With a mission of spreading Islam, many Sahabas came to Turkey centuries ago. According to the Research Centre for the Islamic History, Art and Culture, in Istanbul, the bulk of information provided about their lives is through a major booklet by a Turkish Writer-Professor Dr. A. Suheyl. As stated in the book: “Many Sahabas reached the area along the Muslim troops during the great siege. Many of them were, as the tomb stones show the brief history of their lives, martyred during the siege of Constantinople (Istanbul), and battles fought for the conquest of the city, then a strong hold of the Roman Empire.
The tombs of Sahaba are spread all over Istanbul. But a majority of them are situated close to the area of Eyub Sultan.
By Mansoor Akbar Kundi
Maqams of twenty-nine Sahaba (companions of the Holy Prophet, saw), in Istanbul
All the Sahaba came here, centuries ago, with the mission of spreading Islam through the means of jihad (action against infidels). After reaching this area, Constantinople, they breathed their last on the land, away from their kith and kin.
According to the sources, many of them reached the area along the Muslim troops during the great siege. Many of them were, as the tomb stones show the brief history of their lives, martyred during the siege of Constantinople (Istanbul), and battles fought for the conquest of the city, then a strong hold of the Roman Empire.
The graves of Sahaba are spread all over Istanbul. But a majority of them are situated close to the area of Eyub Sultan and Avansarayi. Of the well-known ones that are here, Hazrat Ayub (in Turkish spelled as Eyub) Ansari who hosted Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) in his house after the migration to Medina; Hazrat Abu Zer Ghafari; Jabir bin Abdullah, and Seyhbeth Hudri, a foster brother of the Holy Prophet, Hazrat Hudri, Hazrat Hamidullah and others.
According to the Research Centre for Islamic History, Culture and Art in Istanbul, the number of Sahaba who had reached for jihad must have been higher. Nonetheless, the graves of the ones present have traditionally been traced from generation to generation; all revered with respect from one generation to another. The graves have existed since then without being desecrated or demolished during the different periods of rule over Istanbul.
The Ottoman Sultans are believed to have respected the graves by visiting them frequently. It was during their time that an effort was made to renovate a number of these graves, which failed. As a tradition says about the grave of a Sahaba, no matter in which corner of the world, it remains in quite simplicity and tranquillity. It is true about the ones in Istanbul.
Even the tomb of Hazrat Ayub Ansari, a great companion of the Holy Prophet, in a small room in the corner of a huge splendid mosque, appears very modest. The graves of Sahaba have been the sites of frequent visits by people. One can see people of all ages visiting them with respect. The year of the birth of the Sahaba is not known, neither is their death, except in the case of a few on whose tombstones is it mentioned. The tombstones mention them very briefly and inadequately. However, a fact remains that they reached the area after the death of the Holy Prophet, mostly from 36 to 64 Hijri.
A few of them were very old during the time they reached Constantinople. They reached the area when Istanbul was under the Roman rule. Based on the available sources in the Research Centre, and the ones mentioned on the epitaphs, the following is the list of their names and address (location) of the Sahaba. It includes a short-life sketch of some of them.
- Hazrat Eyub (Ayub) Ensari’s (for Ansari in Turkish) shrine exists in the courtyard of Sultan Eyub Camii (Mosque), Sultan Eyub area.His shrine is a famous pilgrimage place for people all over Turkey and other parts of the world, particularly the Islamic countries. The entrance to the shrine is from inside the mosque with an exit outside. Outside the shrine is a marble table outlining the short life sketch of Hazrat Ayub. The shrine is believed to have been venerated by Byzentines long before the Ottoman rule was established in Istanbul. The mosque, inside the shrine exists, is one of the oldest and historical mosques the Ottomans built in Istanbul. The shrine is open to visit from 9.00 in morning to 5pm. The area where shrine exists is a busy centre of the city and buses reach the area from each corner of the city.
- Hazrat Abu Derda, Zalmahmudpsha Caddesi (street), in Eyub Sultan area. (it is in few minute walking distance to the shrine of Hazrat Ayub). No date of his death is available.
- Hazrat Edhem (Ahdem), Abdurrahman Sherf Bey Caddesi, Nishanca Mahalah in Eyub Sultan. According to traditional sources he died in 46AH.
- Hazrat Hayreddin (Khariddin) Arab, Arpaci Hayreddin Sokak (sub-street) in Nishanca Mahalah in Eyub Sultan.
- Hazrt Ka’ab, inside Yavedud Camii in Avansaray just outside the rampart wall.
- Hazrat Muhammad el Ensari’s shrine is on main Avansaray caddesi in Avansaray.
