. It is believed that this practice became more widespread, and the firing of the cannon at Yedikule and other suitable places became customary.32

Indeed, another interesting point is that over a period of time cannons were fired from significant centers, such as Topkapı Palace, Kurşunlu Mahzen, Yedikule, Kız Kulesi, Beyazıt, Fatih, Selimiye, Heybeliada and the Golden Horn.33

The Beginning of Ramadan: Ru’yat-i Hilal (Sighting the Crescent)

The sighting of the new moon was defined as the basis for determining the beginning of Ramadan and the arrival of the Eid; this event was given great importance. As Istanbul was the capital city of the Ottoman State, this was the location where the new moon would be observed.

Monitoring the moon was one of the duties of the Istanbul qadi. On the night calculated to mark the beginning of Ramadan, the qadi would remain in the Sheikh al-Islam’s office with his officials. Among the locations that functioned as an observatory for sighting the moon in Istanbul was the Beyazıt Fire Tower, the minarets of Süleymaniye Mosque, Fatih, Cerrahpaşa, Sultan Selim as well as Edirnekapı Mihrimah Sultan mosques. The relevant officials and the mosque officials would begin to observe the sky from the balcony of the minaret, hoping to sight the crescent moon.

When the new moon was sighted, the officials would immediately convey the news to the qadi; after the sighting had been confirmed by witnesses, the news was recorded in the registry in the fatwa chambers. This written decree was stamped by the qadi, and then the door of the Sheikh al-Islam’s office would be opened. The head candle bearer would inform the candle bearers waiting on the minaret of Süleymaniye Mosque by standing on the mounting stone with a candle in his hand. As Süleymaniye Mosque was visible from many areas of Istanbul, due to its location, the lit candle would be visible from other minarets and the candles of these mosques would also be lit; in the meantime, the cannons would be fired to announce the beginning of Ramadan. In addition, the neighborhood bekçis (watchmen) would go around the streets playing their drums, followed by a parade of children, all informing people that Ramadan had begun. If the sky was overcast and therefore the new moon was not visible, time would pass to allow the month of Shaban, the previous month, to reach 30 days. Ramadan would then begin; this practice was known as ikmal-i selasîn.34

News that the new moon had been sighted would be sent by the chief of the fatwa office to the grand vizier, who would then convey this information to the sultan. The court clerk who was on duty at the time would travel on horseback to inform the grand vizier of the sighting; this official would be presented with money or gifts by the grand vizier for this service.

Lighting the Mosques with Candles and the Mahyas

The tradition of hanging mahyas, the name given to illuminated messages and shapes hung between the two minarets of a mosque by stringing candles on rope, would occur on holy days. This custom first emerged during Ramadan and at Eid and is a custom that is unique to Turks.35

As the month of Ramadan approached, one of the preparations would be activities at the imperial mosques from which these illuminated messages were to be hung.

As many know, the lighting of the candles on the minarets on the nights of the Mawlid and during the month of Ragaib began in Istanbul during the reign of Selim II. The lighting of candles on the Berat and Miraj kandils was a practice introduced in 1577 by Necmeddin Hasan Efendi, sheikh of Koca Mustafa Paşa tekke during the reign of Murad III; however, the custom of lighting candles throughout Ramadan coincides with the era of Ahmad I (1610). Over a period of time, this custom expanded and spread throughout the Ottoman geography. In addition to this custom which began on the first night of Ramadan, it is also known that the messages and figures on the mahyas would be changed at the beginning and in the middle of Ramadan, and also at Eid. Another practice was decorating those minarets that could not have mahyas hung from them would be decorated with lanterns throughout their length; this was known as “kaftan giydirmek“ (gowning). According to the minister of the Balıkhane, Ali Rıza Bey, it was a common practice to “gown” the minarets of mosques with a single minaret.36

14- Dinner to break fasting in the mansion of the grand vizier (d’Ohsson)

According to the sources, the practice of hanging the mahya began in 1614; Ahmed I greatly admired an embroidered frame that resembling the mahya, which the müezzin of Fatih Mosque, Hattat Hafız Ahmad Kefevi, had hung between two minarets; the sultan ordered that similar decoration with messages and figures conforming with religious morals should be hung from the minarets and lit on the nights of Ramadan. However, it is known that the first complete mahya was hung between the minarets of Sultanahmet Mosque in 1617, the second from Süleymaniye Mosque and Yeni Mosque in 1683, and the third in 1755 from Atik Valide Mosque.37 Indeed, on approval of Damad İbrahim Pasha the mahyas were hung from the minarets of mosques that had two minarets, such as Ayasofya, Fatih, Beyazıt, Şehzade and Eyüp mosques; this practice became more common during the reign of Ahmed III. Mahyas can be divided into two, interior and exterior mahyas. In addition to Ayasofya, Süleymaniye, Sultanahmet and Nuruosmaniye mosques, sources also indicate that interior mahyas were sometimes assembled in other popular mosques, such as Hekimoğlu Ali Paşa Mosque. Mosques illuminated by these mahyas on the nights of Ramadan were admired to such an extent that this practice began to spread rapidly to other mosques. In this respect, there are two interesting events regarding Istanbul; as there were objections that the Asian side of the city was deprived of this practice, on the request of the people a second minaret was built for Mihrimah Sutan Mosque in Üsküdar. Similarly, when the people of Eyüp complained “Ramadan is not the same without a mahya”, the height of the short minarets of Eyüp Sultan Mosque was increased, enabling mahyas to be hung from the two balconies of the minarets. In an attempt to fulfill such requests, over time the minarets of mosques with a single minaret were also decorated with fringe mahyas.38 For example, although the Muradiye Mosque in Edirne had one minaret, a mahya was hung by fixing a pole onto the minaret so it would be visible from the palace.

As Ramadan approached, the Vakıflar İdaresi (waqf administration) would distribute wax and lamp oil to the mosques. Two weeks prior to Ramadan, on the day after Berat kandil, preparations would begin by hanging the strings for the mahyas between the imperial mosques with twin minarets. In addition to phrases such as the first verse of Surah al-Fath, bismillah, “sultan of the eleven months”, “welcome Ramadan” and “Mashallah”, which made up the mahyas at the beginning of Ramadan, phrases such as Ya Gufran (O Forgiver) Ya Qadir (O All Powerful) Ya Âli (O Sublime One) Ya Karim (O Generous One) “Welcome month of Ramadan!” and “Farewell” and “Goodbye” would be hung after the fifteenth day of the holy month.39

İftar meals and invitations

In addition to the iftar invitations, and features such as philanthropists of the community ensuring there were spare places at the iftar meal every day, preparing more food than usual, there was also the custom of sending food to poorer members of the neighborhood. Ahmed Rasim, who provides detailed information regarding the Ramadan customs of Istanbul during the period in which he lived, gives the following anecdote about the consideration shown to the poor before sitting at an iftar spread when he was a child:

The senior member of the family, male or female, would go to the kitchen just before iftar to see what was being prepared for the meal. He/ she would prepare a bowl of each, place them on a tray and send them to the home of a family in need. In addition, this senior member of the family never neglected to place a quarter, half or one lira under the soup bowl, and then sat at their own iftar spread, reciting Elhamdullilah and salawat while waiting for the end of the fast; when the cannon was fired, they would break the fast with a sense of joy and tranquility.

