BOḴĀRĪ, AMĪR AḤMAD (d. 922/1516), a Sufi instrumental in establishing the Naqšbandī order in Turkey. He was born in Bukhara of Hosaynid lineage, the grandson of Ḵᵛāja Maḥmūd Enjīr Faḡnawī, who preceded the founder of the Naqšbandī order, Ḵᵛāja Bahāʾ-al-Dīn Naqšband, by four links in the initiatic chain. He first embarked on the Sufi path under the guidance of the celebrated Ḵᵛāja ʿObayd-Allāh Aḥrār (q.v.) in Samarqand, but was formally initiated by a disciple (morīd) of Aḥrār, Mollā ʿAbd-Allāh Elāhī from Simav in Anatolia. When Elāhī left Samarqand to return to Anatolia, Boḵārī decided to accompany him, leaving Transoxiana forever. Elāhī settled initially in his native city of Simav, and Boḵārī served him there in a variety of menial capacities as well as that of prayer leader. At one point he took leave of his master to perform the ḥajj. Carrying only a Koran and a copy of Rūmī’s Maṯnawī, he traveled by way of Jerusalem where he spent some time living in a madrasa and earning his living as a scribe. After performing the ḥajj, he stayed for about a year in Mecca, engaging in various ascetic practices until he was summoned back to Simav in 866/1461. Soon thereafter Elāhī moved first to Istanbul and then to Vardar Yenicesi in Rumelia, and Boḵārī fell heir to his following in Simav. Despite his dislike for the commotion of the capital, Boḵārī was persuaded to move there in 896/1490-91. He took up residence near the mosque of Sultan Moḥammad Fāteḥ, but the press of morīds soon obliged him to build a series of hospices. Most of his followers were members of the learned class, qāżīs and modarresīn, and it can be said, indeed, that Boḵārī inaugurated the close link with the formal religious establishment that was to be typical for the Naqšbandī order in Turkey. He died in 922/1516, at the age of seventy-three, and was buried in the court­yard of the first hospice he established. The tomb still stands and is the object of pious visitation.

His main successors were Maḥmūd Lāmēʿī Čelebī of Bursa, famous as a poet and translator of works from Persian, especially the writings of ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān Jāmī; Ḥakīm Čelebī, and his son-in-law, Shaikh Maḥmūd Čelebī, who took his place at the main Naqšbandī hospice in Istanbul.

It is said that Boḵārī’s main emphasis was on constant silent invocation of the divine name and meticulous observation of the sonna; he gave little importance to formal learning (despite the nature of his following) and often made mistakes in Arabic. Nonetheless, two works attributed to him survive: an untitled treatise that sets forth the general principles of the Naqšbandī path and shows acceptance of the doctrine of waḥdat al-wojūd, and a collection of glosses on difficult lines in the Maṯnawī.



Ḥāfeẓ Ḥosayn Ayvānsarāʾī, Ḥadīqat al-jawāmeʿ, Istanbul, 1281/1864, I, pp. 42-47, 297.

Kasım Kufralı, “Molla İlahi ve kendisinden sonraki Nakşbendiye mühiti,” Türk dili ve edebiyatı dergisi 3/1-2, October, 1948, pp. 135-36.

Maḥmūd Lāmēʿī, Nafaḥāt tarjumasï, Istanbul, 1289/1872, pp. 465-70.

Tašköprüzade, al-Šaqāʾeq al-noʿmānīya, Beirut, 1395/1975, pp. 215-17.

The writings of Boḵārī are to be found in ms. Halet Efendi (Istanbul) 300.

(Hamid Algar)

Originally Published: December 15, 1989

Last Updated: December 15, 1989

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Vol. IV, Fasc. 3, p. 329