Esad Erbili

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Esad Erbili or Mehmed Esad Efendi (1847 – March 1931[verification needed]) was a sheikh of the Naqshi-Khalidi Sufi order. At the beginning of World War I, he took a branch of the Naqshbandiyah school of thought to Istanbul.

Early years[edit]

Esad Erbili was born in Arbil (present-day Kurdistan Region) in 1847.[1] He was the 30th Chain of the Golden Silsila, entitled to the honorific title Sayyid on both his mother's and father's side. His father, Master M. Said, was the Sheikh of Khalidî Tekke in Arbil, while his grandfather, Master Hidayetullah, was a khalifa. After Erbili completed his education in Arbil and Deyr, he became affiliated with the Naqshi-Khalidi Sheikh Taha’l-Hariri at age 23. Five years later he was given the degree of the caliphate.[citation needed]

Career in Istanbul[edit]

Returning from Hajj after the death of Sheikh al-Hariri, Erbili came to Istanbul in 1875. He first stayed at the Besiraga Dargah in Salkimsogut,[2] but when his followers and visitors increased, he left and settled in the muezzin room of a mosque in Bayezid-Parmakkapi. He taught the Divān of Hafez and Luccet-ul Asrar of Mawlana Jamii in the Fatih Mosque. Hodja Master Yekta and other scholars took notice of these lessons and affiliated themselves with him.[3]

In a short time, his reputation spread throughout Istanbul. The sultan's son-in-law, Darwish Pashazade Khalid Pasha, invited Erbili to the palace to learn Arabic and religious sciences from him. He was appointed to the rank of Majles-I Mashayih by Sultan Abdul Hamid II. In the meantime, he moved his house to one of the rooms over the Bayezid Mosque gates. He also appealed for a tekke. At that time, Kadirî Dargah was free, but its sheikh was required to have a Kadirî diploma. Erbili was appointed after receiving this diploma from one of the grandchildren of Abd el-Kader Gîlānî, Abdulhameed er-Refqanî.[citation needed]

Erbili was exiled to Arbil in 1900, but returned to Istanbul in 1910 to establish a dargah in Üsküdar.[4] In 1914, he was appointed chairman of the Assembly of Sheikhs[5] (The Council of Islamic Teachers, or Meclis-i Meşâyıh) in Istanbul. He served in this role until the council was closed in 1915.[4]

Menemen incident and death[edit]

As part of Atatürk's Reforms, the tekke in Istanbul was closed and Erbili was imprisoned along with his son, Mehmed, because they were suspected of involvement in the 1930 Menemen Incident. Erbili was initially sentenced to death, but his penalty was reduced to life in jail because of his old age.[6][7] However, he was poisoned and died shortly afterward in a military hospital in Izmir.[4] The following couplet is considered a prophecy of his death: "How is it possible to make wet the martyr who was martyred by burning with love? The body burns, the shroud burns, and the water that is poured out burns."[citation needed]


  • Kenzul-Irfan - A translation of and commentary on 100,000 hadith.
  • Maktubat (Mektubat) [8] - A collection of letters to his students.
  • Divan - Turkish and Persian poetry.
  • Risale-i Es'adiyye - Autobiography.
  • Tevhid Risalesi Tercümesi - A commentary on Ibn Arabi's Kitab al-Tawhid.
  • Fatiha-i Şerife Tercümesi - A tafsir (commentary) on the first chapter of the Qur'an.


  1. ^ Türkiye Ekonomik ve Toplumsal Tarih Vakfı, Dünden Bugüne İstanbul Ansiklopedisi, Kültür Bakanlığı, 1994, ISBN 978-975-7306-06-1, p. 37. (in Turkish)
  2. ^ "DARGĀH". Encyclopédie de l’Islam. doi:10.1163/9789004206106_eifo_dum_0917. Retrieved 2020-09-28.
  3. ^ Bacik, Gokhan (2019-08-24). Islam and Muslim Resistance to Modernity in Turkey. Springer Nature. ISBN 978-3-030-25901-3.
  4. ^ a b c Yilmaz, H. Kamil:"Altin Silsile" ("Golden Chain"). Erkam Yayinlari (Istanbul). 1994.
  5. ^ Brian Silverstain, "Sufism and Modernity in Turkey: From the Authenticity of Experience to the Practice of Discipline," in M. van Bruinessen and J. Day Howell, eds. Sufism and the Modern in Islam, I. B. Tauris, 2007, ISBN 978-1-85043-854-0, p. 39.
  6. ^ Mustafa Armağan, "Menemen olayında 10 büyük şüphe" Archived 2011-08-21 at the Wayback Machine, official personal webcite of Mustafa Armağan. (in Turkish)
  7. ^ Touraj Atabaki, The State and the Subaltern: Modernization, Society and the State in Turkey and Iran, I.B.Tauris, 2007, ISBN 978-1-84511-339-1, p. 131.
  8. ^ Muhammad Esat Erbili: "Mektubat" ("Letters"). Erkam Yayinlari (Istanbul)