Ahmad Yasawi

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Khwaja Ahmad Yasavi)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Ahmed Ibn Ibrahim Ibn Ilyas Yasawi
قوجا احمەت ياساۋٸ
Ahmad Yasawi miniature.png
A modern illustration of Ahmad Yasawi with Arystan Bab Mausoleum behind
Born1093 CE
Died1166 CE (aged 72–73)
Turkistan, Kara-Khanid Khanate
ReligionSunni Islam (Hanafi)
  • Sheikh Ibrahim (father)
EraIslamic Golden Age
Notable work(s)Book of Wisdom
Known forPoetry, Sufism, Diwan in Middle Turkic
Senior posting
Period in office12th century
Influenced by

Ahmad Yasawi (Kazakh: Қожа Ахмет Ясауи, romanized: Qoja Ahmet Iasaui, قوجا احمەت ياساۋٸ; Persian: خواجه اَحمدِ یَسوی, romanizedKhwāje Ahmad-e Yasavī; 1093–1166) was a Turkic[1][2] poet and Sufi, an early mystic who exerted a powerful influence on the development of Sufi orders throughout the Turkic-speaking world.[3] Yasawi is the earliest known Turkic poet who composed poetry in Middle Turkic.[4][5] He was a pioneer of popular mysticism, founded the first Turkic Sufi order, the Yasawiyya or Yeseviye, which very quickly spread over Turkic-speaking areas.[6] He was a Hanafi scholar like his murshid (spiritual guide), Yusuf Hamadani.[7]

Early life[edit]

Ahmed Yesevi was born to Ibrahim in Sayram at the end of the 11th century. He lost his father at the age of seven and was then raised by Arslan Baba [tr].[8] By then, Yasawi had already advanced through a series of high spiritual stages and, under the direction of Arslan Baba, the young Ahmad reached a high level of maturity and slowly began to win fame from every quarter. His father Ibrahim had already been renowned in that region for performing countless feats and many legends were told of him. Consequently, it was recognized that, with respect to his lineage as well, this quiet and unassuming young boy, who always listened to his elder sister, held a spiritually important position.

Yesevi later moved to Bukhara and followed his studies with Yusuf Hamadani.[9] Upon the demise of Yusuf Hamdani, first ʻAbdullah Barki and then Hassan-i Andākī became the head of Hamadani's khanqah.[7] Yasawi became the head murshid of the Naqshbandi order when Hassan-i Andākī died in 1160. He then turned this position to Abdul Khaliq Ghijduwani under Hamadani's advice and moved to Turkistan City in order to spread Islam in Turkestan.[7]


Ahmad Yasawi made considerable efforts to spread Islam throughout Central Asia and had numerous students in the region. Yasawi's poems created a new genre of religious folk poetry in Central Asian Turkic literature and influenced many religious poets in the following countries.[10] Yasawi turned the city of Iasy into the major centre of learning for the Kazakh Steppe, then retired to a life of contemplation at the age of 63. He dug himself an underground cell where he spent the rest of his life.

Turkish scholar Hasan Basri Çantay noted: "It was a Seljuk king who brought Rumi, the great Sufi poet, to Konya; and it was in Seljuq times that Ahmed Yasawi, another great Sufi, lived and taught. The influence of those two remarkable teachers has continued to the present."[11] Yasawi is also mentioned by Edward Campbell (writing as Ernest Scott)[12] as a member of the Khwajagan. Yasawi also influenced Turkish poet Yahya Kemal Beyatlı, he said: "Who is this Ahmad Yasawi? If you study him, you will find our nationality in Him."[13]

Legends about Ahmed Yasawi[edit]

Date palm[edit]

Legend has it that a religious mystic, Arystan-Bab, was the teacher and spiritual mentor of Khoja Ahmad Yasawi. It was Arystan-Bab who transmitted the amanat, which was contained in a pip of date palm. According to a legend, Arystan-Bab was an associate of the Prophet Muhammad. One day, Prophet Muhammad and his companions sat and ate dates. One of the fruits fell out of the dish, and the Prophet heard the revelation: "This date is for the Muslim Ahmad, who will be born 400 years later than You." The Prophet asked his companions who would pass this persimmon to its future owner. No one volunteered. The Prophet repeated his question, and then Arystan-Bab answered: "If you beg Allah to give me 400 years of life, then I will give the date."[14]

Timur's dream[edit]

It is believed that one night Timur saw Ahmad Yasawi in his dream, where Yasawi predicted glad tidings of the forthcoming conquest of Bukhara. Taking this as a sign, Timur went on a campaign that would indeed be successful. After his victory, he decided to visit the grave of Yasawi and ordered to build there a majestic mausoleum.[15]


Yasawi is celebrated as a spiritual teacher all throughout Central Asia, Turkey, & Greater Persia. The people of Kazakhstan, a secular country that was also the birthplace of Yasawi, have built numerous monuments and have honored him in many other ways as well, including:

