The Path of the Khoja Ahmet Yasawi in Kazakh and Turkish Minstrel Customs
Turumbetova Z 1 *, Kerimbekova B2, Soltanayeva Y3, Daribayev S4, Adilzhan A5
1*Senior Lecturer, Department of Philology, Suleyman Demirel University, Karasai district, the Republic of Kazakhstan
2Assistant professor SDU, Head of the Research laboratories “Study of the Art of Speech”, Department of Philology, Suleyman Demirel University, 010900, the Republic of Kazakhstan
3Assistant Professor, Department of Kazakh Literature and Literature Theory, Al-Farabi Kazakh National University, 050040, the Republic of Kazakhstan
4Associate Professor, Department of Literature Theory, AlFarabi Kazakh National University, 050040, the Republic of Kazakhstan
5Master of Philology, Senior Lecturer, Department of Philology, Faculty of Philological and Pedagogical Sciences, Suleyman Demirel University, 010900, the Republic of Kazakhstan
- *Corresponding Author:
- Turumbetova Z
Senior Lecturer, Department of Philology
Suleyman Demirel University
Karasai district, the Republic of Kazakhstan
Tel: + 7 727 307 95 65
Received date: Sep 04, 2018; Accepted date: Sep 10, 2018; Published date: Sep 17, 2018
Citation: Turumbetova Z, Kerimbekova B, Soltanayeva Y, Daribayev S, Adilzhan A. The Path of the Khoja Ahmet Yasawi in Kazakh and Turkish Minstrel Customs. Global Media Journal 2018, 16:31.
Copyright: © 2018 Turumbetova Z. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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Global Media Journal
Since our people have suffered under Russian colony nearly for about a century, we were remote from our history, literature, cultural heritage, and from religious beliefs, so we had to get education and knowledge within the framework of the Soviet Union and Communist ideology. Regaining the independence of Kazakhstan, new researches were conducted in fields of Kazakh history, beliefs, and culture based on real facts and documents reproduced by scientists on the literature review. “Cultural Heritage” project started in this area in Kazakhstan. The main objective of this project is to investigate our national culture, and historical facts; introducing our people and future generation, real facts of our cultural and civilized heritage. Nowadays, a lot of researches and studies have been made and are still ongoing due to this project. One of the most important areas in this study was to introduce the Master of Turkish world Ahmet Yasawi to the Kazakh nation. It is indeed a very strange case, because Khoja Ahmet Yasawi’s mausoleum is on Kazakhstan lands. He was buried in the city of Turkestan. However, it was impossible to introduce Khoja Ahmet Yasawi’s heritage due to the political regime of that century, and those who tried were also silenced by the government. As the wind of independence blew, our people felt relief more and more, and started the period of “Rebirth, revival”, put much effort towards continuing new kinship ties again that have been broken between brotherly Turkish states.
Kazakhstan; Turkic world; Ahmet Yasawi;
Turkish oral literature; Tradition of minstrelsy
Culture has the ability to reach substantial numbers of
people, making it an ideal medium for public diplomacy.
“Culture” has abroad definition. Both the established
institutions of culture and contemporary art and performance
exist within, and interact with, a wider context of popular
culture. Efforts on the part of cultural institutions to grow their
audiences, coupled with new approaches to display,
performance, interpretation and digitization, mean that the
distinction between “high” and “popular” culture seems
The contemporary Kazakhstan society is characterized by
the active search for new and viable paradigm of spiritual
development, ethnocultural and moral self-identification,
which, in turn, would provide for the needed level of
interethnic concord and unity, and also would be a factor of
further growth of the national identity . Against the
background of the crisis in moral and cultural values, new
symbols and rituals are intensively formed, which are
intensively implemented in everyday life of citizens .
In our study, we are going to look at relationship between
Turkish and Kazakh jiraus (minstrelsy) from religious-mystical
(minstrelsy) tradition that followed the path of the Khoja
Ahmet Yasawi. Turkish minstrels, such as Yunus Emre, Hacı
Bektaş-ı Veli, Hacı Bayram Veli and poets of Kazakh literature, such as Abay Kunanbay, Shakarim Kudayberdi, Shalkiyiz
Tilenshiul, Shal Kulekeuly, famous Jusip, Maylikozha and
Turmagambet, whose works are of a great importance,
introduced Islam and our Prophet (PBUH) in their works to
enlighten the people .
