Ismail Hakki Bursevi

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İsmail Hakkı Bursevî
His tomb
İsmail Hakkı Bursevî's Tomb in Bursa
Born a Sunday 1653
Aytos, Ottoman Empire, now Bulgaria
Died 1725 (aged 71–72)
Bursa, Anatolia, Turkey
Resting place Bursa Turkey
Other names İsmail Hakkı Üsküdar
Ethnicity Turkish people
Occupation Author, Translator, Sheikh, Musical composition, Poet
Religion Islam
Jurisprudence Sunni
Movement Sufism
Main interest(s) Theology, Ethics, Mysticism
Notable idea(s) Translating Arabic books into Turkish
Notable work(s) Commentaries of the Koran, Ibn Arabi, Rumi, Attar, Najmuddin Kubra
Sufi order Jelveti
İsmail Hakkı Bursevî
(Bursalı İsmail Hakkı)
Born 1653
Aytos, Ottoman Empire
Died 1725 (aged 71–72)
Bursa, Ottoman Empire
Genres Ottoman classical music Turkish makam music
Occupation(s) Lyrics author, composer

İsmail Hakkı Bursevî, Ismāʿīl Ḥaḳḳī al-Brūsawī, (Turkish: Bursalı İsmail Hakkı, Arabic: اسماعيل حقى، بروسهلى، Iranian: Esmã’īl Ḥaqqī Borsavī) was a 17th-century Ottoman Turkish Muslim scholar, a Jelveti Sufi author on mystical experience and the esoteric interpretation of the Quran; also a poet and musical composer.[1] İsmail Hakkı Bursevî influenced many parts the Ottoman Empire but primarily Turkey. To this day he is revered as one of the ‘Büyükler’, the great saints of Anatolia. He is regarded as an eminent literary figure in the Turkish language, having authored more than a hundred works.[2] Translations of some of his works are now available for the English-speaking world.[3][4]


İsmail Hakkı left all his money (ten purses) to pay for the construction of this mosque at İsmail Hakkı Kuran Kursu, Tuzpazarı, İsmail Hakkı Cd., 16020 Osmangazi, Bursa, Turkey

İsmail Hakkı was the son of Muṣṭafā, who was in turn son of Bayram Čawush, who was in turn son of Shah Ḵhudā-bende. İsmail Hakkı was born in 1652[1] or 1653 in Aytos, Thrace although his parents came from Aksaray, Istanbul.[5] His mother died when he was aged seven and on the suggestion of Shaykh Osman Fazli he was sent to c.1663 Edirne (Adrinaople), to receive traditional education under the scholar ʿAbd-al-Baki, a relative of the Shaykh[1]

In 1673, age 21, he went to Istanbul to the public classes of Osman Fazli, the head Sheykh, of the Jelveti (Djilwatiyya) order, who initiated him into that discipline.[1] İsmail Hakkı also attended the lectures of other scholars, learnt Persian to study Attar, Rumi, Ḥāfiẓ and Jami. He also studied Islamic calligraphy and music and set to music many hymns of the 17th century mystic Hudāyī,[6] founder of the Jelveti order.

In 1675, age 23, Osman Fazli sent him, with three assistant dervishes,[2] to Skopje (Üsküb), Macedonia, to establish a ṭarīqah (a monastery)for teaching Jelveti philosophy).[1] Some welcomed them and İsmail Hakkı married the daughter of Sheikh Muṣṭafā ʿUshshāḳī. Encouraged by his master’s letters he wrote his most brilliant sermons.[6] However he offended the townsfolk by overly-berating them for what he considered loose behaviour. Despite Osman Fazli explaining to him that censure was not the Jelveti way he did not rein in his zeal and his antagonists forced them to leave, which greatly displeased his wife, it being her home town.[2]

In 1682 he was invited to Strumica, Macedonia to teach public classes. He also wrote books.

So as not to be confused with the author Ismail Hakki Ankaravi, a famous commentator on the Mathnawi, he came to be always given a suffix, such as Hâlvetî, Bursevi, or Üsküdari[1][2]

Amongst Sufis Bursa in Anatolia was first made famous by the 14th century Shāikhs Somuncu Baba and Haji Bayram, but in 1685 the then Sheykh of Bursa died and Fasli appointed Ismail Hakki as the new Sheykh. Unfortunately his first years in Bursa coincided with the difficult period after the Ottoman Empire' disastrous loss at the Battle of Vienna and the Holy League's invasion of the Ottoman Balkans, so the economy was in abject misery and Ismāʿīl Ḥaḳḳī had to sell his books to survive.[6]

1690 he journeyed to Cyprus to visit his master Osman Farsli who was in exile for his insistent criticism of Ottoman foreign policy, and on his death Ismail Hakki succeeded him as the head of the order.[6]

