Why were the personal belongings of the Prophet taken to Egypt?

The Details of the Question

- Are there any personal belongings of the Prophet in Arabia? Why were his personal belongings taken to Egypt?
​- Will you give detailed information about the Sacred Trusts?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The Sacred Trusts (Relics) are some things belonging to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), some other prophets, Companions, great personalities of Islam and Haramayn.

An important part of those relics was taken to Egypt by the members of Abbasid dynasty who fled to Egypt when Baghdad was invaded by Hulagu. A great part of those relics reached Egypt.

There are sacred relics in many places in the world including Arabia.

605 relics of the sacred trusts, most of which were brought from Egypt when Sultan Selim I conquered Egypt and after the conquest, some of which were obtained by the purchase of some statesmen and some of which were sent to Istanbul by Fakhruddin Pasha, the Defender of Madinah, so that they would not be captured by the British or be plundered when the Turkish soldiers had to retreat from Hejaz, are in the Department of the Sacred Trusts in Topkapi Palace now; some of them are in the departments of treasury, weapons, fabrics and library.  

The things that belonged to the Prophet (pbuh) or used by him were preserved meticulously by the Companions and the generations after them.

Bukhari had a sub-chapter called, “The armor, staff, sword, glass and seal of the Prophet (pbuh) that were not mentioned to be divided and that were used by the caliphs after him, and his hair, shoes and pots and pans that the Companions and others preserved for blessing”. (Fardul-Khumus, 5)

It is understood from some narrations that Umm Salama had some of his hair (Bukhari, Libas, 66), that Hz. Aisha had one of his cardigans (Musnad, VI, 348; Muslim, Libas, 10) and that people used them for cure and blessing acting upon the example of Hz. Yaqub’s eyes starting to see again after blindness due to weeping when wiped by Hz Yusuf’s shirt (Yusuf, 12/93, 96).

The Companions preserved the hair of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) when he had a haircut and trimmed his beard; there are some people who said they would prefer one single hair of the Prophet (pbuh) to the whole world. (Bukhari, Wudu, 33) When a disagreement occurred on the issue of caliphate, Umayyad wanted to have some things belonging to the Prophet (pbuh) like his pulpit, cardigan and flag in order to make people support them; Muwiyah paid 20.000 dirhams for the Prophet’s cardigan, which later became one of the symbols of caliphate. (DİA, XVII, 375)

It is narrated that Umar b. Abdulaziz showed the Qurayshis who came to visit him in the room next to his room the following things that belonged to the Messenger of Allah: a bed woven from fibers of date palm, a leather cushion filled with fibers of date palm, a velvet covering he used as a quilt, a big plate, a water bowl, a garment, a hand mill and a quiver.   

One of those who served the last Umayyad caliph, Marwan II, showed Amir b. Ismail, who killed him, the place of those things that were hidden lest they should be taken by Sons of Hashim, in order to save his life; those belongings of the Prophet were given to Abul-Abbas as-Saffah. (Mas‘udi, III, 246-247)

The relics that were transferred to Abbasids and that were taken to Egypt by the members of Abbasids who fled to Egypt when Baghdad was invaded by Hulagu were obtained by the Ottomans when Sultan Selim I conquered Egypt.

According to the information given by Evliya Çelebi, those relics were found among the Treasures of Egypt, which were kept in Alexandria Castle to be taken to Maghrib (Morocco)in case Qansu Ghawri was defeated by the Ottomans; they consist of the following things:

- a red flag with a picture of lion and the phrase “nasrun minallah” written in Kufi calligraphy,
- the tooth of the Prophet (pbuh) broken at the Battle of Uhud in a box inlaid with jewelry,
- a handful of beard of the Prophet,
- a container for kohl and its stick,
- a pitcher for wudu woven from date palm fibers and tarred from inside,
- prayer beads made of pine cones,
- clogs made of boxwood,
- a staff,
- a pair of shoes,
- two cardigans,
- date palm fibers,
- a yellowish white and finely woven caftan,
- a black sword,
- a belt made of camel wool,
- a garment made of camel wool,
- a turban made of camel wool
- a decorated white conic hat.

