Research Article

DOI :10.26650/iutd.973070   IUP :10.26650/iutd.973070    Full Text (PDF)

New Remarks on the Life, Intellectual Climate, and Works of Eyüb Sabri Pasha

Ömer Faruk Can

This study focuses on the life and works of Eyüb Sabri Pasha —an outstanding intellectual in the nineteenth-century Ottoman world— surveying the elegant cultural climate in which he lived as well as his distinguished entourage. The paper uncovers his article on delivering Friday sermons in Turkish, and investigates the fate of the Masjid an-Nabawi and Masjid al-Haram models. It contributes to the literature on the intellectual history of the Ottoman Empire by bringing to light the life and works of a nearly unnoticed intellectual and statesman.

DOI :10.26650/iutd.973070   IUP :10.26650/iutd.973070    Full Text (PDF)

Eyüb Sabri Paşa’nın Hayatı, Entelektüel Muhiti ve Eserleri Üzerine Bazı Yeni Bulgular

Ömer Faruk Can

Bu çalışma, 19. yüzyıl Osmanlı’sının önde gelen münevverlerinden Eyüb Sabri Paşa ve eserlerini konu edinmektedir. Makalede Paşa’nın mevcut biyografisi detaylandırılmış ve içinde yer aldığı entelektüel muhit tespit edilmeye çalışılmıştır. Ayrıca Cuma hutbelerinin Türkçe okunması tartışmaları tarihine katkı sunabilecek bir yazısı ilk kez bu makalede mercek altına alınmıştır. Paşa’nın yaptırdığı Mescid-i Nebevî ve Mescid-i Haram maketlerinin akıbeti de sorgulanmış; böylece yeterince fark edilmeyen bir aydın devlet adamının hayatı ve eserleri derli toplu bir şekilde ortaya konarak Osmanlı entelektüel tarihiyle ilgili literatüre katkı sağlanması hedeflenmiştir.


Eyüb Sabri Pasha (d. 1890), a Tanzimat intellectual and admiral, was also a prominent educator, Sufi, and historian. Despite his enlightened nature and substantial works of highquality and all-inclusive content, he has been understudied in the literature. This paper presents Eyüb Sabri’s biography, using newly available documentation and data to contextualize his contribution to the Ottoman intellectual world. It also investigates the existing cultural climate, while studying this forgotten intellectual and statesman with a more comprehensive approach.

Little is known of Eyüb Sabri’s family and childhood, except that he was enrolled in Mekteb-i Fünûn-ı Bahriye-i Şahane at the age of fifteen. His editorial dexterity was likely made clear at that point, as he was assigned clerking and teaching tasks. In 1872, the fortyyear-old Eyüb Sabri traveled to the Hejaz, and is believed to have served in the region for an extended period. However, considering other documentation and his responsibilities in Istanbul, it can be concluded that he spent roughly a year and a half on the Arabian Peninsula.

While serving as the head clerk, he taught literary composition (münşeat) at the Mekteb-i Bahriye and later, undertook the directorship of Kasımpaşa’s Mekteb-i Rüşdiye-i Bahriye secondary school. During the initial years of his directorate, the school was not able to accomplish its mission, as the graduate turnout was lesser than expected.

He was a member of several commissions, starting with The Navy’s Orphan Funds Investigation Commission (Bahriye Eytam Sandıkları Tedkikat Komisyonu) and going on to The Naval Reform Commission (Islahat-ı Bahriye Komisyonu), that coordinated and carried out reforms and other naval initiatives.

During his career, he mainly worked on education, and spent considerable time on Haramain history and literature. At the age of fifty-eight, he had authored eight books totaling to thousands of pages as well as articles on a wide range of topics. His intellectual ability was drawn in part from his remarkable cultural entourage and partly due to his own investigative personality. The cultural climate was inhabited by prominent figures of the time, and thus, shaped his intellectual output and choices in the educational missions that he was devoted to. His responsibilities at the school and his works illustrate that he was passionate about nurturing that youth to be moral and well educated.