Professional minstrelsy is a long-standing tradition of most
Turkic peoples across Central Asia and into Turkey. In Turkey,
the performer is called aşık (the same word in Turkish
orthography), and his instrument is the saz, which comes in
many shapes and sizes. Among the Turkmens, who live east of
the Caspian Sea, minstrels are called bagşy (often spelled
bakhshi when transliterated from Persian) and play a twostringed,
long-necked plucked lute known as the dutar. In
earlier times the bagsy combined the vocations of musician
and shaman and was often a figure of considerable power.
Other minstrels and shamans have accompanied their
performances on a variety of fretted or fretless, plucked or
bowed, long-necked and not-so-long-necked lutes. The Kyrgyz
akin or manaschi (who specializes in the long epic Manas) may
perform on the komuz, a plucked fretless lute, whereas his
Kazakh counterpart may use the qobuz, a concave-fronted
The predecessors of today's aşiq came to Azerbaijan with
the Turks. They were often part of a ruler's retinue,
responsible for praising the ruler, his family, his horses, and his
prowess in battle. Shah Ismasil (1501-1524) enjoyed the aşiq's
music so much that he learned to perform it himself and
composed songs about Shia Islam after he declared Iran to be
a Shia nation. The word aşiq (Arabic for lover) appears in
literature for the first time in the fifteenth century. Before
then, similar minstrels were called ozan .
A lot of minstrels came to Anatolia from Central Asia,
Khorasan, Samarkand, Tashkent and other Turkish provinces in
the great migration occurred from the Seljuk Empire in Iran,
collapsed due to the attacks of Mongols to Anatolia. These
minstrel philosophers brought The Central Asian cultures to
Anatolia. They combined these cultures with the cultural
heritage of various civilizations which lived in Anatolia.
The word ozan (minstrel) is derived from the root of the
verb “ozmak” meaning “to be ahead of”. As the letter g in the
middle and at the end of the word is dropped in Oghuz
language, the term ozgan turned into ozan. The folk singers
performing jobs such as medicine, witchcraft and musicianship
in the position of the representatives of the communities in
the Turks were called “Kam (Shaman)” in Altai Turks, “Baksı
(Bakshy)” in Kyrgyz Turks, “Oyun” in Yakut Turks and “Ozan
(Minstrel)” in Oghuz Turks . The term ozan has been used in
the sense of minstrel-folk musician in Oghuzs since time
immemorial. After the 15th century, the Turkish term ozan was
replaced by ashık in Azerbaijan and Anatolian geographies and
by Baksı and Kam in Turkmen geography. The tasks bakshies
and minstrels performed in Turkish geography seem similar.
“The father of the lute playing minstrels” was Dede Korkut
(Korkut Ata). He was also the inventor of the stringed
instruments called kopuz (lute), tanbur (tamboura) and
dombra. In Anatolia, Korkut Ata was a highly respected wise
man. Kyrgyz bakshies used to ask for help from Korkut Ata when they started treatment or fortune-telling with magic and
spell accompanied by lute. Minstrels also used to consider
their own lutes as Dede Korkut’s lute and show respect to
them, sleep on the waist of the lute and think that lutes had a
divine power. Greeting confronts us as an important custom
among the minstrels traveling from province to province, from
beylic to beylic. Minstrel greeting putting one hand on the
chest as in “bağır basma (embracement)” was attached
importance as it showed the respect, unity and hierarchy in
the society and Turkish customs in terms of social
respectability and the fact that minstrels did not kneel down
before the khan. This greeting type is stated to be also
widespread in Anatolia today . We also learn from the book
of Dede Korkut that minstrels’ both playing and singing is a
feature seen in Central Asia and Anatolia. Minstrels both
played and sang on the days of feasting and grieving and they
emphasized the meaning and importance of the day. It is also
stated that the capital of the minstrels is their lute and their
mastership and the recompense of their work is their fame.
The lute of the minstrel being invaluable also shows the
importance attached to the lute .
The Turks spread over a wide geographical area migrating
far from their homeland in the history. The geographical
location where the nation lives is a very important in the
formation of the cultural geography. The birthplace of the
culture is called the source of the culture. In this sense, Central
Asia constitutes the sources of Anatolian Turkish culture.
Throughout the history, the cultures such as language,
architecture, music were originated from these sources [7,8].
