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3rd Annual Turkish Symposium: 20th Century Scholars Who Influenced the Formation of Current Turkish Society

Seyyid Muhammed Rashid Erol [kuddise sirruhû]

A. The General Situation of Turkey After The Republic B. The Situation of Nakshbandî/Khalidî Path in Anatolia C. The Life of Gavs-i Bilwânîsî D. Seyda The Honorable
a. His Life b. His Guiding and Effects

I would like to take this opportunity to thank ISNA for organizing this convention and making it possible to share our values. Especially, I’d like to thank UWA for their efforts in organizing this symposium. I’m going to start with describing the general situation of the young Turkish public and formal life conditions followed by information about the situation of Nakshbandî/Khalidî path in Anatolia. So we can have a better understanding of the life of Gavs-i Bilwânîsî and Seyda the honorable. In order to understand the life, services and effects of Muhammed Raşid Erol we should know the general situation of Turkey after 1923.

A. General Situation of Turkey after the Republic
After the announcement of Turkish Republic at October 29, 1923 very major changes happened in Turkish Society. The new system proposed and forced Secular and Western life style upon the Turkish people. The laws of the revolution were very tough and oppressive. The government abolished the Caliphate, closed Islamic Spiritual Centers called “Tekkes”, destroyed or converted mosques into military barracks, forbid Islamic clothings like the “Sarık” (the Turban) ) and regulated the call to prayer (Adhan) in Turkish. Teaching the Quran was also forbidden and any opposition to these laws was either punished by putting people in jail or hanging people after symbolic trials. The dense opression continued until 1950. After the change of the government some limitation toward to religional life was abandoned however it was not enough. Indeed, after 1950 the leaders of the Islamic Community such as Bediüzzaman Said Nursî, Muhammed Raşid Erol and Necip Fazıl Kısakürek still suffered jails, exiles and cruelty. The cause of all this opression lied behind the secular toughts of establishers of Turkish Republic. They wanted to control the religional life of Muslim Community by controlling all of the Islamic instutions and interpreting Islamic laws in a secular way.

B. The Situation of the Naqshbandi-Khalidi Path in Anatolia
In this continuum, sufi paths and communities preserved Islamic identity of Turkish community. Sufi paths in particular continued to awaken the Muslim community without drawing the attention of the government in contrast to the wide and easy Islamic guidance in the Ottoman era. The existence of Muslim community was continued by secret meetings and Islamic sufi rituals. One of the main streams of the sufi path is Nakşbendi which is established by Şah-ı Nakşibend who was born in Buhara/Ozbekıstan in 14th century. The major expansion of Naqshbandi movement in Anatolia, occured after the Khalidî scholars took action. The Khalidiyye is one of the sects of Naqshbandiyye which has been established

and systemized by Mevlaba Khalid Bagdhahi.

Mevlana Khalid Baghdadî was both a

scholar and a Sufi who affected the Ottoman scholar community by the way of his deep commitment to Islamic laws called the Shari´a. Mevlana Halid Bağdadi and his followers claimed that without Shari´a one cannot implement Islamic sufism. Hence they implemented Islamic rules very carefully in their lifes. In the Republican era, they never became rebels against the government despite the fact that they had great number of followers. They continued their guidance [tebliğ] secretly and they never backed down from calling people to the path of Allah and His Messener [peace be upon him]

C. The Life of Gavs-i Bilvânîsî
One of these followers of Mevlana Khalid Baghdadi was Abdulhakim el-Hüseynî who was born in the town of Siirt, Baykan in 1902. He is one of the descendents of our Prophet. His father was also a Sufi scholar who taught him religious sciences with the support of various scholars from the region. He completed his Sufi education under the supervision of the Sufi Sheikh Ahmad al-Haznevî. He received his license in Islamic knowledge and in the spiritual path in 1936 and 1938 respectively. He guided his followers from eastern provinces of Turkey and his last destination was Menzil village of the Adiyaman province. He passed away there in 1972. His path is followed by his son Sayyid Muhammad Raşid Erol after his decease.

D. Seyda The Honorable
a. His Life
Hazrat Sayyid Muhammad Rashid Erol was born in 1930 in the Siyanüs village of Siirt province. Well-known scholars of the East taught him Islamic sciences in the classical manner. His father guided his Sufi training and in 1968 he became a Sufi teacher. In 1972, after the death of his father he took the duties of his father to guide the Muslim Community. His guidance attracted visitors from Turkey and abroad which finally drew the attention of the government. In 1983, he was exiled to the island of Imbros in Çanakkale. After two years of exile he suffered health problems and he was transported to Ankara for medical reasons. After the exile and recovery he moved to Menzil and continued to guide people to the Islamic faith (or: to Islam). In 1991 people who wanted the to interrupt his guidance tried of the to assassinate life was him to with a poison syringe. Fortunately, he recovered by rapid medical care and continued to guide people to eternal message Prophet. His devoted saving people’s faith. When he was dying he said to his students, "Come to Allah’s way, we are going to go Him, I'm going to Allah". He obeyed the invitation of Allah in the Quran “To the righteous soul will be said: O (thou) soul, in (complete) rest and satisfaction!” and passed away on October 10, 1993 when he was 63 years old.

