Sufi Dervish Yunus Emre
"We entered the house of realization,
we witnessed the body.
The whirling skies, the many-layered earth,
the seventy-thousand veils,
we found in the body.
The night and the day, the planets,
the words inscribed on the Holy Tablets,
the hill that Moses climbed, the Temple,
and Israfil's trumpet, we observed in the body.
Torah, Psalms, Gospel, Quran -
what these books have to say,
we found in the body.
Everybody says these words of Yunus
are true. Truth is wherever you want it.
We found it all within the body."'
Who is Yunus Emre
"God is our professor and love is our academy."
"Let us love, and be loved."
-- Yunus Emre
Who is Yunus Emre? Is he one of the wandering hippies of 60's with torn
clothing? Or is he a romantic obsessed with love?
He is neither, but at the same time both. Yunus Emre was a thirteenth
century dervish from Anatolia. He is obsessed with love, but his love is
the love of a true mystic. He did wear torn clothing, a dervish robe, and
wandered about in Anatolia. He was but one of the thousands of Sufi
dervishes of Islam, but he played an outstanding role in Turkish culture,
literature and philosophy. Some writers regard him as the most important
poet in Turkish history; his poetry, language and philosophy shaped
Turkish culture and still do so.
In this short overview Yunus Emre's life, and thought, we will examine
his legend and then turn to humanist themes in his poetry. I hope that
will lead to appreciation of his works; poetry has limitless implications!
Written by Turgut Durduran, durduran@....
All Rights Reserved. Please refer to Bibliography section for sources
"I'm Yunus, mystic of sorrow.
Suffering wounds from top to toe,
In the Friend's hands I writhe in woe,
Come see what love has done to me."
Yunus Emre's life has been the subject of enormous research and debate
among both Turkish and foreign scholars. This debate has its roots in his
popularity among the Anatolian people. Hundreds of villages claim to be
his birthplace, many more claim to host his tomb, and different sources
place him in different centuries, all dying for the honor of association
with this great poet. He likely lived from AD1240-1241 to 1320-21, when
he was 82 years old. He almost certainly lived in the Karaman (Larende)
area and belonged to a family who emigrated from Horasan to the village
of Seyh Haci Ismail. The village is believed to have been founded by the
head of Yunus' family Seyh Haci Ismail when they moved to Anatolia with
his followers - "cemaat".
The rest of his life -- whether he was a wandering dervish or a Seyh of a
tekke, his tariqat (or Sufi order), his poetry, and finally his death are
all mysteries, with various sources giving various different interpretations.
I would take Sabahattin Eyoboglu's approach and try to understand Yunus
through legends about his life in Anatolia. As a popular poet, the most
important aspects of Yunus' life are not historical details, but how the
common people of Anatolia viewed his life. This is revealed very beautifully
in legends and poetry; some people even suggest that "Yunus" is actually
a school of thought in 13th century Anatolia, not a single person.
Yunus' impact on Turkish culture can be seen in various ways. During the
efforts to purify the Turkish language in the 1920's his poetry was a
prime example of the dialect of Anatolian peasants. Several authors claim
that many idioms in everyday language are actually verses from his
poetry. His philosophy, metaphysics and humanism have been examined in
various symposiums and conferences on a regular basis both in Turkey and
abroad. UNESCO named Yunus Emre one of the main cultural figures of
world, and dedicated 1991 as "The International Yunus Emre Year". His
work has been translated into several languages, and historians consider
his system of thought important for clues about thirteenth-century
Anatolia. These are just some examples of Emre's impact on contemporary
Let us now turn to the legend of Emre; after all, Yunus has told us:
"I am not at this place to dwell,
I arrived here just to depart.
I am a well-stocked peddler, I sell
To all those who'll buy from my mart."
For more info, stories, and poetry from and about Yunus Emre, go to:
More Info, Stories, Poetry and About Yunus Emre
and follow the links.