His literary works revolved around the life of Prophet Muhammad and the history and literature of the Hijaz. His magnum opus, Mir’âtü’l-Haremeyn, was mastered over the course of sixteen years that reflected in its quality, bringing the author recognition as one of the foremost historians of his period. He also contributed to newspapers with articles. The series of articles entitled Ayn-ı Zübeyde explores the history and significance of Mecca’s pivotal water supply. The Küçük Tercüman-ı Hakîkat for junior secondary school students released a series of his moral essays titled Nasîhatü’l-etfâl. In his essays, though the topics were largely embellished, they were written fluently and with tasteful style, peppered with numerous anecdotes and parables from Islamic history.

An essay published in Tercümân-ı Hakîkat on the questions of reading the Friday sermon in Turkish, argued that part of the sermon should be translated into Turkish to foster adequate understanding. His suggestion encompassed reading the verses and hadiths alongside their Turkish interpretations and translating the advice expressed in the sermon into Turkish. This point, according to him, is the most crucial task for the goal of pan-Islamism.

Besides books and articles, he also modeled the Masjid al-Haram and Masjid al-Nabawi. In many ways, the models that he managed surpass their predecessors. First, the engineers’ restoration plans were used during their construction to make them compatible with the authentic proportions of the mosques. The interior parts were given particular attention. The fate of these models is uncertain, but their traces have been followed based on three models located in Istanbul. Considering their size and the several sketches preserved in the Ottoman archives, the Masjid al-Nabawi model at Topkapi Palace might be his work.

To conclude, this study reveals Eyüb Sabri Pasha’s prominent and diverse environment, including the influence of statesmen, poets, authors, sheikhs, and journalists from many segments of society. It shows that he shares the Tanzimat generation’s concerns regarding education and writing. It also uncovers his essay on the question of the language of the Friday sermon, which is noteworthy for pioneering discussions regarding worshiping in Turkish. For the first time, this article surveys a series of papers on child education in the context of his life story. Finally, it analyzes the destiny of his Masjid al-Nabawi and Masjid al-Haram models, indicating that the former could be the model that is currently on exhibit at the Topkapi Palace. 

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Can, Ö.F. (2021). New Remarks on the Life, Intellectual Climate, and Works of Eyüb Sabri Pasha. Turkish Journal of History, 0(75), 159-189.


Can Ö F. New Remarks on the Life, Intellectual Climate, and Works of Eyüb Sabri Pasha. Turkish Journal of History. 2021;0(75):159-189.


Can, Ö.F. New Remarks on the Life, Intellectual Climate, and Works of Eyüb Sabri Pasha. Turkish Journal of History, [Publisher Location], v. 0, n. 75, p. 159-189, 2021.

Chicago: Author-Date Style

Can, Ömer Faruk,. 2021. “New Remarks on the Life, Intellectual Climate, and Works of Eyüb Sabri Pasha.” Turkish Journal of History 0, no. 75: 159-189.

Chicago: Humanities Style

Can, Ömer Faruk,. New Remarks on the Life, Intellectual Climate, and Works of Eyüb Sabri Pasha.” Turkish Journal of History 0, no. 75 (Jul. 2022): 159-189.

Harvard: Australian Style

Can, ÖF 2021, 'New Remarks on the Life, Intellectual Climate, and Works of Eyüb Sabri Pasha', Turkish Journal of History, vol. 0, no. 75, pp. 159-189, viewed 4 Jul. 2022,

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Can, Ö.F. (2021) ‘New Remarks on the Life, Intellectual Climate, and Works of Eyüb Sabri Pasha’, Turkish Journal of History, 0(75), pp. 159-189. (4 Jul. 2022).


Can, Ömer Faruk,. New Remarks on the Life, Intellectual Climate, and Works of Eyüb Sabri Pasha.” Turkish Journal of History, vol. 0, no. 75, 2021, pp. 159-189. [Database Container],


Can ÖF. New Remarks on the Life, Intellectual Climate, and Works of Eyüb Sabri Pasha. Turkish Journal of History [Internet]. 4 Jul. 2022 [cited 4 Jul. 2022];0(75):159-189. Available from: doi: 10.26650/iutd.973070


Can, ÖmerFaruk. New Remarks on the Life, Intellectual Climate, and Works of Eyüb Sabri Pasha”. Turkish Journal of History 0/75 (Jul. 2022): 159-189.


Published Online09.11.2021


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