In an attempt to enter the spirit of Ramadan and allow people to become accustomed to fasting, the iftar invitations would begin on the third day of Ramadan at the earliest. Generally, those who were inviting others for iftar began by following the etiquette of calling close neighbors and friends, and then more distant acquaintances. In view of this, these invitations were in the order of first close neighbors, then learned people and employees, and then tradesmen. Generally, delivering invitations to people was the duty of the younger members of the family. The people the family wanted to invite to iftar would be invited in the most appropriate manner, and by sending the greetings of the most senior member of the family.40 Another method of inviting the people to iftar was as follows: five or six wealthier members of the neighborhood would come together and organize an iftar meal in their homes, inviting the neighborhood imam, hajjis and muhtar (head of the neighborhood) in turn. As there were normally others accompanying the hajjis, imams and muhtars, the owner of the house would make preparations accordingly. This was one of the methods of performing charitable deeds in secret. When a person was praised, the words: “He helps many poor in secret” indicates that the charity and good deeds of this man were conducted secretly through certain individuals. As the iftar meals were not given only to invited guests, additional meals for five to ten people would be prepared in the rooms where the men sat in almost all the homes. These iftars were not only open to important people and merchants from the neighborhood, but to almost the entire neighborhood.

During Ramadan, every evening the wealthier individuals would appoint one of their servants to gather together poorer members of the community. These servants would be given this duty throughout Ramadan; they would sit the people they called at specially prepared iftars, ensuring that they ate at the right time. Another iftar custom which began in Istanbul was giving presents or small amounts of money to those who came.41 Any leftover bread would be given to the beggars at the door, so that they would not be turned away empty-handed. Another act of “competing in charity” emerged in what were known as “mosque iftars”. In addition to iftars being given in private homes, these charitable acts consisted of distributing food such as bread, dates and olives to the poor in the courtyard of the mosques close to the time for the iftar.42 As a result, Ramadan in the Ottoman period appears as a month of great abundance and prosperity; indeed, in addition to iftars, people ensured that all living creatures were provided with sustenance, with care being taken to ensure that even the animals were provided with food. Şehzade Mosque was the most famous location where this practice was implemented. Every day, thirty or forty hungry cats which had gathered in the courtyard of the mosque would be fed by those who brought meat or liver when they came to pray. It goes without saying that a similar practice also applied to the dogs in the neighborhoods. In fact, so all could benefit from the blessings of this month, occasionally birds in cages were brought to places where the people gathered, particularly on Laylat al-Qadr (Night of Power) and at Eid. Money would be donated and then the bird would be freed, saying: “Be free and protect me at the gate of Paradise.” This practice was carried out in particular to teach children acts of kindness.43

15- The beard of the Prophet Muhammad which is opened for visitations in Istanbul in the month of Ramadan

16- Hilya al-Sharif: a framed inscription defining the Prophet Muhammad’s physical appearance written in calligraphy (Mustafa İzzet Efendi) (The directorate of Istanbul Tombs and Museums)

17- Children in their clothes for religious festival (d’Ohsson)

Events held in the mansions along the Bosporus also presented a unique occasion for Istanbul. The activities held in these mansions and at excursion spots, such as Çamlıca Hill, particularly on the nights during Ramadan when it fell in the summer, had distinctive features. After the iftar, people would gather in the gardens, and the tarawih prayers would be performed here during the summer months.

Mukabala (Recital of the Qur’an)

Mukabala is the name given to the recital of the entire Qur’an, generally in mosques, masjids and in homes during Ramadan, generally by a hafız before or after the morning, noon or afternoon prayers; those present would follow the recital from the Qur’an. This observance is based on the tradition that Jibrail came to Prophet Muhammad and repeated the verses of the Qur’an that had been revealed with the Prophet. Indeed, it is reported that based on this tradition, after the death of the Prophet the Companions would bring together the members of their families to recite the Qur’an.44 During the Ottoman period, this tradition continued, and the Qur’an would be recited in this manner in mosques, homes and mansions. It is known that this practice was carried out by talented and famous imams, müezzins and hafız who had pleasant voices. In view of this, imams and müezzins who had pleasant voices and whose recital was in accordance with the rules of reciting the Qur’an would be invited to the large mansions during Ramadan to perform the tarawih prayers. The custom of a female hafız reciting the Qur’an before a gathering of women in a private home during the day was also common. It was preferable to begin the recital of the Qur’an in mosques fifteen days before the beginning of Ramadan. A majority of the time, a recital of the Qur’an which had begun early would be completed on the afternoon of Laylat al-Qadr.45 In addition to having the Qur’an recited in their homes, it is also recorded that the wealthy would send a floor cushion for to the hafiz as a gift for reciting the Qur’an. As there was an opportunity to listen to different styles and modes of the Qur’an echoing from almost every corner of the mosque, the people could choose which to go to, thus giving them the chance to listen to the recital which appealed to them most.

The Tarawih Prayers

As the tarawih prayer was generally performed in congregation, the streets of Istanbul during Ramadan were relatively quiet during the day; however, the evenings would be lively with large crowds. The pleasant rush in the streets as iftar approached would almost disappear after the cannon was fired. Virtually nothing could be heard except the sounds of food being prepared in the homes. However, after the fast ended and the evening prayer was performed, the excitement of the congregation in the streets, hurrying to the tarawih prayers with lamps in their hands created a spectacular scene. They rushed towards the mosque virtually resembling a swarm of fireflies in the darkness.

During Ramadan, in almost all of the mansions in Istanbul one corner would be converted into a masjid. One of the most common practices during Ramadan was that after the iftar, people would perform the tarawih prayers accompanied by Ramadan hymns in the huge rooms of the mansions. At the time of the night prayer, the pleasant voiced müezzins would recite the adhan successively, waiting for the guests to perform the ritual ablutions and prepare for the prayers. The form of tarawih prayer that is known today as Enderun tarawih was performed accompanied by Ramadan hymns these prayers were be performed by an exuberant crowd in which not only the people of the mansion and the guests, but almost everyone in the neighborhood participated. During the tarawih prayers, after every four rak‘ahs (units) of prayer, a hymn would be recited in the same mode used during the prayer; then, in order to begin the following four rak‘ahs in a different mode, the phrase salli ala Muhammad would be recited in the mode to be used in the next four rak‘ahs. The congregation would then stand for the prayer. The recital of hymns composed in the sabâ, dügâh or bestenigâr makam or mode would occur after the first four rak‘ah, and then in the hüzzam makam after the second four, the ferahnâk after the third, evc after the fourth and generally in the acem makam after the fifth four rak‘ah; the tradition of the imam reciting the Qur’an in compliance with these modes was another customs in performing the tarawih prayers.46

18- Goats and sheep adorned to be sacrificed (d’Ohsson)

Another custom in Istanbul that occurred during Ramadan was visiting the Sakal-ı Şerif (strands from the beard of Prophet Muhammad); this was carried out in particular on the day preceding the kandils and on Laylat al-Qadr. The imam would remove the protected Sakal-ı Şerif from its place while reciting prayers, blessings and praising the Prophet; he would place it on a stand in front of the mihrab (niche indicating the direction of Mecca). The Sakal-ı Şerif would be removed from its coverings, one at a time, by the imam, accompanied by the recital of the takbir (Allahu Akbar), tehlil (La ilahe illallah), prayers of blessing and greetings by the müezzin and the hafız, allowing the public to see this holy relic. When the ceremony was over, the Sakal-ı Şerif, which was kept in a glass casing decorated with gold, silver or porcelain, would be wrapped in its coverings one by one and returned to its place accompanied by the recital of praise and greetings for the Prophet.

