Ahmet Yesevi... the founder of Turkish folk sufism, which governed Turkish spiritual life for centuries; the one who has made people internalize Arslan Baba’s (Father Arslan) legacy through his “wisdom” drip by drip; the one who has transmitted the sacred legacy to the four corners of the world with Khorasan saints; the one who has greatly contributed to the development and enrichment of our language by writing his “wisdom” in Turkish; “The Sage of Turkistan,” The Great Saint, the leading poet...
What is known about the life of Ahmet Yesevi is based on anecdotes. According to the available information, he was born in a county, known as Sayram, in the city of Çimkent, while some other sources indicate that he was born in the city of Yasi, the modern name of which is Turkistan. Although his date of birth is not definitely known, it is accepted that he was born in 1093, and he died in 1166 at the age of 73.
His father was İbrahim Ata (Sheikh İbrahim), one of the famous sufis of Sayram, and his mother was Ayşe Hatun, the daughter of Sheikh Musa from Sayram. When he was seven years old, he lost his mother, and then his father. He was brought up by his elder sister, Gevher Fiehnaz.
Ahmet from Yasi was first educated by his father, and his spiritual education was given by Arslan Baba, the famous sufi of the age, in Yasi. He completed his spiritual training near Yusuf Hamdani in Bukhara, and upon Hamdani’s death, he became the khalif in 1160. Then, he came back to Yasi, and he spent his remaining days as a spiritual and an ethical guide to people.
When he was 63, he became a recluse in an underground cell that he had built in the yard of his dervish lodge, and he died in his cell. His mausoleum is in the city of Turkistan.
Yahya Kemal points to the significance of Ahmet Yesevi in Turkish history by stating, “when you search for who Sifu Ahmet Yesevi is, you will find out that our nationality lies within him”.
Ahmet Yesevi, the leading poet of mystic Turkish folk poetry, composed his poems in quatrains, a traditional Turkish verse form, using syllabic meter and plain Turkish. His poems, called “Wisdom,” were collected in Divan-ı Hikmet (The Book of Wisdom), and they played a major role in spreading out Islam among the Turkish people.