Üsküdarli Haşim Baba 1718-1782
by A. Yilmaz Soyyer
Al-Shaykh al-Sayyid Hashim Mustafa al-Uskudari al-Jalwati (more commonly known as Üsküdarli Haşim Baba) was born in the Istanbul suburb of Üsküdar in 1718. He had inherited his spiritual position from his father Yusuf-i Bandırmavi. Haşim Baba was a descendent of Shaykh Safiuddin Ardabili and the seventh Shi’i imam, Musa al-Kazim, both physically and through his Sufi lineage. His family lineage (as it is found written in the introduction to his Divan) is as follows:
Uskudari Mahmud Efendi
Mehmed Fena’i Efendi
Shaykh Veliyuddin al-Mujahid al-Tophanevi
Shaykh Hamid al-Moravi al-Bandırmavi
Shaykh Al-Sayyid Yusuf-i Pir-i Sani al-Bandırmavi
Shaykh Al-Sayyid Hashim Mustafa al- Uskudarî al- Celvetî
Haşim Baba was not only a shaykh of the Celvetî Order but he held ijâzets (licenses) in the Melami and Bektashi Orders as well. This is clearly written in the first and the last pages of his Divan (written in established Melamî fashion) elucidating the nature of the spiritual journey (sulûq) through an explanation of the hadarât-i hams (five manifestations of God to man). Bedri Noyan Dedebaba indicated that Hashim Baba’s ijâzet to be a baba in the Bektashi Order was given to him as teberruken (for the sake of blessings).
Fortunately all of Haşim Baba’s khalifahs (deputies/successors) are mentioned by name in a Bektashi erkan-nâme (manual of ritual) and is worth quoting here in full:
“Death date of Shaykh Hamid Efendi al-Moravî: 1139 Hijrah [1726CE]. Death date of Yusuf Efendi al-Bandırmavî: 18th of Rabi’ ul-Awwal 1165 Hijrah, on Friday, at 9 o’clock, [2nd of February 1752CE]. Death date of Hashim Efendi al-Uskudarî: 19 Shawwal 1197 Hijrah, on Tuesday [9th of September 1783CE]. Death date of Mehmed Efendi who is son of Haşim Efendi, 20 Rabi’ ul-Akhir 1188 Hijrah, on Tuesday [6th of June 1774CE]. He was buried his Pir Yusuf Efendi’s shrine. Safiuddin son of Mehmed Efendi: his birth date was the 17th of Jumada al-Akhir 1173 Hijrah, on a Tuesday at 7 o’clock [12th of November 1759CE]; His death date was 1233 Hijrah . He lies buried in Manisa. He took his solemn pledge (bay’at) to Haşim Efendi. Al-Haj Galib Efendi son of Mehmed Efendi was born in 1175 Hijrah [1817CE]. His death date was in 1247 Hijrah [1831 CE]. He likewise too his bay’at with Haşim Efendi). The birth and death dates of Mehmed Muhsin Efendi son of Mehmed Efendi are unknown. Huseyin Jevad Efendi son of Mehmed Efendi died on Monday, at 9 o’clock on the 19th of Ramazan 1197 Hijrah [8th of August 1783 CE]. Shaykh Abdurrahim Selamet Efendi, who is the son of Safiuddin Efendi, was born in the year 1196 Hijrah [1781 CE]. He was promoted to the station of shaykh in 1247 Hijrah . His death date is Tuesday the 21st of Ramazan at 8 o’clock in the year 1266 Hijrah [7th of July 1858 CE]. He gave his bay’at to Haşim Efendi.”
After the death of Haşim Baba, his Celvetî-Melami Order continued to function for a period of time. His Bektashi bond continued by way of his son Mehmed Asim Efendi. Üsküdarli Haşim Baba is deemed a kutub (a saint of the spiritual axis) by Babagan Bektashis in Istanbul. His one of the descendants, Fahir Baba Ataer, was also Bektashi baba.
One of Uskudari Haşim Baba’s better-known writings is Anqa-i Mashrik (Pheonix of the East). It is said that this text was deeply influenced by Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi’s Anqa-i Mughrib , due to the similarities in the titles. The claim is made that Hashim Baba had originally read the title of Ibn Arabi’s book as Anqa-i Maghrib (Phoenix of the West) instead of Anqa-i Mugrib (Phoenix of the Strangers). Of course this can be an understandable misreading for someone not familiar with the Arabic language. However Haşim Baba was well versed in Arabic and he studied Ibn Arabi’s works in their original.
The Bektashi leanings of Haşim Baba are quite evident in the Anqa-i Mashrik. He praised Haji Bektash while criticizing Jalaluddin Rumi. He described Rumi as a majzub (an ecstatic Sufi). Haşim Baba also explained the term hidayet (“true guidance”). Hidayet can be transmitted solely via the chain of Ahl ul-Bayt (the Prophet’s family and their descendents). The knowledge of Hidayet is a mystic secret. According to Haşim Baba this mystic secret is subtly transmit from master (shaykh or baba) to disciple (murid) through the use of symbolic letters. It is to be noted here that Hashim Baba does not expound upon the teachings of Fadlullah Astarabadi, founder of the Hurufi movement. Imam Ali expounded on the Qur’anic secrets through the science of letters. According to Hashim Baba, a person can not comprehend these Qur’anic secrets unless he gains this knowledge from the successors of Muhammad and Ali.
Haşim Baba was a distinguished mystic poet. In 18th century there are two Bektashi poets who wrote poems in the devriye (cyclical) style: Giritli Ali Baba and Üsküdarli Haşim Baba. A devir (ar. dawr) is an allusion “to the cycle of existence as it passes out from the Divine Reality down through the arc of descent and then back into the godhead in the form of perfect man.” As a result any poem that contains such references is termed devriye (cyclical). Reaching the level of perfect man (i.e. Insan-i Kâmil) is the ultimate purpose of all Sufis and to do so many have sought out a guide, or murshid. Haşim Baba was once such murshid. He even wrote in his divan that he was the Sahib-i Zaman, the Master of the Era, as well as a Kutub.
Haşim Baba was cherished and admired by Bektashis but his attachment to the order eventually caused his alienation from the Celvetîs, who were known for their strict adherence to orthodox Sunni Islam. It was noted that the main Celvetî center in Üsküdar (the Aziz Mahmud Hudayi Tekke) refused to offer his janazah (funeral prayer) when he died in 1782 CE/1197 Hijrah. Haşim Baba’s headstone was reconstructed in modern times and it is engraved a eulogy which states in part:
“Hu Dost! Here is the treasured shaykh of Graceful [a epithet of the Bektashi Order], the relief of those who seek remedy, Pivot of the Universe, Servant of the poor ones, Companion of the Court, Descendent of the Messenger and the People of the Mantle, Hazret-i Seyyid Haşim Baba.”
Ruh-u revan-i shad-i handan olsun! May Allah grant contentment and happiness on his soul!