Maulana Sheikh Nazim Efendi has described the Hala Sultan Tekke as the «most powerful spiritual place on Cyprus». Those who carry heavy burdens on their shoulders should not go to a psychiatrist or mental house, but visit Umm Haram bint Milhân – may Allah be pleased by her – who may help.
The grandfather of our Sheikh for fourty years has been the Imam of this place, and when our Sheikh as a small boy has been missed by his mother, she could be sure to find him at the maqâm of the holy lady. Even the Hala Sultan Tekke since fourteen hundred years was and is a muslim property, a Tekke, i. e. a dervish convent, it is now administrated by the government of the Greek part of Cyprus and run like a museum with opening times. That means that we as muslims are not able to use it as a mosque in the full sense of this word. Inshâ Llâh we will one day get the key of the tekke back.
The following posting combines the beautiful pictures by Sheikh Abdur Razzaq from Lüneburg in Germany, which have been taken some months ago, with a text by Lady Khadijah, an American follower of our Sheikh, who has lived the last years in Larnaca. She has written this text short time before she passed away, may Allah bless her soul.
BY KHADIJAH TARA KHATCHATOURIAN PHOTOS BY ABDUR RAZZAQ ULLRICH
The Hala Sultan Tekke has long been a characteristic landmark on the Larnaca skyline testifying to her own remarkable history as a witness to a multicultural heritage making Cyprus a place where east meets west. Hundreds visit Umm Hirâm weekly from all over this world!
According to stories told by foreign travelers visiting Cyprus between the years of 1680-1767, there was a tomb which was known as “the old woman`s tomb” attracting all believers to this sacred place.
Near Larnaca airport, surrounded by an oasis of palms, olive and cypress trees a minaret and a white albatross-coloured mosque appear. In the rainy months, the mosque and the trees create a double image as the Larnaca salt lake reflects this scene and becomes a home to the seagulls, migrating swans and pink flamingos who come to feed. When the summer months arrive, the salt lake water evaporates and the minaret shimmers in the heat-haze rising from the flat expanse of white crystals left behind.
This mosque was built next to the tomb of an honorable Lady, Umm Hirâm bint Milhân, who came from the deserts of the Hijâz bringing the lights of her Faith and love of God Almighty. She was also known by other names such as Muhan by the Cypriot Greeks and Hala Sultan by the Cypriot Turks. Hala means auntie in Turkish. Hirâm is the name of her grandfather. Umm Hirâm was the Prophet`s foster aunt because her sister Halima Sa`âdiyya was a wet nurse to the Prophet Muhammad salla llâhu ‘alayhi wa sallam. It was the practice of the Arabs before Islam that when a male child was born to a family, the family would contract a Bedouin woman from the desert to breast feed the boy in the fresh air and the openness of the desert for his first 2-4 years.
As prophesied by the Prophet Muhammad salla llâhu ´alayhi wa sallam in his dream while resting in her home, Umm Hirâm was to be of the first group of Muslims to navigate the seas which is how she came to die here in Larnaca, Cyprus in the year 649 H at a tender age of 70! She was an adventurous woman known for her courage and strength of faith which is what endeared her so to the Prophet salla llâhu ´alayhi wa sallam. She did everything for the sake of God Almighty giving her Holy personality value. She and her husband ´Ubayda ibn as-Sâmit were Companions to the Prophet Muhammad salla llâhu ´alayhi wa sallam. Umm Hirâm was distinguished as one of the first women of Mecca to accept Islam and the Messengership of the Prophet Muhammad salla llâhu ´alayhi wa sallam.
Umm Hirâm was also known to have helped her community in Damascus, Syria, where she and her husband moved after the death of the Prophet Muhammad salla llâhu ´alayhi wa sallam in 632 H. There was a terrible drought and the people came to Umm Hirâm because they knew of her piety. She invoked prayers asking God Almighty to give them rains to end the drought and famine and it came to pass so the people were very thankful and respected Umm Hirâm’s blessed piousness. They understood that she was a Holy Lady which has set the precedent to regard the Hala Sultan Tekke as a Holy Place for all people!
The maiden voyage across the sea and her death, by falling off the mule, given to each as transportation from the ship and breaking her neck, occurred under the command of the governor of Syria and captain of the ship,
Mu´âwiyah. At this time in history 649 H the Byzantine, the Persians and the Greeks were already on the waters and all were fighting to have Cyprus!
It was the wisdom of the third caliph of Islam, Sayyidinâ ´Uthmân radiya llâhu ´anhu, to have Mu´âwiyah and all his crew bring their wives as one of the conditions for permission to make the maiden voyage of the Muslims to Cyprus. This was the opening for Umm Hirâm because she was the wife of Ibn as-Sâmit a crew member, may Allah shower upon her love. Since it was known that Umm Hirâm was highly esteemed by the Prophet salla llâhu ´alayhi wa sallam she was considered a blessing, barakah for the voyage. Bringing their wives kept them cool and from participating in the heated battles between the groups already there.
When Umm Hirâm died, the group buried her that day as the practice in Islam is to bury the dead quickly. The following day they saw the three rocks they had seen in the desert at the Christian man`s rock quarry that he had gifted to Umm Hirâm, now surrounding her tomb! One embedded itself into the ground at her feet, another one at her head and the other left freely suspended in the air above her tomb … this is a miracle from God Almighty to all Believers and has been documented by the Danish explorer Cornelius van Bruyn in 1683. When the people saw this, they knew this was a Holy Place!
Umm Hirâm had died here as a shahîda which in Arabic means witness. The Christian man who gave her the rocks loved her because he saw the Lights from God on her, around her and in her. When God loves you, everyone loves you! She died as a witness for Islam bringing the Lights of its truth which is Peace.
Umm Hirâm is a positive role model for all people because she was passionate about her faith and in so doing, held to it tightly and was able to be of the first group of Muslims to cross the sea! Her strength is belief and that she was just a humble lady coming from the desert is demonstration of the power that is given where one believes!
Umm Hirâm’s example reflects in the restoration efforts that the Cypriot Greeks and Cypriot Turks were able to accomplish here since 2001. Together they constructed a peace that is borne from man to man when there is respect and a common objective.
They completed the restoration of the tomb, masjid and minaret which had extensive damage from the mixture of aggressive coastal environment, insect manifestation and water penetration caused over time. Improvements were also made to out buildings and aesthetic improvements were made to the grounds.
“We are connected in our obedience to God Almight.”
This is an inscription on the tomb of Lady Khadijah, the great grandmother of the late King Hussein of Jordan whose white marble tomb is seen inside between the mosque and Umm Hirâm. The Hala Sultan Tekke is fourth in importance to the Muslim world. The first place of importance is Mecca where hajj or pilgrimage is performed by a Muslim as he/she can afford at least once in his/her
lifetime. Medina, the place where the Prophet Muhammad salla llâhu ´alayhi wa sallam is buried is the second. The Masjid al-Aqsâ in Jerusalem is the third because it was here that the Prophet salla llâhu ´alayhi wa sallam was taken when he ascended to the Heavens, by invitation of Allah, and returned bringing the order for the Muslim`s five daily prayers.
The shrine was built in 1760 by a dervish named Sheikh Hasan who went about the island telling of the tomb. The Ottomans built the mosque complex in stages and assuming its present form by 1816. During the time of the Ottoman period in Cyprus (little over 100 years), the Ottoman-flagged ships would fly their flags half mast, in respect, when passing Umm Hirâm and shoot their cannons as a salute to this island because Larnaca (Kition at that time in history) marked the first place the Muslims voyaged by sea.