Khoja Akhmet Yassawi

The Mausoleum of Khwaja Ahmed Yasawi

Khoja Akhmed Yassawi (Arabic: خوجة أحمد‎) (Uzbek: Xoja Ahmad Yasaviy; Kazakh: Қожа Ахмет Ясауи, Turkmen: Hoja Ahmet Ýasawy, Turkish: Hoca Ahmet Yesevi or Ahmed ibn-i İbrâhim ibn-i İlyâs Yesevî also spelled Ahmad Yasawi, Ahmet Yasevi, Ahmed Yesevi or Ata Yesevi) (born in Sayram in 1093, and died in 1166 in Hazrat-e Turkestan, both cities now in Kazakhstan), was a Turkic poet and Sufi (Muslim mystic), an early mystic who exerted a powerful influence on the development of mystical orders throughout the Turkic-speaking world. Yasavi is currently the earliest known Turkic poet who composed poetry in a Turkic dialect. Ahmed Yesevi was a pioneer of popular mysticism, founded the first Turkic Ṭarīqah (order), the (Yeseviye), which very quickly spread over the Turkic-speaking areas. He was an Hanafi scholar like his murshid Abū Yāqub Yusūf Hamdānī.

    Background

    Yassawi was born to Shaykh Ibrahim. At age seven, when he was orphaned by the loss of his father, Yasawi was raised by another spiritual father, Arslan Baba. By age seven, Ahmad Yasawi had already advanced through a series of high spiritual stages and then, 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 Shaikh 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.

    Ahmad Yassawi later moved to Bukhara and followed his studies with the well known Abū Yāqub Yusūf Hamdānī. Upon the demise of Khawaja Yusūf Hamdānī, first `Abd Allah-i Barkī and then Shaykh Hassan-i Andākī became the head of the Yusūf Hamdānī's dervish lodge.Khawaja Ahmad-ī Yassawī became the head murshid of Naqshbandiyyah Ṭarīqah when Shaykh Hassan-i Andākī died in 1160. He then turned this position to Abdul Khaliq Gajadwani as a consequence of Yusūf Hamdānī's previous advice and moved to Turkistan in order to spread Islam in Turkistan.

    Influence

    Khoja Akhmet Yassawi 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. Yassawi made the city of Yasi into the major centre of learning for the Kazakh steppes, then retired to a life of contemplation aged 63. He dug himself an underground cell where he spent the rest of his life. Turkish scholar Hasan Basri Çantay noted that "It was a Seljuk king who brought Rumi, the great Sufi poet, to Konya; and it was in Seljuq times that Ahmad Yesevi, another great Sufi, lived and taught. The influence of those two remarkable teachers has continued to the present." Yasavi is also mentioned by Ernest Scott (pseudonym) as a member of the Khwajagan Sufis.

    Legacy

    A mausoleum was later built on the site of his grave by Tamerlane the Great in the city (today called Türkistan). The Yasav’īyyāh Ṭarīqah which he founded continued to be influential for several centuries afterwards, with the Yasavi Sayyid Ata Sheikhs holding a prominent position at the court of Bukhara into the 19th century. In the Yasaviyya Sufis one comes across the greatest number of the shamanistic elements compared to other Sufi Orders.

    The first Kazakh-Turkish university, Ahmet Yesevi University, and liceum, Hoca Ahmed Yesevi Lisesi, were named in his honor.

    Naqshbandi Sufi Idries Shah mentions Ahmed Yasavi's lineage in his "The Book of the Book". Yasavi Sufis are also present in Kashmir. They came to Kashmir from Turkistan via Silk Route with Hazrat Amir-e-Kabir Mir Syed Ali Hamdani. A historical background of the Yasavi order can be found in the book SILSLAY YASAVI, written by Peerzada Mohammad Shafi Yasavi, eldest member of the Yasavi family in Kashmir. The book is written in Urdu.

    References

    • John G. Bennett (1995). The Masters of Wisdom. Bennett Books. ISBN 1-881408-01-9. 
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