  • The Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi[16] was later built on the site of his grave by Timur in Turkistan City. The Yesevi order he founded continued to be influential for several centuries afterwards, with the Yesevi Sayyid Ata Sheikhs holding a prominent position at the court of Bukhara into the 19th century.[17] There is the greatest influence of shamanistic elements in the Yasawiyya compared to other Sufi orders.[18]
  • Yesevi authored the Book of Wisdom (Turkic: ديوان حكمت, Dīvān-i Ḥikmet), a collection of poems, in Turkic.[4] The book was published in 1895 and 1905 in Kazan.[5]
  • The Naqshbandi Idries Shah mentions Yasawi's lineage in The Book of the Book.[19]

In popular culture[edit]

The Turkish series, Mavera (2021) (in Turkish) is based on Ahmad Yasawi's life. In the series, he was portrayed by the Turkish actor Korel Cezayirli [tr].


  1. ^ Ro'i, Yaacov (2000). Islam in the Soviet Union: From the Second World War to Gorbachev. C. Hurst & Co. Publishers. ISBN 978-1-85065-403-2., page 373
  2. ^ Richter, Fabian (2016). Identität, Ethnizität und Nationalismus in Kurdistan: Festschrift zum 65. Geburtstag von Prof. Dr. Ferhad Ibrahim Seyder (in German). LIT Verlag Münster. p. 32. ISBN 978-3-643-13234-5.
  3. ^ "Encyclopædia Britannica (2007): Related Articles to "Ahmed Yesevi, or Ahmad Yasawi, or Ahmed Yasavi (Turkish author)", accessed March 18, 2007". Britannica.com. Retrieved 2013-04-09.
  4. ^ a b Book of Wisdom. World Digital Library. Lithographic Printing House of the Kazan Imperial University. 1904. p. 366.
  5. ^ a b "Divan-i Khikmet". Kazakhstan National Commission For UNESCO - natcom.unesco.kz.
  6. ^ I.Melikoff, 'Ahmad Yesevi and Turkic popular Islam' Archived 2006-12-25 at the Wayback Machine, EJOS, VI (2003), No. 8, 1-9, ISSN 0928-6802
  7. ^ a b c The Foundation of the Presidency of Religious Affairs, TDV Encyclopedia of Islam, Vol. 2, pp. 159-161 (in Turkish), İstanbul, 1989.
  8. ^ İz, Fahīr (1960–2007). "Aḥmad Yasawī". Encyclopaedia of Islam (2nd ed.). doi:10.1163/1573-3912_islam_SIM_0427. ISBN 9789004161214.
  9. ^ Y. N. Öztürk: The Eye of the Heart (Redhouse Press Istanbul 1988), p.49
  10. ^ John L. Esposito, ed., The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World, Volume 1, New York: Oxford University Press, 1995, p. 271
  11. ^ "Hasan Basri Çantay, "Chapter 7: Islamic Culture in Turkish Areas", in Islam — The Straight Path: Islam Interpreted by Muslims by Prof. Kenneth W. Morgan, Published by The Ronald Press Company, New York 1958". Religion-online.org. Archived from the original on 2013-04-11. Retrieved 2013-04-09.
  12. ^ The People of the Secret by Edward Campbell (1983) ISBN 0-86304-038-1
  13. ^ "Ahmet Yesevi Üniversitesi".
  14. ^ "Арыстан-Баба Мавзолей". 18 January 2010.
  15. ^ Global Media Journal, (2018), The Path of the Khoja Ahmet Yasawi in Kazakh and Turkish Minstrel Customs, p. 4
  16. ^ "Yasavi (Shrine of Ahmed Yasavi), ArchNet Dictionary of Islamic Architecture". Archnet.org. Archived from the original on 2006-05-26. Retrieved 2013-04-09.
  17. ^ Devin Deweese "The Politics of Sacred Lineages in 19th-century Central Asia: Descent groups linked to Khwaja Ahmad Yasavi in Shrine Documents and Genealogical Charters" International Journal of Middle East Studies Vol.31 (1999) pp507-530
  18. ^ "The Sacred Sites of Kyrgyzstan", Cholpon K. Dyikanova, Taalaibek K. Dyikanov, Jarkyn B. Samanchina (eds.), Bishkek, 2004-2005, p. 8, citing Demidov, 1988, p. 3 Archived September 29, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ Shah, Idries (1976). The Book of the Book. Octagon Press Ltd. ISBN 978-0-900860-12-6., page 9
  20. ^ "Ahmet Yesevi University Official Site". Yesevi.edu.tr. Retrieved 2013-04-09.

Further reading[edit]

  • Beben, Daniel (2020). "Aḥmad Yasavī and the Ismāʿīlīs of Badakhshān: Towards a New Social History of Sufi-Shīʿī Relations in Central Asia". Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient. 63 (5–6): 643–681. doi:10.1163/15685209-12341523. S2CID 229476699.
  • John G. Bennett (1995). The Masters of Wisdom. Bennett Books. ISBN 978-1-881408-01-7.

External links[edit]