Turkish tradition is the sum of the rule from laws - including
those from the Khans - which must be obeyed by the members
of society. Tradition has such an importance that the
prescription of rules and the compliance with the principles of
equality and justice have been mentioned among the most
important conditions for the continuity of the competence of
the Khan and the state. Because of this, the literature has
always emphasized that tradition is very important and has the
most important place in the state; a nation that has lost its
tradition is considered to be extinct. It has always been
demanded from the Khans to act in accordance with tradition.
Khans have always assumed that this as a very important
aspect and felt responsible to the people to uphold tradition.
Khans who have not acted in accordance with tradition and
have not been successful in the administration were not able
to continue their work but were instead required to explain
There is a very deep and colorful cultural heritage in the
Turkish geography. In this sense, Turkey possesses a substantial
number of national cultural heritage to be added to the
universal heritage. Start of the contribution to the universal
heritage is possible by internalizing local richness and
diversities and interpreting them in the light of contemporary
The culture, in the entirety of its components, herewith acts
as a most important factor of sustainable development, and
because of that, preservation of cultural codes, traditions and
national customs gains topicality. The continuity of generations is provided for, in particular, by restoration and development
of national customs and rituals which accumulate centurieslong
experience of the nation, and baseline sources of its
outlook and spirituality .
Our minstrels wrote about our Prophet (PBUH) within the
framework of public understanding. Poets committed their
works to Islam, the holy book of Quran and the most
important to an exemplary life of the Prophet (PBUH), his
wonders, and his moral to the patriotic feelings peculiar to the
nomadic spirit of the Turkic people. Poetic forms, the epic
sagas, and story and fable forms are widely used in our
Khoja Ahmet Yasawi, who was first to contribute in the
foundation of Central Asian Turkish Sufi Literature and founder
of the first religious order (path), was Master of Turkistan.
Although Khoja Ahmet Yasawi knew Islamic sciences, Arabic
and Persian well, in his world-famous work “Divan-ı Hikmet”,
he speaks to people through his poems in a pure Turkish
language that people understand. The work, which was
written in a simple language and syllabic standard of Turkish
Folk Literature, has left deep love marks in the heart of people.
Yasawi is the greatest Sufi of the Turkic World who left
profound traces of his own in all the branches of spiritual
culture, such as literature, history, and customs and in the
system of national thinking not only in the Central Asian lands,
but also to Turkic people from Anatolia to Balkans.
Materials and Methods
Such subjects as divine love, Allah's unity and power, love
for our Prophet (PBUH), devotion to sunnah, doomsday and
hereafter, and human love are covered in Ahmet Yasawi's
works. Master of Turkestan, the greatest Sufi poet who inspires
Kazakh poets and Turkish minstrels. The works of Abay
Kunanbay, Shakarim Kudayberdi, Shal Akın, Meshur Jusup,
Maylıkozha and Turmagambet are of a great importance.
Results and Discussion
In the history of the Turkic people of the 12th century, a
special place takes intellectual knowledge of thinker, poet and
philosopher Kul Khoja Ahmet Khazreti Sultan Yasawi – the
founder of the Turkic branch of Sufism .
Khoja Ahmet Yasawi is the recognized head of the Turkic
branch of Sufism. His work “Divan-i-hikmet” (“The Book of
Wisdom” - is often abbreviated as “Hikmet”) is preserved.
Biographical data are sketchy. It is known exactly the year his
death – 1166.
Sufism is a mystical form of Islam that has flourished in the
Muslim world for centuries. Sufism has placed a distinctive
stamp on the way the religion has been practiced in many Arab
countries, in parts of Africa, in Turkey, and especially in Central
Asia. Like so much else in a decentralized global faith such as
Islam, the practice of Sufism has varied tremendously from
region to region, and even within a country or a region over
time. Although each Sufi order (tariqat) has its own character,
shaped in large part by the teachings of its founder, much of how the Sufis in the order practice the founder’s teachings is
shaped by the current generation of Sufi leaders .