They were wrapped in packages of fabric embroidered with gold and silver and the words “Hadha mukhallafatu Rasulillah” were written on them.

Evliya Çelebi states that Sultan Selim I wiped them over his face and eyes and sealed them himself by saying “Shafa’ah ya Rasulallah”.

Those packages were sent to Istanbul by a ship along with a turban attributed to Hz. Yusuf, a knife, a sundial and swords of the four caliphs. (Seyahatnâme, X, 122-124)

It is also stated that the flag of the Prophet, which Evliya Çelebi listed among the relics, was brought from Egypt later, during the sultanate of Sulayman I, the Magnificent. (Danişmend, II, 43)

After the conquest of Egypt, Haramayn (Masjid al-Haram in Makkah and Masjid an-Nabawi in Madinah), which were under the sovereignty of Mamelukes, accepted the sovereignty of the Ottomans and the Amir of Makkah, Sharif II Barakat b. Muhammad al-Hasani, sent the keys to the Kaaba and some sacred relics that he kept to the Ottoman Sultan, who was in Cairo then. It is not exactly known what relics they are but it is highly probable that they are among the relics belonging to Haramayn.

Some relics attributed to the Prophet (pbuh) and the Companions, the keys to the Kaaba, a case for Hajar al-Aswad, a golden gutter and others were sent to Istanbul afterwards. 

According to what Sayyid Luqman writes in Şehinşâhnâme (İÜ Library., FY, nr. 1404, p. 23a-25a) and Zübdetü’t-Tevârîh (TSMK, Hazine, nr. 1321, p. 102b), the sword that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) used at the Battle of Uhud and gave Hz. Umar as a gift and which was later transferred to the Ummayyad, Abbasids and Sultan Baybars al-Bunduqdari, was brought to Istanbul and given to Sultan Murad III.

The most important relics that are preserved in the museum and some of which are displayed are as follows:

- The Prophet’s Cardigan.

It is the cardigan the Prophet (pbuh) put on Ka‘b b. Zuhayr, when he recited the poem that the Prophet (pbuh) liked very much while becoming a Muslim in his presence. This cardigan, which gave its name to that poem and the room in the Department of Sacred Relics, is regarded as the most important relic of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh).

- The Prophet’s Flag (Standard).

The original flag, which is thought to be the Prophet’s (pbuh) flag called “Uqab”, wore off in the course of time and virtually became dust and crumbs. Therefore, it is preserved in a green satin bag in a silver box along with a new flag made by the Ottoman and taken to the big military expeditions with the army. (nr. 21/19)

- The Prophet’s Letters.

These letters, which were sent to Muqawqis (nr. 21/174), Mundhir b. Sawa, the governor of al-Ahsa (nr. 21/397), Musaylimatulkadhdhab, who claimed to be a prophet, (nr. 21/169) and Harith b. Abu Shamir, the Amir of Ghassanis (nr. 21/674) resemble the chapters of the Quran that were written on leather by revelation scribes and that are preserved in the same place in terms of material and writing style  (al-Qadr [nr. 21/674], at-Takathur [nr. 21/293], al-Humaza [nr. 21/395], Tabbat [nr. 21/294]).

- Hz. Uthman’s Mushaf (Quran).

The Mushaf attributed to Hz. Uthman. (Hırka-i Saâdet, nr. 32)

- The Prophet’s Tooth.

It is the part of the tooth of the Messenger of Allah that was broken at the Battle of Uhud; it is preserved in a bejeweled box made by Sultan Mehmed VI.

- The Strands of the Prophet’s Beard (lihye-i saâdetler; nr. 21/35, 402, 457).

They are kept in special glass cases along with a strand of beard attributed to Hz. Abu Bakr (nr. 21/462). However, some of them are long enough to form a lock; since it is known that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) did not grow his beard longer than a fist and that he sometimes lengthened his hair down to his shoulders, it will be seen that they are strands of hair, not beard.

