• Halil-ur Rahman Mosque

    The Halil-ur Rahman Mosque, located on the southwest corner of the Lake of Abraham, is one of the key holy sites in Urfa, built on the site where Abraham was cast down by Nimrod and saved by a pool of water.

  • The Halil-ur Rahman Mosque

    The Halil-ur Rahman Mosque, located on the southwest corner of the Lake of Abraham, is one of the key holy sites in Urfa, built on the site where Abraham was cast down by Nimrod and saved by a pool of water.

Because it plays such a central role in the legend, this mosque is, along with the cave of Abraham’s birth, one of the real focal points for religious visitation.

Known locally as Dosheme or the Makam Cami, this mosque is part of a smaller complex consisting of a mosque, a religious school or madrasa (currently used as offices for a local waqf or foundation), and a cemetery with saints tombs or turbes. The mosque was built in the year 1211 under the Ayyubids, which makes it the oldest mosque in Balikligol (although an inscription on its eastern side indicates that it underwent major restoration around 1810).

The mosque is an excellent example of Urfa’s layered architectural history: this site once held a temple to the ancient Near Eastern fish goddess, Atargatis. After Edessa adopted Christianity, the site became the Mother Mary Church. Today, the mosque features a squat, boxy minaret (in contrast to the long slender minarets of the adjacent Rizvaniye mosque): many say that it is the bell tower of the Mother Mary Church, incorporated into the building of the mosque.

Inside the mosque, there is a fountain where water springs up, and you will notice pilgrims touching or drinking from the fountains. This is a practice that has been going on for centuries. As the 17th century Ottoman traveler Evliya Celebi wrote of the site:

There is a source [of water] within the mosque, which [springs] from the location of the fire where Abraham was thrown by Nimrod. The Ottoman Sultan Murad IV, while on his military campaign to Baghdad, has visited the mosque, caught two fish from the lake and put on them two golden earrings. It is believed that whoever drinks from this source seven days and nights his/her wishes come true. It is said that anyone who drinks from this water will be cured of their disease by God.

Stories like this, about the beneficial and healing qualities of the water, are still very much in circulation. Especially on holy days, you’ll see men and women from villages dousing themselves with the water and filling plastic bottles with the water to bring home.

Along the Abraham Path in the:

URFA REGION


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Sites in the Urfa Region:

Abraham’s Birth Cave

A major site of religious visitation today, the Birth Cave is carved into the base of a mountain. According to local Muslim tradition, Abraham was born here, hidden from the pagan King Nimrod.

Urfa Markets

It’s a pleasure to get lost in the twisting maze of Urfa’s historical market, bursting with colorful fabrics, exotic spices, and artisan copperware while remarkably free from sales pressure.

Fish Lakes

Streams of bubbling water laden with sacred carp flow through the Fish Lakes, a soothing oasis of pools and gardens beckoning for a pleasurable stroll, centered around a dramatic legend about Abraham.

Gobekli Tepe

Move over, Stonehenge! Gobekli Tepe, the world’s oldest temple at 12,000 years, baffles historians and turns theories about human history on their heads with its mysterious circles of megalithic pillars carved with images of animals.

Rizvaniye Mosque

This is likely the most iconic, most photographed site in Urfa, perched regally along the fish lake of Abraham.