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A Khwāja Ahmad Yassawi Sampler

Khwāja Ahmad Yassawi,
Miniature by Cihangir ASHUROV.


Today’s sharing from the Blue House of Via-HYGEIA, is a little sampler of Khwāja Ahmad Yassawi poems of Wisdom, the Diwani Hıkmet’, here in the English translation by  Jonathan and Virve Trapman, ‘Divine Wisdom, the ‘Diwani Hikmet of Hoja Ahmed Yassawi’, Living Zen Books, 2013, Glastonbury, Somerset, UK. It is based on the Kazak & Russian translation from the original Chagatai Turkic by Anuarbek Bokebay. Ahmad or Ahmed Yassawi is also written Ahmed Yesevi. The notes (after each poem) about the meaning of certain Sufi and Islamic words are from the glossary at the end of the book and are provided, in context, by us to facilitate reading for the reader who is not familiar with this kind of terminology.


Historical background about the Khwajagan

Between the tenth and the fifteenth centuries of the Christian Era, much of the inhabited world passed through a period of convulsions which shattered and scattered the ancient cultures and gave birth to the modern age. The chief visible cause was the irruption of hordes of Goths and Tartars, Turks and Mongols from Central Asia into the decaying empires of China, India, Baghdad, Byzantium and Rome. Near the epicentre of the convulsion, in the lands watered by the Amu Darya, the ancient Oxus, there appeared a society or brotherhood of wise men who played a vital though almost unrecognized part in bringing order into the confusion and distress caused by wholesale massacres and the destruction of so many cities and centres of culture. The members of this society were known as the Masters of Wisdom, in Persian, Khwajagan, and in Turkish: ‘Hacegan Hanedani‘. They are commonly regarded as Sufis and they were certainly Muslims; but their doctrines and their methods differed radically from those of the Sufi schools of Arabia and Africa. Indeed, in most accounts of Sufism, no mention is made of the- Khwajagan, notwithstanding the high esteem in which they were held by their contemporaries in the Arab countries. The Khwajagan were mostly Turks or Persians and their main centres were in Bokhara, Samarkand, Balkh, Herat and the regions of the Hindu Kush.’


About Ahmad Yesevi

We now come to the founder of the Turkish branch of the Masters, the third successor of Yusuf Hamadani, Khwaja Ahmad Yesevi. In the eleventh and twelfth centuries, there were many famous Turkish Sheikhs in Central Asia, but he was regarded as the foremost. He was born in Eastern Turkestan, now the Sinkiang Province of China, at Yesi on the Havasu River. He is reputed to have been born in A.D. 1042 and is known to have died in A.D. 1166, which would give him the rare age of 124. Yesi was then a famous city of Turkestan. All Khwaja Yesevis’ connections were there and his tomb remains. The local Turkestan folk still refer to him as Khwaja Father Yesevi.

He is said to have reached the highest rank of spirituality and to have possessed wonderful powers. He was also an alchemist, who was taught by the famous Baba Arslan who lived in the same city. When Baba Arslan was dying, he told him to make his way to Bokhara-a thousand miles to the west-and enter the service of Khwaja Yusuf Hamadani.

He followed Hasan Endaki in the succession but, receiving a secret indication that he was to return to Turkestan, he made over his charge to Abdul-halik Gujduvani and went back to Yesi. There he established an independent tradition of the Masters, which had a great influence upon subsequent events in China. We shall not pursue this line further, as it takes us out of Central Asia into the Far East. It is, however, known that a very advanced school remained for centuries in this part of the world. Ahmad wrote a treatise on spirituality, the Divan-i-Hikmet, in the Chagatai dialect, that is still widely read in Turkestan. The Yesiviyye Order of Dervishes founded by him played a great part in maintaining the spiritual life of Eastern Turkestan. His most famous successor was Zengi Ata of Tashkend, the son of Khwaja Tadj. The dervishes of this order usually live in open communities engaged in some enterprise for the benefit of the society in which they live. The example was set by Zengi Ata who had a large cattle farm near Shash, now called Tashkent, and taught many of the nomads to become settled farmers. He lived through the time of the conquest of Turkestan and China by Jenghis Khan. From the Counsels given to his successor by one of the later Sheiks of this order, it appears that they made use of Sema that is, ritual movements and dances accompanied by music. He says that these movements, rightly understood, enable the student to submit his mind to the Supreme Intelligence (Akli Kulli and to become master of his own body. This document, which contains precise descriptions of different stages of inner transformation and the means of attaining them, demonstrates the immense practical experience of the Sheiks of the Yeseviyye Order in the spiritual life. It is said that they have still a sanctuary near the Gobi Desert, where a group of Masters of wisdom continue to transmit the spiritual science of the Masters.

