Hala Sultan Tekke

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Hala Sultan Tekke
Τεκές Χαλά Σουλτάνας / Hala Sultan Tekkesi
Hala Sultan Tekke Larnaca 1.JPG
Hala Sultan Tekke
DistrictLarnaca District
LocationCyprus Larnaca, Cyprus
Hala Sultan Tekke is located in Cyprus
Hala Sultan Tekke
Shown within Cyprus
Geographic coordinates34°53′07″N 33°36′36″E / 34.885277°N 33.610013°E / 34.885277; 33.610013Coordinates: 34°53′07″N 33°36′36″E / 34.885277°N 33.610013°E / 34.885277; 33.610013

Hala Sultan Tekke or the Mosque of Umm Haram (Greek: Τεκές Χαλά Σουλτάνας Tekés Chalá Soultánas; Turkish: Hala Sultan Tekkesi) is a Muslim shrine on the west bank of Larnaca Salt Lake, near Larnaca, Cyprus. Umm Haram (Turkish: Hala Sultan) was the wife of Ubada bin al-Samit, a companion of the Prophet Muhammed.[1][2][3]

Hala Sultan Tekke complex is composed of a mosque, mausoleum, minaret, cemetery, and living quarters for men and women. The term tekke (convent) applies to a building designed specifically for gatherings of a Sufi brotherhood, or tariqa, and may have referred to an earlier feature of the location. The present-day complex, open to all and not belonging to a single religious movement, lies in a serene setting on the shores of the Larnaca Salt Lake, which appears to be an important site also in prehistory. Hala Sultan Tekke is a listed Ancient Monument.


The site in prehistory[edit]

During the second half of the second millennium B.C, the area of the Hala Sultan Tekke was used as a cemetery by the people who lived in Dromolaxia Vizatzia,[4] a large town a few hundred metres to the West. A part of this town was excavated from the 1970s onwards by a Swedish archaeological mission and proved to be a major urban centre of Late Bronze Age Cyprus. The most recent excavations at Hala Sultan Tekke, The New Swedish Cyprus Expedition have been carried out by Professor Peter M. Fischer from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden (2010-2012- ...); see www.fischerarchaeology.se). Radar surveys (2010-2012) have demonstrated that the city was one of the largest in the Late Bronze Age (roughly 1600-1100 BCE), maybe as large as 50 ha. Another archaeological investigation conducted by the Department of Antiquities under the women's quarter of Hala Sultan Tekke have revealed building remains dated to the late Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic periods (6th - 1st century BC). Several finds indicate that the site might have been used as a sanctuary but the limited scale of the investigations precludes definite conclusions about its use.[citation needed]

References Fischer, P.M. The New Swedish Cyprus Expedition 2010. Excavations at Dromolaxia Vizatzia/Hala Sultan Tekke. Preliminary results. With appendices by P. Klingborg, F. and F. Kärfve, C. Hagberg, O. Svensson, S. Macheridis and L. Franz. OpAthRom (Opuscula) 4, 2011, 69-89. Fischer, P.M. The New Swedish Cyprus Expedition 2011: Excavations at Dromolaxia Vizatzia / Hala Sultan Tekke. Preliminary results. OpAthRom (Opuscula) 5, 2012.

Hala Sultan Tekke[edit]

Most accounts establish a connection between the site and the death of Umm Haram during the first Arab raids on Cyprus under the Caliph Muawiyah between 647 and 649, which were later pursued throughout the Umayyad and the Abbasid periods. According to these accounts, Umm Haram, being of very old age, had fallen from her mule and had died during a siege of Larnaca. She was later buried where she died. According to Shia belief, her grave lies within Jannatul Baqi cemetery in Madinah, Saudi Arabia.[5]

During the Ottoman administration of Cyprus, a mosque complex was built in stages around the tomb. The tomb was discovered in the 18th century by the dervish called Sheikh Hasan, who also built the first structure here. Dervish Hasan managed to convince the administrative and religious authorities of the site's sacred nature and with the permission he received, he built the shrine around the tomb in 1760 and had it decorated. The wooden fences around the tomb would have been built by the 19th-century Ottoman governor in Cyprus, Seyyid Elhac Mehmed Agha, which were replaced by fences in bronze and two doors by his successor Acem Ali Agha.

In another account, Giovanni Mariti, who visited Cyprus between 1760–1767, wrote that the shrine was built by the Cyprus governor he names as Ali Agha. According to Mariti, until 1760 they used the stones of a standing church in a ruined village nearby as construction materials.[6] In another source, it is mentioned that the construction of the mosque was initiated by the Cyprus governor Seyyid Mehmed Emin Efendi in classical Ottoman style, and it was completed in November 1817.

