Two female sultanas and the Mecca water way

The water ways in Mecca were first built by the wife of the Abbasid caliph Harun Rashid, later to be repaired by the daughter of Ottoman sultan Suleiman.

Two female sultanas and the Mecca water way

Omer Aymali / World Bulletin / History

Throughout the era of the Ottoman Empire, various masterpieces were produced, such as mosques, precincts, hostels and drinking fountains. By institutionalizing some of these structures, they became everlasting achievements. One of the members of the Ottoman household to do this was Sultan Suleiman’s daughter Sultana (princess) Mihrimah. Sultana Mihrimah contributed greatly to charity by establishing a mosque and precinct in Istanbul's Uskudar district and in the north-western city of Edirne.

One other great service Sultana Mihrimah did was order the repair of Mecca’s Ayn ul-Zubeyda water way. Throughout history, Mecca on a number of occassions experienced great drought. This proved to be a problem especially during the season of the Hajj pilgrimage when the city’s need for water would increase.

To solve this problem, the Abbasi Caliph Harun Rashid’s wife Lady Zubeyda built a 60 km long aqueduct on the outskirts of Mecca at a place called Numan Valley. By Lady Zubayda decorating the holy area with water fountains, the Muslims' need for water during the seasons of Hajj was fulfilled.

In the time of Sultan Selim I, the Hijaz region came under Ottoman rule. This event imposed the Ottoman Sultans with a new duty. This was the duty of organizing the Hajj for the entire Muslim world. From then onwards, the sultans would take on the title of “custodian of the two holy mosques” and would work to help Muslims complete their pilgrimage in peace and safety as well as undertake comprehensive reconstruction projects in these areas.

The repair of the water ways made by Lady Zubeyda is one example of this. From the year of 1560 the Ayn ul-Zubeyda water way received great damage due to flooding and sand storms, making it unusable. After this, the Chief of Mecca sent a report to Istanbul, stating that the water ways needed repair. Following the report, Sultan Suleiman worked out what repairs were needed and appointed a committee to calculate its cost. According to the committee's calculation, the required repairs for the water ways and making new canals would cost nearly 30,000 gold coins.

The Sultan took responsibility for Mecca’s water way repairs after hearing that his daughter Mihrimah had also been the previous constructer of these water ways. He asked the Architect Mimar Sinan to repair the water ways, granting well over the required amount with a sum of 50,000 gold coins. Within the same year in 1573, under Mimar Sinan's management, the restoration began. After a period of 10 years of repair work, the water ways were finally completed in 1583. 

During the repairs, the Ayn ul-Zubeyda water ways were nourished from other sources and like this the water levels were increased. Before this, the water ways would only reach Arafat within the city of Mecca, but after the extensions were made, the waterways were delivered to various other locations.

After the completion of these extensive repairs the Ayn ul-Zubeyda was opened with a ceremony of supplications. Like this, the water way which was originally built by one female sultana was repaired by another female sultana and continued to serve Muslim pilgrims for centuries afterwards.

Last Mod: 17 Şubat 2014, 12:27
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