The high prestige of Yesevi in later centuries can be gauged from the story of Timur the Lame (Tamerlane), the greatest Mongol conqueror after Jenghis Khan. In his autobiography, the Zafer-Namer (translated into Turkish and perhaps apocryphal), he asserts that Khwaja Ahmad appeared to him in a dream and told him to go to the western lands. In any case, it is known that Timur had a splendid mausoleum built for Khwaja Ahmad and ascribed his great victory over Sultan Bayazid of Turkey at Ankara on the 20th of July 1402, to his having recited seventy times during the battle a verse from Khwaja Ahmed’s Rubaiyat at the head of which he had written: “Whenever you are in a difficult situation recite this quatrain “. There are innumerable ` teaching stories ‘ associated with the name of Ahmad Yesevi.’

(The two above presentation texts are excerpted from ‘THE MASTERS OF WISDOM OF CENTRAL ASIA’, translated, condensed and adapted and with additional material by J. G. Bennett, from “Hacegan Hanedani”, by Hasan Lufti Shushud, Istanbul 1958. Originally published in “Systematics” Volume 6, No. 4 March 1969.)



This selection is dedicated

to my late friend

Azim Looker,

in gratitude.


Hikmet 35

The prediction of saints will soon come to pass,

Judgement Day draws closer, my friends,

They say smart people will lose their minds,

As mercy and kindness desert people, my friends.


From the old and the young politeness flees,

From tender girls and young women shame departs,

where has moral sense in faith has disappeared, ask Rasul?

Unusually, society lost its shame, my friends.


Muslim killing Muslims,

Misrepresenting and violating the meaning of the Lord,

Murid became impolite, neglecting their teachers,

Remarkably, violent times descended, my friends.


All sorts of people lose their generosity,

Kings and viziers turn away from their Creator,

Dervish prayers lack sincerity,

All kinds of woes weight people down, my friends.


Scholars at the End of Days became vicious and mean spirited,

Scholars became sycophantic,

Dervishes declaring Haqq* were blamed and killed,

Terrible times have befallen us, my friends.


Judgement Day is close, there is no turning back,

Everything Servant Ahmed shares is true,

Nothing here is written for his own sake,

But purely for the enlightenment of all, my friends.


  • Haqq: The Truth. One of the names of God


Hikmet 50

Out of nowhere came a group of dervishes,

knowing the hidden secrets, they chanted ‘Hu’ continuously.


Travelling, not knowing rest, short stops spent praising God,

Place found, Subhat* organized and pleasing company made.


Patchwork clothes, dirty rags, a hundred thousand dreams

In hearts, their world is empty, nothing outer enters.


Old clothes draped around them, staff in hand,

The name of Gid held in their hearts ‘Allah’ they oft repeat.


A fakir is one who knows your essence,

The wise dervish is always saturated in God.


Mashaikh* hold hidden secrets, in service to all,

Dervishes continue the legacy of the prophets.


Servant Hoja Ahmed, be a pauper, knows what poverty means,

Being dervish knows happiness; birds singing ‘Hu’ are dervish.



  • Suhbat: the verbal and spiritual intimate communion between teacher (Sheikh) and student. The establishment of the spiritual connection.
  • Mashaikh: the educated class of Muslim legal scholars engaged in the several fields of Islamic studies.


Hikmet 64

A mystic in love, with a soul burdened with suffering,

Causes all eighteen worlds to tremble,

Inner longing gives wings to the birds of the heart,

The whole of nature will sing like the nightingale.


