His Mission and Service
Hazrat Sulaymān Efendi (Q.S.) started his post as a Dars al- Ām from 1st of June 1920, following his graduation in 1919.
In the year 1922, he was first appointed as a Turkish lecturer for the first-year program of Ibtidā al- Khārij, which is a faculty of Madrassah Dar al-Khilāfah al-Aliyyah. Later, in 1923, he was first appointed as an Arabic lecturer (in syntax) then again as a Turkish lecturer.
At that time, on the 1st of November 1922, the caliphate was abolished. Thereafter, on the 3rd of March 1924, a new law was passed named Tawhīd al- Tadrisāt (Unification of Education). The madāris were first handed over to the Ministry of Education because of this law, and then they were totally abrogated.
After Ibtidā al-Khārij Madrassa was converted to Imam Khatīb Makātib (Schools), Hazrat Sulayman Efendi (Q.S.) resigned from his post of lecturing while keeping the post of Dars al- Ām. It was not possible then to offer Islamic Education sufficiently due to the current status quo and the strategy adopted those days.
As a consequence of the law, Tawhīd al- Tadrīsat, the scholars were left unemployed. In a gathering of 520 scholars that belonged to the “Jamīat al-mudarrisīn association”, a member of whom was Hazrat Sulayman Efendi (Q.S.) himself, he addressed them saying that current event would likely to cause the disappearance of Islamic sciences. He continued to warn them by saying: “Oh scholars, you suffice today to preserve the religion in this country. If you educate 2-3 people by teaching them Islām, at least for 50 years or for two generations, you will extend the life of Islam here. If you fail to do so, you will be accountable in the court of Allāh.”
In response, they said: “There is no livelihood in teaching anymore. Let us go to other professions that are allocated for us”.
Hazrat Sulaymān Efendi (Q.S.) said: “Gentlemen, being a religious scholar is not a means of one’s livelihood. It is rather all about being subservient to Allah (Ta’āla), His Messenger (saw), commands of his book and the propagation of his Noble religion.”
In the end, Hazrat Sulaymān Efendi (Q.S.) managed to convince some of the scholars to write a telegraph that read as follows: “We, the undersigned scholars, declare that we are ready to teach religious and Islamic sciences free of charge considering the financial straits which our government is going through as a result of surviving from such a calamity, the World War.”
However, the reply was in negative: “The Law of Tawhīd al-Tadrīsat is in effect. Anyone who violates it shall be prosecuted.”
In 1926, he visited his village, Ferhatlar for the last time and spent forty days there before he returned to Istanbul. Two years later (in 1928), he received the news of his father’s (Osman Efendi) demise.
Going through many challenges while serving the noble religion of Islam, Hazrat Sulaymān Efendi (Q.S.) explained those testing days as follows:
“There were even times when I tried to teach by offering people money equivalent to what a parliament member would earn monthly. I failed. They accepted the money and then fled, because they were scared. I was worried thinking this noble knowledge would disappear totally. Later on, Allah (Ta’āla) created reasons and I found opportunities to teach. We started with the elderly. Then, the youth followed. Now, it is moving. These are all from the bounties of Allah (Ta’āla) that are bestowed upon us.”
Being under constant police surveillance, Hazrat Sulaymān Hilmi Tunahan (Q.S.) departed from Istanbul in 1930 and hired a farm in a village of Kabakca, in Catalca, in order to teach students. Besides this, he bought the franchising rights of a company in Thrace to sell paraffin oil with a partner. He selected few among the workers on the farm and started teaching them. However, when this was detected by the military police, he left the farm and went up to the mountains in Kuskaya which was in the near vicinity. Afterwards, he hired a certain portion in the forest, in Silivri to make charcoal and while doing so teaching some students.
When this, too, was discovered in 1933, he went south, to the Taurus Mountains, in order to teach while running some dairy farms on the highlands. He also taught on intercity trains. At times when he failed to find any students, he taught his two daughters at home and gave them ijāzah.
Hazrat Sulaymān Efendi (Q.S.) continued guiding people by lecturing the crowds in relatively smaller mosques like Dogancilar, Aziz Mahmud Hudāyi, Yag Kapani, Softa Hatip, Uc Mihrapli, Kasimpasa Cami-i Kebir, Piyalepasa, Aga Mosque, Arap Mosque, Arpacilar Mosque, Asmali Mosque and Kisikli Mosque. He performed the same duties in salātin mosques (1) like Sehzādebasi, Lāleli, Fātih, Sulaymāniyah, Sultan Ahmed, Beyazid and Yeni Cāmii.
While performing such services at the mosques, he continued his main service of teaching students at places including chambers of mosques, houses and basements of flats. Among his students were young, old, professionals or working-class people.
Hazrat Sulaymān Efendi (Q.S.) was well received by masses because of his attachment to the faith of Ahl-e Sunnah Wal Jamā’ah and his heart touching lectures. He sped up his activities after 1950’s when some opportunities arose and the well-wishers among the wealthy gave some support.