Sufism can be described broadly as the intensification of
Islamic faith and practice, or the tendency among Muslims to
strive for a personal engagement with the Divine Reality. The
Arabic term Ṣūfī, however, has been used in a wide variety of
meanings over the centuries, by both proponents and
opponents of Sufism, and this is reflected in the primary and
secondary sources, which offer diverse interpretations of the
term. Western observers have sometimes obscured the issue
by referring to Sufism as “Islamic mysticism” or “Islamic
esotericism.” Such terms are vague and often imply a negative
value judgment, and they encourage people to consider as
non-Ṣūfī anything that does not fit into preconceived
categories. The original sense of Ṣūfī seems to have been “one
who wears wool (ṣūf ).” In the eighth century, the word was
sometimes being applied to Muslims whose ascetic
inclinations led them to wear coarse and uncomfortable
woolen garments. Gradually it came to designate a group who
differentiated themselves from others by stressing certain
teachings and practices of the Qurʿān and the sunnah. By the
ninth century the gerund form taṣawwuf, which means literally
“being a Sūfī” or “Sufism,” was adopted by some
representatives of this group as an appropriate, though by no
means the only, designation of their own beliefs and practices
Since its introduction in Kazakhstan, Islam plays a very
important role in the formation of Kazakh ethnic culture and
national consciousness. In contemporary Kazakhstan, Islam is
an important factor in shaping cultural self-identification and
spiritual identity .
There are different versions of the legends concerning the
spiritual formation of Ahmet as an individual and his
genealogy. It should be noted that the world of ideas and
symbols in such a direction of Islam as Sufism is very peculiar.
According to one of them, the prophet Muhammad before the
demise gathered the people and asked: “Who will take upon
me the symbol of my mission (amanat-rosary) and continue
my business?” A long-liver Arystan Bab was called. 500 years
later somewhere in the steppe Arystan Babu meets an 11-
year-old boy and without any forewarnings demands: “Aksakal,
please, give me my amanat”. This boy was Ahmet Yasawi.
Khoja Ahmet Yasawi at the beginning of the XII century sends
his first students to different ends of the Turkic world.
The process of spreading Yasawi's teachings went hand in
hand with the Islamization of the steppe regions of Central
Asia. During the lifetime of Khoja Ahmet Yasawi, his disciples
included 12,000 elected and 99,000 people from 26 ordinary
people. He had 40 khanaqah-chillahan (“abode”, a special
institution for 40 days of training for Sufi rituals) in the city of
Iasi, in which many followers who had come from all parts of
the Turkic world studied. Sufism was a new mystical and
ascetic current in Islam. In Central Asia, Sufism became
widespread in the 9th-10th centuries, which was reflected in
the creation of schools of certain Sufi interpretations, formed
in the orders, headed by mentors, who were called sheikhs in
the Arab-speaking countries, in Iranian-speaking sheikhs and feasts, and in Turkic-speaking sheiks, Ishans, baba, ata. The
most widespread orders in Central Asia are Naqshbandiya,
Yassaviyya, and Kubraviyya. At the same time, the religious
trends of the Mubayidites, Isma'iliites, and Karamats existed
simultaneously with the teachings of the Shafi'ite, Hanafi'i
Mazhab and others. Khoja Ahmed Yasawi devoted his whole
life, all his efforts to the creation of spiritual unity against the
backdrop of numerous religious movements. He was not only a
religious figure, but also a remarkable poet, philosopher,
subtly observing all aspects of his surroundings.
He was worried by everything: both worldly life, and the
fate of rulers, and the destiny of the people themselves. Being
the wisest man, he understood life in all its manifestations:
both external - as a thinker, and internal - as a spiritual person
who has a connection with the highest spirit of nature. The
works of Khoja Ahmet Yasawi – poems, sofas, risal – were
widely popular among the locals. He spoke not only as a
spiritual mentor, but also as a wise statesman. In his spiritual
sermons, verses and treatises, he responded to the actuality
when he felt that he could tell his people his frank word. Khoja
Ahmed Yasawi urged the people to be tolerant of people of a
different faith: If you meet an Unfaithful person, do not offend
him. The Lord turns away from the cruel heart, from the soul
of the offender. Oh, Allah, true! This slave is destined for hell!
According to the legend, Yasawi was forced to leave the
worldly bustle to serve the Almighty. He settled in the
underground cell of the city of Yasi, near the mosque, where
he spent the rest of his life [16-18].
