Yahya Efendy : The sufi whom Solyman the Magnificent esteemed

Yahya efendy was one of the awliya’s of Istanbul. He was also known as Yahya bin Omar Beshiktashi. He was born in Trabzon in 1494 and passed away in Istanbul in 1569.

His father was Omar of Damascus, and he was the khadi in Trabzon. Khadi means the supreme leader of a city appointed by the sultans in Ottaman Empire. A khadi executed the task of both a judge and mayor in any city.

So Yahya efendy took his early ilm from his father. He then came to Istanbul and started working as mufassir in madrassas. After his retirement he built a house and a masjid in Beshiktash region in Istanbul. There, he accommodated many guests. Most of his visitors were seeking advice in spiritual matters, sometimes only asking for a mere prayer.

Sometimes Christian priests living in Istanbul visited him, if they needed to address the Sultan or when they needed assistance. He helped them by making their voice heard by the sultan of that era, Solyman the Magnificent, by writing letters to him and advising him to show justice to all people living under the umbrella of the sultan, regardless of their ethnic and religious background.

He is also know to lead a very simple life in solitude, wore clothes that showed his modesty. He never liked formality and welcomed especially the needy and the poor as guests in his house.

Solyman the Magnificent enjoyed his company but Yahya efendy never visited him in his palace. Instead, the sultan came to visit him in his “dergah”, his house. This is a known tradition among sufi and sultans. The sultan shows his respects to “people of ilm” by visiting them directly, not making them come to his palace. Also the sufi refrains from visiting the sultan as it might be misinterpreted, a sufi-heart shows his lack of interest in worldly needs by not “being attracted to sultan’s worldly grandeur.”

Normally, all people of all kind, including ambassadors of all countries visit the Ottoman sultan, sultan is never bothered to leave his palace to visit somebody.

Knowing this delicate balance, Solyman Magnificent, visited Yahya efendy often, sought his advice and asked for him to pray for him.


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