Research Article

DOI :10.26650/di.2021.32.963319   IUP :10.26650/di.2021.32.963319    Full Text (PDF)

A Dervish in Yunus Emre’s Conception

Mehmet Necmeddin Bardakçı

Sufism aims to perpetuate social values by inculcating high moral standards in individuals. The character education of Sufism accords great importance to moral values. Sufis adopt the ideal of living according to the Prophet’s principles of excellence. They abandon negative traits, such as hypocrisy, envy, and arrogance, and build virtues, such as sincerity, patience, gratitude, and contentment. Ethical practices are precious; thus, Sufism instructs individuals to imbibe good morals and experience social virtues. Yunus Emre combined Khorasan’s comprehension of reproach, ecstasy, and love with the practical and ethics-oriented Sufi understanding of Turkestan. He also emphasized the preservation of moral virtues. His poetry describes metaphysical issues such as love, human perfection, life-death, and existence-nonexistence based on divine love and morality. Yunus Emre symbolizes love and tolerance and defines the dervish as a lover of God, renunciant, and Sufi. To be a dervish is to relinquish self-love, embody humility and self-sacrifice, and not belittle or hurt anyone. A dervish is someone who acts in kindness, makes others happy with a smile, and protects humanity by recognizing that “to keep one life alive is to keep all lives alive.” Being a dervish represents a method of self-discipline; it denotes the process of constructing a new self by removing evil from the heart and replacing it with virtue. A true dervish practices daily self-reflection and thus realizes death before dying.

DOI :10.26650/di.2021.32.963319   IUP :10.26650/di.2021.32.963319    Full Text (PDF)

Yunus Emre ve Derviş Olmak

Mehmet Necmeddin Bardakçı

Tasavvuf, İslâmiyet’in ahlâk anlayışını yaşatmaya çalışan, nazariyeden çok amele önem veren bir disiplindir. Tasavvufun şahsiyet eğitiminde ahlâkî değerlerin önemi büyüktür. Hz. Peygamber’in güzel ahlâkını yaşamayı ülkü edinen sûfîler, riya, haset, kibir ve kendini beğenme gibi kötü hasletleri terk ederek sıdk, ihlâs, sabır, şükür ve kanaat gibi güzel erdemleri kazanırlar. Çünkü tasavvuf, bireyleri güzel ahlâkla terbiye edip toplumda erdemlerin yaşanmasını gaye edinmiştir. Zira ahlâkî değerler yaşandıkları zaman anlamlı olur. Horasan’ın melâmet, cezbe ve aşk anlayışları ile Türkistan’ın pratik ahlâk odaklı tasavvuf anlayışını terkip eden Yunus Emre de ahlâkî erdemlerin yaşatılmasına önem vermiştir. Şiirlerinde aşk, insan-ı kâmil, hayat-ölüm, varlık-yokluk gibi metafizik konuları ilâhî aşk ve ahlâk temeline oturtarak anlatmıştır. Sevgi ve hoşgörü sembolü olan Yunus Emre’nin düşüncesindeki derviş, Allah’ı seven âşık, zâhid ve sûfî gibi terimlerle eşanlamlıdır. Derviş olmak; benlik sevdasından vaz geçip alçakgönüllü ve fedakâr olmak, hiç kimseyi küçük görmemek ve incitmemektir. Derviş; iyilik yapan, bir tebessümle gönül alan, bir canı yaşatmayı bütün canları yaşatmak gibi görüp insanlığa sahip çıkandır. Nefsi terbiye yöntemi olan dervişlik; kalpten kötülükleri silip iyilikleri yerleştirmek suretiyle yeni bir benlik inşa sürecidir. Gerçek derviş, her gün aynanın karşısına geçip nefis muhasebesi yaparak ölmeden önce ölme şuurunu yakalayandır.