The ancillary buildings have been repaired in 2004, and the mosque and the minaret are currently being restored. Both of these initiatives have been carried out with support from the Bi-communal Development Programme, which is funded from USAID and UNDP, and implemented through UNOPS.[7]


Hala Sultan Tekke Larnaca 5.JPG

Above the entry gate to Tekke garden is an Ottoman inscription dated 4 March 1813. Sultan Mahmud II's monogram appears on both sides of the inscription and reads, "Hala Sultan Tekke was built by God's beloved great Ottoman Cyprus governor". The garden itself was designed by a pasha and came to be known as "Pasha garden". The complex of buildings adjacent to the Tekke was known as "Gülşen-Feyz" (the rose garden of plenitude or of enlightenment). To the north (left) of the entrance there used to be a guesthouse for men. On the right side of the entrance, there was another guesthouse of which one block was reserved for men (Selamlik) and the other for women (Haremlik). It was a custom for visitors to take the oath of dedication to serve the Hala Sultan Tekke if their wishes were realized. The domed mosque is square-shaped with a balcony and was built in yellow stone blocks. The minaret was repaired in 1959.

Umm Haram's tomb is located behind the mosque wall of the qibla (in the direction of Mecca). A further inscription dated 1760 is found here. Aside her, there are four other tombs, two of them former sheikhs. Another important tomb is a two-leveled marble sarcophagus, carrying the date 12 July 1929. The tomb belongs to Adile Hüseyin Ali, who was the Turkish wife of the Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca of the Hashemite House, himself a grandson of the Ottoman grand vizier Koca Mustafa Reşid Pasha and a descendant of Muhammad. At the eastern corner of the mosque and the Tekke, there is a cemetery, which was closed to burials at around 1899. A number of past Turkish administrators are buried here.

Opposite the mosque, there is an octagonal fountain, which was built around 1796-1797 by the then governor of Cyprus Silahtar Kaptanbaşı Mustafa Agha. The information on the construction is recorded on the marble inscription located on the fountain. On another inscription dated 1895, which was recently discovered in the Tekke's garden, it is written that the infrastructure for bringing in the water was built upon the instructions of the Sultan Abdülhamid II.


While being acknowledged as a holy site for Turkish Cypriot Muslims,[8][9][10] the mosque has also been described by secular contemporary sources as being revered by all Muslims.[11][12]In an assessment of the environmental and cultural assets of Cyprus, Professor George E. Bowen, a senior Fulbright scholar at the University of Tennessee, is quoted as referring to the Hala Sultan Tekke as the third holiest place for Muslims in the world.[13] This view has been echoed by other sources[14][15][16][17] including the United Nations Development Programme in Cyprus[18] and the Cypriot administration's Department of Antiquities.[19] Others describe the site as fourth most important in the Islamic world, after Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem.[20][21][22]. As a result of the site being located in the Greek non-Muslim sector of the divided island, pilgrimage visits to the site are infrequent.[23]