- The Prophet’s Bow (kemân-ı peygamberî; nr. 21/69).

It is a bow of 118 cm. long and is made from a knotty tree of the species of reed; its silver case embellished with gold bronze and niello work was made by Sultan Ahmed I.

- The Prophet’s Staff (nr. 21/66).

The staff attributed to the Prophet (pbuh) is 148 cm. long and has hexagonal cuts; according to the record about it, the staff was made from the wooden parts of Rawda al-Mutahhara when they were changed during restoration and kept as a blessing. There are silver inserts with knobs, one of which is longer than the others.    

Another staff that has rectangular cuts was made during the repair of the Kaaba and the silver inserts has bejeweled inscriptions.

- The Prophet’s Clogs (na‘leyn-i şerîfeyn).

They are the clogs attributed to the Prophet (pbuh).

- The Prophet’s Footprints (nakş-ı kadem-i saâdet).

They are the footprints attributed to the Prophet (pbuh).

The Prophet’s Seal (nr. 21/167).

The phrase “Muhammad rasulullah” is written on the red sardonyx seal in the form of a rectangular ring stone that was found in Baghdad in the 19th century and sent to Istanbul. However, it is not the original seal of the Prophet stamped on his letters; it is a copy of it made later. Hz. Uthman dropped the original seal into a well.

- The Prophet’s Drinking Glass (nr. 21/37).

The Companions also preserved the things that did not belong to the Prophet but that he used. One of the examples of it is the water bowl found among the things Umar b. Abdulaziz preserved.

Once, the Prophet (pbuh) was sitting in the shade of Banu Saidah and asked Sahl b. Sa’d, who was fifteen years old then, to bring him some water. Sahl kept the wooden water bowl in which he gave the Prophet (pbuh) water and gave it as a gift to Umar b. Abdulaziz, who requested it from him later. (Bukhari, Ashriba, 30; Muslim, Ashriba, 88)

This bowl, which was transferred to a few people, was covered with silver and its story was inscribed on it.

- The Prophet’s Tayammum Stone (nr. 21/676).

It is a cuneiform tablet belonging to the New Assyrian Period of 7th century BC; the Prophet (pbuh) used it for tayammum in battles.  

- Hz. Fatima’s Shirt (kamîs-i fahrü’n-nisâ; nr. 21/464).

It is a plain inner shirt on which some verses and supplications were written later with naskh calligraphy.

- Hz. Fatima’s Cardigan (nr. 21/459).

It was found among the heritage of Fatima Sultan of Crimean Khans and was brought to Istanbul. It is made of light brown woolen fabric with blue lining; there are knitted buttons on the chest; it has no collar; it is a plain cardigan with broad sleeves resembling a coat.

- Hz. Husayn’s Shirt (kamîs-i seyyidü’ş-şühedâ; Inventory nr. 21/74).

It is a short-sleeved collarless shirt made of thick white fabric. There are eight round buttons on the front.

- A piece of Garment Belonging to Hz. Husayn (Inventory nr. 21/479).

It is a piece of fabric with blood stains probably belonging to a cardigan.

- Hz. Musa’s Staff (nr. 21/65).

It is a 122-centimeter long straight tree branch having a knot toward the end.  

- Hz. Yusuf’s Turban (nr. 21/89).

It is a white turban made of muslin wrapped around a brown velvet conic hat; Sultan Selim I used it for a while when he conquered Egypt and some sultans after him put it on in the ceremonies of enthronement.

- Hz. Ibrahim’s (or Hz. Nuh’s) Saucepan (nr. 21/465).

It is a small stone pan of 12 cm. high with a diameter of 22 cm. carved from granite with silica; the marks of carving are left without being graded; its bottom part is wider than its mouth. It is understood from the recording on its cylindrical box that it was included among the sacred relics in 1058 H (1648 AD).

- Hz. Yahya’s Arm and Skull Bones (nr. 2/2742).