Keywords: Yunus Emredervişaşkedepahlâktevazu



Sufism aims to immortalize social values by nurturing individuals who evince high moral standards. Numerous Sufis have thus defined Sufism as morality and decency. To be a dervish is to manifest the principles of the Qur’an embodied in the Prophet, to look at life through the lens of love and tolerance, to relinquish self-love, to be humble and altruistic, and not to hold anyone in disrespect or hurt anybody. A dervish attains the trust of both friends and enemies and does not cause any anxiety about his sense of fairness. A dervish protects humanity by recognizing that “to keep one life alive is to keep all lives alive” and also understands that “to kill someone is to set the world on fire.” Yunus Emre owned all these qualities, and his poetry expressed the importance of being a virtuous person and a good Muslim.

Yunus Emre Era

Yunus Emre lived between the second half of the 13th century and the first half of the 14th century. The country was catapulted into if great depression at the time of his birth because of two events in Anatolia: the Babaîler Revolt in 1240 and the Kösedağ War between the Anatolian Seljuk State and the Mongols in 1243. These two events disrupted Anatolian unity and destroyed peace. Yunus Emre thus lived at a time of disintegrating accord and declining peace and stability in Anatolia. Conversely, at this time, Anatolia had become a place where the Sufi comprehension of Khorasan, Turkestan, Iraq, and Damascus blended with the Andalusian conception of Sufism. Numerous Sufis such as Evhaduddin Kirmani, Ibnu’lArabi, Necmeddin Dâye, Hacı Bektaş-ı Velî, Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi, and Sadreddin Konevî were active in Anatolia. The Sufi movements Anatolia witnessed in the 13th century exhibited great diversity. These groups encompassed many Sunni and non-Sunni elements and may be classified into two groups: those operating in urban and rural areas.

Yunus Emre’s Sufi teachings were shaped within the Yesevi and Rifai traditions. His sheikh, Tapduk Emre, obtained his authorization from Sinan Ata, a Turkish sheikh from Bukhara. Sinan Ata belonged to the Yesevi tradition and arrived in Anatolia during the Mongol invasion. Besides Sinan Ata, Tapduk Emre also attained his autorization from Sari Saltuk and Barak Baba. Mahmud Hayrani, the sheikh of Sari Saltuk, was authorized by the Rifai sect. Barak Baba was Sari Saltuk’s disciple; hence, Yunus Emre was a dervish who belonged to Rifai and Yesevi sects.

Yunus Emre and Dervishness

Fundamentally, Sufism and dervishness is to value human beings and to love the created for the Creator’s sake. The richness of the heart, generosity, getting along with people, being aware of the innermost phenomena, never rejecting truth, being sincere and honest, valuing every moment, and existing without worldly illusions also constitute attributes of a dervish. These qualities ensure that the dervish’s words and deeds comply with the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and enable a dervish to ignore faults in people, forgive mistakes, and remain decent and moral. Dervishness is inappropriate for people whose words, behaviors, and attitudes do not comply with the Book and Sunnah. Yunus Emre chose the path of love, valued love above all else, and regarded it as a divine gift. The path of love and ecstasy is deemed in Sufism to be the shortest route to Allah; however, this path poses many dangers and difficulties. The mind guides people to a certain point on the path of love. The process, through which harmonic Sufi experiences, such as tawhîd, fenâ, and cem, are encountered occurs through love and not reason. Yunus’s understanding of love and tolerance was not limited to his own neighborhood or to Muslims; rather, it encompassed everyone. Therefore, his poetry recommended kindness, honesty, and cooperation for all Muslims without discriminating between sects and dispositions.