As a result of the increased support, in 1951, he opened the first official Boarding Qur’an school, accommodating 25 students on the ground floor of an old mansion provided by a businessperson in Camlica, Uskudar. In the following years, he increased such learning facilities using his own house’s annex, a house next to the Cilehāne (2) of Aziz Mahmud Hudāyi (Q.S.) and renting some other places in Camlica.
At the same time, he was teaching in the European part of Istanbul at Sehzādebasi Mosque and Tastekneler (Molla Husrev) Mosque in Vefa. He was teaching imāms, muazzins and some others there.
In the past due to its comprehensive nature, it would take several years to complete the full syllabus of Islamic sciences at the Ottoman Madāris. Hazrat Sulaymān Efendi (Q.S.) completed all the courses in a short period of time considering the urgency of the situation. When criticized by people for this method, he would say:
“Gentlemen, do you think this ummah can afford to wait up to 5-10 years for the graduation of scholars while they are like in a situation in which they are flowing into the hell just like how a flood carries debris on its way. We simply give our students, the keys to knowledge, the use of which, they will open the doors to libraries and have access to read and understand the books.”
Hazrat Sulaymān Efendi (Q.S.) started his syllabus firstly with Qurān Al-Karīm and Ilm al-Hāl (Basic Fiqh). Then he taught the following books in Arabic consecutively:
- Amthilah, Binā, Maqsūd (Ilm al-Sarf)
- Awāmil, Izhār, Kāfiyah, and Molla Jāmī (Ilm al-Nahw)
- Aqāid al-Nasāfiyyah and Qasīdah Amāli (Ilm al-Kalām [Aqāid])
- Nūr al-Īdhāh, Qudūrī (Ilm al-Fiqh)
- Mukhtasar al-Manār (Ilm al-Usūl al-Fiqh)
- Īsāghūjī (Ilm-al Mantiq)
- Risālah al-Alāqah, Talkhīs al-Miftāh, Mukhtasar al-Ma’anī (Ilm al-Bayān-Ilm al-Badī’i)
In advanced, takāmul level he taught the following:
- Sharh al-Aqāid of Sa’duddīn Taftazānī (Ilm al-Kalām [Aqāid])
- Durar al-Hukkām of Molla Khusraw (Ilm al-Fiqh)
- Mirāt al-Usūl of Molla Khusraw (Ilm al-Usūl al-Fiqh)
- Majāmi’ al-Haqāiq of Khadimī (Ilm al-Usūl al-Fiqh)
- Shamsiyyah of Āli al-Dazwīnī (Ilm al-Mantiq)
He would also teach one book froom Ilm al-Farāidh, Tafsīr, Usūl al-Tafsīr, Hadīth and Usūl al-Hadīth, whenever he could. Apart from Islamic Sciences, he would inform his students about topics related to Astronomy and medicine, keeping them well informed about the progress of the time. Thus, he would give them ijāzah while equipping them well with all the necessary knowledge.
Hazrat Sulaymān Efendi (Q.S.) extended this circle of knowledge by sending his graduate students to various places in Anatolia and villages of Thrace. The students were actively involved in teaching, delivering sermons and guiding people, especially during the months of Ramadan.
In addition, he advised his students to write official exams so that they got qualifications such as Mufti, Wā’iz (preacher), imam and Qur’an teachers which enabled them to find room to serve. Not only did he provide his students with Islamic education and spiritual training, but also, he met their needs in boarding, lodging and health.
During activities of teaching and lecturing at the mosques, Hazrat Sulaymān Efendi (Q.S.) was prosecuted many times. He was called to police stations to give statements, tortured many times at Istanbul Police Headquarters, the First Department, in the cells called “tabutluk” (3)
In 1956, during one of his lectures at a mosque he said: “We are unable to help our Algerian brothers. So let us at least make duā (supplicate) for them.” Because of these words, he was again called to police station to give another statement.
In 1957, a man from Tavsanli/Kutahya organized a demonstration in Grand Mosque, Bursa, along with his backers, claiming to be “Mahdi.” Hazrat Sulaymān Efendi (Q.S.) was falsely connected with this incident. Therefore, he had to appear before the judge after spending fifty-nine days in custody when he was 69 years old. Since the incident was understood to be a fabrication and the witnesses to be false, they released him on bail on the 29th August 1957. Finally, on the 8th November, he was acquitted.
Hazrat Sulaymān Efendi (Q.S.), who sacrificed his life for teaching and guiding people, had to face various harsh defamations and incessant harassments by officials.
(1) Mosques built by the Ottoman Sultans or a member of the Royal Family
(2) Possible English spelling “Chilla-Khāna”. It is a location where a darwish secludes himself to undergo some spiritual training.
(3) It is the name of a cell where only one person can stand without moving at all.