b. His Influence
The Messenger of Allah says "Scholars are the successors of the prophets". The masters of the Nakşbendi path spent all their time obeying the Koran and the Sunna to become righteous heirs. They undertook the tasks of the Prophet by inviting people to true faith. And they served as a reminder of why we are created. Seyda followed the footsteps of holy prophet as he lived and he fulfilled his Islamic duties without any rest. His aim was helping people in an effort to promote them as ideal servants of Allah. Although, Menzil is located away from residential areas, hundreds of thousands of people students, were coming to a professors visit place him where from Europe, Australia and all of them were around eating Turkey. His divan was rich, poor, young, elderly, politicians, citizens, treated equally. All

and everyone were

wheat bread and barley soup which was served to all visitors. The secular values were losing all of their meanings in the village as narrated in the Koran, "Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you." Even after 14 centuries from the birth of Islam. Hekimoglu Ismail, who is a respective researcher and writer, noted these lines after his Menzil visit: “People who do not pray and even people who are against praying make ablutions. They start to yell the name of Allah with a great motivation and concentration. It was February and cold. Not from the cold, due to change of their lives they were deeply shaken. All of them quit drinking alcohol and gambling and even started praying… It is hard to grasp these things with mind. These changes cannot be explained by scientific knowledge of ours. Look at the chronic alcoholic man making ablution. Listen to the phrase of Allah said by a former communist! Look a gambler is washing his hands both materially and spiritually. They established an oasis in the desert of modern life. Islamic life is implemented very carefully.” Seyda, do not chat with people who come to visit him. However those who visit him repent of their sins, give up alcohol and drugs. Even murderers give up their old behaviors and become honorable Muslims. People are bringing their alcoholic friends by buses to Menzil from the Black Sea region to repent their sins. As a result, sales of alcoholic beverages in that area dropped remarkably. And the company that distributes alcoholic beverages lost its’ market and sued Seyda. As a result the prosecutor's office questioned him about the results of his Islamic guidance. Indeed this is very ironic in terms of human health and government’s responsibility about that. "If you want to get rid of the darkness then you have to follow the leaders who are full of light (nur)”. The heirs of the prophet, that is the prophetic scholars, lead the

Muslim community to eternal peace and wisdom. They have realized the meaning of the sacred burden of guidance of Muslims and they lead the Ummah spiritually” Seyda said. “The leader of of the Ummah is the one who serves them” and he always served visitors and comforted them. In fact, until being a spiritual caliph, people thought he is the actual servant of the divan. He guided the believers after he took the responsibility of the spiritual guidance and he delivered the light of true knowledge of Islam. His eating habit and physical acts was like the prophet’s. His commitment to the Shari’a and practice of the Sunnah was the pure example to his followers. As a result his followers understand the way of Prophets’ and his friends’ life by the practice of Seyda. His life with less chatting and more practicing was enough to enlighten his followers. The Hadith saying "There are servants of God who remind people of God” defines Seyda exactly. Hekimoglu Ismail explains this in the following: "Seyda does not speak much and does not advise. He only leads in

praying. However, whoever saw him abandons his bad habits and some of them even grow out their beard. He resembles a magnet, instead of pulling iron he pulls people from sinful life to an Islamic life. People were coming from different races, denominations and religions. It is not possible to understand the reason why they come to Menzil. However, people tend to come more and more and bring their loved ones. " One of the latest Ottoman writers Mrs.Münevver Ayaşlı says: "A Muslim British group of people from England was curious about Islamic Sufi leaders in Turkey and we went to Menzil together. Since most of the group members were ladies we could not attend to divan of Seyda. But that did not matter and it was said that it is okay to see him from far. As far as we have seen from a far distance it was evident that he’s a real Naqsh Sheik and Islamic Sufi Leader. His spirituality affected us from far distance…” What brought people to Menzil? This question can be answered by his willingness for the sake of God by delivering message of Prophet Muhammad to people. God was satisfied with him and God placed the love of him to people’s hearts. Judicial authorities came to the village because of the huge amount of visitors drew their attention toward Seyda in 1974. The official adviced Seyda "Muhammed Rashid, you're young and you are wasting your youth. There is no end of this. Come on, give up this work and we will also give up dealing and bothering you." Seyda responded “Commander, be a little patient. If our aim is the sake of Allah neither you nor I cannot distribute these people. If our objective is not the sake of Allah no one comes here after a few days and nobody complains anymore to you. No one bothers either of us."