In the field of love, he dies,

into the field of Ma’rifat* he throws himself,

Having drunk the wine of secrets, the spirit of love beckons,

In the garden of honesty a sweet flower blooms.


Those living in the Lord do not stumble,

‘Do not use violence to show strength’, said the Lord,

Those following the ways of man, will not maintain the path,

In the Lord’s house, all secrets are blessed.


He that is blessed at elixir’s fount,

And drinks thereof must serve its secrets onward,

In the fire of passions, body and soul burn,

The fire within burns bright incinerating all.


Using the cover of being draped in Allah,

They locked their hearts in the name of Allah,

The fire of passion within is hidden,

when interacting in the world.


The dervish knows all the names of Tariqats*,

When the dervish drinks, he drinks from the ocean of Mar’ifat,

The dervish believes all other paths are empty,

On the field of Haqiqat* he becomes courageous.


Eagerly, Servant Hoja Ahmed, step onto the path,

Becoming a devotee, ask what it means to be a devotee,

If it is God’s will, then become it,

Ask its meaning, act upon it and truly live it.


  • Tariqat: Second stage of the mystical path (first being Shariah, the religious right and observance of the Islamic law; the first stage of the mystical path, leading to Tariqat). Tariqats: A tariqat is also a school or order of Sufism, or specifically a concept for the mystical teaching and spiritual practices of such an order with the aim of seeking haqiqat, which translates as “ultimate truth”. A tariqat has a murshid who plays the role of leader or spiritual director.
  • Ma’rifat:  The mystical knowledge, knowledge of God.
  • Haqiqat: The last stage of the mystical path, the realization of Truth.


Hikmet 115

If i do not rest, repeat ‘Allah’ unceasingly, heavenwards,

If weeping bitterly become Zakir* and call upon the Lord,

Become a devotee, and thus willingly be that devotee,

Will i in this way find You, O my Lord?


As Zakaria having his body sliced in two,

Like Ayub (Job) i let my body rot,

Like Moses on Mount Sinai, i serve God,

Will i in this way find You, O my Lord?


Like Yunus (Emre), i become a fish in the river,

Like Yusuf (Hamadani), i remain in the bottom of the well day and night,

Like Yakub (Jacob), i mourn Yusuf (Joseph),

Will i in this way find You, O my Lord?


Like Shibli*, in love i surrender to Sama*,

Like Beyazid (Bastami), i walk continuously towards Kaaba,

Crying bitterly, wiping my face to Kaaba,

Will i in this way find You, O my Lord?


Like Ma’ruf* when i step on that path,

Like Mansur, discard life on gallows strapped overnight,

Left hanging, still crying out ‘Allah’ with all my might,

Will i in this way find You, O my Lord?


Servant Hoja Ahmed, I faithfully walk in service,

Perform Zikr, becoming Zakir, calling Rabb*,

My longing in Zikr, burned and incinerated,

Will i in this way find You, O my Lord?


  • Shibli: A student of Mansur Hallaj. He maintained a constant state of Jadhb ( an aspect of Grace) and was finally committed to an asylum. He spent much of his life ostracized in the desert and alone.
  • Sama:The sacred turning meditation/contemplation of the Sufis in Islam.
  • Zakir: Someone who leads the Zikr.
  • Ma’ruf: here, a pious Muslim.
  • Rabb: Lord or Master.


Hikmet 128

I will seek out, in the world, the Creator day and night,

That has been my path since i was four.


Four to seven, I travelled the path, at nine i crossed the river,

From ten to twelve, i released the worldly world.


Crossed the hundred and sixty waters and

Four hundred forty four mountains,

And drank from the divine cup, crossing the frontier.


Came to the front line, witnessed its body’s expanse,

Saw pearls in shells, and diamonds in mines.


I wandered heavenly realms; saw book, pen and throne,

I observed myself completely, everything is within.


Glimpsed my soul in Heaven, and Love in its fulness,

The complete devotion of lovers in the garden of love.


Noticing a warrior, i followed and asked my question,

‘All is within’ was the response. I left puzzled.


Was surprised and stunned,

Threw myself into longing, finding no solace.


This is the place of the nightingale, a red flower bloomed,

No simple flower this, in the flower bed.