Laylat al-Qadr

Laylat al-Qadr, or the Night of Power, commemorates the night when the first verses of the Qur’an were revealed to Prophet Muhammad; it is a night to which Muslims give great importance and spend in prayers, supplication and worship. The remaining ten nights of Ramadan would also be spent in worship in an attempt to coincide these prayers with this important night, which falls in the last ten days of Ramadan. Words to the effect: “Why do you continue to seek for the signs of Laylat al-Qadr? If you recognize its value, then every night is Laylat al-Qadr47 emphasizes the importance of worshipping as if every night of Ramadan is this night. Again, the verse “If every night is the night of Qadr, then Qadr would not be valued. If every stone was a jewel, then the jewel would have no value” explains the wisdom that this was not an ordinary night. However, as the twenty-seventh night of Ramadan was recognized as being Laylat al-Qadr, this night was given special importance, and care was taken to spend this night in worship. In Istanbul, visiting Ayasofya Mosque on Laylat al-Qadr was a custom practiced by many. Both state officials and the public made a point of observing this custom.48 As prayers and supplications are said to be accepted more at this time, emphasis was placed on completing the recital of the Qur’an that had been read daily throughout Ramadan on this night. Care was taken to perform the prayers for the recitals of the Qur’an that had been completed in the mosques after the afternoon prayers on this day.49 Unlike the other nights of Ramadan, this night was spent in worship that generally continued until sahur (the start of the fast).

As a sense of sorrow that the month of Ramadan was coming to an end began to encompass everyone, a sorrow that was influenced by the hymns recited during the last ten days of Ramadan at the tarawih prayers, with the repetition of the words “Farewell, O month of Ramadan”, it became a custom for people to bid farewell to one another. Laylat al-Qadr was a night on which the elderly, in particular, would relay their desire to meet again the following year. Indeed, people waited for eleven months to be reunited during this month of mercy, and as a result, would express their hopes to see in another year, using words and prayers such as “If Allah wills...” and “May Allah grant us the life to witness many more…”50

It is known that in view of the importance and value given to Laylat al-Qadr the sultan would pray the tarawih prayers, which he generally performed in the palace, at one of the local mosques; the roads leading up to the procession gate would be illuminated, and the sultan would travel to the mosque following the lamps held by the aghas. This procession, the arrival and route of which would be pre-planned, was known as the kadir alayı (Qadr procession)51

Eid of Ramadan (‘Iyd al-Fitr)

The sadness that the month of Ramadan had finished would be replaced by a new sense of joy with the arrival of the Eid, an occasion that revived social life. In general, as in the case of the advent of Ramadan, the announcement of Eid would be made by the children’s calls of joy accompanied by the sounds of drums. Beyond any doubt, this joy also affected the adults of the community. If the crescent of Shawwal was not visible, then on the thirtieth day of Ramadan, after the afternoon prayers, the announcement that the following day was Eid would be made by firing cannons. After the cannon fired after the afternoon prayers, the cannons would be fired on four days successively. In addition, there was also the custom of firing cannonball after the Eid morning prayer to announce Eid and signify that the exchange of Eid greetings could begin. On the nights of the Eid, the minarets of the imperial mosques were decorated with lights. A mahya would be made in the figure of a road, symbolizing the bidding farewell to Ramadan.52 Those who had gone to sleep anticipating the Eid would wake before the sun rose in the morning, due to being accustomed to this hour for starting the fast. The bekçis (watchmen) would walk around the streets, playing the drum and calling out poems to wake people up for morning prayers:

19- Sacrificial animal sale in Beyazıt Square (Yıldız Albums)

Amidst the morning breeze
Awaken to the duty of prayer
O neighbors perform the ritual of purification
And come to the morning prayer

The tamjids (prayers praising Allah) would be delivered, echoing spiritually from the minarets; the adhan would then sound for the morning prayers. All the men, young and old, headed towards the mosques. The young boys accompanied their fathers or other members of the family, wearing the clothes that had been bought especially for Eid. After the morning prayers, until it was time for the Eid prayer, the imam would give a sermon on the value and virtues of Eid. When the time arrived, the Eid prayers would be performed. The imam who was to deliver the sermon walked up to the pulpit accompanied by the calls of the takbir in the segâh makam, composed by Buhurîzade Mustafa İtrî. After the Eid prayers and sermon, everyone would exchange Eid greetings, whether acquainted or not. Any differences between the people were to be eliminated; the young would kiss the hands of the elders, while those of similar ages greeted one another by either shaking hands or embracing. The people who began to disperse from the mosque would head directly to the graveyards to visit the graves of deceased relatives and recite the Qur’an beside the graves. In view of this, on the mornings of Eid the graveyards outside the city walls would be extremely crowded. When the elder members of the family returned home, the ceremony of exchanging Eid greetings and kissing the hands of older members of the family began; the family would then sit together to eat breakfast. In the meantime, the bekçis, who had woken the neighborhood during Ramadan for sahur, would walk through the neighborhood once again beating on their drums. Children would go out onto the streets to listen to and reply to the rhyming couplets recited by the drummer, meeting their friends in the neighborhood; they would later visit neighbors and close ones to exchange Eid greetings.

20- The exit of Sürre parade carrying gifts to be delivered to Mecca and Medina and moving with the pilgrim convoys from Dolmabahçe Palace to Kabataş piers in order to pass across Üsküdar

Every family made an effort to buy new clothing for the children at Eid, in keeping with their family budget. On the morning of Eid, the children wore their new clothes, which generally would be placed at the foot of the bed on the previous night. The practice of exchanging greetings on Eid began when the elder members of the family had returned from Eid prayers; they would be followed by the first people to visit the neighborhood, the bekçis, who would be followed by the tulumbacıs (firefighters), and then the children of the neighborhood. Then visits by close family, neighbors and friends would begin; people would not come empty-handed, usually bringing sweets and dried fruit and nuts, wrapped in new handkerchiefs. As the importance of Eid greetings was considered to decrease as the days passed, delaying making visits to older members of the family during Eid was regarded as disrespectful and impolite. Thus, visits to older members of the family were generally carried out on the first day of Eid; other members of the family would be visited on the second day, and more distant acquaintances on the third day. As the poet Nedim attempted to convey in the lines of his famous song:

Nedim expects the honorable arrival of you on the second day of the Eid
No problem if you can make it on night but not during daytime

In cases when visitors would come to find the family not at home, the visitors would write their names on a note and leave it at the door. Serving sweets or Turkish delight, followed by coffee was another rule of entertaining guests during the Eid.