According to legend, Ahmed Yasavi had a dream of Timur,
who lived two centuries after him, and reported the glad
tidings of the forthcoming conquest of Bukhara. Taking this as
a sign from above, the emir went on a campaign. After winning
the victory, he decided to visit the grave of the righteous in
Yasi, harboring a special feeling of respect and gratitude to this
auliya. After visiting a modest burial, Timur ordered his closest
people to erect a majestic mausoleum and directly submitted
proposals to the project. So the construction of a whole
complex of buildings began under the guidance of the most
famous architect of Turkestan of that time – Khodzhi Hussein
Shirazi. At the head of the architect of the century, the
construction of the mausoleum was over in two years, and
again, by the order of the Emir of Timur, near the mausoleum,
a mosque, a dervish monastery, a kitchen and a number of
auxiliary buildings, all of which form an ensemble.
Ahmet Yasawi was a brilliant connoisseur of Arabic and
Persian literature, but preferred the Turkic dialect,
understandable for his compatriots who had recently become
acquainted with Islam. The main reason was that the native
language for his surroundings would have made a significant
contribution to the upbringing of Muslim converts. Collection
of Yasawi’s poems “Hikmet” for centuries passed from word to
mouth. In the 15th century, the book acquired a written form
called “Divan-i-Hikmet”. The edition passed from hand to hand
as especially revered. These verses written in the style of
intimate conversation in simple Turkic language in a short time
spread from the Great Wall of China to the shores of the
Mediterranean and Marble Seas.
“Divan-i-Hikmet” is a religious and moral book containing
lessons of Islam and Muslim morality. Most of its poems were
transferred to Yasawi during a conversation with the dervishes
in the hallway of her underground cell [19-21].
The philosophy of Sufism emerged in the second century of
Hegira, and after those dates religious orders (paths) began to
spread gradually. Among the Turks, the mysticism movement,
which first started with Ahmet Yasawi in Central Asia, came to
the peak with Yunus Emre, who came to Anatolia with Mongol
invasion . Kazakh poets and minstrels, who were inspired
by Ahmet Yasawi's world of poetry, have continued the “the
divine wisdom” tradition. The best and powerful
representatives of this tradition were Suleyman Ata (Bakirgani)
in Central Asia, Yunus Emre, Haci Bektash Veli, and Haci
Bayram Veli in Anatolia, who laid the foundation of mysticism
movement in Turkish Literature as “Sufi Folk Literature” or
“Tekke Literature” in Anatolia. Despite living in different times,
poets who followed Yasawi’s path, by producing new written
works never broke the tradition of “the divine wisdom”, and
were faithful to this tradition for centuries. “Ahmet Yasawi's
works are the main source of mysticism in Turkish World’s
The book titled “Divan-ı Hikmet” (Book of Reason or Book of
Wisdom) made the name of Ahmet Yasawi famous to the
Islamic world. The poet wrote his book in Chagatai language so
the Turks in Central Asia and Kipchak steppes could
understand it. In this way he helped native Turkic people in
understanding the Qur'an and various hadiths and
interpretations written in Arabic language. Divan-ı Hikmet is
one of the literary heritages of Turkic nations that reached the
present days from XII century [25,26].
Introduction of the Islamic religion and Prophet Muhammad
(PBUH) to Kazakh people was mainly carried out through oral
literature. Owing to many jiraus (minstrelsy) and poets, who
were sent to exile and thrown into prison for such activities
those times, never gave up on telling truth, and due to them,
religious beliefs of our people were preserved. From XV-XIX
centuries to nowadays, Kazakh jiraus (minstrels) and poets
started their works with the name of Allah, and showed great
love and respect of Islamic values to Prophet Muhammad
(PBUH) and his companions.
The works of Abay Kunanbay, Shakarim Kudayberdi, Shal
Akın, Meshur Jusup, Maylıkozha and Turmagambet are of a
great importance. Following the path of Khoja Ahmet Yasawi,
Kazakh poets introduced Divine love and Prophet Muhammad
(PBUH) into Kazakh literature to enlighten the people. Kazakh
poets who studied in madrasah were deeply involved in Arabic
and Persian literature, and as a subject of their works were
interested in the religion of Islam and its principles, the love of
Allah, life and personality of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Although Ahmed Yasawi's wisdom, emotion and enthusiasm
as well as didactic elements of writing were limited, his sufic
and ascetic thoughts were very influential on the people, and
were read in all Turkish villages for centuries . In the work
of Divan-ı Hikmet, religious aspects such as life and miracles of
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Islamic values, complaints of the world, closeness of the Doomsday were included. Khoja Ahmet
Yasawi in his “Divine wisdom” has a special and important
place devoted to the prophet Muhammad (PBUH). He
expresses his feelings about the Prophet (PBUH) as follows:
“Muhammad the Lord of the Eighteen Thousand Universes;
Muhammad, who is the guide to thirty-three thousand ashabs
(companions); Muhammad, satisfied with nudity and hunger;
Muhammad whose spirit is intercessor to his Umma…” (40.