Poor Hoja Ahmed, so your soul is the diamond and mine,

God’s place is everywhere, He lives in Lamakan*.


  • Lamakan: The vast emptiness that is not of this world yet is within the realm of God.


Hikmet 129

Friends, have courage, do not give up on your achievements,

To seek God’s Face, be constantly awake.


Negligence never finds the Lord’s path, there is no place for that,

So burn inside and out, not missing Fajr*.


Arriving with the Lord on their lips, seeking the Face of God,

Whatever indignities suffered they never change their heart.


Lovers in the world suffer suffering, censure and madness,

Without reproach and labour, none can say they are in Love.


To succeed in Shariat, one must renounce the world,

Without forsaking it you cannot be part of Shariat.


In Tariqat renouncing body and soul is hard, is it not?

If you cannot discard these things, you cannot become a lover.


In Haqiqat, apart from God, all else is forbidden,

Not becoming a true lover, God’s Face is hidden from view.


That is why Rasul Mustafa* cared not from the worldly world,

So wishing to follow Rasul*, leave the mundane world.


Poor Ahmed Yassawi, sending greetings to all friends,

As a devout seeker, understand the truth of these words.


  • Fajr: early morning prayer.
  • Mustafa: One of the names of Prophet Muhammad.
  • Rasul: Messenger of God, here referring to Muhammad.


Hikmet 137

Yes, friends, the chest and heart yearns,

Understand the Lord will pass from those enamoured,

The light of Love will destroy all that the heart holds dear,

For that reason, mind and memory must leave.


One without Love will be seen as not human,

Take heed, those lacking love will gather round Shaitan,

Speaking words that are not Love,

Islam and faith will slip through your fingers.


Stepping into Meyhane*, a lover is immediately spotted,

With tears streaming, a deep longing of the heart,

The self unrecognized, wherever he wanders with ego destroyed,

Will for sure taste the cup of Wahdaniyat*.


Love consumed me and i became lost,

Avoiding family, found myself tormented and worried,

Tasting both worlds i felt utterly exposed,

My deep sight reached all seven levels of heaven.


Filling the mind with other thoughts that the Lord is pointless,

In life serve the teacher ceaselessly,

Say ‘Allah’ and Shaitan will flee,

Those that do not, sell their faith short.


Those living in vain, know not Love,

Those renouncing the divine will not see God’s Face,

He who avoids Subhat ‘Hu’,

Holds a heart and soul colder than stone.


The beloved servant of Allah weeps constantly,

In fear of the Lord, beseeches during Fajr,

Like Yahya (John the Baptist), weeps constantly and mourns,

Having passed through the world i left it behind.


The deeds of the enamoured are carved from total devotion,

The needs of the enamoured are fasting and prayer,

At the Hour the gift to the Lord is tearful eyes,

The lover with knows carries suffering and longing.


The enamoured wears a smile and trembling heart,

Is held, in Allah’s name, in constant lacrimonious languor,

Soul expressing prayer, heart gratitude and contemplation love,

Insha’Allah we shall cross the bridge at Sirat*.


Lovers cry amongst people,

Outside laughter, inside pining,

With not a care for self, prepared for death,

Committed to confessing all to Allah.


Lovers do not shirk responsibility,

Do not disclose secrets to the foolish,

Nor scatter pearls and diamonds before the unreliable,

Clear within, the suffering and pain is understood.


The beloved Pir Mugan* had no desire,

A multitude of service rendered, without sin,

O friends, there is no cure for Love’s sickness,

Arise at night and pray to your sacred teacher.


If Pir Mugan turns towards you, the cure he will offer,

Will end passion, desire and pride,

And then Shaitan will scurry off,

In faith you will lie in your narrow grave.


Servant Hoja Ahmed tell all the words of the Lord,

Words other than those of the Lord are meaningless,

If it is to be, your place is in Darussalam*,

So plunge into the river of Ma’rifat.