Zakat al-Fitr

The material forms of worship, such as charitable alms and fitr (charity given at the end of Ramadan) not only ensures that a person experiences the awareness that their wealth is a trust granted by Allah, but also allows them the opportunity to express praise and gratitude to the Creator by giving a portion of wealth and earnings to the poor. Those aware that the reward of worship increases during the month of Ramadan either withheld charity until Ramadan or increased it during this holy month. Fitr is a form of charity unique to the month of Ramadan. The giving of fitr is a sign of gratitude for being allowed to experience this holy month and to be able to fast; these alms would be distributed before the end of Ramadan and Eid. Fitr is money given by every person; it should be enough to meet the needs of a fellow Muslim and is given in return for having the joy of completing the fast during the month of Ramadan. The distribution of this charity by the head of the family before Eid prayers is a condition of the Islamic faith. The giving of this money, in addition to the alms distributed during Ramadan, helps to meet the needs of the poor at Eid.

Another practice that acts as an excellent example to demonstrate how charity and solidarity reached a peak among the people of Istanbul should also be mentioned. This was an implementation called the sadaka taşı (or charity stone); this was a manifestation of a unique practice in a society that took its moral principles from the Islamic faith. The sadaka taşı acted as an intermediator of the wealthy in assisting the poor, preventing any kind of ostentation or hypocrisy, while at the same time ensuring that those in need did not have to beg. When in need, the poor would go and take the amount of money needed from the sadaka taşı, leaving the remainder for other needy residents. In this system, where neither the donator nor the recipients knew who the other was, the wealthy were given an opportunity to help the needy without creating offense. The sadaka taşı were generally placed in a suitable corner of religious institutions, such as the courtyards or gardens of mosques, madrasas and lodges, and next to fountains. They were in the shape of a column, over a meter high, made of stone or marble; they could be either round or square, plain or decorated, and had a basin carved in the center. This basin held the coins that were placed in the sadaka taşı.53 Those who wished to donate money generally chose to go there at night or at times when there was no one around.

21- Medina and Mecca (<em>Dalail al-Khayrat</em>)

Sacrificial Animals and Eid al-Adha

In Istanbul, the practices of Eid al-Adha, the second of the religious festivals, were not very different from those in other regions of the Ottoman geography.

As is known, in Istanbul and Anatolia those who were finically able to do so would sacrifice a sheep during Eid al-adha. In view of this, a few days before the Eid those who had a suitable place would purchase either a ram or sheep, in compliance with the religious conditions for every eligible member of the family.

These animals would be cared for in the garden of the house for a few days, they were washed, their fur was combed and olive oil would be rubbed into the horns. Another custom during Eid al-Adha was that men who were engaged would decorate a ram with ribbons and a gold coin, and send it to their fiancée.

On the morning of Eid al-Adha, the men of the house would go to the Eid prayers. During the Eid sermon, the imam reminded the people about the rules regarding the sacrificing of animals and the recital of the takbir al-tashriq (praise and glorification of Allah).

The recital of the takbir al-tashriq began with the morning prayers the day before the Eid; the recital of “Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar la ilahe illallahu wa Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar wa lillahi’l-hamd” after the obligatory prayers would continue until the afternoon prayers on the fourth day of Eid. This phrase would be recited twenty-three times in total. As this is deemed obligatory by the Hanafi school, this would be recited after the prayers.

This practice was followed by the exchange of Eid greetings among the congregation. Graves of family members would be visited and then the people would return home. As the owners of the animals would sacrifice the animals themselves, they would go to the slaughtering area wearing an apron. In an attempt to prevent any unwanted odors while sacrificing the animal, incense was burned in a hole that had been dug to collect the blood. The animal would be sacrificed with a sharp knife while the takbir was recited. Aspects such as ensuring that the knife was sharp enough to prevent suffering to the animal, sharpening the knife where the animal could not see it and leading the animal to the hole where it was to be sacrificed gently, without force, were all practices implemented with great care.54 A small amount of blood from the first animal sacrificed would be rubbed on the forehead of the youngest member of the family, and if the animal skin was not to be used at home, it would be donated to an institute such as a madrasa, mosque or lodge. After all the animals had been sacrificed, the head of the family would go home and perform two rak‘ah of supererogatory prayer to express gratitude to the Creator. The head of the family would then exchange Eid greetings with the other members of the family; while kissing the hands of the elders, the younger members of the family would kiss the hand of the head of the family. If there were servants, they would come one at a time and exchange Eid greetings and kiss the hand of the employer, and then exchange Eid greetings with one another.55

22- Qur’an al-Karim: Chapters of al-Fatiha and al-Baqara

The meat from the animals was divided into three. One part would be kept at home, while the other two parts were distributed to neighbors and friends, to students of the madrasas and to those on duty at the police station. The trotters, tripe, liver and head would be kept at home; a dish would be made from the trotters, soup from the tripe, the liver would be fried and the head boiled. In the meantime, another custom of Eid al-Adha was that the head of the family would not eat anything until the meat had been cooked.56

After the sacrifice was complete and the meat had been eaten for breakfast, then the Eid visits began. When visiting, families walked to closer distances, and used public transportation or hired a carriage for longer distances. These visits continued throughout the Eid holiday.


It is also necessary to speak of the various implementations regarding Hajj in the religious life in Istanbul. The first was the caravan known as Surra Alay (a caravan of gifts sent by the Ottoman sultan), which was sent to Mecca and Medina after an official ceremony.57

Farewell and Welcoming Ceremonies for the Pilgrims

A custom that residents of Istanbul gave importance to was attending the farewell ceremony of those who intended to perform the hajj, in order to share in their happiness on their departure, as well as welcoming them on their return. On the day that the pilgrims were to leave to perform the hajj, the pilgrims would gather and pray together with those who had come to see them off in one of the large mosques; they would then continue to the departure point. After the recital of the Qur’an, sermon and supplications, the candidates for hajj would bid farewell to those who had come to send them off, departing in tears.

In the early days, the only means of traveling for hajj from Istanbul was by caravan and sea; when the Hejaz Railway opened, it was now possible to travel by train and this mode of transport replaced the hajj caravan. In particular, from 1940 to 1950, due to the policies enforced by the state, travelling for hajj was forbidden; after 1950 air travel became popular and the ship voyages which had begun after 1959 did not continue for long. The journey by bus after 1970 was replaced almost exclusively by air travel after 1980.