In 1695–1697 Sultan Mustafa II requested Ismail Hakki accompany his military campaigns against the Habsburg Empire. Ismail Hakki was in several battles until severely wounded. Osman Farsli foresaw the end of the Ottoman line[2] and Bursevi defined the reason for its decline as the estrangement of spiritual and political powers, represented in his discourses by the Sheikh and the Sultan, thus formulating a Sufi interpretation of the decline paradigm.[7]

In 1700 Ismail Hakki performed the Hajj, the pilgrimage, but on returning from Mecca the caravan was slaughtered by Bedouin brigands. Ismail was left to die but managed to reach Damascus.[2]

In 1700 he returned to Bursa

In 1717 he returned to Damascus and wrote twelve more books

In 1720 he returned to Üsküdar, the Anatolian part of Istanbul, where he began teaching again. However he was twice attacked by fanatical mobs and decided to return to Bursa.[2]

In 1722, at Bursa he bequeathed his books to public libraries, left all his money for the construction of a small mosque and entered into retreat.[2] That mosque is now within the Ismail Hakki Kur’an Kursu.

In July 1724 or 1725 he died in serenity. His tomb is at the rear of the same mosque.[5]

Major Works[edit]

İsmail Hakkı was one of the most prolific Ottoman scholars, with 106 books and pamphlets: 46 in Arabic. and 60 in Turkish[6] To this day he is revered as an eminent literary figure in the Turkish language.[2] He wrote on Islamic sciences, Sufism, Tasawuf, Islamic philosophy, morality and tefsir in a style avoiding the flowery style of many contemporaries,[6] resembling the style of Yunus Emre.[2]

The most famous of his published works are:


His tomb inscription expresses his sentiments

As a Sufi of Jelveti order, Ismail Hakki Bursevi put all his energy and resilience into being of ‘bearer of light’.

The plaque on his tomb says:

"If you want to be a pure servant in everlasting salvation, hold onto the hem of Ahmad’s Sharia with love.

If you want to drink from the cup of the effusion of essential Unity, then become the unique human in the most beautiful realm.

Don’t let the Lote-tree or Ṭūbā captivate your soul and occupy the moment, reach up to the world of spirits, with all of yourself.

Never look at a lover with the eye of an ascetic, never think of a child learning their ABC as equal to a wise man of knowledge.

Whoever has lit the fire of Tawhid in their heart, O Hakki, their grave shall be illumined with the light of the Ḥaqq."


"Ahmad's Sharia," on the plaque on his tomb, refers to the Anatolian reformer, Ahmad al-Rumi al-Aqhisari (d. 1632) who, confident in the ability of the Shari’a to bring about a just order, called "for its implementation as a way to curb the despotism and injustice of sultans and cadis. A barrier against tyranny..."[9]

External links[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Yazıcı, Tahsin. "Esmāʿīl Ḥaqqī Borsavī". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 26 April 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Ryan, Christopher (2000), Biographical Notes on İsmail Hakkı Bursevî collected and translated, retrieved 7 Nov 2016 
  3. ^ a b Rauf, Bulent (1985–1991). Ismael Haqqi Bursevi's translation of and commentary on Fusus al-Hikam by Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi, translated into English. Oxford, England: Ibn Arabi Society Publications. ISBN 0950952710. 
  4. ^ a b Rauf, Bulent (1980). Ibn 'Arabi's Kernel of the Kernel by Ismael Haqqi Bursevi, translated from the Turkish. Cheltenham, England: Beshara Publications. ISBN 0904975088. 
  5. ^ a b Inscription on his tomb at İsmail Hakkı Kuran Kursu, Tuzpazarı, İsmail Hakkı Cd., 16020 Osmangazi, Bursa. Accessdate = 26 February 2006
  6. ^ a b c d e f Kut, Günay Alpay (2012) [2012]. "Ismāʿīl Ḥaḳḳī". In Bearman, P.; Bianquis, Th.; Bosworth, C.E.; van Donzel, E.; Heinrichs, W.P. Encyclopaedia of Islam (2 ed.). Leiden: Brill. ISBN 9789004161214. Retrieved 16 Dec 2016. 
  7. ^ Tabur, Merve (2011). İsmâil Hakkı Bursevî and the Politics of Balance (Thesis). Boğaziçi University. 
  8. ^ Elias, Jamal (2010). "Sufi tafsir Reconsidered: Exploring the Development of a Genre". Journal of Qur'anic Studies. 12: 41–55. doi:10.3366/jqs.2010.0104. 
  9. ^ al-Aqhisari, Ahmad al-Rumi (2010). Michot, Yahya, ed. Against Smoking: An Ottoman Manifesto. translator Yahya Michot. Oxford: Interface Publications. ISBN 9781847740205.