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Great Islamic Scholars and Some of Their Views

Heading the list of references on the Ahl al-Sunnah are the Islamic scholars who authored the six great hadith books collected together and known as the al-Kutub as-Sitta (Six Books).

Imam al-Bukhari

Born in Bukhara in 194 AH he was raised by his mother following the death of his father Ismail ibn Ibrahim; he too had been a great religious scholar of the time. He began studying the hadiths at the age of seven and at ten years of age, he had memorized a staggering 70,000 hadiths. He received instruction from well-known scholars in Makkah, Madinah, Nishapur and Basra; it is for this reason that his name began to become known beyond his hometown. Many famous Islamic scholars, including Muslim, Abu Dawud, al-Tirmidhi, and Ibn Sa‘id, have regarded his works as an absolutely trustworthy reference and made use of his ideas in their own studies and their own writings. He has been regarded by all as the greatest expert on hadiths who has ever lived.

Imam al-Bukhari studied over 600,000 traditions; only 7,275 of these were examined as part of his own work. This work, the result of sixteen years of intellectual labor, is regarded as the most reliable collection of hadiths in the history of Islam. Titled al-Jami‘ al-Sahih, it was later abridged by Imam az-Zubaidi under al-Tajrid al-Sarih (Summarized Sahih al-Bukhari), which contains more than 2,000 hadiths.

Imam al-Bukhari died in 256 AH, leaving behind a work that would act as a guide for Muslims for many centuries to come. His place in the honored tradition of the Islamic scholars is engraved in stone and his mighty efforts can never be erased.

Imam Muslim

Imam Muslim was born in Nishapur in 204 AH, and began studying the hadiths in his early teens. Like all great scholars, he was not afraid to set out on voluminous journeys to seek knowledge and wisdom; he carried out profound inquiries into the subject by visiting Iraq, Hijaz, Egypt, and Damascus. He benefited from sources of hadiths and other related works on the tradition of Allah’s Final Messenger (saas). Wherever he went, his efforts increased him in knowledge and he openly stated that he was most influenced by the work of Imam al-Bukhari.

In his works on the subject of the hadiths, Imam Muslim employed his skills by relaying the sayings and actions of the Prophet (saas) exactly as they had been narrated, not altering a single letter in case this led to misunderstandings amongst the believers. He collected an impressive 300,000 authentic hadiths and retained only 3,030 of them in his famous collection (Jami‘) known as Sahih Muslim. This book is now regarded as the second most trustworthy collection of hadiths after the Sahih al-Bukhari. His Sahih has served the Islamic world for hundreds of years as the second volume of the al-Kutub as-Sitta.

His teacher Abdul Wahhab al-Farra' is reported as saying this about him:

“Muslim is a scholar of the people and a repertory of knowledge. I know nothing about him that is not good.”

Imam al-Tirmidhi

Imam al-Tirmidhi was born in 209 AH in Termez (Tirmidh), in Transoxiana. Despite receiving instruction in Khorasan, Iraq, and Hijaz, his main education took place in Bukhara; this was also the birthplace of Imam al-Bukhari. Indeed, he received instruction in the hadiths from al-Bukhari and Muslim.

Al-Tirmidhi did not restrict himself to collecting traditions, but also contributed to the development of the knowledge of Hadith. His Sunan al-Tirmidhi contains 3,962 hadiths. This book is regarded as another of the most reliable works on the subject.

The greatest difference between the Sunan al-Tirmidhi and other hadith collections is its orderly arrangement of subjects. Every topic, great or small, is considered separately in such a way that no confusion can arise between them. His ability to collate works and then organize them in a manner which makes the search for knowledge easier for the Muslim reader is one of his greatest qualities. Al-Tirmidhi also wrote the first book about the life of the Companions.

Abu Dawud

Abu Dawud was born in 202 AH. Like al-Bukhari and Muslim, he traveled to almost all of the Islamic lands of his time and was taught by more than fifty scholars. He made use of the works of al-Bukhari and Muslim. When he completed his own works, other people researching the hadiths made use of the works of Abu Dawud. He was appreciated by the Islamic ulama on many matters and pointed out as a scholar acting with his knowledge.

From a total of 500,000 hadiths, he included 4,800 in his work known as the Sunan Abu Dawud. In selecting hadiths, he gave pride of place to those concerning rulings and matters of legality. His works have also received widespread acceptance among researchers from different schools.

Imam al-Nasa’i

Imam al-Nasa’i was born in Khorasan in 225 AH. He traveled through the centers of Islamic learning and received instruction on hadiths from a great many scholars. His works have survived down to the present day and are still used as reference books all over the world by Muslims and non-Muslim studiers of the Islamic traditions.

