Sufi tarikat Yassaviyya as an intercultural phenomenon between Turks, Iranians and Mongols

Iurii Averianov

Sufi tarikat Yassaviyya as an intercultural phenomenon between Turks, Iranians and Mongols

(60th Meeting of the PIAC, Székesfehérvár 2017)

Ahmad Yassavi is considered as a patron of all “Turkic sheiks” (mashaikh-i Turk); His Sufi community in the sources is often also referred to as Jahriya (i.e., “performing loud zikr – jahr”). The author of the Sufi compilation “Rashahat” attempted to include silsila Yassaviyya into the silsila of the brotherhood Naqshbandiya, turning it into a lateral line of the latter. The hereditary nature of succession of sheikhs in the brotherhood of Yassaviyya serves as a weighty argument against the attribution of this brotherhood to the tradition of the Khwajagan. In the 14th century and later in time our sources note significant disagreements and frictions between the communities of the Khwajagan and Yassaviyya in the territory of Maverannahr (primarily in the Bukhara Oasis).

Among the murids of Ahmad Yassavi, “Rashahat” gives out the names of Sulaiman Bakirgani (Khakim-ata), Zangi-ata, Uzun-Hasan-ata, Sayyid-ata, Isma’il-ata, Ishaqa-ata, Sadr-ata, Badr-ata, Kamal Sheikh and Hadim Sheikh. Zangi-ata lived in Shash (Tashkent). He was the grandson of Bab Arslan, served Hakim-ata, after the death of the latter married his widow Anbar-ana. He was by nature very dark skinned, almost black. Zangi-ata also left four khalifas behind him. The second khalifa Sayyid-ata, proud of his descent from the Prophet of Islam, for a long time could not reconcile himself with the will of fate, which predetermined his service to the “black, spongy” shepherd Zangi-ata.

Like Zangi-ata and Sayyid-ata, Isma’il-ata lived in the environs of Tashkent, and the local population treated him extremely unfriendly. Kamal Sheikh and Khadim Sheikh lived, apparently, at the beginning of the 15th century. The story of Kamal Sheikh mentions a special technique of dhikr, characteristic to the brotherhood of Yasaviyya, the “dhikr-saw” (dhikr-i-arra), which is condemned by a Persian speaking Sufi master, Khwaja Ahrar. All these data show that the Yasaviyya in the 14th century was present not only in Turkestan, but also in various areas of Maverannahr (Khorezm, Bukhara Oasis, Tashkent and Khujand), and its positions were strong enough in the period of later Mongolian-Chagatai rulers.