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Ramadan preparations in Turkey 2024

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    Ramadan preparations in Turkey 2024

    The age-old custom of "mahyas" has once again commenced in Istanbul just days ahead of the commencement of the Islamic holy month on March 11.
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    Mahya, a traditional Turkish Islamic art, involves hanging illuminated messages between the minarets of mosques during Ramadan. These messages typically consist of lights arranged to spell out words or phrases from Islamic scriptures, prayers, or expressions of peace and unity.

    Originating with the Blue Mosque in 1619 during Sultan Ahmet I's reign in the Ottoman Empire, this tradition has graced mosques every Ramadan since.

    Under the leadership of Kahraman Yıldız, apprentice to the last mahya master of the Ottoman Empire, Hacı Ali Ceyhan, a mahya team completed their preparations at the workshop of the General Directorate of Foundations in Istanbul to hang the lights.

    As the countdown to Ramadan progresses, Yıldız and his team have begun hanging the mahyas, embellishing the minarets of the Eyüpsultan Mosque in Istanbul.

    In an interview with Anadolu Agency (AA) on Monday, Yıldız, who has dedicated over 50 years to his craft since starting at 18, revealed plans to adorn imperial-era mosques with mahyas. This year, his team aims to decorate a total of eight ancient mosques, including the Selimiye Mosque in Edirne and the Ulu Mosque in Bursa.

    Yıldız explained that the theme for this year, "Ramadan and the consciousness of the afterlife," was determined by the Presidency of Religious Affairs (Diyanet). He elaborated that concise words from the Istanbul mufti will be incorporated into the mahyas, with five writings scheduled for each of the four mosques in Istanbul throughout Ramadan.

    Regarding specific placements, Yıldız noted that the mahyas at the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque and the Blue Mosque will remain fixed, displaying the phrases "La ilaha illallah" ("There is no God but Allah") and "Muhammadün Rasulullah" ("Prophet Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah"), respectively.

    Yıldız emphasized that mahyas have been commissioned by the General Directorate of Foundations for centuries. Each mosque receives a unique set prepared in their workshop, which is then installed between the minarets, and the lights are hung.

    Highlighting the process during Ramadan, Yıldız explained that on the second, third, and fifth days, a new message is hung, replacing the old one.

    Expressing his desire not to be the final master of his craft, Yıldız stated, "I have been dedicated to this profession for almost 50 years. I hope new successors will carry on." He described mahya making as a beautiful art, conveying messages through skywriting.

    "Mahya making is truly a beautiful experience. It's an ancient Ottoman art, and we are striving to uphold it with our companions. I have Aziz Tosyalı with me, an old friend. Additionally, a painter's friend has joined us this year. Together, as a team of three, we endeavor to continue this tradition," he concluded.​
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