On his arrival in Damascus from Egypt he was subjected to pressure from the Umayyad administration and was martyred as the result of this horrid torture. His tomb is said to lie between the hills of Safa and Marwah, although this is not an established fact by any means.

His work al-Mujtaba is considered a more delicate and intricate collection than others on the subject of the hadiths; it is the third volume in the al-Kutub as-Sitta.

Ibn Majah

Ibn Majah was born in Qazwin in 209 AH. Like other scholars of hadith, he traveled to Khorasan, Basra, Makkah, Damascus and Egypt in order to reach a high standard in the science of hadith studies. As well as the Sunan Ibn Majah, he also wrote other texts on history and tafsir. His most well-known book is regarded as the sixth volume in the al-Kutub as-Sitta. Some scholars, however, regard Imam Malik’s al-Muwatta’ as the sixth volume.

Of the 4,341 hadiths in the Sunan ibn Majah, 1,339 are used only by Imam Maja in his own work and by nobody else in their respective works.

Imam al-Ghazali

Hujjat al-Islam Abu Hamed Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Ghazali is one of the greatest figures in fiqh and tasawwuf in the entire history of Islam. He was born in Tus, modern-day Iran, in 450 AH (1058 CE). Although his father was not well-off, great pains were taken by his noble parents to make sure he was provided with a good upbringing.

Having completed his studies in Tus, al-Ghazali moved to Gurgan to continue his education. The shaking of political authority in Anatolia also affected al-Ghazali. As a result, he migrated to Nishapur, becoming the student of the famous scholar Abu al Ma‘ali al-Juwayni. Following the death of his teacher, he was appointed by Nizam al-Mulk Tusi as chief professor in the Nizamiyya madrassah. Within a short space of time, al-Ghazali was able to make his voice heard among the people, and the number of his students began rising with every passing day.

He left the madrassah as the result of an illness he suffered in 488 AH, and spent the next decade away from the public gaze. Immediately after this period he returned to his students in Baghdad and began teaching them from his own work, Ihya’ al-‘Ulum al-Din. When the unity of the Muslims in Anatolia wavered, he was recalled to Tus by the Seljuk vizier. Under the patronage of Sultan Sanjar, all available opportunities were placed at his disposal over the next twelve years. He continued to occupy himself with learning and preaching until the last day of his life in 505 AH (1111 CE).

Imam al-Ghazali’s ideas represented a turning point in the history of Islamic thought. In the late years of his life, he waged a struggle against those ideas which were intrinsically opposed to those of the Ahl al-Sunnah and he eliminated several tendencies which he strongly believed would lead Muslims onto the wrong road.

Al-Ghazali wrote in one of his books:

“As we have said on the subject of the title of Muslim, there is an example and a sign in the essence of marafat (cognizance), and this is understood by those possessing it. Nobody apart from those who have no dealings with this world, who do not actively occupy themselves with it and who spend their lives seeking and desiring nothing but Allah can seek this truth. This is a long and difficult endeavor. Let us therefore indicate that which is the food of all. This is the creed of the Ahl al-Sunnah. For those who hold this belief in their hearts, it will be the seed of bliss and salvation.” (Kimiya’ al-Sa‘adat)

Imam al-Ghazali’s main works include:

1. The Ihya’ al-‘Ulum al-Din (The Revival of Religious Sciences) is al-Ghazali’s best-known and largest work. It deals with the subjects of fiqh and tasawwuf. It contains major sections each with four books, consisting of forty books in total. Ever since it was written it has been one of the most frequently read books of the Islamic world.

2. The al-Iqtisad fi al-Itiqad (The Median in Belief) deals with matters of faith and conviction.

3. The Tahafut al-Falasifa (The Incoherence of the Philosophers) is a collection of criticisms of Aristotelian philosophy.

4. The Kimiya’ al-Sa‘adat (The Alchemy of Happiness) deals with faith, deeds, morality, and tasawwuf. It is the Persian resume of Ihya’.

5. The Bidayat al-Hidayah (The Beginning of Guidance) was written in a style accessible to the ordinary public, and is a book of instruction on the subjects of religion and ethics.

Large and small, the total number of works penned by Imam al-Ghazali is 75.

Sayyid Ibrahim Haqqi of Erzurum

Hadrat Ibrahim Haqqi of Erzurum was born in the township of Hasankale, Erzurum, in 1703. Since his grandfather was descended from the line of the Prophet (saas), he qualifies as a sayyid on the maternal side of his lineage.

