Imam Birgivi

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Imam Birgivi (27 March 1522–15 March 1573) was a Muslim scholar and moralist who lived during the height of the Ottoman Empire and whose texts are used to this day as manuals of spiritual practice throughout the Muslim world.


Born Muhammad ibn Pir Ali, in Balikesir, Turkey, in 1522, Muhammad was sent to Istanbul to study theology as a young man. Later, he studied law under the Chief Military Judge of the Ottoman Empire. He became a dervish and attached himself to a Sufi master of the order of Bayramiyyah.[1]

After working as a judge for a short period, Birgivi became an ascetic; resigning from his government post and returning his salary. However, his master instructed him to become a teacher of religion and morals (and to write) instead. Through the gift of a patron, a school was built in the city of Birgiv and Muhammad ran it. Now known as Imam Birgivi, his fame quickly spread as a result of his school and the twenty-seven books he published.

Birgivi and his disciples were vocal critics of corruption within the Empire and without, particularly decrying the twisting of Islamic teachings for the benefit of the rich. At one point Birgivi traveled to the capital of the Empire and personally took the Prime Minister to task. This reprimand was taken well by the Minister, who consulted him on how to cure the degeneration of the Islamic virtues.[2]

Imam Birgivi lived in the small town of Birgiv until his death from the plague at the age of fifty-one.


  1. ^ Birgivi, Imam. Path of Muhammad (World Wisdom, 2005) page 349 ISBN 978-0-941532-68-6
  2. ^ Birgivi, Imam. Path of Muhammad (World Wisdom, 2005) page 350 ISBN 978-0-941532-68-6

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