Khoja Akhmet Yassawi

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Khoja Akhmed Yassawi
File:Khoja Akhmet Yassawi Ashgabat.JPG
Born 1093
Died 1166
Region Central Asia
School Sufism
Main interests
Fiqh and Hadith

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[1] poet and Sufi (Muslim mystic), an early mystic who exerted a powerful influence on the development of mystical orders throughout the Turkic-speaking world.[2] 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 Yasaviyya (Yeseviye), which very quickly spread over the Turkic-speaking areas.[3] He was an Hanafi scholar like his murshid Abū Yāqub Yusūf Hamdānī.[4]


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.[5] 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.[4] 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.[4]


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.[6] 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."[7] Yasavi is also mentioned by Ernest Scott (pseudonym)[8] as a member of the Khwajagan Sufis.


A mausoleum [9] 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.[10] In the Yasaviyya Sufis one comes across the greatest number of the shamanistic elements compared to other Sufi Orders.[11]

The first Kazakh-Turkish university, Ahmet Yesevi University,[12] and liceum, Hoca Ahmed Yesevi Lisesi,[13] were named in his honor.

Naqshbandi Sufi Idries Shah mentions Ahmed Yasavi's lineage in his "The Book of the Book".[14] 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.


  1. Ro'i, Yaacov (2000). Islam in the Soviet Union: From the Second World War to Perestroika. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 373. ISBN 0-231-11954-2. Retrieved 2013-04-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Encyclopædia Britannica (2007): Related Articles to "Ahmed Yesevi, or Ahmad Yasawi, or Ahmed Yasavi (Turkish author)", accessed March 18, 2007". Retrieved 2013-04-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. I.Melikoff, 'Ahmad Yesevi and Turkic popular Islam', EJOS, VI (2003), No. 8, 1-9, ISSN 0928-6802 Archived December 25, 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 The Foundation of the Presidency of Religious Affairs, İslâm Ansiklopedisi, vol. 3, p. 161, İstanbul, 1989.
  5. Y. N. Öztürk: The Eye of the Heart (Redhouse Press Istanbul 1988), p.49
  6. John L. Esposito, ed., The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World, Volume 1, New York: Oxford University Press, 1995, p. 271
  7. "Hasan Basri Çantay, "Chapter 7: Islamic Culture in Turkish Areas", in Islam — The Straight Path: Islam Interpreted by Muslims by Prof. Kenneth W. Morgan, Published by The Ronald Press Company, New York 1958". Retrieved 2013-04-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. The People of the Secret by Ernest Scott (1983) ISBN 0-86304-038-1
  9. "Yasavi (Shrine of Ahmed Yasavi), ArchNet Dictionary of Islamic Architecture". Retrieved 2013-04-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Devin Deweese "The Politics of Sacred Lineages in 19th-century Central Asia: Descent groups linked to Khwaja Ahmad Yasavi in Shrine Documents and Genealogical Charters" International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies Vol.31 (1999) pp507-530
  11. "The Sacred Sites of Kyrgyzstan", Cholpon K. Dyikanova, Taalaibek K. Dyikanov, Jarkyn B. Samanchina (eds.), Bishkek, 2004-2005, p. 8, citing Demidov, 1988, p. 3 Archived September 29, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  12. "Ahmet Yesevi University Official Site". Retrieved 2013-04-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Hoca Ahmed Yesevi Lisesi Official Site Archived September 29, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  14. Shah, I: The Book of the Book (Octagon Press), p.9 ISBN 978-0-900860-12-6
  • John G. Bennett (1995). The Masters of Wisdom. Bennett Books. ISBN 1-881408-01-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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