Before the hajj caravans left, they would first visit tombs of famous Muslim saints and scholars in Istanbul, in particular the tomb of Eyüp Sultan. During the caravan period, all of the hajj caravans would gather at Üsküdar on a specific day. After the ceremony here, the caravan would then head towards Gebze. Among the people who came to see the caravan off were those who wanted to accompany the caravan to a place known as Ayrılık Çeşmesi (Fountain of Separation); this area is still known by the same name today. After reaching this point they would then return home. Some of the works, known as menâzil-i hac in Turkish literature constitute a presentation of the Istanbul-Medina-Mecca route. To obtain an idea regarding the hajj journey from Istanbul by ship, one can examine Cenab Şahabeddin’s work, entitled Hac Yolunda (On Hajj Journey, Istanbul 1325 [1909]), which consists of travel letters, or Hüseyin Vassaf’s work entitled Hâtıra-i Hicâziyye (Memories from the Hijaz)[compiled by Mehmet Akkuş], Istanbul 2012).

Istanbul also became an important focal point for the hajj journeys made by the Central Asian and Balkan Muslims. Those who were to travel to hajj from these regions would first travel to Istanbul; after attending a Friday parade here, the pilgrims would, in a manner of speaking, obtain permission from the caliph. It is known that the Özbekler Tekke (Uzbeks Lodge) in Üsküdar and in Sultanahmet were built to accommodate those who came to Istanbul from Central Asia.

23- The circles of preaching and instruction in Ayasofya Mosque (Fossati)

The home welcoming of those who completed this journey safely and returned, acquiring the title hacı, was carried out in an environment of joy and excitement; indeed it was more like a wedding or Eid celebration. The welcoming ceremony was known as hacı tehniyesi (hajj celebrations).58 When the news came that the hajj caravans had begun the return journey, the families would begin the preparations for the homecoming. The first of these duties was to paint the front door of the house green; the green door symbolized that a member of the family had performed hajj. The children also joined in the excitement of waiting; they would sing a rhyme dancing together with their friends in front of the green door:

Come father so we can turn
Let’s go to see the hajjis
Eat lokum and drink sherbet

Welcoming the pilgrims in Istanbul was carried out at the entrance to the city, in Üsküdar, in a similar manner to the sending off ceremony. Close family members would welcome the pilgrims as they descended from the vehicle in which they had travelled; they would then travel home together, accompanied by prayers and the recitation of the takbir. They would pray in front of the house, asking to be granted the means of repeating the pilgrimage and praying for those who had not yet performed the pilgrimage to attain the wealth and means of performing this duty. As the pilgrims had endured a difficult journey, visits were not usually conducted on the first day, allowing them to rest.

Occasionally, the pilgrim would be taken to a neighbor’s house rather than going directly home; after being congratulated on completing the hajj, the pilgrim would then describe the experiences on the journey.

The room in which the guests sat when visiting pilgrims was known as the tehniye odası, or welcoming room, according to the status of the pilgrim; this room would have been decorated with silk rugs, prayer mats and soft cushions. The pilgrim would sit on a couch placed in a suitable position of the room, and as the guests arrived they would be welcomed at the door by the home owner and led into this room. On some occasions, mass ceremonies were held for the pilgrims. In addition to distributing zamzam water and dates that they had brought with them, the Qur’an and Mawlid would be read, with rose oil and rosewater being offered to the guests.

As the pilgrims would generally be gone for long periods of time, up to three, four or sometimes even six months, those returning from the journey were welcomed with enthusiasm; this led to the phrase “like waiting for the hajjis to return”.59


Autodidactic Education Centers

As is known, inspirational gatherings were extremely important in the Ottoman culture. In fact, sources indicate that all sectors of the Ottoman society were brought up within the culture of these gatherings, and acted within the boundaries of specific books in an attempt to form a communal culture. The fundamental text was the Qur’an; learning to read and memorize the shorter chapters of the Qur’an constituted the first step in primary education. This practice, known as Âmin alayı or besmele cemiyeti, in itself is a topic worthy of discussion.

Mathnawi, Bukhari and Ihya Lessons

Although this is not a practice unique to Istanbul, lessons given by the most influential, renowned names of that period are significant to the extent that they left a mark on the educational and cultural life of the city. Among these the Mathnawi, Buharî and Ihya lessons were of particular importance. In addition to the Mathnawi being taught in tekkes, there were teachers of Mathnawi who worked within the framework of the imperial mosques. Indeed, Mehmet Akif learned Persian from Esad Dede, who taught the Mathnawi in the Fatih Mosque. In order to teach this book it was necessary to have reached a sufficient level of knowledge, therefore those who obtained the icazet (license) and taught the Mathnawi were known as Mathnavîkhan, while those who taught Bukhari were known as Bukharîkhan. These kinds of activities, generally referred to as “autodidact”, are in a sense an extended education; in another sense these lessons were implemented in a way that bore features of self-education. In the tradition of Ottoman education, the location was of little significance; every place where students could gather was classified as a circle of learning and a spiritual gathering.60 In brief, the Ottoman culture maintained an education system based on the teacher-student, master-apprentice relationship. Among those educated in these institutes, names such as Kâtib Çelebi, Muallim Cevdet61and Ahmed Cevdet Pasha62 can be included. Osman Nuri Ergin listed the places of studying in what Europeans called an “autodidact” system, translated before the Tanzimat as “a person who teaches and learns himself”, or “intellectual with no teacher” or “unschooled intellectual”, as the home and association gatherings, mosques, tekkes , government offices, libraries and coffeehouses/teashops.

24- Eyüp Sultan Mosque (Pardoe)

House and Room Gatherings

Holding gatherings for the purpose of reading books in rooms allocated for the entertainment of guests, particularly during the winter months, was a routine practice. Ahmed Rasim tells us that in the months of Ramadan which fell in the winter, gatherings would be held in the homes; works such as books on hadith, stories of great spiritual figures, stories of battles and books on geography, history and the life of the Prophet would be read at these gatherings.63 These gatherings, which continued until quite recently, were conducted by a knowledgeable person reading from a section of a book, and then giving clear explanations for the parts that were difficult to understand. During such activities, a method of reading was occasionally used in which theatric skills become involved; this was used to make the time more enjoyable and to encourage spiritual emotions and development.64

The houses and mansions of Istanbul were the main centers of Ottoman culture where education was carried out. It is known that many poets and musicians would come together; in addition, calligraphers also met in many locations of the city. Indeed, the gatherings of the Encümen-i Şuara (assembly of poets) were held in the home of Hersekli Arif Hikmet Bey in Çukurçeşme, Laleli. These kinds of gatherings, held under the tuition of Cevdet Pasha in the Murad Molla Tekke in Çarşamba, Istanbul, as well as in Süleyman Fehim Efendi’s home in Karagümrük were extremely effective.

This method of learning was not used solely by men; it is also known that women attended education-learning activities of a similar kind. In addition to teaching in primary education institutes, these well-trained teachers transformed certain homes and rooms into educational institutes where they taught students.

Mosque Lectures

In Ottoman culture, in addition to sermons, the duties of the imam and müezzins also included duties such as lectures, preaching, pulpit sermons, Friday sermons and recital of the Qur’an; in this way the mosques became extensive teaching-educational institutes that covered a number of subjects. An education of the highest quality, both in terms of the teachers and students, was provided in the mosques of Istanbul. Again, throughout Ottoman history, the mosques of Istanbul provided educational and cultural services that were open to the public; these services were provided from the pulpits of the mosques, with lessons in tafsir, hadith and fiqh.

