While Everything Was Changing: Sheik Mehmed Rashid Efendi and His Purely Turkish MawlidAbdullah Uğur, Ensar Karagöz
Rashid Efendi (d. 1945) witnessed the last years of the Ottoman Empire and the first years of the Republic and was a reciter of the Quran, a sheikh, and a linguist. He participated as a member in the first Turkish Language Congress while acting as the sheikh of Sertarikzâde Sufi Lodge in Eyüp, Istanbul. Although Rashid Efendi as a very prolific writer is seen to have written works in line with tradition, he also has works that he wrote after the Alphabet Reforms that he stressed as being purely in Turkish. Among these works is the mawlid Rashid Efendi titled Türkçe Doğum [The Birth of Turkish] in order not to use the actual word mawlid. Rashid Efendi tried not to include any Arabic or Persian words in this verse text in accordance with the period’s understanding of language usage. Despite all these different new features, Rashid Efendi’s mawlid is part of Türkiye’s long-standing mawlid tradition. This article will briefly discuss the biography of Rashid Efendi, introduce his mawlid titled Türkçe Doğum, of which only copy is currently known, and emphasize the connection of the work to the mawlid tradition as well as the so-called purely Turkish words used in the work.
Her Şey Değişirken: Şeyh Mehmed Raşid Efendi ve “Sırf Türkçe” MevlidiAbdullah Uğur, Ensar Karagöz
Osmanlı’nın son dönemleri ile Cumhuriyet’in ilk yıllarına tanıklık eden Raşid Efendi (ö. 1945) hem kurra hafız hem şeyh hem de bir dilci idi. Eyüp’te bulunan Sertarikzâde Tekkesi’nin şeyhliğini ifa ettiği gibi, birinci Türk Dili Kurultayı’na da aza olarak katılmıştı. Oldukça velut bir yazar olan Raşid Efendi’nin geleneği takip ederek telif ettiği eserler olmakla birlikte dil devriminden sonra ortaya koyduğu ve kendisinin de özellikle vurguladığı şekliyle “sırf Türkçe” kaleme alınmış eserleri de vardır. Bu eserler içerisinde, Raşid Efendi’nin mevlid kelimesini kullanmamak gayesiyle Türkçe Doğum diye tesmiye ettiği bir mevlidi bulunmaktadır. 11’li hece ölçüsü ile beyit esaslı kaleme alınan bu manzum metinde Raşid Efendi dönemin dil anlayışına uygun olarak hiçbir Arapça ve Farsça kelimeye yer vermediğini iddia eder. Hatta peygamberlerin isimlerini dahi Türkçe olmadıkları için anmaz. Bütün bu yeni ve değişik özelliklerine rağmen Raşid Efendi’nin mevlidi, uzun soluklu mevlit geleneğimizin bir parçasıdır. Bu makalemizde Raşid Efendi’nin kısaca biyografisine değinilerek, bugün müellif hattı tek nüshası bilinen Türkçe Doğum adlı mevlid tanıtılacak, eserin mevlid geleneği ile bağı ve eserde kullanılan Öztürkçe kelimeler üzerinde durulacaktır.
Mehmed Rashid Efendi was born in 1278/1861-1862 in the Istanbul neighborhood of Aksaray. His father was the sheikh of the Sertarikzade Sufi lodge, a Cerrahiye [Jarrahiyyah] branch of the Halveti [Khalwati] order. Rashid Efendi started his education at the Mihrişah Valide Sultan Mektebi [Mihrişah Valide Sultan Kuttab]. After that he became a hafiz in 1293/1876- 1877, he received an ijazat [certificate of authority on scripture] from the calligrapher Emin el-Eyyübi for the Naskh and Thuluth scripts. While studying different topics, Rashid Efendi succeeded his father as imam of the Gureba Hüseyin Ağa Mosque. Upon his father’s death in 1315/1897, he was appointed sheik of the Sertarikzâde Sufi Lodge. After 14 years as sheikh in the same lodge, he was removed from his position. Apart from being an imam and sheikh, Mehmed Rashid Efendi also occupied several positions in the Ottoman bureaucracy. After the closing of dervish lodges in 1925, Rashid Efendi became the second imam of the Eyüp Sultan Mosque, a position he occupied until his death on January 18, 1945. He was buried along the ridges of the Pierre Loti Hill in Istanbul’s Eyüp District.
When one looks through his biography, Rashid Efendi appears to have been an ordinary person who’d devoted his life to the Quranic sciences and to guiding people to the path of wisdom at his lodge. What is unusual about him, however, is that he was also interested in the science of languages. He attended the first Turkish Language Congress held on September 26, 1932 as a delegate and the only imam among the delegates. His works on the Turkish language did not start with the Alphabet Reform, as prior to this he had already been compiling dictionaries. With the rise of nationalism and the Sun Language Theory, Rashid Efendi found a way to show his passion for the Turkish language. He compiled a mawlid that he claimed to be purely Turkish. He based this new text on Süleyman Çelebi’s mawlid Wasilat al-Najat, one of the earliest and most influential works of the mawlid genre in Turkish. Rashid Efendi’s mawlid was actually an intralingual translation of a different new version of Süleyman Çelebi’s mawlid with a few additions. His text followed the arrangement of Süleyman Çelebi’s mawlid, starting with tawhid [unity of God], the creation of Adam, the transfer of the light of Muhammed from prophet to prophet, the ascension of Muhammad, and his munajat [supplication for the repentance of sins]. Rashid Efendi supplanted the Arabic and Persian words in Süleyman Çelebi’s mawlid with Turkish ones. For example, he changed the word shaitan to dev, which he thought must be of Turkish origin. He also derived the word zık from Chagatai to replace the word ruh [soul]. As an aggressive defender of the Turkish language, Rashid Efendi even made no mention of words such as Allah or peygamber [prophet], but instead used words from Old Anatolian Turkish such as Çalap [God] and savcu. He further conducted his work so as to find a way to not mention prophets’ names, as they were not originally Turkish, even for the name of the prophet Muhammad, with the only exception to this being the name of the mother of the Prophet Muhammed. Rashid Efendi mentioned her name as Emine because it is a Turkified version of the Arabic name Aminah. For the word ashab [followers], Rashid Efendi used yandaş, and in place of the word ummah, Rashid Efendi used ulus [nation/people], thus creating a purely Turkish text. On top of the changes he made to the language of the mawlid,
Rashid Efendi also made a few additions. For example, he added two couplets describing the story of the expulsion of Iblis from heaven. In addition, Süleyman Çelebi had compiled his book in the aruz poetic meter, while Rashid Efendi wrote his mawlid using a syllabic meter. This article probes Rashid Efendi’s motivations for compiling a mawlid purely in Turkish. With the revolutions of the Republican era, Rashid Efendi’s world had changed in a way he could never have predicted. By compiling a new mawlid, which were the most popular religious texts, this article argues that Rashid Efendi may have been trying to create a link between tradition and his world that had been remade. Regarding his works on language studies, one might also assume that with the changes in the language, he had also found a way to present his works to a larger audience. Rashid Efendi may have believed that everyone would talk purely in Turkish after the Alphabet Reform and as such tailored his works to this new audience.