Hadrat Ibrahim Haqqi made the acquaintance of Ismail Faqirullah during a trip to the Tillo region in Siirt with his father, and settled there for a time. On the death of his father, the dervish Osman Effendi, Haqqi returned to Erzurum and continued his education from where he had left it in his earlier life. He received lessons in Arabic and Persian from Muhammad Hazik, the mufti of Erzurum. Having made great progress in Turkish, Arabic and Persian he was able to write beautiful poetry in all three languages.

In 1728, he returned to Siirt and continued attending lectures by Ismail Faqirullah, eventually marrying his daughter and thus becoming his teacher’s son-in-law. Returning from the hajj in 1728, he wrote his book Lubb al-Qutb; this consisted of extracts from the works of great Islamic scholars of the past.

Invited to court by Sultan Mahmud I in 1747, he enjoyed the opportunity of making use of the palace library. On his return from Istanbul to Erzurum, he began to write short treatises (risalas). Following his second visit to Istanbul, he withdrew to his home in Hasankale and devoted himself completely to writing books.

On his second hajj, the holy pilgrimage to Makkah, he engaged in exchanges of information by establishing contact with famous Islamic scholars in Aleppo, Damascus, Makkah, Madinah and Jerusalem.

On his return from his travels, he wrote his famous work the Ma‘rifatname (Book of Gnosis). In addition to that, he wrote 54 other important works. He died in Siirt in 1780, his body being placed in the tomb built for his teacher Sheikh Ismail Faqirullah.

Some extracts from the sayings of Sayyid Ibrahim Haqqi are as follows:

“The best of good morality is to go to he who does not come to you. It is for you to forgive he who oppresses you. If you speak, tell the truth. If you make promises, keep them. If you do good, keep it secret. If you see ill-nature in anyone, avoid following his example. Greeting everyone is the greatest moral quality. Modesty yields increase. The greatest wisdom is to get on well with people. Anyone who seeks fault among the people will find his own faults the subject of discussion. Anyone accepting advice will be spared shame. One must not obey servants in those matters which are sinful in the sight of Allah. One cannot expect anything good from those who tell lies. If you enjoy people’s speaking with you, speak with them in the same manner. Accept the apologies of those who apologize. Respect those older than you so that those younger than you will respect you. The most useful treasure is the love in people’s hearts.” (Ma’rifatname)

Imam Rabbani

His real name was Ahmad Sirhindi al-Farooqi. He was born in Sirhind, an Indian town, in 1564. Since he was descended from Hadrat Umar al-Farooq (ra) through the lineage of his father, he was known by the appellation of al-Farooqi.

He is one of the great figures of tasawwuf in the tradition of the Ahl al-Sunnah. He began receiving instruction in Sufism under the authorization of Muhammad al-Baqi Billah, a Naqshbandi Shaykh. He came into conflict with the Emperor Jahangir; he was accused of “damaging the essence of the faith,” and was imprisoned in Gwalior Fort in 1619.

Since he supported the beliefs of the Ahl al-Sunnah and was totally against all heretical movements, he was regarded as worthy of the esteemed title, Mujaddid Alf Thani (the Reviver of the Millennium). His Maktubat (Letters), the collection of letters he wrote to his friends and students, is one of the main references in tasawwuf.

Below are some extracts from his Maktubat:

“A person must first correct his belief. That correction must be compatible with those of the Ahl al-Sunnah wal Jama‘ah, who are the companions of the Garden. While one may hope for forgiveness of indolence in one’s deeds, there can be none for indolence in one’s beliefs.”

“Attaining happiness in both worlds depends only, and only upon following the Messenger of Allah (saas). In order to follow him, it is necessary to comply with and exercise the rules of Islam among people, annihilate from the people the things that are peculiar to disbelief, and eradicate from the people the things that are the signs of disbelief.”

“The time for working righteous deeds is the period of youth. A virtuous person will realize the value of this period and will not waste it. Old age is not a period attained by everybody. Even if one attains, he may not be able then to collect himself together. And even if he does, he is no longer strong enough to perform any deed. Old age is the age of feebleness and senility…”

“… Each of these seventy-three groups claims to obey the religion. Each group says that it is the one that will be saved [from Hell]. It is declared in the fifty-third ayat of Surat al-Muminun and in the thirty-second ayat of Surat ar-Rum: "… each party exulting in what it had." However, among these various groups, the sign, the symptom of the one that will be saved is given by our Prophet (saas) as follows: ‘Those who are in this group are those who follow the way which I and my ashab follow.’ After mentioning himself, the Messenger of Allah (saas) did not need to mention his ashab; yet his mentioning them may come to mean: ‘My way is the way which my ashab follow. The way to salvation is only the way which my ashab follow.’”

