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AHMED YESEVÎ

Theosopher and poet. Ahmed-i Yesevî was born in a place called Sayram, which is seven kilometers far from Çimkent, in Kazakhstan today. His birth date is unknown. He died in 1166-67 in the town of Yesi in Turkistan. The word Yesevî means "coming from Yesi". The cities Buhara in Transoxiana, and Sayram and Yesi in the east of Seyhun, where Hoca Ahmed Yesevî lived, had been taken into the borders of Islam a long time before he was born. Most of the dwellers of these cities were Turks with Islamic confession. However, a great part of Turks had not converted to Islam in that age yet. The Turks living in the regions Sir-i Derya, Ilek and Fergana, where Yesevism would spread, were believers of different faiths such as Mazdeicism, Manichaeism and Sanavism. Muslim and non-Muslim Turks continuously waged war, and there was no unity among them. Hoca Ahmed Yesevî was born under these circumstances.

Father of Ahmed Yesevî was Şeyh İbrahim, one of the pre-eminent personalities of Sayram, sanctified as having miracles, and accepted as a descendant of the family of Ali, the fourth caliph. Ahmed lost his mother and father subsequently in his childhood, and moved to the town of Yesi together with his elder sister. He was educated there by famous theosophers such as Arslan Baba and Bahaeddin İsficabî. He became a disciple of Arslan Baba and served him for 16 years. When his sheikh died, Ahmed went to Buhara, when he was 23, and was bound to Yusuf Hemedanî. He became his caliph when he was 30. Five years later, he returned to Yesi with the permission of his sheikh, and, through his activities of guidance, he became the Veli* of the Kipchak, Oghuz and Karluk Turks, and therefore, the founder of the Turkish mysticism. He educated many caliphs. The Hâcegâniyye order of Ahmed Yesevi was later led by Yusuf-u Hemedânî and Abdülhâlik-ı Gücdevânî, which then led to the order of Bahâeddîn Nakşıbend.

He had an important role in spreading Islam among Turks, and thus, made great contributions to provide the unity among the Turks. He spent his last years in hermitage. It is rumored that he made wooden spoons and ladles of wood to make a living. Timurlenk built a religious building with a tomb and a mosque on his grave in Yesi. Timurlenk was given the precursor of his future victories by Ahmed Yesevî in his dream. Thus, he built the building to thank Yesevî. In Turkey, the year 1993 was announced the year of Ahmed Yesevî.

Ahmed Yesevî is one of the most pre-eminent moral leaders in the history of Islam. His philosophy of morality is based on the belief and conception of disciplining the self. According to Yesevî, one should discipline and control his or her self, get rid of moral weaknesses, strengthen his or her will and keep it under control.

Ahmed Yesevî wrote poems called “hikmet” (wisdom), with syllabic meter, in order to spread Islam and enlighten people in the direction of Sufism. His poems are of didactic characteristic and in pure Turkish, therefore they became very popular among masses. His poems were collected in the book Divân-ı Hikmet (Divan* of Wisdom).