The Sheikh and the Sultan.. this is how the Sufis contributed to building the Ottoman Empire

Today, through hundreds of studies, literature and sources that still reveal more lights on the history of the Ottoman Empire, in all its political, economic, social, religious and cultural aspects, we know that Sufism played a major role in the course of the development of this state from its inception until the last moments of its downfall. Sufism has existed before the advent of the Ottomans, even before the Seljuks in Anatolia, as well as the coming of the Turks to the Middle East.

The ancient Sufis played wider roles than the roles that some readers or researchers have limited to asceticism, austerity, and distance from the adornment of worldly life. Therefore, when the ribas were established to resist the attacks of the Eastern Christian Byzantine state in Anatolia and North Africa, these ligaments over time turned into gathering places for mystics.

This was the case with the Sufi sects in Seljuk and Ottoman Anatolia, which were known as “brothers” or “fraternities”, as they had a great impact not only in spreading good morals among the classes of craftsmen, makers, farmers and other people of the middle classes in those eras, but was Its influence is also evident in the context of the expansion of the Ottoman Empire, from the phase of the emirate to the sultanate to the global empire.

What are the “fraternities” of Anatolia? From where did she get her mystical and moral knowledge? What are the most prominent of these fraternities that were able to contribute alongside the regular Ottoman armies in expanding the area of ​​Islam and spreading it in Western Anatolia / Turkey as well as Eastern Europe (Al-Rumli)?

Al-Futwa Foundation

There are those who trace the beginnings of the concept of Sufism to the people of character among the poor Companions who used to spend the night in the Prophet’s Mosque, hardly finding anything to support their needs, and they wore coarser clothes, which is wool, so that some of the followers took that as a year of worship and austerity. The development of the Sufi movement was parallel to the development of jurisprudence and Islamic sciences from the tenth century AD to the fourteenth, where the Sufis melted their thought and practice in the crucible of other forms of faith and worship. .

There are different opinions about the emergence of the Anatolian fraternities, which worked to tighten the bonds of morality and social solidarity for centuries, and had a role in expanding the territory of the Ottoman Empire later. -622 AH), a movement that Sultan Nasser al-Abbasid wanted to exploit the Sufi call to strengthen the political position of the caliphate.

The fatwa in the language the adjective “boy” was derived from him as manhood from the man, and the boy in the language is the young youth, and the fatwa was borrowed since the days of ignorance for courage and the boy was borrowed for the brave, and two authentic meanings were attached to “boy” which are courage and generosity, then the meanings of fatwa expanded with the passage of time until It became a sign of chivalry and altruism, until it became famous on the authority of Muawiyah bin Abi Sufyan – may God be pleased with them – saying: “The fatwa is to expand on your brother from your own money and do not covet his money, and do justice to him and do not demand fairness, and you are subordinate to him and do not ask that he be subordinate to you, and you tolerate Do not dry it out, and weigh it down a little with its righteousness, and take whatever comes from you to it.”

And if the fatwa split into sects later on, especially the fatwa of the brave, the two, and the juveniles, and they are similar to the marginalized groups of criminals whose criminality was mixed with a spirit of tolerance and compassion among them, then the Sufi fatwa continued in its old state of good reputation, peace and purity, and they are the ones who He believed in them and took care of them, the Abbasid Caliph Al-Nasir Li Din Allah, and he belonged to their way, and he was sending to the kings and princes of the neighboring countries the necessity of belonging to the Fatwa doctrine, as Ibn Abi Al-Dam Al-Hamawi (d. A fatwa was issued to him – that is, he followed the method of the fatwa for him – “a creation of kings and dignitaries.”

And if the Abbasid Caliph Al-Nasir Li-Din Allah wanted, behind his fatwa, to strengthen his political position in Iraq and the surrounding world by redefining the relations of solidarity, brotherhood and compassion among members of Islamic societies, then the Anatolian Brotherhood appeared thanks to the embassy sent by the Abbasid Caliph Al-Nasir to the Seljuk Sultan Ghiath al-Din Kikhusraw was the first to accept this invitation, and opened the way for fatwas and fraternities in his country.