“He who says that he follows the Messenger of Allah (saas) though he does not follow the way of his ashab is wrong… Those who follow the way of his ashab are no doubt the Ahl al-Sunnah wal Jama‘ah. May Allah (swt) give plenty of rewards to the superiors of this group, who worked undauntedly without falling tired! The group that will be saved [from Hell] is only this one. For, he who speaks ill of our Prophet's (saas) ashab is certainly deprived of following them. Such is the case for the sect of Shiite and the group of Kharijites. The same provision is issued with regard to the Mutazila group. This is a path that emerged subsequently. Other groups who are not members of the Ahl al-Sunnah are subject to the same comparison.” (Maktubat al-Rabbani)

Sayyid ‘Abd al-Qadr al-Gaylani

‘Abd al-Qadr al-Gaylani, whose title was Abu Muhammad, is also known as Muhyi’al-Din, Qutb-e Rabbani, al-Ghaus al-A‘zam and Sultan al-Awliya’ (the sultan of the saints). He is both a sayyid and a sharif. He was born in 1078 in the Persian province of Gaylan. It was in this town that he was eventually to begin his religious studies. He later moved from Gaylan to Baghdad, where he continued his education. Selecting the Hanbali school, he concentrated on this school in fiqh and became well-acquainted with tasawwuf while preaching at the Abu Said madrassah. His Sufi path, al-Qadiriyyah, was named after him.

Among the books that have come down through the generations from him are Al-Ghunya, Al-Fath al-Rabbani, and Futuh al-Ghayb; these mainly consist of his sermons and advice. Shaikh al-Gaylani died in Baghdad in 1166. His tomb, which is visited by millions of people every year, lies in Baghdad.

Some of his writings are as follows:

“Acting by the Qur’an elevates you to the level of the Qur’an and installs you there. Acting with the Sunnah (the hadiths of the Prophet) elevates you to the Prophet, the Messenger of Allah (saas). With his heart and spiritual protection the Prophet (saas) is indivisible from the hearts of the friends of Allah, even for a single moment. It is he who beautifies the hearts of the friends of Allah, who gives them fragrance. It is he who purifies their essence and cleanses them of negative feelings and beautifies them.

Remember Allah that He may remember you. Remember Allah that this remembrance (dhikr) cleanses your sins. May you remain without sin. May you be an obedient believer, free of sin. At that time He will remember you. That remembrance will so enfold and occupy you that you will have no time to desire anything else. That will be your sole aim and desire. O people! Islam weeps. It has placed its head in its hands. It is beset by the fajarah, the fasiqun, the ahl al-bid‘ah, oppressors, those who bear false witness, those who lack the virtue they claim to possess. It seeks the help of pure and devout Muslims against them.

May you eat and drink as if you eat and drink for the last time. May your meeting with your family be one of farewell. May your meeting with your Muslim brother be one of farewell. Always remind your heart that it is entrusted and that it is in a constant state of farewell. How can anyone whose destiny is in the hands of another not be in a state of entrustment and farewell? He knows not what tomorrow will bring, how matters will end, not what destiny will bring him.

Therefore, repent at once, and endeavor not to sin again. Escape your sins and run towards your Lord with speedy steps. When you repent, repent both internally and externally. Repentance lies at the heart of being an acceptable servant in the sight of Allah. Remove and dispose of the shirt of sin with a sincere repentance and true modesty before Allah. O you who turn your back on the way of Allah and concern yourself with the affairs of this world! I regard you as one who pleases other people but who angers Allah.

It is quite certain that you will soon be taken from this world. Death will take you from it. You will be seized by the one who seizes much painfully, much powerfully and in many forms, and will be taken hence. You will lose and abandon all you have in a single moment.” (Al-Fath ar-Rabbani)

Hadrat Shah Naqshband

Born near Bukhara in 1318, his real name was Muhammad Bahauddan Uways al-Bukhari. He was spiritually and theologically trained by Sheikh Muhammad Baba as-Samasi, the sheikh of the Khajagan order. Shah Naqshband, who traveled to Samarkand in his youth, was a member of the Hanafi school and attracted a wide popular following with his works and preaching on the topics of morality and knowledge.

The Naqshbandi order he founded spread to India in the time of Imam Rabbani. After the capture of Istanbul, the order was adopted by the ruling Ottomans. The presence of many Naqshbandi shrines (dargahs) in Istanbul was a sign of just how far the movement had spread among the populace.

