Istanbul is the city where you’ll come across with the tomb of many important scholars who have traveled from the early times till now. These scholars were given importance by the dynasty, respected and loved by society. They were given right to comment or consulted on religious issues related with government and in general public matters for comfort of the society. They were educating youth at madrasah or dervish lodges.
That is why, once you walk down around the city, you’ll come across with many of the tombs at every mile one. Reading about their stories also endless, we still wonder, find, learn and try to share with our audience everywhere.
My first visit to Yahya Efendi happened after meeting a Istanbulite friend of mine whom we just went out for a coffee around Karaköy. She was talking about marriage matters and said, why not to visit Yahya Efendi whom was visited by people who visit him to wish to be getting married. True or not, I just accepted to visit, because after hearing his life story, I became curious. We took a walk from Karaköy to Beşiktaş, turned to a street full green trees and very quite against the main road standing right in front of Çırağan Palace. And lots of beautiful cats welcomed us while we climb the hill.
Entering the dervish lodge, there’s the lodge at the left side and a cemetery till the entrance of the mausoleum. The fountain right before the entrance has an important place, that was where Yahya Efendi and Khidr aleyhisselam met up. People drink water from there after leaving the tomb.
The mausoleum is where his and his family members tomb placed. There’s a small masjid for ladies and gents inside too. It’s a beautiful architect, no wonder, Sinan the Great designed. Not only that, the feeling of peace here wanted us to stay more to read Quran a little while more. The visitors never ends, there’s always coming-going traffic by them.
Before explaining who Shaikh Yahya is, would be lovely to let you know about the complex’ back garden’s view. It’s full cemetery but lies against the Bosphorus.
WHO IS SHAIKH YAHYA?
Shaikh Yahya Efendi who one of the important scholars, poets and sufis of 16th century was born in Trabzon in 1495. His father is Shami Ömer Efendi and his mother is Afife Hanım. Prince Selim, Beyazit II.’s son, was the governer of the Trabzon at the same time Ömer Efendi was a Muslim judge in Trabzon. So, it is predicted that there was a friendship formed between Ömer Efendi and Prince Selim. Suleyman the magnificent came into this world a few days later than Yahya Efendi’s birth and it drew two families closer. As it’s indicated in literatures, Prince Suleyman’s mother’s milk was insufficient so that Yahya Efendi’s mother Lady Afife fed him too. Thus, both Yahya Efendi and Sultan Suleyman is milk siblings.
Yahya Efendi spent his childhood and early teenage times in Trabzon city. After completing his education in madrasah in Trabzon, they moved to Istanbul as a whole family with Prince Suleyman’s entourage. He completed his studies with Zenbilli Ali Efendi. After his tutor’s decease, he started to work in Canbaz Mustafa Madrasah (Muslim theological school) as a professor.
Working as a professor in different madrasahs after that duty, Yahya Efendi started to work as a professor in Sahn-i Seman Madrasah, which was the first higher education institution in the city in 1553. Apart from Islamic studies, he gained reputation and had a say in field of geometry and medicine.
The information about Yahya Efendi’s family is very limited. It is known that when he came to Istanbul, he got married to Suleyman’s niece Sherife Hanım, and they had two sons named Ibrahim and Ali.
After Yahya Efendi got retired, he bought a large field in Beşiktaş with his own opportunities and he had a home built for himself. Having dervish lodge built next to the house, Yahya Efendi created a complex named ‘Hıdırlık’ by having a madrasah, a Turkish bath, chambers for people stayed there and a fountain built around the house in time. Yahya Efendi established some foundations to keep his buildings in service and he provided important income sources. It is known that military people, civil people, merchants and especially sailors visited his lodge and sent so many gifts and votive. Yahya Efendi used those gifts for garden care works and to build mosques, madrasahs, Turkish baths and the building like that in different places. Later on he established a foundation for himself to beautify Beşiktaş by carrying out various town planning and afforestation operations.
Moreover, according to Istanbulite sailor’s belief, he is one of the four spiritual guards of the Bosphorus. In addition to his poems written with ‘Muderris’ penname in Islamic Sufism topics, Yahya Efendi had a divan.
Yahya Efendi died on Eid-ul Adha night in 9 Zilhicce 978 (4th of May 1571) and his funeral was hold after salat al eid by Ebussuud Efendi from Suleyman Mosque and was buried to his darwish lodge. Governors, ulemas and a huge crowd from public attended to his funeral. With Selim II’s command, a mausoleum was built on Yahya Efendi’s lodge by Sinan the Architect.
After Yahya Efendi’s death, environment of his lodge is covered by the other people’s graves who wanted to be his neighbor. Starting from second half of 16th century, many cult people, governors, ulemas, dynasty and castle members were buried around the Yahya Efendi’s dervish lodge.
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