There is an opinion that says that the attack of the Mongols on Anatolia since the year 643 AH / 1245 AD, only twenty years after the death of the Abbasid Caliph, has led to a kind of confusion, fragmentation and internal strife among the Turkmen themselves, as well as the weakness of the Seljuks of Rome or Anatolia and their subsequent subordination to the Mongols, who perished On the Abbasid state in Iraq in the year 656 AH / 1258 AD, the entry of Sufism and the establishment of these fraternities through angles and ligaments was the self-power factor to restore moral and fraternal cohesion among the sons of Anatolia. In the following century, specifically in the fourth decade of the eighth century AH, the famous traveler Ibn Battuta visited the country of the Roman “Anatolia”, and his descent was after the breakup of the Seljuk decade and the fragmentation of Anatolia between the Turkmen families or “the Anatolian bays”.

Sultans and fraternities

Ertugrul Ghazi, the father of Osman Ghazi, the founder of the Ottoman Empire, was most likely associated with the brotherhood, and gave it an exaggerated esteem and respect.

During his trip, Ibn Battuta provided us with important information about these fraternities and the definition of the “brother” who became the guide and spiritual father of his friends from the owners of the industrial, craft or commercial path. Ibn Battuta says: “One brother is my brother, according to the word brother if the speaker adds it to himself. And they are in all the Roman Turkmen countries (Anatolia), in every country, city, and village, and there is no one in the world like them that celebrates strangers more than people and is quicker to feed food, fulfill their needs, and take at the hands of the darkness. And the strippers and they give him precedence over themselves, and that is the fatwa as well, and he builds a corner and puts in it mattresses and saddles, and what he needs from the machines… And they are called young men, and their front is called as we mentioned the brother, and I have not seen in the world more beautiful actions than them.”

Ertugrul Ghazi, the father of Osman Ghazi, founder of the Ottoman Empire, was most likely associated with the brotherhood, and gave it an exaggerated appreciation and respect. Bali, who was born in the Kerman region, south of Konya, and received his education in the Levant in the first half of the seventh century AH. He heads the brotherhood or fraternity organization in that region, and Othman was even associated with a lineage relationship with this sheikh when he married him to his daughter, and he was his spiritual inspirer, moral teacher and political guide as well.

Sheikh “Edeh Bali” was not alone in the unique Sufi personality on whose foundations the solid relationship between the Sultan and the sheikhs was built throughout the Ottoman Empire. He may have been close to the influence of Sheikh Eddeh Bali in the course of the Ottoman Empire, such as: Sheikh Sadr al-Din Qonavi, Maulana Jalal al-Din al-Rumi, Tursun Faqih, Akhey Ifran, and Sheikh Baba Elias; Ghazi Osman and the sultans who came after him realized the extent of their influence in politics and society, and with their support Orkhan bin Osman completed the conquest of Bursa, then went to Rum Eli (Eastern Europe and the Balkans). Scholars and sheikhs such as Mullah Dawood al-Qaysari, Jandarli Qara Khalil, Qarajah Ahmad and Kekli Baba had a large share of these conquests.

And when Sultan Murad recorded the great championships in the Battle of Kosovo (Kosova), he relied in addition to his commanders such as “Uranus” and “Qatlu Bey”, and to the great “Brothers” or “Brothers”, and scholars such as “Mullah Muhammad Jamal al-Din Aq Saraili” Mulla Fanari, Koca Effendi, and his grandson, Sultan Bayezid, who was able to conquer more Balkan countries. When he won the Battle of Negbolu, he was not only joined by his great military commanders such as Ali Pasha and Timurtash Pasha, but also participated with him. Senior Brothers, Sufis, and Scholars, led by Sheikh Hamid bin Musa Al-Qaysari, Sheikh Muhammad Bukhari, Yunus Emre and others.