In addition to interventions at the imperial level and by high-ranking administrators for the maintenance and development of the complex, during the Ottoman Empire, Ottoman-flagged ships would hang their flags at half mast when off the shores of Larnaca, and salute Hala Sultan with cannon shots.[24]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hala Sultan Tekke
  2. ^ Women companions of Prophet Umm Haram: Traveling by sea for jihad
  3. ^ Umm Haram bint Milhan
  4. ^ New Swedish Cyprus Expedition 2010
  5. ^ "Saudi Arabia". al-islam.org. Retrieved 2009-05-27.
  6. ^ Mariti, Giovanni (1792): Travels Through Cyprus, Syria, and Palestine; with a General History of the Levant. Translated from the Italian Printed for P. Byrne, Item notes: v. 1
  7. ^ http://www.cyprustemples.com/templedetails.asp?id=71&pageno=1
  8. ^ Boyle, Kevin; Juliet Sheen (October 1997). "Cyprus". Freedom of religion and belief: a world report. London: Routledge. pp. 286–293. ISBN 0-415-15977-6. LCCN 97224015. The tomb is said to be revered by Turkish Cypriots as the 'third holiest site in Islam'
  9. ^ "Study of building stones and mortar from Hala Sultan Tekke mosque". Hellenic Society for Archaeometry. May 16, 2003. Archived from the original on 2008-09-17. Retrieved 2007-06-19. Hala Sultan Tekke, near Larnaka, is a holy site in Islam and the most important one for Cypriot Muslims.
  10. ^ Financed Restoration of Church and Mosque on Cyprus Supports Cultural Heritage and Tolerance Archived 2009-02-13 at the Wayback Machine, USAID Press Office, July 5, 2002. "Hala Sultan Tekke, one of the holiest sites in Islam, is the most important religious location for Cypriot Muslims."
  11. ^ Purcell, Hugh Dominic (1969). Cyprus. Praeger. p. 367. At the end of 1965, the National Guard had taken over the shrine of Hala Sultan Tekke, a place of small strategic importance. From May 1966 they prevented all Moslem access to it, so that Mehmet Dana, Mufti of Cyprus, could exploit the misuse of one of the holiest places in the world of Islam.
  12. ^ Syneleusis, Hellēnikē Koinotikē; Hypourgeio Paideias; Grapheion Dēmosiōn Plērophoriōn (1963). Cyprus Today. Public Information Office, Cyprus. p. 16. As such, it is one of the holiest sites in Islam and the most important religious location for Turkish Cypriots and other Muslims living in Cyprus.
  13. ^ Bowen, George E. (April 3, 2001). "Assessing the Isle of Cyprus". Patrick S. O'Brien on the University of Tennessee server. Archived from the original on April 27, 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-12. Three historic churches and monasteries are within the city. Just outside the city is the location of the Hala Sultan Tekke Mosque, the third holiest place for Muslims in the world.
  14. ^ Drayton, Penny (January 1993). "Aphrodite's island". Wood & Water. 2 (41). Cited by: Trubshaw, Bob (February 1993). "The Black Stone - the Omphalos of the Goddess". Mercian Mysteries (14). Retrieved 2006-11-12. In Cyprus is another highly venerated Islamic site - the third most important after Mecca and Medina - the Hala Sultan Tekke. This, too, has a black rock, said to have fallen as a meteorite as part of the tritholon over the shrine. The shrine is to a woman - the aunt and foster mother of Prophet Mohammed
  15. ^ Daniel, Geoff; John Oldfield; Christine Oldfield (2004). Landscapes of Cyprus. Sunflower. p. 36. ISBN 1-85691-229-9.
  16. ^ The Story of Hala Sultan Tekke Archived 2009-03-05 at the Wayback Machine, University of Arizona: Center for Middle Eastern Studies, "The Mosque of Umm Haram is the chief Muslim shrine on the island of Cyprus and an important holy site for the entire Muslim world... The Hala Sultan Tekke is the third most revered site of pilgrimage in the Muslim world." Retrieved: 23-02-2009
  17. ^ Papalexandrou, Nassos. Hala Sultan Tekke, Cyprus: An Elusive Landscape of Sacredness in a Liminal Context, Journal of Modern Greek Studies, Volume 26, Number 2. Johns Hopkins University Press, (October 2008) pp. 251-281. "Der Parthog calls it the "third most holy space in Islam" (1995:222–223)"
  18. ^ "Hala Sultan Tekke: Where East Meets West". Issue 1. United Nations Development Programme. Spring 2006. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2006-11-12. Islam's third sacred holy site after the Ka'ba and the Prophet Mohammad's grave in Mecca, and among the greatest cultural heritage monuments of the world, Hala Sultan Tekke, or Umm Haram, has long been the destination of Muslim pilgrims from Cyprus and the Middle East.
  19. ^ "Monuments: Hala Sultan Tekke". Republic of Cyprus, Ministry of Communications and Works; Department of Antiquities. 2005. Retrieved 2006-03-06. The Muslim mosque of Hala Sultan is located in the center of a spectacular garden at the west bank of the Salt Lake, about 6 km southwest of Larnaca. It is the main Muslim pilgrimage site of Cyprus and the third most important holy place of Islam.
  20. ^ Khatchatourian, Khadijah Tara. (2006) Hala Sultan Tekke[permanent dead link], Spohr Publishers, "The Hala Sultan Tekke is fourth in importance to the Muslim world". Retrieved: 23-02-2009
  21. ^ "The Cultural Heritage of Cyprus: Part XIII. The Shrine of Hala Sultan Tekke" (PDF). The Blue Beret. pg.5. Public Information Office of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus. June 2003. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-03-05. Retrieved 2006-03-06. Not just the holiest Muslim shrine in Cyprus, Hala Sultan Tekke is one of the holiest shrines in the Islamic world, after Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem.
  22. ^ Galatariotou, Catia (2004). The Making of a Saint. Cambridge University Press. p. 62. ISBN 0-521-39035-4. It is also worth remembering that the tekke of Um-Harram (Hala Sultan tekke) near Larnaka was one of the holy places which every Muslim was expected to visit as a pilgrim, ranking only fourth in importance after Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem
  23. ^ Worpole, Ken; Larraine Worpole (2003). Last Landscapes. Reaktion Books. p. 42. ISBN 1-86189-161-X.
  24. ^ Charalambous, Charlie (20 December 2005). "Restored Mosque Brings Hope for Cyprus Ethnic Divide". Arab News. Retrieved 2007-09-13.

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