The truth propagated by Shah Naqshband throughout the course of his life is the pillar of Islam, namely, that those who do not hold fast to the book of Allah (swt) and who do not obey the commands of the Prophet (saas) cannot attain salvation. It informs that the people must not depart from the line drawn by the Qur’an and the Sunnah of Allah’s Final Messenger (saas). One who follows or imitates another individual on a different path, and thus ignores the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (saas) is ultimately spiritually doomed. In one of his books, Shah Naqshband expresses his devotion to the Messenger of Allah (saas) in the following terms: “Whatever the Messenger of Allah (saas) did, I have done it exactly as he did and have neglected none of the Sunnah. I have fulfilled it all and enjoyed the results. I have seen his work in myself.”

Mawlana Khalid al-Baghdadi

Mawlana Khalid al-Baghdadi was born in Shahrazur, near Baghdad, in 1778. He received instruction in Qur’anic commentary (tafsir), the hadiths, jurisprudence (fiqh), and tasawwuf from several famous scholars. When his shaykh died, he began teaching students in his place. Thousands of people from all over the Islamic world attended his classes. After teaching for eight years he traveled to Damascus and from there to the Hijaz. In 1809, Shaykh Abdullah al-Dahlawi invited Mawlana Khalid to India. After completing his studies there, he returned to Baghdad. In 1826, he died in Damascus. Ibn ‘Abidin, one of the great Hanafi scholars, led his funerary prayers.

Mawlana Khalid opened the introduction to his work with the following quotation from the Maktubat al-Rabbani:

“It must be well considered and understood that it is Allah alone Who bestows blessings on all, creates all things, and preserves all entities at all times. The superior and excellent attributes in His servants are His blessing and endowment. In order for us to attain the infinite blessings of Paradise, its endless joys and His approval and love, Allah commands us to comply with the beloved Prophet (saas).”

“Adhere strictly to Allah’s commands and prohibitions for so long as you live. I advise you to remember Allah constantly, to seek shelter in Him, not to give your hearts to this transitory world but to seek the infinite Hereafter, to prepare yourselves for death and the solitude of the grave and the Day of Judgment, to adhere tightly to the Prophet’s (saas) Sunnah, to turn your faces away from bid`ah, and to pray for the success of Muslims and for the defeat of apostates and the enemies of the religion.” (From Mawlana Khalid’s letter to a friend from Diyarbakir.)

Ahmad Dhiya al-Din Gumushkhanewi

Ahmad Dhiya al-Din Gumushkhanewi was born in Gumushane in 1813. Brought to Trabzon when he was ten, he began studying with the city’s scholars. When his older brother was summoned for military service, he spent some time working in commerce at his father’s side. In 1831, he settled in Istanbul, despite his family’s opposition, where he continued his studies. He influenced many prominent figures of the time, among them Sultan Abd al-Hamid II, through his discourses.

Gumushkhanewi devoted twenty-eight years of his life to writing books and preached Islam for sixteen years. Collecting donations from his followers, who numbered more than 1 million, he founded a joint “solidarity and investment fund,” which he used to establish a printing press, a publishing house, four separate libraries containing 18,000 books, and various foundations.

Hadrat Gumushkhanewi is known for the great importance he attached to the Sunnah and for constantly teaching his students the hadiths. By establishing libraries across Turkey and being active in educational activities, he did all in his power to help Muslims advance. He fought in the Ottoman-Russian war of 1877-78 and provided considerable moral support to the Turkish troops.

On his return from a visit to Egypt in 1880, he turned the Gumushkhanewi dargah over to his successor Hasan Hilmi Effendi, and from then on only attended the Friday lectures. He died on Mount Yusa in Beykoz district on 13 May 1893, where he was spending the summer months in a tent. He was recognized as the greatest Islamic scholar of his time.

The Master’s works include:

The Jami` al-Usul, which describes the fine points of particularly the Naqshbandi order. It contains collections from works held in esteem by all movements of tasawwuf that are compatible with the Ahl al-Sunnah;

The Ruh al-`Arifin, which describes the various ranks within tasawwuf;

The Majmu`at al-Ahzab, which describes the Ahl al-Tasawwuf’s daily religious observances;

The Kitab al-`Arifin, which deals with supplication.

