Turkish sufi Niyazi-i Mısri commemorated in Malatya symposium
An international symposium began in the eastern province of Malatya on Friday to commemorate Niyazi-i Mısri, a leading Turkish sufi who is currently buried beneath a street on the island of Lemnos.

The symposium, titled the Third International Niyazi-i Mısri Symposium, will continue through today. The Malatya Municipality is sponsoring the event. The symposium drew many participants on its first day, including Malatya Governor Vasip Şahin, Malatya Mayor Ahmet Çakır, Lemnos Deputy Mayor Dimitris Bilotis and Celamnur Sargut, head of the İstanbul branch of the Turkish Women's Association (TÜRKKAD).

Niyazi-i Mısri was one of the most significant and major representatives of the Halwati order of Islamic Sufism who lived in the 17th century. Mısri was born in Malatya in 1618 and pursued his studies in Diyarbakır, Mardin, Kerbela, Egypt, İstanbul, Elmalı, Uşak, Kütahya and Bursa. He died in 1694 on the island of Lemnos while in exile. He is known as "Mısri" (from Egypt) because he pursed his studies primarily in Egypt. A 17th-century follower of the ideas of Ibn Arabi, Rumi and Yunus Emre, Mısri can be considered to be a synthesis of these three great Sufi leaders. He published numerous books, and about 250 of his poems were arranged into hymns. In this respect, he ranks second after Yunus Emre, who had more poems that were arranged into hymns.

Şahin, who delivered a speech at the symposium, said Mısri left a major impact on Malatya, and he contributed to Malatya's becoming a city. "Cities gain their identities from what is beneath them [who lived on its soil] but not from their streets or roads. We need to research who lived in our cities because who lived in our cities before us are the real owners of this soil," he stated.

Malatya Mayor Çakır also addressed participants at the event and said Malatya is home to many famous people. "This city raised many famous people, including men of science and culture and statesmen," he said, adding that Mısri is one of the "cultural assets of Malatya." However, he complained that most people do not know who Mısri is. "Our municipality will keep up with its efforts to introduce Mısri both to Turkey and the world," he added.

Famous for his straightforwardness, enthusiasm and his profound knowledge, Mısri supported some ideas that were not favored by some politicians of his time, and he was exiled to the island of Rhodes once and to Lemnos twice. Faced with extreme oppression from the ruling elites of his time, Mısri spent 16 years in dungeons or in custody. He died at the age of 76 while in exile and was buried with 17 kilogram hobbles on his feet. After Lemnos was lost to the Turks in 1912, Mısri fell into gradual oblivion by the people of Malatya in particular and Turkey in general, and he was only remembered in recent years. Today, there is a street built over his grave.

Bilotis said Mısri is also an "asset" for Lemnos, and Greek people would work to make future generations learn about Mısri's life and teachings.

(Cihan/Today's Zaman) CİHAN
Last Modified: 2012-11-02 20:00:02
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