Esad Erbili

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Esad Erbili or Mehmed Esad Efendi (1847 – 3/4 March 1931[verification needed]) was a Shaykh (Sheikh) of the Naqshi-Khalidi Sufi Order. He brought a branch of the Naqshbandiyyah Sufi school of thought with him to Istanbul at the beginning of World War I.


Esad Erbili was born in Arbil (present-day Iraqi Kurdistan) in 1847, where he went on to study under Taha al-Hariri. After the death of Shaykh al-Hariri in 1875, he returned to Istanbul for a short time but was exiled to Arbil in 1900.[1] He returned again in 1910 to establish a Dergah (Tekke) in Üsküdar.[2]

He is the 30th chain of the Golden Silsila. He is a Sayyid both from mother and father. His father is the Shaikh of Khalidî Tekke (lodge) in Arbil, named Master M. Said. His grandfather Master Hidayetullah is the Khalifa, where Mevlana Halid el-Baghdadi built the Tekke in Arbil. After completing his first education in Arbil and Deyr, while he was 23 (in 1287/1847), he became affiliated with the Naqshi-Khalidi Shaikh Taha’l-Hariri. He completed his spiritual evolution in 5 years and was honored with the degree of the caliphate. He then migrated to Hijaz in 1292/1895.[citation needed]

Arriving in Istanbul

Returning from Hajj, and having lost his Shaikh, he came to Istanbul. He stayed[3] at “Besiraga Dargah” as a guest in Salkimsogut. After his followers and visitors increased, he left there and settled in the muezzin room of a mosque in Bayezid-Parmakkapi. He taught the "Khafiz Divan" and “Luccet-ul Asrar” of Mawlana Jamii in the Fatih Mosque. Many people of knowledge and wisdom continued these lessons. Hodja Master Yekta and some other scholars recognized him in these lessons and became affiliated with him.[4]

In a short time, his reputation encircled Istanbul. The Sultan's son-in-law, Darwish Pashazade Khalid Pasha, invited him to the Palace and learned Arabic and religious sciences from him. M. Esad Erbili was appointed to the rank of Majles-I Mashayih by Sultan Abdul Hamid II. He went to Majles during the meetings, to the Fatih Mosque for lessons, and sometimes went to the Palace.

In the meantime, he moved his house to one of the rooms over the gates of the Bayezid Mosque. Moreover, he appealed for a “tekke.” At that time, “Kadirî Dargah” was free. Because this place is of a Kadirî Dargah, the Sheikh should have a Kadirî diploma (permit). Master M. Esad was appointed to this dargah after having a diploma from one of the grandchildren of Abd el-Kader Gîlānî, named Abdulhameed er-Refqanî. There he first made Kadirî ritual, and afterward, he made “Hatm-I Hacegan.”[citation needed]

Assembly of Shaykhs[edit]

In 1914, Esad Erbili was appointed the chairman of the Assembly of Shaykhs[5] (The Council of Islamic Teachers, or Meclis-i Meşâyıh) in Istanbul. He served in this role until the council was closed in 1915.[2]

Menemen Incident[edit]

As part of the Atatürk's Reforms, the Tekke in Istanbul was closed. Erbili was captured along with his son Mehmed Efendi because they were thought to be involved in the 1930 Menemen Incident. Esad Efendi was initially sentenced to death, later his penalty was reduced to life in jail because of his old age.[6][7] He was then poisoned and martyred shortly afterwards in a Military Hospital in Izmir.[2] The following couplet of him is considered an oracle which he perceived that he will be martyred:

"How possible is it to ablution the martyr with that much fire who was martyred by burning with love? The body is fired, the shroud is fired, and also the water that is pouring out is fired".[citation needed]


  • Kenzul-Irfan-Translation and Commentary of 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 of Ibn Arabi's Kitab al-Tawhid.
  • Fatiha-i Şerife Tercümesi - A tafsir (commentary) of 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. ^ a b c Yilmaz, H. Kamil:"Altin Silsile" ("Golden Chain"). Erkam Yayinlari (Istanbul). 1994.
  3. ^ "DARGĀH". Encyclopédie de l’Islam. Retrieved 2020-09-28.
  4. ^ Bacik, Gokhan (2019-08-24). Islam and Muslim Resistance to Modernity in Turkey. Springer Nature. ISBN 978-3-030-25901-3.
  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)