Two functions were prominent in the mosques; the first was providing knowledge and counselling on religious-ethical affairs, provided through lectures and sermons, while the second consisted of lessons conducted in the form of conferences. The lectures and sermons were delivered on Fridays, Laylat al-Qadr and on the days of Eid, as well as on specific days, such as Mondays and Thursdays; they would be delivered by the imam, lecturers and preachers.65 It is known that as a result of attending these kinds of speeches and lectures, which were aimed at educating the public on a regular basis, the neighborhood bekçi, the elderly, the milkman or water seller would all be able to attain sufficient knowledge, which they could then convey to those around them. Thus, with this simple but creative spiritual material a great variety of people had the opportunity of becoming educated, even if they were illiterate.66

The second function of the mosque which directly concerned education were the lessons known as cami dersleri (mosque lessons); these were usually given at all times throughout the day; however, it was more common for such lessons to be given outside working hours, after the morning or afternoon prayers. The morning lessons would be conducted between the morning prayers and midmorning. Tradesmen, apprentices and candidates for the Sublime Porte benefitted from this learning opportunity.

Before the young boys who had learned to read and write, studying basic religious teachings in the neighborhood schools until the age of twelve, and sometimes even memorizing the Qur’an, went to a madrasa, they would generally attend these lessons in the mosques. While those who had the opportunity could continue their education in the larger mosques, such as Fatih, Süleymaniye or Beyazıt mosques, others who had obtained a diploma after acquiring sufficient religious knowledge would resume the occupations of their fathers. Attending the lessons at the mosque regularly was considered to be important in terms of status. Many people boasted of listening to lessons given by famous teachers of the period. It was considered to be advantageous to have attended such lessons when applying for a post as a civil servant.67 Indeed, it is known that Muallim Cevdet learned Arabic by regularly attending the lessons in the Beyazıt Mosque.68

In fact, it appears that each of the mosques hosted lessons in various branches of Islamic sciences. For example, it is known that Nuruosmaniye Mosque had an area for those who learned calligraphy; Arif Efendi was famous for the calligraphy lessons he gave in this mosque. Sometimes these lessons were executed in an adjoining room that had a door opening out into the mosque. Students who were taking basic lessons attended the more general lessons in the mosque.69 As a requirement of the law, the tradition of the dersiams (public teaching) was led by the Sheikh al-Islam. Those holding this position visited Beyazıt Mosque once a week and gave instruction and advice regarding religious topics to the public and preachers from Istanbul mosques. From the eighteenth century, the Sheikh al-Islams transferred this duty to individuals who were known as ders vekili.70

In many places, mosques became locations in which educational services were given firsthand. The practice of using mosques as teaching institutions, particularly in the education of children, was widespread. In the 1950, after an almost fifteen-year interval during the Republic, a period in which religious activities were forbidden, the learning of the Qur’an and religious knowledge began once again during the summer months in mosques;71 this practice still continues today.

Coffee Houses/Reading Houses

The kahvehane (coffee-houses) which were introduced into Turkish cultural lives were referred to in Ottoman literature as mekteb-i arifân (schools of the wise people) or mecma-ı irfan (gathering of wisdom). Although there were varying judgments in favor and opposing kahvehanes, these locations were frequented by scholars, and thus proved to be beneficial as educational meeting places. The neighborhood kahvehane became a place where religious-epical texts were read. Mosques played a significant role in the opening of these kahvehanes. Suitable locations were designated beside places of worship for those who came to the mosques before prayer time and found the doors of the mosque closed, or those who wanted to pass their spare time between prayer times, sitting and waiting for the call to prayer; over a period of time these locations became known as coffee-shops as coffee would be served to the patrons. After printing became more widespread, specific journals, treatises and books were read in kahvehanes; thus, these locations became known as kıraathane (reading room). The transformation of the Istanbul kahvehanes into centers of education and culture occurred particularly during Ramadan. In fact, Çaycı Rıza’s kahvehane in Şehzadebaşı was a location frequented by many scholars, poets and artisans, as well as being a place where the best musicians performed. In these kahvehanes and kıraathanes, it was a regular practice to read books and perform plays, such as karagöz (puppet shows), allowing people to enjoy their time until the prayer time, particularly between the evening and night prayers. As these kahvehanes were generally located next to the mosque, in the center of the neighborhood, in addition to the community passing time while gathering with friends, a basis for gatherings, although not to the extent that occurred on the Anatolian side of the city, where storytellers told short stories, minstrels recited poems while playing the saz (stringed musical instrument), where religious, literary and historical gatherings were held, and subtle literary epigrams were delivered.



The word for greetings or salutations, selamlama originates from the name Islam, and with its abundance of meaning constitutes one of the main terms of Islamic culture and civilization. Our ancestors, acting in accordance with this, reflected the meaning of giving greetings into the daily life; these greetings were perceived as a means of promoting human relationships. Indeed, when an individual says Esselamü aleyküm to somebody, they meet, they are actually praying that this person is “safe from any kind of difficulty or harm” and praying that they “may attain goodness”. In addition, it is also an expression of friendship. Guer, a European traveler said: “The Turkish people have splendid principles of politeness, and all of them observe these with deep sincerity. As a sign of this, when they meet they greet one another by placing their right hand over their heart.”

In his book titled Önce Selâm Sonra Kelâm (First Greeting and then Conversation), Müstakimzade Süleyman Sadeddin Efendi explains that greetings are the essence and principle of speech, while speech is the equivalent of uttering the basmala. As a believer stands in the presence of the Creator supplicating, “O Allah! You are peace and from You comes peace”72 after every prayer performed with total submission, using the term vessalam, in which the word selam is included, has also become a tradition.

Avni Bey, an Ottoman writer, also points out that the Ottoman salutation generated into various expressions. For example, while a learned person would always say Esselamü aleyküm, others would say Sabah-ı şerifleriniz hayrolsun (may the goodness of the morning be upon you) in the morning and Akşam-ı şerifleriniz hayrolsun (may the goodness of the evening be upon you) at the end of the day.

In Ottoman society, there was also a form of salutation called temenna, meaning “wish, request and desire” in Arabic: This form of greeting, which is described as “a person lowering his right hand to his chest or - if he gave more importance to the other person - even lower towards the knees, and then first touching the finger of the right hand on his lips and then the forehead,” is indirectly saying to the other person “I will kiss the dust on your feet and place it on my head” or expressing “May Allah grant you a life of goodness” with gestures.

Mawlid Ceremonies

It would certainly not be an exaggeration to say that the affection the Ottoman society felt towards Prophet Muhammad was so great that it was incomparable with that of other societies. Süleyman Çelebi’s Mawlid, called Vesîletü’n-necât, meaning salvation, is the most famous of almost two hundred pieces written in this field. As the name suggests, this Mathnawi (poem of rhyming couplets), which reflects that the road to salvation and its formula is centered upon love for the Prophet, was extremely popular in Ottoman lands. This work contributed greatly to the formation of Ottoman culture, and reading it was recognized as fundamental religious ritual in Istanbul. Indeed, holding Mawlids in nearly every mosque that was attended by state officials and scholars on the nights of holy celebration, as well as by the public, on occasions to mark births, deaths, circumcisions or weddings became a widespread practice; these events were held to share happiness or to overcome difficulties.

