A Presentation Of Ottoman Poet & Sufi Saint Aziz Mahmud Hüdâyî
The cist of Aziz Mahmud Hüdâyî on his shrine.
Source TDV Islamic Encyclopedia.
Today’s sharing from the Blue House of Via-HYGEIA, is a text prepared by our Via-HYGEIA partner and long time contributor, Emir Abdülkadir İnanç. A presentation of the life and works of Istanbul tutelar Sufi saint and poet, Aziz Mahmud Hüdâyî, from the original Turkish of Professor Dr. Azmi Bilgin in his edition of ‘Aziz Mahmud Hüdâyî, The Complete Poetical Works‘, Kapı Publications 2021. From the introduction, followed by a representative poem. A little sampler of his poetry will follow soon.
English translation from the original Turkish
by Emir Abdülkadir İnanç
‘Aziz Mahmud Hüdâyî is one of the leading representatives of Turkish Sufi poetry of the second half of the 16th and early 17th centuries and the founder of the order of Jalwatism.He is one of the Sufi poets who is very popular among the Anatolian people and whose poems are widely circulated and read. Although he lived in a period when prosperity began to turn into calamity, he established very good relations with both the administrators and the public and gained the love and respect of all segments of society.
Hüdâyî, who worked as a teacher and temporary acting judge (qadi) for a while, followed the path of Sheikh Muhyiddin Üftâde while serving in Bursa, and continued his religious and mystical activities in the lodge he built in Üsküdar.
Ahmed I had him read the first sermon at the opening of the Blue Mosque, and he was the one who girded Murad IV with the sword of sultanate. Prominent figures of the period such as Hodja Sadeddin Efendi, Sunullah Efendi, Sheikhulislam Hocazade Esad Efendi, Nevizade Ataî, among the scholarly class, were adherents or regulars of his lodge.
Hüdâyî wrote about thirty works in Arabic and Turkish and raised about sixty Jalwati caliphs. Like Ahmet Yesevî and Yunus Emre, Aziz Mahmud Hüdâyî had a great influence and contribution to the religious and spiritual life of Anatolia and Balkan geography.
Hüdayî died in October 1628 and was buried in the tomb in the complex he built in Üsküdar. His tomb is one of the most visited places in Istanbul like Eyüp Sultan, Sünbül Efendi and Yahya Efendi.
Initiation to Sufism
The information provided by Cemaleddin Hulvi on this subject is as follows:
Aziz Mahmud Hüdâyî was a qadi in the city of Bursa who ruled according to Islamic rules and served as a fatwa judge and regent. He was known for his meticulousness in applying Sharia knowledge and rulings. One night he dreamt that the Day of Judgment was breaking and that the nations were being measured by the balance and the ones whose sins outweighed the good deeds were being placed in the Fire and the ones whose good deeds outweighed the sins were being placed in Paradise. Hazrat said to the officials there:
“Who are these people weighed and thrown into the fire?” the officials asked him:
“These are the qadis who believed that they had ruled with justice when they were in the world.” and they advised Hüdâyî:
“If this is the case with the just people who make religious judgments, compare now how it will be with the cruel ones! Make yourself one of the auspicious ones while the path is close and the time is ripe.“
Hüdâyî woke up from his sleep in sweat and fear, went to Sheikh Üftade Efendi, whom he knew from his sermons in the Kaygan Mosque, and joined his order (tariqa).
It is said that Jalwatism, a branch of Bayramiyya, first emerged with Ibrahim Zâhid Gîlanî. Hüseyin Vassaf, in Ismail Hakki Bursevî’s Silsilename-i Jalwati, compares the Jalwati Order to the crescent moon at the time of Ibrahim Zâhid-i Gîlânî, to the kamer (moon) at the time of Hz. Üftade, and to the bedr-i kâmil (full moon) at the time of Aziz Mahmud Hüdâyî.
In Jalwatism, dhikr is done in public (openly, loudly). As the level of the dervish increases, it is considered appropriate to switch to dhikr in secret.
The essence of dhikr is the dhikr of tawhid. The dervish is given this dhikr from the beginning. The dervish who is a beginner (mubtedî) dervish does his dhikr with the thought “There is no one to worship but Allah“, the dervish who is in the intermediate stage (mutavassıt) dhikr with the thought “There is no one to be desired but Allah“, and the dervish who has reached the limit (müntehi) with the thought “There is nothing but Allah“. The dervish who enters Jalwati continues this dhikr until the impermanent world disappears in his eyes and the light of Tawhid (Oneness) emerges. The dhikr called “esmâ-i seb’a”, which consists of the words “lâ-ilâhe illallah, Hû, Hak, Hay, Kayyûm, Kahhâr”, has a special importance in the Jalwati order as with Halvatism.
Ismail Hakki Bursevi, in his work Tamâmü’l-feyz, gives the following information about “Jalwat”:
Jalwat is the servant’s coming out of his conversation with God by assuming divine attributes. It is freeing oneself from the accidental attributes of creation and taking on the real and authentic ones.
In Jalwatism, the seyr-ü sülük (the path of the Sufi) is through dhikr and conscious struggle. The recitation of dhikr is a kind of assistance and support for the disciple. This help leads to pure faith, pure faith leads to mutual love and conversation, mutual love and conversation leads to willpower, and willpower leads to the recitation of dhikr.