Yunus Emre combined Khorasan’s understanding of reproach, ecstasy, and love with the human-oriented Sufism conception of Turkestan. He also emphasized the preservation of moral virtues. His poems described metaphysical issues such as love, human perfection, life-death, and existence-nonexistence based on divine love and morality. Yunus Emre symbolized love and tolerance and defined the dervish as a lover of God. A dervish has open eyes, a pure heart, and ears in love with the word of God and the Prophet. According to Yunus Emre, the identity of a dervish represents a method of self-discipline through worship, dhikr, evrad, and self-denial. The being of a dervish denotes the process of building a new self by removing evil from the heart and replacing it with virtue. The true dervish attains the consciousness of death before dying by practicing daily self-reflection. Being a dervish means sacrificing the self for the sake of friends, living without compromising righteousness and honesty, and being generous and good as a person. Only those with good hearts can become dervishes; dervishness cannot be achieved by wearing a patched cardigan or crown. Yunus Emre underscored that the identity of a dervish requires the internalization of qualities such as honesty, sincerity, justice, love, tolerance, self-sacrifice, and generosity. Dervishes set righteous examples for society through their conduct.

Yunus Emre stressed that negative emotions such as hypocrisy, envy, and arrogance represented major obstacles in the spiritual journey of a disciple. He cared about the struggles disciples experienced with their souls to achieve the stage of fenafillah. He asserted that the lives of disciples who accounted for their actions at the end of every day would be easily accountable on the day of judgment. However, he also stated that some disciples erred by ignoring this fact.

Yunus Emre’s Critique of Dervishness

Yunus Emre highlighted the impossibility of God’s love flowing into the hearts of people who forgot true Sufism, even if such people remained within the premises of the  dervish lodge. He attracted attention to the dangers of claiming dervishness, because he believed individuals should censure themselves and keep their egos under control even when they transitioned to more elevated levels of Sufism. He noted that it was important for dervishes to avoid pride by not boasting about the acts of worship they performed. Yunus Emre warned that every person, whether scholar or ascetic, could be trapped into psychological disorders such as arrogance or hypocrisy; thus, every individual must remain careful. He indicated that people could not escape the clutches of the nafs, no matter how old they were. He thus advised that everyone should be vigilant against the frauds of the nafs.


Moral values become meaningful only when they are practiced. A dervish is a person who lives by moral virtues. The dervish is honest and sincere, patient and determined, tolerant and friendly. Yunus stated that a dervish completely deprives himself of worldly affairs, does not pursue his own interests, and does not act out of greed for rank and position. The dervish absorbs himself in the love of Allah and thus does not mingle love with hypocrisy. The dervish does not place value on his individual life and disregards both worlds. He does not worship for fear of hell or to attain blessings from heaven; he worships solely for his love of Allah.

In brief, according to Yunus Emre, dervishness is defined by the existence of a virtuous individual who achieves the truth by cleansing the soul of all evil and constructing a self in the light of the Qur’an and Sunnah. To be a dervish is to activate spiritual faculties that are potentially present in human nature and to have nothing but Allah in the heart.

This study overviews the concepts of Sufi and Sufism, emphasizing Yunus Emre’s conception of dervishness. 

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Bardakçı, M.N. (2021). A Dervish in Yunus Emre’s Conception. darulfunun ilahiyat, 32(1), 107-127.


Bardakçı M N. A Dervish in Yunus Emre’s Conception. darulfunun ilahiyat. 2021;32(1):107-127.


Bardakçı, M.N. A Dervish in Yunus Emre’s Conception. darulfunun ilahiyat, [Publisher Location], v. 32, n. 1, p. 107-127, 2021.

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Bardakçı, Mehmet Necmeddin,. A Dervish in Yunus Emre’s Conception.” darulfunun ilahiyat 32, no. 1 (Jun. 2022): 107-127.

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Bardakçı MN. A Dervish in Yunus Emre’s Conception. darulfunun ilahiyat [Internet]. 30 Jun. 2022 [cited 30 Jun. 2022];32(1):107-127. Available from: doi: 10.26650/di.2021.32.963319


Bardakçı, MehmetNecmeddin. A Dervish in Yunus Emre’s Conception”. darulfunun ilahiyat 32/1 (Jun. 2022): 107-127.


Published Online29.12.2021


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