Hikmet). Khoja Ahmet was so attached to the sunnah of our
Prophet (PBUH) that after Prophet’s (PBUH) death at 63 years
old, Khoja Ahmet Yasawi spent his own life after the age of 63
under the ground like in a tomb.
Kazakh poets, who followed the path of Yasawi, wrote about
the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in the framework of
“Wisdom” tradition. In the works of poets, exemplary life of
our Prophet (PBUH), miracles and the good morals were
written in the form of quatrains including national feelings of
nomadic Kazakh people. Poetic forms, the epic sagas, story
and fable forms are widely used in our literature. Among them
“Tolgau” type was used more frequently. “Tolgau is a poem
read in a place accompanied with dombra, which is dedicated
to a particular event or person” , explained as a literary
genre that many people love listening to.
The most famous poet and thinker of Kazakh nation Abay,
tried to enlighten people by explaining Islam and telling about
Allah (SWT) and the love of Prophet (PBUH). Abay's:
“Allah is perfect, the Prophet is right
If you are a believer, learn, try to be alike
The Qur'an is the truth, the word of Allah,
Be knowledgeable enough to understand the tafsir
We are on the path of the Messenger of Allah…” (On Gasır
Jırlaydı, 2006: 273), lines invite people to knowledge.
In his poem “Poem is the Sultan of word, worship of word”,
Abay mentions the appeal of word on heart, expressing the
importance as below:
At first is the verse (ayah), hadith is the beginning of word,
Double couplet is between words.
If the subject is not clear and interesting,
Why let the Prophet and Allah tell it (On Gasır Jırlaydı, 2006:
252)… saying so, Abay initially stated that the basis of human
lives was lying in the Qur'an, which is Allah’s (SWT) word, and
in Prophet (PBUH) words, which are the Hadith-i Sharif.
Abay represented Kazakh Realistic literature during the 19th
century. The main feature of his peom is his attention to the
surrounding identities. With an impressive language, he
realistically describes the nature, people and their ordinary
behaviors, common issues and social and political problems
Abay received his first education in Muslim schools (maktab,
madraca), learned Persian and Arabic language, and became
acquainted with Persian-Arabic literature. Later, he studied Russian and translated many Russian poets into Kazakh. His
greatest concern was the survival of the Kazakh traditions,
language, and culture after the Russian conquest of the Kazakh
One of the famous poets Jusıp (Yusuf) Köpeyoğlu
(1868-1931) who truly thought about Kazakh people,
continued tradition initiated by the great Sufi poets in Central
Asia, such as Ahmet Yasawi and Hakim Suleyman Ata, left a
rich literary heritage in our national literature. In such poet’s
works, as “The Light of Prophet”, “Parting of the Prophet”,
“Death of the Prophet”, “About the Prophet Muhammad”,
“Mirac (Ascension)”, “Battle of the Prophet with Unbelievers”,
“The Story of Unbelievers of the Prophet”, he was trying to
introduce and make people love the Prophet (PBUH). In the
poem “The Light Prophet”, basis of the creation of the world
begins from the light of the Prophet (PBUH) as he said in the
Eighteen thousand years before the beginning of universe,
Noble light of the Prophet was created.
“The light before the creations!” - said,
Came the hadith as a proof of this, , saying so he gives
information about the lineage of Allah’s Prophet (PBUH)
starting from the Adam. Each verse, explains shining light of
Prophet (PBUH) like this: “Prophet’s light was shining in the
Adam’s forehead”, “The light of Muhammed Mustafa reached
prophet Idris’s arch”, “Abdullah was very beautiful, with bright
face, there was Prophet’s light on his forehead” .
In the poem “Death of the Prophet”, the poet expressed the
love of our Prophet to his community (ummah). Azrael (the
angel of death) said to our Prophet:
“I brought the news from the Almighty (the most Righteous)
Paradise has been ready for you,
And the gates of the hell closed” , the Prophet (PBUH)
asked following questions to the words above: “If paradise is
for good creatures,
What will happen to my community (ummah)?
Committing sins” .