Bediuzzaman Said Nursi

Bediuzzaman Said Nursi was born in 1873 in Nurs, a small hamlet in the province of Bitlis in eastern Turkey. Although he began his religious education at the age of nine, he could not get used to the madrassah and left it. At the age of 12, he had a dream about Prophet Muhammad (saas), which impelled him to return to his studies. At the age of 21, his name became known in eastern provinces and was given the name Bediuzzaman (The Wonder of the Age).

One of his major goals in life was the establishment of Madrassah al-Zahra University in Van. In 1907 he came to Istanbul and explained his project to Sultan Abd al-Hamid II but his efforts to convince him failed. Upon this, he rented a room in Sekerci Han in Fatih, Istanbul and settled there.

Although he had no connections with the events of 31 March, he was arrested during the incidents but then he was acquitted. Following the events of 31 March, he left Istanbul and proceeded with his studies in Van, Tbilisi, Damascus, Beirut, and Izmir. With the advent of the World War I, he participated in Teskilat-i Mahsusa (the Ottoman intelligence agency). In 1916, he was in Pasinler as the militia commander and was taken as a prisoner of war. During the Bolshevik Revolution, getting advantage of the disorder, he ran away and succeeded to come to Istanbul with difficulty.

Said Nursi’s life changed with the rebellion of Sheikh Said, to whom he did not actually lend support. Said Nursi tells why he did not support the rebellion: “The Turkish Nation has been the flag man of Islam for ages. This nation has brought up many walis and martyrs. One cannot draw one’s sword to the grandsons of such a nation. We are Muslims, we are brothers. Do not let brothers struggle with one another. This is not acceptable in terms of Sharia. Swords are drawn to the outer foes, are not used within the nation. In this time, our sole salvation is in the enlightenment and guidance through Qur’an and the signs of faith. It is to remove ignorance, our greatest foe. Stop your efforts, for it would come to nothing. It is likely that, because of a few killers, thousands of innocent men and women perish.”

Despite everything, together with many leaders of the district, an official inquiry about Bediuzzaman was opened and he was brought to Istanbul. Then he was exiled to Barla, a village of Egridir. In this village, he wrote three-quarters of the Risale-i Nur Collection, a famous commentary of the Qur’an.

As the number of his followers increased, he was sent to Eskisehir, where he underwent trial again and was sentenced to eleven months imprisonment. Pressure upon him increased gradually. In 1934, he was sent from Barla to Isparta. After serving his sentence together with his 120 friends, he was exiled to Kastamonu. He was arrested again in 1943 and sent back to Ankara. Following this, investigations about him were opened in Isparta and Denizli. Following his detention for nine months together with over a hundred friends, he was acquitted of all charges. Despite the decision of acquittal, pressures did not relent. The sentence passed, that of twenty months of imprisonment, was annulled by a higher court.

When, in 1951, he was sued in relation to one of his articles in a journal, he found the opportunity to come to Istanbul, where he had not been to for twenty-seven years. He was acquitted again.

In 1956, the publishing of the Risale-i Nur Collection was allowed, for no one could find any element of crime in it. During the last days of his life, he traveled all around the country and after a long journey from Istanbul to Urfa, he passed away in 1960. Following the coup of 27 May, his funeral was taken from Urfa by plane to Isparta, where he was buried at an unknown place.

His works:

The Words

Letters

The Flashes Collection

The Rays Collection

Epitomes of Light (Mathnawi al-Nuriya)

The Staff of Moses (Asa-yi Musa)

Kastamonu Letters

Barla Letters

Emirdağ Letters

Signs of Miraculousness

The Ratifying Stamp of the Unseen

The Damascus Sermon

The Debates (Munazarat)

Iki Mekteb-i Musibetin Sehadetnamesi

Some quotations from his works:

“Being subject to the Sunnah is certainly very precious. Especially at a time when the bid‘ahs have increased, being subject to Sunnah is very precious. Especially at a time when disorder reigns among the ummah, complying with the moral principles of the Sunnah establishes important piety and a profound faith.” (Flashes, p. 48)

"I considered the Sunnah as ropes hanging down from the heavens and ascending to it; the one who clings them ascends and attains happiness. Those who object and rely on their reasoning, on the other hand, become like the pharaoh, who was stupid enough to ascend to heavens on a long minaret.”(Epitomes of Light, p. 72)

"Our Creator assigned us Prophet Muhammad (saas), as the greatest tutor and the most perfect grand master, and the truest guidance that does not err or make anyone err. And He sent him as the last messenger.” (The Staff of Moses, p. 34)

“… Prophet Muhammad (saas), whose essential being was the source, seed, life, and means of the mighty tree of the World of Islam…” (Flashes, The Thirtieth Flash)

