The Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency (T?KA) has rolled up its sleeves and will restore the tombs of Ethiopia’s Christian ruler Ashama ibn Abjar and 12 companions of the Prophet Muhammad as well as a consulate building that once belonged to the Ottoman Empire.

On Monday Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozda?, who is currently on a visit to Ethiopia, visited the Najash village in Mekele, where the tombs of the Prophet Muhammad’s companions are located. Bozda? described the restoration as a show of “Turkey’s greatness.” He added that restoration by Turkey of the tombs of the Prophet’s companions, who were the first to immigrate to other places, is a great honor and source of pride for Turkey.

Ruler Abjar, also known as al-Najashi of Aksum, who lived at the time of the Prophet Muhammad, gave refuge to several Muslims in the Kingdom of Aksum. “Turkey will restore the tombs of al-Najashi, who received Muslims with open arms, and the companions of the Prophet. Turkey is working to protect not only artifacts dating from the times of its ancestors, but also artifacts that are of great importance for the Muslim community. This is a sign of Turkey’s greatness,” Bozda? stated.

Ethiopia has a special significance for Muslims. During the early days of Islam the Muslims were few in number and persecuted by the polytheists of Mecca. Some Muslims immigrated to Abyssinia as its Christian ruler, al-Najashi of Aksum, was considered to be a fair king. The Muslim delegation was warmly received by the king, who did not give in to pressure from the Meccan polytheists to return them. Therefore, Abyssinia, modern-day Ethiopia, became a shelter for Muslims in hard times.

Turkey’s Ambassador to Ethiopia U?ur Kenan ?pek, T?KA chief Serdar Çam, Red Crescent (K?z?lay) head Ahmet Lütfi Akar, Directorate of Religious Affairs Foreign Relations Director Mehmet Paçac? and the Prime Ministry’s Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate (AFAD) Deputy Director Mehmet Sinan Y?ld?z accompanied Bozda? on his visit to the village.