He wrote conversation between Prophet (PBUH) and Azrael
in a dialogue style. Prophet’s (PBUH) following words were
very emotional and touched people:
Prophet (PBUH) said to Azrael again,
-My community (ummah) is very weak,
Whatever it is, let me see it
I will take the pain of my ummah… , as a poet he has
written with great enthusiasm, tried to express unrequited
love of our Prophet (PBUH), who worried about his community
as “My Ummah” until his last breath.
The poet Maylikozha, who lived in the eastern part of
Kazakhstan in the 19th century, was an educated poet who knew Arabic and Islamic history well. During the time he lived,
his religious writings were forbidden and destroyed. Among
our writers, Doctor Asylhan Ospanoglu's research results found
two works containing Islamic Religious content writings in poet
Mailykozha’s works. In those times, handwritten manuscript of
poet in Arabic letters was secretly hidden in the depth of chest
by the relatives in the Ordabasi village near Shymkent region.
“Zarkum” (94 pages) and “Hazreti Hamza” (96 pages) works
written in the epic form, were the beautiful gifts to our people.
The artifacts, written in Cyrillic alphabet, were published in the
regional newspaper in 1996. Asılhan Ospanoğlu published all
poems of the poet in a book form in 2005. In the introduction
part of the work, Asilhan Ospanoglu wrote: “Among the works
attracting people’s attention and interest with deep thoughts
and beautiful embroideries as “Zarkum” and “Hazreti Hamza”,
were plenty of other extensive works. However, these works
were being departed from society, because of their religious,
and especially patriotic worshiping views of Prophet
Muhammad (pbuh) introducing Islamic way of living and
fighting against unbelievers (Kafir)” .
In the work, “Zarkum” battle between the Prophet (PBUH)
and the ruler of Iraq was described:
From the beginning, our Prophet (PBUH)
Was growing up as an orphan
Created for the Prophet
Eighteen thousand universes… .
Starting from the birth of the Prophet (PBUH), all his family,
companions, Hz. Hamza, Hz. Ebu Bekir, Hz. Ömer, Hz. Osman
and other important people in religion; as well as enemies of
religion like Abu Jahl, Abu Sufyan were explained, grey-haired
and bearded elderly who were listening shed lakes of tears.
At the end of XIX and beginning of XX centuries, political and
social events in Kazakh steppes left the nation without peace,
and considerably shook their spiritual life. When the sky above
the country was in dark clouds, fighting against this situation,
educated people continued their efforts in enlightening the
nation. Poets of this period were worried about politics of
irreligion such as “atheism”, which began to spread among
people, not to take our nation away from the right path. Our
poets were aware of a single way to save our nation from the
colonial state and religious oppression, which was an
introduction of Islam and the truth. We have many poets
whose poems were forbidden and who were exiled because of
the following words “Allah is one and the Prophet (PBUH) is
Poets living in Syr Dariya part of Kazakhstan (Southeast)
were called as “Secret of Suleys”. Secret of Suleys were famous
for their works written under the influence of Classic and Oral
Literature traditions. Among those poets was Turmagambet
Iztileuov, who aimed to introduce Allah (SWT) and Prophet
(PBUH) to people throughout his life. Though he spent some
time in prison and in exile, because of his works and views, he
never gave up on his intentions. The poet Turmagambet in his
works told about the love of Allah (swt), pureness of faith and
about the life of our Prophet (PBUH). The poem “About Muhammad” was the most beautiful tolgau (work) that calls to
the heart. In this work, Prophet's growing up without parents
since childhood; sufferings and agonies that his enemies
showed him in the period of prophecy were written. “The
kafirs (unbelievers) follow the Prophet (pbuh) and come to a
cave. They wanted to kill the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
They surround the cave…”
In the mouth of this cave, I made a spider web, Mixed and
Moreover one pigeon,
Made a nest here,
With two, three days eggs.
If Muhammad entered here,
Would not they be broken,
He could not believe this…  he told about heart-chilling
events that passed during Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH)
journey from Mecca to Medina, accompanying with dombra.
In order to reach “Vahdet-i vucud” (unity of the body),
which is the basis of mysticism, all the chapters of Yasavi’s
wisdom, mention important terms as faith and pure ego. For
example: “Misleading me out of the right way, my ego
deserved contempt; Beating in convulsions made me cry in
public; Did not allow recollection of prayers and made
friendship with Satan; I said, “I am ready, and I am the head of
the nafs (ego).” (1.Hikmet) (Bice, 2015) or “Creature Khoja
Ahmad came out of the nafs (ego) mountain; Heart was
flooded and poured the boiled water; Praise be to Allah, found
his way and got close; He was fried with the inner blood” (61.