The secular oppressive system in Turkey tried to break the Muslim-Turkish nation from their Islamic roots by prohibiting Islamic intuitions and Islamic education. However Islamic scholars and Sufi leaders prevented this by spreading the true and eternal message of Islam to their followers. As a result, Muslims who suffered from the effects of materialistic life style were converted to better Muslims and better human beings. God bless their souls. He encouraged his follower to knowledge by emphasizing that staying righteous (istiqamat) cannot be achieved by ignorance. One day, he said to one of his followers: “O servant of Allah! It is more superior to educate a student than converting a person to a Sufi, especially if the student became a successor of the prophet. Don’t forget that the illiterate man is always in frustration even if he is a hard working practitioner of religion.” He commanded that staying righteous is superior to miracles. A person should try to remain righteous and achieve perfection. The most important thing is to comply with Allah. The state of a person who remains righteous is far better than not seeing any miracle or spiritual unveiling. The one who does not conform to the commands of Allah and does not remain righteous is a mad, insane person. . Seyda, after the period of interregnum that continued for a long time, made a silent spiritual revolution in Anatolia. In particular, he emphasized the teaching of religious knowledge all the time by opening religious schools (madrasa) in different regions of Anatolia and Menzil village. He persistently emphasized that Sharia constitutes the foundation of the building which supports Islamic mysticism and that it is the core of faith. It is so important that Islamic mysticism cannot be implemented without Sharia and it contradicts teachings of ahl-al sunnah. The Master whom hundreds of thousands people benefited from, stayed away from politics and politicians during his lifetime. And he expressed to them "we don't command our follower to vote a specific party". He especially avoided mischief and followed his predecessors in this topic. He didn't think of revolting against government even when he was persecuted. In the days of exile in the Imbros Island, he had to leave daily to provide his signature proving his presence. . Although policeman said kindly that "we can bring the document to you master, since you are sick", he said "Since my government commanded that I come to sign, I will come every day. Even if it were not the police awaiting my signature, I would travel 100, nay, 1000km to do so. Seyda’s teaching in his 63 years of life surpassed the boundaries of Anatolia. He followed his predecessors properly. He passed his holy mission to his brother and successor Şeyh Seyydi Abdulbaki. Şeyh Seyyid Abdulbaki keep the pace of the mission in order to save the people from blasphemy.

Their aim is saving the faith of the Muslims. Related to this topic, in a lecture he said: “We are in the most dangerous and troublesome period of the world. The severity of the issue of "denial of holy matters" has so increased that it grinds every scholar as a hurricane. If you watch a person in flames, what will you do? Do not you help him? Is it a righteous behavior not to help him? We have to save people fromthe darkness of their blasphemy. Help them! Because Muslims are in dangerous flames.” In these times, the greatest action is jihad. The greatest jihad is salvation of people from wrath of Allah. So we are responsible for any person who is unaware of Allah. Your intention shall be pure and do this willingly. Help all of the Muslims. Do not discriminate amongst people. Give priority to people near you in this service. “ Today, the power of the guidance of Şeyh Seyyid Abdulbaki can be interpreted to the effect of "Seyda". Thanks to his efforts, dozens of religious schools [medreseh] were opened in Turkey, Germany and France. With a real understanding of religion that is free from modern thought’s infiltration these institutions will contribute to the training of Islamic scholars under the light of Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jamaat and revive the religious consciousness among the believers. One of the steps taken in this sense, all around the world, is UKBA-Der which is established to call people who did not get the message of the Prophet. Currently, this organization continues its activities in Central Asia and Europe and replenishes Sharia and the path of Nakşbendiyye. As a result, the aim is to burn the torch of faith all around the world against the darkness of unbelievers. It is evident that all media and communication tools were used for this holy service to deliver Islamic message properly. Semerkand TV and Radio 15 served for this purpose. Today, more than 500 different books have been published by Semerkand Publishing House in several languages including Turkish, English, Bosnian, Russian and Arabic. The subjects of these books are Islamic Law and Islamic Sufi classics. With magazines of Semerkand, Mostar and Semerkand Family having 280,000 circulations, at least one million people are informed about Islamic beliefs and life of the prophet which is the core of Islamic mysticism. In the Menzil, Islamic life is experienced alongside of Şeyh Seyyid Abdulbaki. In conclusion, Şeyh Seyyid Abdulbaki preached about the service of faith: Never be discouraged in the service of Allah. If you have any trouble, any accusation, any slander, you have to be patient and enduring. Your are working for Allah and people whom you love. This service is for only distinguished people. Act wisely and patiently. Act as your masters do. Your reward will be given by Allah Most High.` Thank you for your interest and may Allah bless you!