Who is Sheikh Bedreddin?June 26, 2021
Sheikh Bedreddin is a famous Ottoman mystic, philosopher and kazasker who belongs to the Vahdet-i Body school of Islamic mysticism. He is known especially for his support to Musa Çelebi, whom he supported during the Interregnum of the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century, and for his management methods that evoke contemporary socialism practices.
What is known about his life is largely based on the Menakibname written by his grandson, Hafız Halil.
He was born in the town of Simavna, which is in present-day Greece. Although his exact date of birth is unknown, it is given as 1358, 1359 or 1365 in various sources. According to the Menakibname, his father came from Andalusia as an Islamic scholar, and he masterfully established himself as a Muslim Turk. Later she became a Simavna qadi. While his mother was a Christian of Greek origin, Melek Hatun was a Muslim. After Edirne was taken by the Ottomans, he settled here with his family.
Sheikh Bedreddin begins his education in Edirne with his father. He became acquainted with the science of fiqh thanks to his teacher Molla Yusuf. When his teacher dies, he goes to Bursa and takes lessons from Bursa Kadi Sheikh Mahmud, also known as Koca Efendi, who gained great fame in the fields of astronomy and mathematics. Later, he took logic and astronomy lessons from Feyzullah in Konya. Then he went to Cairo, which was the science center of the Islamic world of the period.
According to the Menakibname, he arrived in Cairo on 8 December 1382. Here he became a student of Ekmeleddin el-Bayburti, one of the famous scholars of the time, who was the friend and adviser of the Mamluk Sultan Berkuk. Sultan Berkuk appoints Bedreddin as the private teacher of his son Ferec.
During the three years he spent in Sultan Berkuk’s palace, he met Hüseyin Ahlati and was influenced by his thoughts. Berkuk offers an Abyssinian concubine to Bedreddin and Ahlati. One of these concubines, Cazibe, gave birth to İsmail, the father of Hafız Halil, the author of the Menakibname. The other concubine Mariye (Mary) assimilated Ahlati’s teaching. In his conversations with Mariye, Bedreddin says that he sees himself as the thorn of the rose: “The moment he saw a rose, he thorns himself”. He becomes Ahlati Bedreddin’s guide on the path of Sufism.
Hüseyin Ahlati sends Bedreddin to Tabriz after a while. Bedreddin, who came across Timur who was returning from the Anatolian expedition here, influenced Timur and his entourage with his knowledge. Although Timur wants him to come with him, Bedreddin does not accept this and returns to Cairo.
Ahlati declares Bedreddin his caliph just before his death. However, some of his followers react to this. Bedreddin leaves Egypt after six months. Although the Menakibname shows the reason for this departure as the desire to return to Rumelia, the opposition of the followers and the political turmoil in Egypt may also be the reasons for this decision.
Sheikh Bedreddin first goes to Aleppo and then to the lands of the Karaman and Germiyan Principalities. He is known wherever he goes. From here, it proceeds along the Menderes Valley and comes to Aydın. According to the Menakıbname, he meets Börklüce Mustafa, one of his most important disciples, in the village of Nizar on his way. It then passes to Izmir via Tire. In the Menakibname, it is told that he passed from Izmir to Chios, which was under the Genoese rule with a Christian population.
During his journey to Bursa via Kütahya and Domaniç, he met his other important disciple, Torlak Kemal, in the village of Sürme. It passes through Gallipoli to Thrace and reaches Edirne. He gathered disciples everywhere he went, from Cairo to Edirne. A few months later, he goes back to Bursa and Aydın, then stays in Edirne for seven years.
Meanwhile, the Ottoman Empire is in the Interregnum Period. He accepted the offer of Sheikh Bedreddin Musa Çelebi to become a judge and worked as a judge in Edirne for two years and made contact with wide circles. He was exiled to Iznik with his family due to a betrayal or crime. While he was in exile, his former followers, Börklüce Mustafa and Torlak Kemal, prepared an uprising against Mehmet Çelebi in separate places (Aydın and Manisa). Sheikh Bedrettin started an uprising with his followers in three different places. Börklüce Mustafa is killed while fighting with Beyazid Pasha in Karaburun and the rebellion is suppressed. Torlak Kemal is also captured in Manisa and executed by hanging there. Sultan Mehmet captured Sheikh Bedreddin, whom he saw as the leader of the rebellion, before he could reach Edirne. He is executed by his own fatwa. He is hanged as a uryan in the bazaar of Serez and is buried here. His date of death is given as 1416 or 1420 in various sources. In 1961, his bones were found in Divanyolu II. He was buried in the cemetery of Mahmut Tomb.
Börklüce Mustafa, who he took with him as a kethüda during his service as a Kazasker, returns to Aydın with Bedreddin’s exile. Here, he rebelled by gathering the villagers and poor dervishes who were not satisfied with the Ottoman administration. The center of the rebellion was the Karaburun Peninsula. Byzantine historian Dukas gives the number of rebels as 6,000, Ottoman historian Şükrullah bin Şehabettin as 4,000, and İdris-i Bitlisi as 10,000. The army of Saruhan Bey, who took action to suppress the rebellion, was defeated. Thereupon, Sultan Mehmet (I. Mehmet Çelebi or I. Mehmed) sent his son Murat and his vizier Beyazıt Pasha to the region.