The Mawlid al-Nabi, which marked the birthday of Prophet Muhammad, was one of the most popular religious ceremonies during the Ottoman period. The ceremonies in question were carried out in different forms, including those held in the Istanbul palaces, mansions and homes; Mawlid parades were attended by the sultan and there were ceremonies in imperial mosques. Although there is no accurate information regarding when the mawlid was first celebrated, these ceremonies have been reported to have gone back as far as Osman I (Osman Gazi); these celebrations began to appear in palace ceremonies from the reign of Suleyman the Magnificent, and became official during the reign of Murad III. Sources provide information that the mawlid was read in the tent of Sultan Suleyman on the night of 12 Rabi‘ al-awwal, at a time when there were attempts to conceal the death of the sultan. It is also reported that the mawlid was read on the following night in the tent of the grand vizier. It appears that the celebration of mawlid al-Nabi acquired official recognition during the reign of Murad III, when the order to have the mawlid read in all of the sultan’s mosques and masjids was given. It is evident that these mawlid ceremonies, whether due to the celebratory, musical or artistic aspect, emerged as the highest degree of religious life in Istanbul. Although written in Bursa, and becoming widespread throughout the entire Ottoman geography, “It appears that the mawlid ceremonies acquired maturity in Istanbul.”73 The tradition of lighting candles on the minarets and in front of homes and shops in the city on this occasion, accompanied by the firing of five cannons began during the reign of Mahmud II, in 1835.74

It was generally customary to hold the celebration known as the Mevlid alayı or Mawlid parade, attended by the sultan, in Sultanahmet Mosque. As the sultan approached the mosque with the palace officials, the sheikhs of Ayasofya and Sultanahmet mosques would deliver a short sermon, and sherbet would be distributed to the people at the end of the sermon. After this, verses from the Mawlid of Süleyman Çelebi would be read by the Mawlidkhan and the ceremony would be concluded with the recital of prayers performed by the duakhan (prayer leader); the sultan would return to the palace accompanied by these prayers.

In addition, the Mawlid was read in nearly all the mansions belonging to statesman and the wealthy, as well as in private homes, and would be attended by large crowds in Ottoman Istanbul. After the Mawlid had been completed, rosewater and sweets, specially prepared for the Mawlid, would be offered and sherbet would be served to the guests.


1 For more detailed information, see: Halil İnalcık, “İstanbul: Bir İslam Sehri,” İstanbul Armağanı: Fetih ve Fatih, prepared by Mustafa Armağan, Istanbul: İstanbul Büyükşehir Belediyesi, 1995, I, 73-74.

2 Yahya Kemal, Aziz İstanbul, Istanbul: İstanbul Fatih Cemiyeti, 1985, p. 121.

3 Adalet Bayramoğlu Alada, Osmanlı Şehrinde Mahalle, Istanbul: Sümer Kitabevi, 2008, pp. 136-137.

4 Inalcık, “Istanbul: Bir İslâm Şehri”, p. 75.

5 Reşad Ekrem Koçu, “Ezan”, İst.A, X, 5471-5472

6 Reşad Ekrem Koçu, “Cami Tenbihi”, İst.A, VI, 3358.

7 Osman Nuri Ergin, Türkiye Şehirciliğinin Tarihî İnkişafı, Istanbul: İstanbul Üniversitesi Hukuk Fakültesi İktisadi ve İçtimaiyat Enstitüsü neşriyatı, 1936, p. 1097.

8 Yahya Kemal, Aziz İstanbul, p. 52.

9 Yahya Kemal Aziz İstanbul p. 63.

10 For further information, see: Ahmed Vefa Çobanoğlu, “Külliye”, DİA, XXVI, 543.

11 İnalcık, “İstanbul: Bir İslâm Şehri”, p. 74.

12 Alada, Osmanlı Şehrinde Mahalle, pp. 164-165.

13 Uğur Göktaş, “Mahalle İmamı”, DBIst.A, V, 241; Mustafa Küçükaşcı, “Müezzin”, DİA, XXXI, 493.

14 Süheyl Ünver, Fatih Külliyesi ve Zamanı İlim Hayatı, Istanbul 1946, pp. 52-54; Cahit Baltacı, “Osmanlı Eğitim Sistemi”, Yaşamları ve Yapıtlarıyla Osmanlılar Ansiklopedisi, Istanbul 1999, II, 123,127.

15 Ünver, Fatih Külliyesi ve Zamanı İlim Hayatı, pp. 26-27; see also: Baltacı, “Osmanlı Eğitim Sistemi”, II, 123.

16 Yahya Kemal, Aziz İstanbul, p. 120.

17 Ergin, Türkiye’de Şehirciliğin Tarihî İnkişafı, p. 106, 108;, Türkiye Maarif Tarihi, Istanbul: Eser Matbaası, 1977, I, 208-209.

18 Mehmet Zeki Pakalın, “Cuma Vaizi”, Osmanlı Tarih Deyimleri ve Terimleri Sözlüğü, Istanbul: Milli Eğitim Bakanlığı, 1983, I, 310.

19 Mehmet İpşirli, “Ayasofya Kürsü Şeyhliği”, DİA, IV, 224.

20 Pakalın, “Cuma Salası”, Osmanlı Tarih Deyimleri, I, 304.

21 Hatice Kelpetin Arpaguş, Osmanlı Halkının Geleneksel Islâm Anlayışı ve Kaynakları, Istanbul: Çamlıca Yayınları, 2006, p. 64.

22 Ergin, Türkiye’de Şehirciliğin Tarihî İnkişafı, p. 112; Ergin, Türk Maarif Tarihi, I, 212-213.

23 Yazıcızâde Ahmed Bîcan, Envârü’l-âşikīn, Istanbul: Sahafiye-i Osmaniye Matbaası, 1306, pp. 330-331.

24 Nuri Özcan and Mustafa Uzun, “Cenaze Salâsı”, DİA, VII, 358.

25 Abdurrahman b. Yûsuf Aksarâyî, İmâdü’l-İslâm, Marmara University, Faculty of Theology Library, Ali Rıza Hakses, no. 202, ff. 79a-80b.

26 “Cenaze”, TA, X, 168; R. Lewis, Osmanlı Türkiyesinde Gündelik Hayat, tr. Mefkure Polay, Istanbul: Doğan Kardeş Yayınları, 1973, pp. 108-109. For practices unique to Istanbul on the subject, see M. Halit Bayrı’s book Istanbul Folkloru.

27 Nesimi Yazıcı, “Maarif Dergisi Penceresinden Osmanlı Başkentinden 1892 Ramazanına Bir Bakış”, ISTEM, (2003), vo. 1, no. 1, p. 58.