It consists of a dry arm kept in a gilded silver case in the form of an arm and a piece of skull kept in a round bejeweled case. They were brought to the palace during the sultanate of Sultan Mehmed II (1451-1481); then, they were sent to the knights of Rhodes so that they would keep Cem Sultan. Then, they were found in the Castle of Nicosia, where it was kept, in 993 H (1585 AD) and was taken to Istanbul again. (Aydın, Hırka-i Saadet Dairesi ve Mukaddes Emanetler, Istanbul 2004, p. 158-159)

Sacred Swords.

Two swords are attributed to the Prophet (pbuh) (nr. 21/129, 130),
one to Hz. Dawud (nr. 21/137),
one to Hz. Abu Bakr (nr. 21/131),
three to Hz. Umar (nr. 21/132, 133, 134),
five to Hz. Uthman (nr. 21/135; 1/203, 204, 298; 2/3775),
one to Hz. Ali (nr. 21/138),
four to Khalid b. Walid (nr. 21/144, 145, 146, 147),
two to Mudh b. Jabal (nr. 1/299, 301),
one to Ammar b. Yasir (nr. 21/149),
one to Ja‘far at-Tayyar (nr. 21/143),
one to Zubayr b. Awwam (nr. 21/140),
one to Sa‘d b. Ubada (nr. 1/110),
one to Dirar b. Azwar (nr. 1/207),
an one to Hz. Ali’s grandson Zaynulabidin (nr. 21/139). 

Two of them are described as the swords of the Companions (nr. 21/142, 148) without mentioning any names; they are recorded as the swords of the Companions.

In addition, a sword that is attributed to the scribe of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), Abul-Hasan (nr. 21/141) probably belongs to Hz. Ali because the scribe that has this nickname is Hz. Ali, who wrote the text of the Treaty of Hudaybiyya. Handles and sheaths, most of which are bejeweled, were made for the swords, some of which are in the department of weapons.

Some of the sacred relics belong to Haramayn, especially to the Kaaba and the grave of the Messenger of Allah.

Among them are
- The Kaaba’s locks and keys (for instance, see nr. 21/16; 2/2293; 2/2666),
- cases for Hajar al-Aswad (nr. 2/2521),
- wing of repentance gate (nr. 21/128),
- the Kaaba’s gutters (nr. 21/722, 21/230),
- the coverings of the Kaaba’s gate and Rawda al-Mutahhara (nr. 24/30, 46, 798; 21/94, 103),
- flags of the Prophet’s pulpit (nr. 21/96),
- coverings belonging to the grave of the Prophet (pbuh) (nr. 21/116, 123) and soil (nr. 21/58),
- coverings belonging to the graves of Hz. Abu Bakr, Hz. Fatiıma and Hz. Umar (nr. 21/119, 121, 122).

Among the scared relics are a prayer rug and a bridal veil attributed to Hz. Fatima but belonging to later periods, Karbala soil, Uways al-Qarani’s conic hat, Abu Hanifa’s gown and many other things.

Some of the sacred relics were preserved in the Treasury of the Sultan first but they were moved to Has Oda Pavilion during the sultanate of Mahmud II (1808-1839). About forty servants worked to clean, to put incense and to protect them. The sultan regarded himself as one of those servants and kept the key to the room where the box containing the cardigan of the Prophet was and the key to the box.  

Those relics, which were moved to Konya during World War I lest they should be grabbed by the enemy, were shown great respect during the period of the Turkish Republic too; they were moved to Niğde during World War II.  

The things related to the Prophet were shown great respect by Muslims beginning from the Companions and blessing was expected from them.

Islamic scholars discussed the nature of the respect shown to them and using them as a means of blessing and abundance.

Dhahabi regards showing respect to those relics as a sign of loving the Prophet (pbuh). (Alamun-Nubala, IV, 42-43)

Some scholars liken it to the respect shown to the cover and pages of the Quran (Mushaf). (see TDV İslam Ansiklopedisi, Mukaddese Emanetler item)

Click for more information:

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