Saturday, March 18, 2017


Kocamustafapaşa, Fatih - İstanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°00'13.3"N 28°55'43.9"E / 41.003694, 28.928861

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İstanbul is a city whose streets are filled with friends of God. Whichever suburb a person visits, they will encounter a dervish lodge or the türbe of a Sufi saint. At times, they are befuddled as to whose station they will call on, or upon whose soul will they send their supplications. But if the intention is set to tour a türbe, then, naturally, roads will lead to those best known. To Eyüp Sultan, for example. Or to Aziz Mahmut Hüdai or to Sümbül Efendi.

The fact that the türbe of Sümbül Efendi (Sünbül is the Turkish word for hyacinth (plant), a flower.) - an esteemed Ottoman scholar honoring Kocamustafapaşa’s Ali Fakih district with his presence for almost 500 years - has always been a center of attraction notwithstanding, it has begun to host an even greater number of visitors in recent years.

Whether it be through the efforts of the Fatih Municipal Council to renew the dergah, the Mevlevi dervish lodge, and its surroundings - the one-time center of Sufism - or through the videos of the young imam of the Sümbül Efendi Mosque, Hafız İbrahim Yıldız’s recital of the Quran being broadcast over the Internet, this place has come to life. In particular, the serving of soup to the mosque’s congregation following morning prayer on Sundays, as was the case during Sümbül Efendi’s time, has heightened interest in the mosque and türbe. The people wanting to prostrate in ritual prayer at Sümbül Efendi’s türbe and ask him to pray for them are filling the mosque’s courtyard.

The spiritual master of the Sümbüliye branch of the Halveti Sufi spiritual order, Sümbül Efendi, whose real name was Yusuf Bin Ali, was born in 1452 in Merzifon. He was educated from a very young age in İsparta and travelled to İstanbul to learn from the famous scholar of the Fatih Sultan Mehmet and Sultan Bayezid II era Efdalzâde Hamîdüddîn Efendi.

Through the initiative of Grand Vizier Koca Mustafa Paşa, he later established his dergah in what is now the Ali Fakir district adjacent to a church converted into a mosque. He contributed to the education and training of many scholars and Sufi saints. One of them was his son-in-law Merkez Efendi, whose türbe is situated in Zeytinburnu. Sümbül Efendi is at the same time the spiritual master of the Sümbüliye branch of the Halveti Sufi spiritual order.

There are many treatises describing the Halveti order in his name. He is also one from whom Ottoman sultans frequently requested prayers. According to one narration, he told Sultan Yavuz Selim that he would conquer Egypt. He passed away in the year 1529 and was buried in the courtyard of his dergah. Come along to Sümbül Efendi’s dergah.

Let me explain what you will encounter, if indeed you set out with the wish to visit Sümbül Efendi. Sümbül Efendi’s dergah is positioned right at the center of Kocamustafapaşa, built up around an expansive courtyard. Three separate doors lead from the courtyard to the outside suburb. The entrance of one of the doors is surrounded by a cemetery on both the right and left sides. The grave of one of the esteemed calligraphers of the day, Hafız Osman Efendi, is here.

Just beyond the cemetery is Sümbül Efendi’s türbe. It is very clean and well-looked after. Further along lies Şeyh Yakup Efendi, and to the north is Şeyh Hasan Adli Efendi’s grave. One must not forget to read the Fatiha while here. At the foot of Sümbül Efendi’s türbe lie the grandchildren of Caliph Ali, descended from his son Hüseyin. According to one narration, these twin sultans, as they are called, came to İstanbul with the Prophet’s companions for the conquest of İstanbul and passed away here.

According to another story, they were captured as prisoners of war by the Byzantines and thus came to İstanbul. The graves of these two sultans, Fatma and Sakine, were lost over time. Sümbül Efendi discovered that they were buried here. Their current türbe was subsequently constructed by Sultan Mahmud II. At the head of their türbe is a centuries-old cypress protected by a wooden structure. It is believed that this cypress was planted after their burial by Jabir, a companion of the Prophet.

The dergah has become a place frequented by Alevis due to the presence of these twin sultans. In the middle of the courtyard is the Sümbül Efendi Mosque. The mosque was in fact originally a Byzantine church. The church was converted into a mosque by Koca Mustafa Paşa upon the request of Sultan Bayezid II. The mosque has a constantly changing congregation. The last few years in particular, and with the influence of the mosque’s imam, the congregation has been teeming, even during morning prayers. The mosque itself, however, is in need of a restoration.

On both sides of the mosque is a medrese (school). These medreses are currently in use for the purpose of teaching the Quran to both boys and girls and raising hafız (those who memorize the entire Quran). It is an interesting fact that previously in the courtyard facing the türbes were gecekondus (shanty settlements) and some people who did not find these pleasant endeavored to remove them all. In addition to this, they constructed a tea garden and a library, all proceeds of which were to be used for the mosque.

Now anyone who visits does not leave without having a glass of tea first. Lastly, in the külliye (social complex) is the Sümbül Sinan Dergah. The dergah was restored by the Fatih Municipal Council this year and was officially opened. This wooden building is currently used as center that provides classes in classical Islamic arts. Upon exiting the dergah, one finds streets filled with traces of Sufism and the district’s old Ottoman past.

Sünbül Efendi died 1529 AD in Istanbul. The tomb of Sümbül Sinan Efendi is next to the Koca Mustafa Pasha Mosque in Istanbul. The site of his tomb was once his Tekke and is now a mosque. The Tekke itself was once a convent that was abandoned after the conquest of Constantinople and handed over to the Khalwatis by the Sultan to use as a Tekke.

Almost all of the sheikhs who sat at the post of grand sheikh of this order are buried at the Tekke, including another noted Sheikh of this order, Merkez Efendi (d.1552) in Yenikapı. The tomb is frequently visited by Muslims, some of whom consider him to be a saint.

Sünbül Efendi lived during the reigns of Sultan Bayezid II, Yavuz Sultan Selim and Kanuni Sultan Süleyman and founded the Sünbüliyye branch of the Halvetiyye mystic sect. His real name was Yusuf Sünbül and he was born in Merzifon just after the conquest of Istanbul.

Sünbül Efendi’s teacher in Amasya was Çelebi Halife, who had attracted many students. While Prince Bayezid was the governor of Amasya, he spent time speaking with Çelebi Halife and after he ascended the throne he summoned the latter to Istanbul to be in charge of a church in Kocamustafapaşa that had been converted into a mosque and the large lodge, school and soup kitchen that had been built next to it. Sünbül Efendi was among those who came to Istanbul. Later he was to spend several years in Egypt and then return to Istanbul to take Çelebi Halife’s place after he died.

During his lifetime, Sünbül Efendi was responsible for a well that is known as the well of health. People visit it especially during the month of Muharrem (the first month of the Muslim lunar year) when the waters are supposed to rise to the top of the well to make it easier for those who want to drink.

Sünbül Efendi died in 1529 and is buried in the courtyard of the Kocamustafapaşa Mosque.


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