"The best, the most righteous, the most shining and wealthy path of guardianship among others is to be subject to the Sunnah.” (Letters)

Unorthodox and heretical movements within Islam are just as dangerous as those movements coming from outside. Bediuzzaman Said Nursi pointed out these internal dangers:

“What gives me pain are only the dangers that Islam is subject to. In the past, dangers used to come from outside; therefore, it was easy to resist them. Now they come from inside. The wolf is inside the body. Now resistance is harder. I am afraid the community’s constitution cannot bear it, for it does not perceive the foes. It assumes its greatest foe, who sucks its blood, is a friend. If the community’s foresight becomes blind, then the castle of faith is in danger. That is my suffering, my sole suffering. I even do not have the time to think about the suffering and difficulties I personally face. If only I personally faced something a thousand times more difficult, but the future of the castle of faith were secure…”

Suleyman Hilmi Tunahan

Born in Silistire in 1888, Suleyman Hilmi Tunahan was educated in Istanbul madrassahs by the most famous tutors of the day and graduated with the highest degrees. From 1930 on, he worked in the Department of Religious Affairs and served as a preacher in the Sultanahmet, Yenicami, Sehzadebasi, and Kasimpasa mosques.

Judicial inquiries were opened against him several times; each time he was acquitted. During this period when people started to forget the Qur’an, he dedicated himself to educating young people. His work is clear indication of the importance he attached to teaching of the Qur’an.

He continuously advised his students to follow the Qur’an and our Prophet (saas) and protect young people from heretical movements. He died in 1959.

Suleyman Hilmi Tunahan and his followers were affiliated to Imam al-Maturidi in theology and Imam Abu Hanifah in fiqh. Suleyman Effendi followed the path of tasawwuf established by Imam Rabbani.

Kemal Kacar, his son-in-law and student, explains his superior personality as follows:

“Suleyman Effendi’s spiritual aspect in the knowledge of the inner and the hidden, that is in tasawwuf, is known to who possess it. External and apparent intelligence cannot appreciate it. Indeed, a person, who may be Muslim, educated and intelligent, may come across such a person having the knowledge of tasawwuf and the ability to guide, but still, under no circumstances, can be aware of his blessings unless that person informs him about himself via the Divine will. We, on the other hand, have not a speck of doubt about his [Suleyman Effendi’s] spiritual aspect. We have acknowledged it not by way of knowledge but by experiencing it.” (Hizir Yilmaz, Suleymancilik Hakkinda Bir Inceleme [An Examination on the Phenomena of Suleymancilik], p. 11)

Sayyid AbdulHakim al-Arwasi

Sayyid AbdulHakim al-Arwasi was born in 1865 in the Baskal’a district of Van. His father, Mustafa Effendi, was a man of tasawwuf who dedicated himself to Islamic education. Following the education, AbdulHakim al-Arwasi Effendi was educated in Qur’anic commentary, hadith, jurisprudence, and Islamic theology in Iraq.

When he was fourteen, he started to receive an education in tasawwuf from Fahim Effendi and became his student. After reaching a certain level of maturity, when he was around twenty years old, he returned to homeland and spent all that he had to establish a madrassah and a library that the students could use for free. However, this madrassah was looted by the Armenians and the Russians during the World War I. Eventually, he was compelled to leave Van. However, out of 150 of his companions, only twenty-nine reached Istanbul alive.

In 1919, AbdulHakim Effendi settled in a madrassah in the Eyup area of Istanbul, which was allocated for him and his companions. He began to teach in the Sulaymaniyya Madrassah, but was dismissed in 1924-25, when the religious lodges were closed down. In 1930, following the Menemen incidents, he was arrested and later acquitted. Then he started to preach in the Beyoglu Aga and the Beyazid Mosques. During his final years, he was arrested and exiled several times. During these years, he guided Necip Fazil Kisakurek, an Islamic poet, to faith.

He died in Ankara in 1943. His burial was as simple and modest as his life.

AbdulHakim Effendi wrote two books: Ar-Riyad-ut-Tasawwufiyya and Rabita-i Sharifa. The answers he gave in his letters and conversations were also compiled in a book.

Mahmud Sami Ramazanoglu

M. Sami Ramazanoglu was born in 1892 in Adana and eventually became the shaykh of the Erenkoy congregation. After obtaining his degree from the Dar al-Funun Law School, he concentrated on tasawwuf. He preached for a while in mosques and became involved with commerce. After living for some time in Damascus, he went to Zihni Pasha Mosque in Erenkoy, Istanbul where he endeavored to guide the people. In 1979, he went to Saudi Arabia, where he eventually died after dedicating his long life to spreading Islam.