The form of dhikr in the ritual of the Jalwati order, which is performed while kneeling, comes to mind. This is called nısf-ı kıyam or the Khidr kıyam. This form of dhikr is unique to Jalwatis.
After making preliminary preparations such as consultation in dreams and counseling, the aspiring Jalwati dervish comes to the sheikh and sits down in front of him with reverence and serenity to receive the dhikr instruction. Together with the sheikh, he recites the prayer of repentance, which says “I ask Allah to forgive me of all my sins in action, practice and speech“, and the “Amentü” (translator’s note: short reference to a certain prayer, literally meaning “I now believe / I have faith”).
Jalwati Hırka, Attire and Crown
Ismail Hakki Bursevî, one of the prominent sheikhs of Jalwatiyye, says that Sufis wear a hırka in order to harmonize their inner world with their outer world, and that the main purpose of this is to be clothed with divine morals. He also states that the people of the order prefer black, white or green for their hırkas.
Jalwati sheikhs wore hırkas and made others wear them as well. Jalwati followers were also made to wear a white crown with a white cloth before joining the order and they were called Jalwati devotees. It was customary for newly initiated dervishes to wear black shoes, dhikr practioners light blue shoes, and halifas yellow shoes. It is reported that Hüdâyî dervishes grew their hair long. This is an important difference compared to other orders.
Hulvî states that Aziz Mahmud Hüdâyî’s sheikh Üftade wore a green robe with 18 leaves, while Sheikh Mahmud Efendi wore a robe with 13 leaves. The Jalwati crown has thirteen leaves and the top is blackish dark green in color. In the center is a button of its own color. This button symbolizes the Prophethood of Muhammad. The thirteen segments of the Jalwati crown are the result of Hüdâyî’s insight. Twelve of these blades refer to the twelve names in the Sufi path or the twelve letters of tawhid, and the thirteenth to their unity. The sons of the Jalwati sheikh wore a crown with a melon-colored top. The dervishes who belonged to the Hüdâyî Asitane in Üsküdar wore a straight crown.
The Four Stages of Jalwatism
In Jalvatism, there are four spiritual levels: nature (tabiat), soul (nafs), spirit (ruh) and mystery (sır). The founder of Jalwatism, Aziz Mahmud Hüdâyî, has introduced four stations for each of these levels. The station of nature is sharia or the law, the station of the soul is tariqa or the way and order, the station of the spirit is marifat or gnosis, and the station of mystery is authenticity that is Reality or Haqiqat. Hüdâyî described each of these stations with different colors: nature with black (earth), the soul with red (air), the spirit with yellow (fire), and the secret with the color of phlegm (water).
In order to worship Allah Almighty with truth, nature must first be rehabilitated. The improvement of each level leads to the next level. One cannot reach the next level without rehabilitating the previous level.
Nature and the soul are voluntary and require individual effort and endeavor, whereas the soul and the mystery can only be rehabilitated with divine grace and assistance. The first two levels are in the realm of worldly existence. For the improvement of the first two levels, it is very important to reduce eating, fasting, and performing not-required prayers. When the soul is rehabilitated through observance of the way, bad habits such as arrogance, hypocrisy, pride, wrath and envy turn into good habits.
The discipline of the soul is through marifatullah. Marifatullah is the attribute of the one who has attained the blessing of the Haqq, and his Countenance. At the levels of the spirit and the mystery, strength comes to the soul and divine wisdom begins to be rediscovered. Real love envelops the seeker. The world and the hereafter have no value in the eyes of the seeker. At the level of the mystery, one ceases to be interested in everything other than God and does not love anyone other than the Truth. This is the station of dissolution, indifferentiation, epiphany, and coming together with the beloved. In this station, the seeker finds taste from the struggle. The dervish who is freed from everything other than God rejoices in awe and marvel. After the dervish is stripped of the garment of his material existence, he reaches the state of total indifferentiation, where there is no duality, this is the state of “ev ednâ” (translator’s note: Najm 53/62 They are as far apart as two elbow arcs, or even closer). In this station, also called “Ahadiyyat” (Oneness), the control is not in the disciple.’
A poem selected from
‘Aziz Mahmud Hüdâyî,
The Complete Poetical Works’.
A translation by Beliz Demircioglu & Emir Abdülkadir İnanç.
1.Do not betray the treasure entrusted to you
For you’ll need it should you meet its Master one day.
Passengers are we, in this fugitive world
And shall you find one true in meaning
2.Why wouldn’t you wake from your slumber?
Don’t you beguile yourself of reaching the door of Reality
And don’t you do that of which you would be ashamed!
All you do, look into it
3.Your nous is purer than gold.
Why should it putrefy?
Why should it be dejected in sorrow?
Why let loose every crow of your soul,
You should let your falcon fly
4.The edict of your Sublime Lord shall arrive
And you will be forced out of your slumber
Better take your foot out of the realm of
and establish your hearth in the realm of
5.O Hüdayi this realm will not persist!
One who found death before the last breath
Found life in full.
You paid enough compliments to this lowly world.
May you stay centered in this seat most high.
1. Nous: The intuitive faculty, the inner One.
2. Hearth: see Hygeia instagram, in Turkish oda, ota or otağ comes from the literal “to light a fire”. The link to the instagram post is here.