Fraternal sects… and women’s participation

The great historian Muhammed Fuad Kobrilli (d. 1966 AD) asserts in his book “The Resurrection of the Ottoman State” that among all the other Sufi and social sects of Anatolia, the boys had significant and influential roles in the establishment of the Ottoman Empire, and even in the establishment of the Janissary army. Cobrilli, based on the history of Ashiq Zada ​​Pasha (d. 1484 AD), known as “The Manaqib of the History of the Othman Family”, presents four sects of these fraternities that had great credit for joining the Ottoman armies during the expansion and conquest operations, whether in western Anatolia or Rumeli, until the conquest of Istanbul and beyond.

Returning to the Ottoman historian Ashiq Pashazade, we will find that these four sects are: “Ghazian Rum” or the heroes and invaders of the Romans, and they were known before the Ottoman era as “Alb”, and “Al-Balar” means heroes, and they are those who sacrificed themselves for the sake of their homeland, nation and religion and did not They are reluctant to sacrifice themselves and their money in this way. Then, “My brother, my formations” or “brotherhood organizations”, which appeared after the Mongol occupation of Anatolia in the middle of the thirteenth century AD, and these Sufi organizations were based on the reunification of people and the spread of brotherhood and love among them, and on top was the great mystic inspirer “Maulana Jalal al-Din al-Rumi.” And the famous Sufi poet Yunus Emre and Akhi Ifrane, the latter strongly contributed to the establishment of the fraternities’ corners throughout the country.

“Akhey Ifrane” strongly contributed to the establishment of the corners of the fraternities in the length and breadth of the country.

There are two other sects mentioned by Ashiq Zadeh Pasha in his history, which are the “Bagian Rum” or “Rum Bagilari” sect, which means “Sisters of the Rum” or “Sisters of Anatolia,” an institution that brought together Anatolian women in the late Seljuk era and early Ottoman era under the umbrella of Sufism and angles. It is noteworthy that this group contributed militarily to the early Ottoman wars against the Byzantines, and the scholar Fuad Kobrilli describes it as the “women’s organization” to which the pole of the Bektashi Order in Anatolia was associated, Haji Bektaş, and the historian Ashiq Zadeh Pasha pointed out this explicitly in his history.

As for the last sect, it was “Abadlan al-Rum” or “Adlan al-Rum” or “Adlan al-Rum”, and it was called the Sufis and Dervishes of Khorasan who came and settled in Anatolia, and participated themselves – despite their poverty and poverty – in the Ottomans’ wars and expansions in Western Anatolia or Turkey, Eastern Europe and even Central, and these were known as the attracted dervishes. Issam al-Din Tashkarizadeh told us in his history known as “The Nu’mani Sisters in the Scholars of the Ottoman State” about some of these substitutes or dervishes who participated in the battles of the Ottoman sultans, including Sheikh Majzoub Musa Abdal, who “attended with Sultan Orkhan the conquest of Bursa (Bursa), and his tomb famous there.

Thus, Sufism and Sufis led, men and women from all the different Sufi orders at the time, from the Khulwiyya, the Rifa’i, the Mawlawi, the Wafa’, the Bektashi, and others, whose mainstay was the loyal dervishes who joined different sects, all of which were “brothers” and the angles and ligaments of Anatolia; A pivotal and pivotal role in expanding the territory of the Ottoman Empire and spreading Islam in western Turkey and eastern and central Europe. Perhaps for this reason, the relationship between the Ottoman Empire and Sufism, or between the Sheikh and the Sultan, remained closely related until its last days.



  1. Ira Mervyn Lapidus: A History of Islamic Societies 1/260.
  2. Ibn al-Fawti: Summarizing the Dictionary of Names 4/386.
  3. Introduction of Mustafa Jawad to the book Al-Fatwa by Ibn Al-Mimar Al-Baghdadi, p. 52.
  5. The Journey of Ibn Battuta 2/163.
  6. Schmichergil: History of the Othman dynasty 1/50.
  7. The unknown Ottoman Empire p. 55.
  8. Previous p56.
  9. Muhammed Fuad Kobrilli: The Establishment of the Ottoman Empire, p. 162.
  10. The unknown Ottoman Empire p. 57.
  11. AŞIKPAŞAZADE, History of the Ottoman Sons, p 571.
  12. Tashkbarizadeh: The Nu’mani Sisters in the Scholars of the Ottoman Empire, p. 12.

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