  • Pir Mugan: A Pir is an elder, a mentor on the path. Here, a presence of Holiness, referring to Prophet Muhammad.
  • Meyhane: Restaurant serving wine.
  • Wahdaniyat: All exclusive Unity, the source of any multiplicity.
  • Sirat: The bridge one must cross to reach Lamakan. It straddles the infernal abyss and is as thin as a hair and sharp as a sword. It is the sword all must cross on Doomsday. The righteous will negotiate it yet the sinners will not and be thrown into the abyss of Hell.
  • Darussalam: One name given to Paradise.


Hikmet 141

Those finding the Divine, truly speak humbly,

Developing their longing, they keep walking,

Level by level they progress their journey’s path to Arsh*,

Walking among the people as a nobody.


Avoiding people they settle in the mountains and deserts,

Their companions, birds and animals in the wilderness,

Wearing rags and carrying a shroud in case of death,

Flying birds they have as companions, as they walk.


Not being as devout, it is impossible to find the Beloved,

Impossible to describe the many obstacles on this road,

Only renouncing the soul can one sup the cup of Wahdaniyat,

Having drunk the nectar surrendered to Sama and walked on.


He who finds the Beloved does not know himself,

Becoming a Talib*, he will avoid the people of the world,

Even if a hundred thousand worship him, he will be unmoved,

With no interest in revealing himself-he just keeps walking.


If a hundred thousand lovers burn, it will not register,

Whosoever can say the name of the Lord, becomes a friend,

On Mahshar* He shares the most sacred, Didar*,

His soul, faith and all will be sacrificed as he walks on.


Those relinquishing their souls for Allah, do so on purpose,

He who accepts both worlds as a garden in bloom does not lie,

The secrets of a true lover are hidden from the ordinary people,

His tears are his only witness, as he walks.


A lover never dies, never ages, love is forever young,

Amongst people he has the air of happiness, inwardly he burns,

Wandering the desert, walking the road, suffering thirst,

True Love furnishes his soul as he walks.


Not everyone comprehends and knows the Lover’s happiness,

Intoxicated day and night, with no need for anyone,

Amongst people he goes unnoticed,

Enwrapped in Truth’s protection as he walks.


In total devotion cannot accept those who love not,

Abides not the religious, the faithful and worshippers,

Turns away, when faced with those without love,

Those in real need he will help as he walks.


That which the lover knows, people do not,

Angels, heavenly maidens and djins will not register,

Does not even dream of cupbearers and bounties,

Keeping faithful to God’s Face as he walks.


Djins and houris came from the infinite ocean of nectar,

The Angel Riduan bowed respectfully,

Lovers with eyes closed in awe,

Reciting ‘Allah’ will walk into their grave.


Allah in gratitude, showed His mercy,

In his tomb, His radiant light illuminates,

A group of seventy angels in attendance,

Gifting the world mercy as he walks.


The lover burns, his soul fulfilled, in love with the Lord,

For Allah’s sake, all worldly things renounced,

Prepared to slit his guts to soaking head to toe in blood,

The lover chooses the path of solitude as he walks.


Yes, my friends, the lover knows no cure for his ailments,

Love’s affliction has no cure; so do not ask for one,

If the lover dies while on the path, no one will look for him,

Separating flesh from soul as he walks.


with body burning in the fore, soul standing watching on,

Reads Hikmet and understanding, becomes Talib,

Meeting someone of wisdom, walk with them, glean knowledge,

Becoming wise, develop mind and memory and move on.


Even though the body burns, the soul of the lover does not,

It is thus impossible to comprehend the miracle that is lovers,

Nor can relatives come close, so they avoid them,

For this reason the two faced pray falsely.


Allah separated the righteous from the world,

O followers, thus said Haqq Mustafa,

On Mahshar Allah’s Face will shine,

Those faithful will blessed with bliss, as they walk.


The soul of a dead lover, is a special gift,

It rises like a bird, God save the soul,

Their sweet scent is proof of their faith,

Lovers turn into roses.


  • Talib: The seeker of God on the path to Tariqat.
  • Arsh: Throne of infinity beyond the Kursi (throne of God) of infinity. These being the space of infinite dominion of God.
  • Mahshar: Day of Judgement.
  • Didar: The face of God.


Hikmet 142

Start with ‘Hu’ and end with ‘Hu’, recite it ecstatically,

I pray the Lord will show His glory.

