Hazrat Sulaymān Efendi (Q.S.) completed his primary education in Rushdiyah Maktab (school) in Silistra, in the year 1902. That same year, he started Satirli Madrassa in Silistra where he acquired basic Arabic sciences. Then, he was sent to Istanbul by his father (1907) in order to complete his studies. As his father sent him to Istanbul, he advised as follows: ‘My son, if you study well in Usul al-Fiqh (1), you will be firm in your religion. If you study well in Ilm al-Mantiq (2) you will be strong in your knowledge.
Hazrat Sulaymān Efendi (Q.S.) continued his lessons in Istanbul in the circle of (3) Hamdi Efendi of Bafra, who was a well-known ālim (scholar) of the time, among the Dars al-Āms of Fātih. Meanwhile, he was residing at Hāfiz Ahmed Pasha Madrassah, which was also situated, in Fātih. The lessons were taking place in Bahr-i Sefid Cifte Bas Kursunlu (Sahni Semān) (4) which was a branch of Fātih Madāris. He completed all the courses of Ahmed Hamdi Efendi and received ijāzah (5) (graduated) from him ranking first in his class, in 1913.
He enrolled in Dār al-Khilāhaf al-Aliyyah Madrassah of Qism al-Āli (6) which started its academic activities in October 1914. He was exempted from first two years of the program and directly started from the third year for his studies. He graduated from this madrassah in 1916. (The name of Qism al-Āli, the third and fourth years of which take place in Fātih, was then changed in to “Sahn” in 1917).
On the 30th September 1916, he enrolled in the Tafsīr and Hadīth Faculty of Madrassah Al Mutahassisīn (6) which was a doctoral program consisting of a 3 year course. (Madrassah Al Mutahassisīn, which was active at Abdulhamid al-Awwal Madrassah, near Yavuz Sultan Salim Mosque in Fātih, later had its name changed to “Madrassah Al Sulaymāniyah”, in 1917)
Having successfully completed the first two years, he and twenty of his colleagues were offered by Sultan Wahiduddīn the post of Shaykh al-Islām and they qualified to teach in the madāris of Istanbul, thus all became dars al-ām. On the 27th May 1919, Sulayman Efendi (Q.S.) graduated from the Tafsīr and Hadīth Faculty of Madrassah Sulaymāniyah (Madrassah Al Mutahassisīn) ranking the first position.
After graduating from Madrassah al- Mutahassisīn, he passed the pre-entrance exam of Madrassah al-Qudhāt (Law faculty) ranking the first position. However, when he joyfully informed his father about his success, he received the following response:
“Sulayman, I did not send you to Istanbul so that you be doomed to hell.”
With this telegraph, his father aimed to remind him about the Hadīth Al Sharīf that reads: “Two out of three judges are in hell.”
In reply to his father, Hazrat Sulaymān Efendi (Q.S.) said: “Father, I have never intended to work as a Judge. My sole aim (by studying law) is to reach perfection in both Islamic and secular studies.” He earned the title of Dars al-ām by graduating from Tafsīr and Hadīth Faculty of Madrassah al- Sulaymāniyah. At the same time, he qualified to be a judge after graduating from Madrassah al- Qudhāt (Law faculty), completing a four-year course (1923). Thus, he gained the highest degrees both in Islamic and Secular studies. Hazrat Sulayman Efendi (Q.S.) studied astronomy as well.
The highest mark possible in Madrassah Dar al-Klilāfah al-Aliyyah was “10” at that time. The following are the courses he had studied and their results in the third year, in Madrassah Dar al-Klilāfah al-Aliyyah, Qism al- Āli:
- Tafsīr al-Sharīf :10
- Hadīth al-Sharīf :10
- Ilm al- Fiqh :9
- Usūl al- Fiqh :10
- Khilāfīyāt (Comparative Islamic Law) :10
- Ilm al-Kalām :10
- Philosophy :10
- Law and legislation :9
- Arabic literature :10
Below are the courses he had taken and their results, in the last year of Sulaymāniyah Madrassah, from which he graduated in May 27 1919.
- Tafsīr al-Sharīf :10
- Usūl al-Hadith and Naqd al-Rijāl :10
- Hadith al-Sharīf :10
- Tabaqāl al-Qurrā and Mufassirin :10
- Risālah (Doctoral thesis) :9+2/7
Some of the courses he had taken in Madrassah al-Qudhāt as shown on his diploma:
- Roman Law
- Saqq al-Shari’
- Commercial Law
- Law of Carriage of Goods by Sea
- International Law
(1) Islamic law of jurisprudence
(3) (3) The courses in the Ottoman madāris used to be conducted while the scholar and his learners sat on the floor forming a circle.
(4) Possible spelling of the phrase in English would be “Bahr-al Safīd Chifta Bash Qurshunlu” (Sahn al-Samān)
(5) It is the name of the diploma issued at the Ottoman madāris for graduation and sometimes used in tasawwuf in the sense of spiritual consent from shaykh to his disciple to guide people.
(6) A post graduate program to specialize in Islamic sciences.