Hikmet), in above verses, Khoja Ahmet emphasized the way to
reach Allah (swt) starting by morality and educating the ego
We can also see literary influence of Khoja Ahmet Yasawi
from the works of poet Shal (Tileuke Kulekeuli) (1748-1819):
“Ego is a grey wolf; Faith is a lamb; If you do not prohibit; It will
take your faith” or “Faith is a sheep, intellect is a shepherd, an
ego is wolf; the brave will not give a sheep to a wolf; If the
shepherd holds his stick strong; No disaster, devil or genie will
In his works, Şal Akın writes Sufic thoughts not only as a
continuation of traditional Yasevi’s school, but also taking into
account national values of nomadic Kazakh people, proves
human values and relations in the framework of mysticism in
Kazakh society. “During the period of Tsarist Russia’s
governing, when the bribery and decrease of personal values
spread in Kazak steppes, Shal Akin invited administrators to be
virtuous, loyal and faithful. Therefore, Shal Akin advocated
ideas from Ahmet Yasawi's work on wisdom” .
“Yasawism” is the first Turkish religious order that appeared
in Turkestan in the 12th century; Ahmet Yasawi and his caliphs
taught principles of Islamic knowledge, morality and mysticism
to masses of people. Dervishes and poets who were faithful to
the idea of Yasawism came to Anatolia from the 11th century
. Yunus Emre, Hacı Bektaş-ı Veli, Hacı Bayram Veli were the greatest poets of this style, and have accomplished great
works enlightening people by writing works in pure Turkish
without departing from syllabic form of national verse.
In the works of Anatolian minstrels, “Divine love”, “Love to
the Prophet (PBUH)” and “Doomsday” were the most
discussed topics as well as “Heart” concept. The concept of
“heart” constitutes center of mystic life. Entering hearts
means reaching God. “Worship without gleaming the eye of
heart; I knew it is not acceptable in Dervish’s lodge
(17.Hikmet). If Khoja Ahmed Yasawi calls one of his wisdoms
“O heart”, in others he says “Heart’s eye”, “Heart’s land”,
“Heart’s bird”, “Heart’s property”, “Heart’s dawn”, “Heart’s
treasure”, “Heart’s secret”, so he separated the concept of
“heart” as center of love, wisdom, faith and Almighty God. The
most beautiful representative of this tradition Yunus Emre,
continues concept of “Heart” in the same air: “Once you broke
a heart, it is not your prayer, including seventy-two
nationalities do not squeeze your face and hands” , saying
so he approached human heart very sensitively by stating that
prayers will not be accepted if one break someone’s heart. The
loving heart is not bored with love. To make up a heart is like
going to pilgrimage; Understanding heart means
understanding the secret of creation, reaching Allah (swt).
In the works of Haci Bektashi Veli and Hacı Bayram Veli,
among the Anatolian mystical folk poets, tradition of
“wisdom” can be seen in the following verses: Hacı Bektaşı
Veli's “Dreams (worldly) do not enter the heart of Kaaba;
Control your ego do not fall into bad temper”; “The darkness
of heart is lighted by the love of hope” or “Haci Bayram Veli's”
What is happening to this heart; This heart is full of worries;
This heart is burning; and found the cure in this burning heart”
In the years when Soviet Russian rule dominated, in Turkish
republics, as other Turkish-Islamic elders, Ahmet Yasawi was
also tried to be forgotten and tried to be disgraced by getting
rid of some Sufic-mystic advice in his works. Ahmet Yasawi's
“Divan-ı Hikmet” publications were prohibited as well. But all
these efforts did not reach the point of destroying Ahmet
Yasawi's spiritual reputation.
Ahmet Yasawi, who is known as Master of Turkestan in the
world, is a mystic scholar of Turkish world, who sealed
religious understanding of the Turks. Although Ahmet Yasawi
knew Arabic and Persian, at a time when Arabic was accepted
as a language of science, he preferred his mother tongue to
tell people about Islam.
Therefore, Ahmet Yasawi's poems play a big role in the
spiritual life of Turkish people, and it is certain that many more
poets and minstrels will be also inspired by his works.
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