- Hazrat Jabir bin Semure or Jabir bin Abdullah is buried inside a small old mosque named after him as “Jabir Camii” in the Avansaray. His father was Abdullah bin Amr. Hazrat Jabir is a famous warrior Shahbi who participated in all battles alongside the Holy Prophet. As mentioned on the introductory tablet about his short life sketch, he was born 16 years before the Hijrat. As a great warrior he participated in a total of 19 battles, including of Badr and Uhad. He served as an adviser to the four Caliphs on war matters. Soon after the martyrdom of Hazrat Ali he moved to Syria. Later on, he is believed to have migrated to (Constantinople). As the record shows he was martyred in a battle in Istanbul in 697AD.
- Hazrat Abu Zer Ghaffari is buried in a remote corner of a small mosque, named after him, on the Cinarlicesme Sokak inside the Avansaray. As engraved on a stone tablet outside the tomb, his original name was Jundeb. He was the fifth person to embrace Islam. The name Abu Zer was given to him by the Holy Prophet. Because of his belonging to Ghaffari tribe, he was known as Ghaffari. He died in 32AH. He is believed to have travelled to Istanbul from Syria where he lived many years after his departure from Medina during the reign of Hazrat Usman. An iron-cage surrounds his tomb.
- Abu Seybeti (Shahbat) Hudri, on Ibrahim Dede Sokak in Avansaray. As shown on the introductory plate on top of the tomb, the Sahaba is also the foster brother of the Holy Prophet. Abu Seybeti died in 74AH.
- Hazrat Ahmed el Ensari is buried in the Ibrahim Sokak in the Avansaray. He entered Istanbul along with Hazrat Ayub.
- Hazrat Ahmed el Hudri is buried on the Kandill turbe Sokak inside the Egri gate of the rampart wall in Avansary.
- Hazrat Hafir, outside the Egri gate of the rampart wall of Avansaray.
- Hazrat Abdul Sadiq bin Amir, (the same place where is the grave of Hazrat Hafir). An epitaph in Arabic script Turkish, fixed in 1790, is still in existence. It reads only his name as a Sahaba.
- Hazrat S’ube, on Sishane Caddesi in Avansaray (the tomb is in closer distance to Egri gate (the existence is inside the compound of a house. One can enter inside the compound upon the permission of the dwellers.
- Hazrat Abdullah il Hudri‘s grave is in few yards distance in the rear of the Karlye museum in Edirnekapi. The record available about his life shows that he entered Istanbul with Islamic troops at the age of 15. He participated in all battles fought against Romans. He died in 666AD. The Karlye Museum, is one of the oldest churches in Istanbul, now turned into museum. One can see a large number of visitors to the museum everyday.
- Hazrat Husam bin Abdullah, on Salmatomruk Pashamam Caddesi in Egrikapi (closer to Edirnekapi area).
- Hazrat Abdullah Ansari is buried on the Salmatomruk Pashamam Caddesi in Edirnekapi.
- Hazrat Hassan and Husayin, the two brothers are buried in Salmatomruk Pashamam, Hassan huseyin yokusu (downhill). The graves are surrounded by a compound built with an entrance. They are believed to have reached the area with Hazrat Eyub when very young, and were martyred during the siege of Constantinople. The graves of Hazrat Hudri, Hazrat Husam, Abdullah Ansari and Hassan Husayin are at a closer distance from there.
- Hazrat War bin Abdullah’s grave exists near Hoca Kasim Camii.
- Hazrat Abdur Rehman Pasha, on Kaleboyu Sokak, Edirnekapi Hazrat (just under the rampart wall).
- Hazrat Hazrat Abdul Rehman Sami, Sultanahmed on Kabasakal Sokak (near the Yesil Ev hotel). The grave is at 30 yard distance from the main gate of the Topkapi Palace. The tombstone on the shrine say that he reached the area in 48AH, and died few years after.
- Hazrat Abdul Rauf Samdani, in front of the grave of Hazrat Baba Jaffar.
- Hazrat Sufyan ibni Ubeyne, inside the Yeralti Camii in Karakoy.
- Hazrat Wahab, inside the same mosque (Yeralti Camii).
- Hazrat Amr ibni As, Yeralti Camii in Karakoy (Hazrat Amr and Hazrat Veheb buried side by side in the same room).
- Hazrat Mesleme bin Abdul Malik is buried outside in the yard of the Arab Camii in Karakoy. The mosque is also one of the oldest mosques of the city.
- Hazrat Abu Derda, in a graveyard near the shrine of Sultan Karaca Ahmed (the place is known after him as Karacahmed, named after a Turk sufi who lived in the Uskudar). The Uskudar area falls in the Asian side of Istanbul across the Marmara horn.
- Hazrat Hamadullah’s grave is just outside the graves of Hazrat Seybeti Hurdri and Ahmed il Ensari in the Avansarai area.
The tombs of the Sahaba in Istanbul are sites of greater Islamic heritage. The graves of them, lying in much simplicity and isolation, are revered with respect and devotion by one generation after another.