In Istanbul, Tombs of Religious Figures Still Draw Pilgrims

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In Istanbul, there are numerous ancient shrines that people visit in search of spiritual solace and divine intervention. These shrines are not just historical relics, but living sites where people come to pray, make wishes, and unburden themselves from the troubles of modern life. Combining Islamic devotion, Turkish history, and folklore, these shrines play a significant role in the spiritual life of the city.

One particular shrine visited by many is the shrine of Aziz Mahmud Hudayi, known as the protector of the Bosporus. Visitors believe that by praying at this shrine, they will receive protection and blessings. Another shrine is dedicated to Yahya Efendi, a 16th-century Sufi scholar and poet. Visitors, like Fatma Akyol, spend hours praying and reading scriptures in this shrine. She believes that seeking the help of those beloved by God can act as a mediator between oneself and God.

Visitors to these shrines come with various intentions, from finding jobs and buying cars to getting healthy, finding spouses, or having children. Many people feel a deep affinity for the deceased individuals buried in these shrines. They believe that by seeking their intercession, their wishes will be fulfilled. Despite signs posted by religious authorities reminding visitors that Islam forbids praying to anyone but God, the practice of seeking help from the dead continues.

The shrine of Telli Baba, or the Father of the Threads, is another popular destination. The exact history of Telli Baba is shrouded in lore, but visitors come to make wishes and cut a piece of silver thread from the shrine. It is believed that once their wish comes true, they should return the thread to the shrine.

In Istanbul, there are four shrines that serve as protectors of the Bosporus. The final shrine is dedicated to Hazreti Yusa, or the prophet Joshua, revered by Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike. While it is uncertain if Joshua is buried there, the site holds religious significance for centuries. Visitors like Rumeysa Koc come to the shrine seeking answers or guidance. In her case, she had a terrible nightmare and received a call on the way to the shrine, informing her that her dream had not come true. She believes that her visit to the shrine was a miraculous experience that resolved her issues.

Despite warnings against seeking help from the dead, the shrines in Istanbul continue to be popular spiritual destinations for locals and visitors alike. The historical and cultural significance of these shrines, coupled with the hope of divine intervention, keeps the tradition alive. People like Mahire Turk, Fatma Akyol, and Rumeysa Koc find solace, protection, and guidance in these shrines, making them a vital part of Istanbul’s spiritual landscape.

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