28 Balıkhâne Nâzırı Ali Rıza Bey, İstanbul’da Ramazan Mevsimi, prepared by by Ali Şükrü Çoruk, Istanbul: Kitabevi, 1998, pp. 49-50.

29 Balıkhâne Nâzırı, İstanbul’da Ramazan Mevsimi, pp. 44-45.

30 Nihal Kadıoğlu, “Ramazan Gelenekleri”, DBIst.A, VI, 304.

31 Balıkhâne Nâzırı, Istanbul’da Ramazan Mevsimi, p. 42.

32 Balıkhâne Nâzırı, Istanbul’da Ramazan Mevsimi, p. 19.

33 Erol Özbilgen, Bütün Yönleriyle Osmanlı, Istanbul: İz Yayıncılık, 2007, p. 479.

34 Balıkhâne Nâzırı, Istanbul’da Ramazan Mevsimi, pp. 38-41; Özbilgen, Bütün Yönleriyle Osmanlı, pp. 480-481.

35 Pakalın, “Mahya”, Osmanlı Tarih Deyimleri, II, 387.

36 Balıkhâne Nâzırı, Istanbul’da Ramazan Mevsimi, p. 18; A. Süheyl Ünver, “Mahya ve Mahyacılık”, İstanbul Risaleleri, Istanbul: İstanbul Büyükşehir Belediyesi Kültür İşleri Daire Başkanlığı, 1995, I, 48.

37 Uğur Göktaş, “Mahyacılık”, DBİst.A, V, 275. In the travelogue of Salomon Schweigger, who visited Istanbul in 1578, there is a picture of a mahya. Also, Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq, the Austrian ambassador, relates that the practice of using the candles was a method resorted to because defining iftar time on winter nights when the sky was overcast was difficult. (Türkiye’yi Böyle Gördüm, prepared by Aysel Kurutluoğlu, Istanbul, undated. [Tercüman 1001 Temel Eser], p. 147).

38 Ünver, “Mahya ve Mahyacılık”, I, 49-54.

39 Balıkhâne Nâzırı, Istanbul’da Ramazan Mevsimi, p. 92.

40 Ahmed Rasim, Ramazan Sohbetleri, İstanbul, undated: Kervan Publications, p. 139.

41 Balıkhâne Nâzırı, Istanbul’da Ramazan Mevsimi, p. 32; Özbilgen, Bütün Yönleriyle Osmanlı, p. 480.

42 Ahmed Rasim, Ramazan Sohbetleri, pp. 76-80.

43 Firdevs Çetin, “XVI. Asır Alman Seyyahlarına Göre Osmanlı Toplumu (Müslüman Davranış ve Törenleri ile Dini Mekânlar)”, VD, (2010), vol. 34, p. 29.

44 Nebi Bozkurt, “Mukabele”, DİA, XXXI, 100.

45 Balıkhâne Nâzırı, İstanbul’da Ramazan Mevsimi, pp. 34, 38, 64.

46 Balıkhâne Nâzırı, İstanbul’da Ramazan Mevsimi, pp. 32-33; Samiha Ayverdi, İbrahim Efendi Konağı, Istanbul: Kubbealtı Neşriyat, 1999, p. 106.

47 Pakalın, “Kadir Gecesi”, Osmanlı Tarih Deyimleri, II, 132.

48 Mustafa Uzun, “Kadir Gecesi”, DİA, XXIV, 126.

49 Balıkhâne Nâzırı, İstanbul’da Ramazan Mevsimi, pp. 63-64.

50 Balıkhâne Nâzırı, İstanbul’da Ramazan Mevsimi, p. 64.

51 Uzun, “Kadir Gecesi”, p. 126.

52 Reşad Ekrem Koçu, “Bayram”, IstA., IV, 2884.

53 Ahmet Ali Bayhan, “Çivitçioğlu Medresesi Sadaka Taşı”, Çankırı Araştırmaları Dergisi, (2010), no. 5-6, p. 26.

54 Aksarâyî, İmâdü’l-İslâm, f. 70a.

55 Abdülaziz Bey, Osmanlı Âdet, Merasim ve Tabirleri, prepared by Kazım Arısan-Duygu Arısan Günay, Istanbul: Tarih Vakfı Yurt Yayınları, 2002, pp. 264-265.

56 Aksarâyî, İmâdü’l-İslâm, f. 69a.

57 For the Surre-i Hümayun, see: section on Politics and Administration, Surre-i Hümayun Başlığı.

58 Pakalın, “Hacı Tehniyesi”, Osmanlı Tarih Deyimleri, I, 698.

59 TDK Deyimler Sözlüğü (Turkish Language Institute Phrases Dictionary)

60 Arpaguş, Osmanlı Halkının Geleneksel İslâm Anlayışı, p. 64.

61 Ergin, Türkiye Şehirciliğinin Tarihî Inkişafı, I, 108; Osman Ergin (ed.), Muallim M. Cevdet’in Hayatı Eserleri ve Kütüphanesi, Istanbul: İstanbul Belediyesi, 1937, pp. 9, 17.

62 Cevdet Paşa, Tezâkir, compiled by Cavid Baysun, Ankara: Türk Terih Kurumu Yayınları, 1986, pp. 8, 10; see also: Ergin, Türkiye Şehirciliğinin Tarihî İnkişafı, I, 112.

63 Ahmed Rasim, Ramazan Sohbetleri, pp. 153-154 Arpaguş, Osmanlı Halkının Geleneksel İslâm Anlayışı, p. 69.

64 Arpaguş, Osmanlı Halkının Geleneksel İslâm Anlayışı, p. 69.

65 J. Pedersen, “Mescid”, İA, VIII, 74; Ergin, Türk Şehirlerinde İmaret Sistemi, pp. 19-20.

66 Ayverdi, İbrahim Efendi Konağı, p. 115.

67 Musahibzâde Celâl, Eski İstanbul Yaşayışı, Istanbul: Türkiye Yayınevi, 1946 p. 34; Necdet Sakaoğlu, “Cami Dersleri”, DBİst.A, II, 374; cf. Arpaguş, Osmanlı Halkının Geleneksel İslâm Anlayışı, p. 72.

68 Ergin, Muallim M. Cevdet’in Hayatı, p. 9; cf. Arpaguş, Osmanlı Halkının Geleneksel İslâm Anlayışı, p. 72.

69 Pedersen, “Mescid”, İA, VIII, 74; Ahmet Önkal & Nebi Bozkurt, “Cami”, DİA, VII, 51.

70 Sakaoğlu, “Cami Dersleri”, II, 374.

71 Önkal and Bozkurt, “Cami”, VII, 51.

72 Muslim “Mesâcid”, 135-136; Tirmidhî, “Salât”, 108; Ebû Dâvûd “Vitr”, 25-27.

73 Mehmet Şeker, “Mevlid”, DİA, XIX, 479.

74 Balıkhâne Nâzırı, İstanbul’da Ramazan Mevsimi, p. 18.

This article was translated from Turkish version of History of Istanbul with some editions to be published in a digitalized form in 2019.

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