Turkish Poet Yunus Emre: The Sound of Anatolian Folk for Centuries

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Turkish poet Yunus Emre was a great Turkish thinker as well as his poet identity who has been a leading light for humanity. The poet has been guiding people for centuries with his suggestions to adopt the values. So, these values are such as patience, satisfaction, tolerance, generosity, goodness, and virtue. His main purpose in doing so is to teach and enlarge the Islam belief and humanitarian philosophy. The exact date of his birth is not clear. However, he lived in Anatolia from the mid-13th century to the first quarter of the 14th century, according to various sources.

Yunus Emre is one of the most important fathers of Turkish-Islamic folk thought. He has two works called “Risâletü’n-Nushiyye,” (1307-1308), and “Divan,”. The second work of him is composed of his poems, mostly his lovers after compiled after his death. Many scientists consider the great Sufi thinker and folk poet. He, therefore, is one of the spiritual architects of Anatolia.

Turkish Peot Yunus Emre: The Founder of Old Anatolian Turkish

Yunus Emre wrote his poems in the folk language in which he described the divine love that every believer seeks. The poet played a significant role in the formation of the dialect called “old Anatolian Turkish,”. So, this also constitutes the first phase of the historical cycle of the Turkish language.

Yunus Emre is the founder of the Old Anatolian Turkish.
Yunus Emre is the founder of the Old Anatolian Turkish.

Every year in early May, people memorize Yunus Emre with events during the Yunus Emre Culture and Art Week. However, local authorities canceled this year’s commemoration ceremony held at Yunus Emre’s tomb in the Yunus Emre neighborhood of Mihalıççık district of central Eskişehir. The reason for the cancellation is the part of measures to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

The Spiritual Doctor of Anatolian Folk for Centuries

According to Anadolu Agency (AA)’s news, Kamil Sarıtaş indicated that we must consider the Turkish poet Yunus Emre as a spiritual doctor. He, by the way, is an assistant professor at the Department of Islamic Philosophy, Faculty of Theology, at Eskişehir Osmangazi University (ESOGU). And he is also the head of Yunus Emre Research Center.

Yunus Emre was born in Sarıköy (now the Yunus Emre neighborhood) in Mihalıççık, Sarıtaş, Eskişehir district of Turkey. He furthered: “He [Yunus Emre] created Turkish Sufi literature catering to the public’s taste, and it is completely different from the Persian Sufi works. For this reason, he is the founder of Turkish Sufi literature in Anatolia. In his poems, he expressed the divine love that every believer seeks.”

A symbolic picture of Turkish dervish (Image Credit-Listelist)
A symbolic picture of Turkish dervish (Image Credit-Listelist)

The Lover Doesn’t Die…

Emphasizing that Yunus Emre lived a simple and unpretentious life, Sarıtaş noted that, with his sayings and life, the Sufi poet managed to take a special place in the hearts of everyone who has become acquainted with his works since the 13th century. Pointing out that he was very influential in Sufism with his short, concise, and effective sayings, Sarıtaş continued: “He has always been the carrier of Islam’s messages of faith, love, hope, and justice that transcend time and space. Yunus Emre, who said ‘Whoever dies is the animal, the lover does not die’ continues to remain alive and keep people alive with his thoughts, even though it has been hundreds of years since he passed away.”

The Literary Form of His Works

Yunus Emre wrote his works in the mathnawi form. This is an independent poem form with internal rhyming lines – titled “Risâletü’n-Nushiyye,”. It also includes religious and Sufi advice. “Divan”, on the other hand, consists of his poems that were widely read in Anatolia when he was alive.

Yunus Emre’s hymns have a great influence on the continued traces of Muslim-Turkish culture across a wide region stretching from Anatolia to the Balkans. He also added, “These hymns have also become the common idea and voice of the sects operating in Anatolia and Rumelia for centuries.”

Contemporaries of the Turkish Poet Yunus Emre

Yunus Emre lived in the same era with so many great people. Some of those names are Mevlana Jalaladdin Rumi, Haji Bektash Veli, Ahi Evran, Ahmed Fakih, Geyikli Baba, and Seydi Balum. His mentor Tapduk Emre was, of course, another influential thinker of the era.

Turkish poet Yunus Emre (Image Credit- Mynet)
Turkish poet Yunus Emre (Image Credit- Mynet)

Historically, Yunus Emre lived in a period in which external influences shook the Anatolian Seljuk State. Moreover, it caused to the collapse of the state. Moreover, those were the years in which Mongolian plundering overwhelmed Anatolian Turks. Internal quarrels and strife weakness of political authority, and famine, and drought were other reasons, as well. It was a period when small and large Turkish principalities sprouted in various parts of Anatolia. So, the most famous one, to be sure, was especially the Ottoman Principality. In such an environment, Yunus Emre became a glimmer of hope for the Anatolian people. Love, trust, morality, justice, and belief was his main intellectual mediums. Thus, the Turkish poet Yunus Emre managed to have a special place in the hearts of the Turkish people.”

Yunus Emre maintained the epoch starting with the wisdom of Ahmad Yasawi and his dervishes in Central Asia. However, the most important thing he did was to translate the classical Sufi terminology into Turkish.

Yunus Emre’s Significant Contribution to Turkish Literature

According to Kamil Sarıtaş, Yunus Emre made a significant contribution to his successors’ works in the field of Turkish literature. Further, he maintained his contribution to dervish poems, Bektashi poems, and love literature in his unique style. On the other hand, Yunus Emre also strove to fill hearts with love, wisdom, and service. Yunus Emre is undoubtedly one of the greatest thinkers of Turkish literature. Yunus Emre also wandered in Anatolia like a folk doctor in a sense and tried to find solutions to the problems of the people. He indeed restored the psychological memory of society.

Turkish audience of Yunus Emre TV drama had launched a campaign through change.org not to end the series in 2016 (Image Credit-Change.org)
Turkish audience of Yunus Emre TV drama had launched a campaign through change.org not to end the series in 2016 (Image Credit-Change.org)

Yunus Emre’s poems, which render ‘restorative mental health’ service in a sense, concern not only the people of his time but also the people of today. Every time we read his poems, we see that he speaks of religious and moral values. Yunus Emre, furthermore, emphasizes that people will always be happy and safe by keeping God in mind. Yunus Emre offers us the key to true happiness on the path of truth. We still need Yunus Emre’s language and heart as we needed them yesterday. People of the modern era still need Yunus Emre’s thought and belief in preventing all kinds of violence. For this reason, we should keep Yunus Emre alive not only in the names of schools, streets, and institutes but in every moment of our lives.

As of 1st of January, 2009, Yunus Emre’s portrait takes place on the back of 200 Turkish lira banknote.

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