Tosun Bayrak

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Tosun Bayrak
Tosun Bekir Bayraktaroğlu[1]

(1926-01-21)January 21, 1926[2]
DiedFebruary 15, 2018(2018-02-15) (aged 92)
ResidenceNew York, United States
OccupationSufi sheikh, writer, translator, artist
Spouse(s)Jean Linder Bayrak

Sheikh Tosun Bayrak al-Jerrahi al-Halveti (January 21, 1926 – 15 February 2018) was an author, translator and Sufi. He served as a government official in Ankara, Honorary Consul of Turkey in Morocco and was the Sheikh of the Jerrahi Order in America.[3] He died on February 15, 2018.[4]


Early life[edit]

Bayrak was born in Istanbul in 1926.[5] During his childhood, he'd been raised without religion in the household, having rarely visited a mosque with his parents; his interest in Hindu and Buddhist philosopher during high school was one of his few experiences with religion.[6] Early in life, his grandfather helped to spark his interest in art and poetry with trips to museums as well as Topkapı Palace.[6] Initially, he studied Biological Sciences at Robert College, graduating in 1945.[5] It was during his time in college that he first became exposed to Islam as a living practice, lodging on weekends with his aunt who prayed five times a day and fasted during Ramadan.[6]

Bayrak later went on to study Art, Architecture, and Art History in the Studios of Fernand Léger and Andre Lhote in Paris;[6] Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley;[5] and History of Art at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London. While in London, he was an associate of poet Can Yücel and former Prime Minister of Turkey Bülent Ecevit.[6] He received a Masters in Fine Arts from Rutgers University.[5]


In 1970 Bayrak met Muzaffer Ozak, who became his spiritual teacher, at the Jerrahi Lodge in Instanbul.[5][7] Bayrak became a Sheikh of the Halveti-Jerrahi order and resided near the Jerrahi Order of America mosque in Spring Valley, New York a few years later.[8] He acted as the spiritual guide of the Jerrahi Order of the Americas starting from 1977,[9], and he founded the official mosque of the Order's American branch in Chestnut Ridge, New York in 1990.[6] Though at one time an admirer of Fethullah Gülen, Bayrak condemned the Gülen movement at a winter 2016 art exhibit in Istanbul due to the movement's alleged involvement in the 2016 Turkish coup d'état attempt.[6]

In response to the January 2015 Île-de-France attacks, which ended as Bayrak was planning a Friday sermon, he declared that the perpetrators were insane, not Muslims, and opposed the key teachings of Islam.[11] Bayrak passed away in New York on 15 February 2018 at the age of 92.[5]



Bayrak taught art and art history at Fairleigh Dickinson University, where he helped to establish the Fine Arts Division.[6] His work was exhibited widely in the United States,[12] and he became a Guggenheim fellow in 1965.[6][13] He retired from the art world in the 1970s and devoted his life to the study and teaching of Islam and Sufism.


Bayrak translated dozens of books on Islamic spirituality, but he was particularly known for his efforts on the works of the Sufi mystic Ibn Arabi. One of his best known works is Ibn Arabi: The Tree of Being. His translations of classic works of Sufism include Abdul Qadir Gilani's Secret of Secrets, Inspirations, and The Book of Sufi Chivalry, Suhrawardi: The Shape of Light, The Name and the Named: Divine Attributes of God, and Imam Birgivi's The Path of Muhammad.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Amerika'da Bir Türk
  2. ^ Amerika'da Bir Türk [1], p.19
  3. ^ The Tree of Being Archived 2008-05-16 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Obituary: Sufi leader Tosun Bayraktaroglu
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Ahmet Sait Akcay, Obituary: Sufi leader Tosun Bayraktaroglu. Andalou Agency, 21 February 2018. Accessed 28 October 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Matt Hanson, The moth and the flame: In memory of Tosun Bayrak. Daily Sabah, 31 August 2018. Accessed 28 October 2018.
  7. ^ William Rory Dickson, Living Sufism in North America: Between Tradition and Transformation, p. 108. Albany: SUNY Press, 2015. ISBN 9781438457581
  8. ^ The Most Beautiful Names
  9. ^ The Meaning of Age Archived 2004-06-26 at
  10. ^ "The World is Beautiful" An interview with Sheikh Tosun Bayrak al-Jerrahi [2]
  11. ^ Jane Lerner and Richard Liebson, Local Muslims, Jews horrified by terror in Paris. The Journal News, 9 January 2015. Accessed 1 November 2018.
  12. ^ The Tree of Being Archived 2008-05-16 at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ Tosun Bayrak
  14. ^ "The World is Beautiful" An interview with Sheikh Tosun Bayrak al-Jerrahi [3]

External links[edit]