Repeating outwardly and inwardly ‘Hu’ step onto the path,

I pray the Lord will show His glory.


Repeating ‘La ilaha ilallah’, be penitent.

Whosoever performs zikr, befriend him,

Serve Pir Mugan, with all your being,

I pray the Lord will show His glory.


Let ‘La ilaha ilallah’ always be on your lips,

Be knowledgeable and release from worldly distractions,

Then Pir Mugan will look upon you directly,

I pray the Lord will show His glory.


Like Adham, separate yourself kicking off the worldly,

Whoever accepts Khidr*, kiss their hand,

Wishing to see God’s glory, attend Fajr,

I pray the Lord will show His glory.


Become a servant to those repeating the name of Allah,

Become the road and the dust upon the road,

Become the ash from love’s combustion,

I pray the Lord will show His glory.


Become the Zakir, the thankful, and love Allah,

Rising for Fajr destroy desires,

Be a lover, like Bayazid and renounce the worldly,

I pray the Lord will show His glory.


Walking, standing, resting or sitting always repeat ‘Allah’,

Become a Zakir, be thankful and renounce life,

God knows the world is forbidden and needs to be thrown away,

I pray the Lord will show His glory.


If you want to reach the Lord, then shed tears in Fajr,

Repeating ‘Allah’ throw yourself into the fore and burn,

Use diligence to strengthen your heart on the path,

I pray the Lord will show His glory.


Like Adham, turn your heart from the world,

Destroy the house of avarice, lust and pride,

Swim freely in the river of love,

I pray the Lord will show His glory.


Return to the Lord, O insatiable, deceitful world,

If a servant, truly performs Zikr constantly,

Endure hardship in the service of Pir Mugan,

I pray the Lord will show His glory.


Repeating ‘Allah’, be joyful as your whole being burns up,

Rising at night, work hard and allow the Lord to love you,

Allow the mighty one to gaze upon you,

I pray the Lord will show His glory.


Overcoming sleep at night, rise to Fajr,

If you are truly a lover, like Ismail, let go of the soul,

Force yourself to fulfil those commands,

I pray the Lord will show His glory.


Work the ascetic life in total commitment, martyr your soul,

Towards this end, let go the mind, release mental confusion,

Let go frivolous pursuits, sup poison rather than drink pleasure,

I pray the Lord will show His glory.


Follow Farhad’s example, exhaust yourself crushing mountains,

Like Bayazid (Bastami), rise at night, sell yourself,

As Junayd, wandering through the desert, step on cacti,

I pray the Lord will show His glory.


The beneficence of the Lord, a single drop of the great river,

One receiving such a drop knows no desire,

Pride leaves like a swarm of mosquitoes,

I pray the Lord will show His glory.


The beneficence of the Lord, accept this great river,

As a Talib lean towards the Lord,

Through zealous service, fill your space at all times,

I pray the Lord will show His glory.


By saying ‘La, La’ allows passion to grow into ‘il Allah Hu’,

Like Mansur (Hallaj), create a stir by exclaiming ‘Ana al Haqq’,

Carrying on crying, your tears will swiftly turn into a river,

I pray the Lord will show His glory.


O ignorant, your dreams inhabit frivolity,

Lusting after the worldly makes you sorrowful night and day,

Without service as a cornerstone of life, your life is meaningless,

I pray the Lord will show His glory.


Serve as if your pillow and bed are of stone,

Dedicate your contentment, as from the Lord’s command,

At death, take the hand of faith of the Most beloved,

I pray the Lord will show His glory.


Servant Hoja Ahmed, enlighten yourself,

O ignorant one, leave people to their devises, know thyself,

Your sins are harder than mountains, be at peace,

I pray the Lord will show his glory.


  • Khidr: A miracle worker, saint having eternal life. Khidr has had thus gained enormous reputation and popularity in the Sufi tradition due to his role as an initiator.






The Ahmet Yesevi University in Ankara & UNESCO

‘Dîvân-ı Hikmet’

2016 Chagatai/Turkish



About Khwāja Ahmad-e Yasavī: 🌿 About the Khwajagan: 🌿 About Hasan Lufti Shushud:
A Khwāja Ahmad Yassawi Sampler

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