Mehmet Zahid Kotku

In 1897, Mehmet Zahid Effendi was born into one of Bursa’s Caucasian families. Zahid Kotku, who was 18 years old during the World War I, was drafted and spent six years in the army: three at the front and three in Istanbul. Following his tour of duty, he went to the Gumushane lodge and received a certificate to teach at the age of 27. After the lodges were closed, he married and became an imam in Bursa.

He preached in Fatih’s Iskenderpasha Mosque for twenty-two years and died in 1980. A great crowd of people from throughout Turkey and Europe attended his funeral service in Istanbul’s Sulaymaniyyah Mosque. The number of his followers continued to increase even after his death. In distant cities of Turkey and even outside Turkey, many people loved him.

Mehmet Zahid Kotku’s services to Islam were mainly in the form of conversations, during which he enlightened his students about religious matters and daily issues concerning Muslims. Through his sermons, books, and conversations, he played an important role in imparting Islamic values to Turkish youths. His knowledge, as well as his tolerant and modest nature, also attracted people.

He made a great effort to solve the problem of Muslim countries’ underdeveloped industrial sector, by working with other people to establish the Gümüs Motor factory. But this attempt failed, due to inexperience and technical inadequacies.

In his book Tevbe (Repentance), he stated:

“One should be very cautious in complying with the Sunnah in all affairs. Unless otherwise necessary, one should not neglect any of its practices. We should be meticulous with the practices [of the Messenger of Allah] in manners of eating, clothing, conversation, prayers, ablution and cleanliness, as well as good form.”

Necip Fazil Kisakurek

The great intellectual Necip Fazil Kisakurek was born in 1904 in Cemberlitas, Istanbul, into a family that came from Kahramanmaras. In 1912, he attended a French school and then the American College in Gedikpasha. In Heybeliada, where his family moved due to his mother’s illness, he attended the Navy College. In 1917, he started his study of philosophy at Dar al-Funun. In 1924, he was sent to Sorbonne University in Paris. After a year, he discontinued his education and returned home.

Due to his nature, he could not hold a position for a long time. For this reason, he left his position in 1938. In 1941, he worked as an instructor in the State Fine Arts Academy and Robert College. During these same years, he also worked as an author and poet.

His acknowledgement of Islam’s essence occurred during these years. The movement he initiated, the Great Eastern Movement, became a nightmare for the enemies of Islam. Between 1943 and 1972, he traveled and lectured throughout Turkey. Eight cases were launched against him, and he ended up staying in prison for three-and-one-half years. He continued his intellectual struggle against the enemies of Islam and various heretical movements until his death in 1984. His book, Dogru Yolun Sapik Kollari (The Erroneous Branches of the Righteous Path) saved many people from going astray.

In this important book, Necip Fazil explained the views of all heretical sects and showed Ahl al-Sunnah wal Jama‘ah, the path of the Messenger of Allah (saas) and his Companions, as the righteous way.

Some extracts from his works are as follows:

“The second and third ages of the Muslim calendar – during which heretical branches spread, became popular and danced with joy in an atmosphere of festival – witnessed two triumphal arches that rendered the entire units on the way of Sunnah and religious community a monument.

An arch with four gates that direct Islamic principles of faith and rules of deeds, and another arch with two gates that strengthen directly the aspects related to creed … One of them is in deeds, and the other is in creed …

In deeds: Imam Malik, Imam al-A`zam, Imam al-Shafi`i, Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal;

In creed: Imam al-Maturidi, Imam al-Ash`ari.

They represent the border guardians of the righteous path and constitute the police forces of the Ahl al-Sunnah.

The Book is the Qur’an; the Sunnah is every word, order and act of the Messenger of Allah (saas) … Ijma; the collected decrees upon which the ummah, that is, the Companions who deserve the quality of being an ummah, agreed … Qiyas; rulings that leading religious scholars make through analogy…

In an ascending order, ranks melt into one another and finally gather together in one absolute: In Allah’s book and the Prophet’s (saas) Sunnah…

The path of Ahl al-Sunnah wal Jama‘ah is that straight street brought out by these heroes among a thousand lines of disorder. On this street, those raising the triumphal arch with four gates, in terms of both creed and deeds, are the greatest engineers of the external front having brought about the seed of the subsequent architects of creed…” (Necip Fazil K›sakürek, Dogru Yolun Sapik Kollari: Arinma Caginda Islam [The Erroneous Branches of the Righteous Path: Islam in the Era of Purification], p. 95)

 

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