GOLŠANĪ, EBRĀHIM, b. Moḥammad b. Ebrāhim b. Šehāb-al-Din (d. 9 Šawwāl 940/23 April 1534), Sufi poet and the founder of the Golšaniya branch of the Ḵalwati Sufi order. He was probably born in Diārbakr (Moḥyi Golšani, p.13; the tomb of his father, Sheikh Moḥammad Āmedi, is in the Mardin Kapısı cemetery there), but his exact birthdate is not known. If the report that he died at the age of 105 years is to be believed, then he must have been born in 835/1431 (the age 114, mentioned by Moḥyi Golšani, is untenable). Golšani lost his father when he was two years of age and was brought up by his paternal uncle, Sayyedi ʿAli, under whose guidance he received his education in his hometown Diārbakr (Moḥyi Golšani, pp. 14-19). Golšani apparently came from a family of scholars. According to Moḥyi Golšani (pp. 13-14, 17), his father had written works on Islamic jurisprudence (feqh), theology (kalām), and logic, and his grandfather was the author of Fakk al-moḡlaq on difficult problems of feqh.

Golšani eventually left for Tabriz, where, thanks to the influence of Qāżi Ḥasan, the military judge (qāżi ʿaskar) and the chief government officer (jomlat al-molk) of the Aq Qoyunlu Uzun Ḥasan, he gained access to the court and benefited from association with the scholars there. He gained such favor that he was dispatched by Uzun Ḥasan to be present at the conclusion of peace with the Timurid Ḥosayn Bāyqarā in Herat, where he took advantage of the occasion to make the acquaintance of the poet ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān Jāmi (Moḥyi Golšani, pp. 23-25, 30-31). Returning from Herat, he was sent on another mission to the court of Uzun Ḥasan’s son, Sultan Ḵalil, in Shiraz to convey to him the admonishments of Uzun Ḥasan for his oppressive rule. There he met the theologian and author Jalāl-al-Din Moḥammad Davāni (q.v.; Moḥyi Golšani, pp. 33-34, 41-43). Soon after his return from Shiraz, he met the Ḵalwati shaikh Dede ʿOmar Rowšani (d. 892/1472) in Qarabāḡ, who initiated him into the Ḵalwati Sufi order. Golšani devoted himself to ascetic practices, eventually becoming Rowšani’s alifa and founding his own branch of the order (Moḥyi Golšani, pp. 48 ff.; Trimingham, p. 76). Uzun Ḥasan died in 882/1478, and Sultan Ḵalil, who briefly ruled after him, did not have the same high regards for Golšani. Golšani, however, regained his esteem and influence at the court during the reign of his successor Sultan Yaʿqub (883-96/1478-90). He taught at the Moẓaffariya Mosque in Tabriz and in 900/1495 performed the pilgrimage to Mecca (ḥajj), where he met scholars from Egypt (Moḥyi Golšani, p. 237). He returned to Tabriz but left it five years later when it was conquered by the Safavid Shah Esmāʿil I (q.v.). He went to settle in Diārbakr but had to leave when it came under Safavid domination. He traveled to Jerusalem and from there to Cairo, where he finally settled down in the Berkat-al-Ḥajj district in the vicinity of Cairo. Before long the Mamluk ruler of Egypt, Qānṣawḥ Ḡawri, constructed for him a retreat (zāwia) that came to be called the Qobbat al-Moṣṭafā, and accommodation was provided for his followers at the Moʾayyadiya Mosque behind the retreat. Construction on the retreat began in 926/1520 and was completed four years later; the structure is still standing (Moḥyi Golšani, pp. 318 ff.; Devonshire, p. 332; Behrens-Abouseif, pp. 43-60).

After the conquest of Egypt by the Ottoman Sultan Selim (Salim) I, Golšani became popular among the Ottoman soldiers stationed in Cairo. The prospect of Janissaries actually joining the followers of Golšani aroused official anxiety, and finally in 934/1527-28 he was summoned to Istanbul to be interrogated by Sultan Solaymān himself. His work, Maʿnawi, was sent to Šayḵ-al-Eslām Kamāl Pāšāzāda (Ebn Kemāl) to see if it contained anything against Islamic precepts. His fatwā declared the book to be in accord with Islam, and Golšani himself was found to represent no danger to the state. He was even allowed to found three takiyas for his order in Anatolia (Moḥyi Golšani, pp. 418-22, containing the text of the fatwā; Trimingham, p. 76). He returned to Egypt, where he died of the plague, some five or six years later, on 9 Šawwāl 940/23 April 1534 and was buried at his convent.

Golšani composed and dictated poetry in the three languages (Turkish, Arabic, and Persian), but the artistic merits of his poetry leave a good deal to be desired. Its chief interest lies in the abundance of his output, and in the fact that he imitated and was profoundly influenced by the poetry of Jalāl-al-Din Moḥammad Rumi and, to a much less extent, by the Turkish Sufi poet Yunos Emre. His Persian works consist of (1) a matnawi called Maʿnawi,in some 40,000 couplets, which is composed on the model of Rumi’s Matnawi, with many stories borrowed directly from Rumi’s Matnawi; it also contains verses that are taken verbatim from the latter. Golšani began working on the Maʿnawi some time between 905/1500 and 912/1506 during his second residence in Diārbakr. It is extant in numerous manuscripts, most of which were written during the poet’s lifetime. Among them mention may be made of Ayasofya 2080 and Halet Efendi 272 (both copied in 927/1521). Laʿli Moḥammad Efendi wrote a commentary (Šarḥ-e Maʿnawi) on the first 500 couplets of the Maʿnawi, which was published in Istanbul in 1289/1872. (2) Golšani’s Persian Divān consists of 17,000 couplets and shows the influence both of Rumi’s Divān-e Šams and occasionally of Yunos Emre. (3) Kanz al-jawāher is a collection of quatrains dealing in simple language with such Sufi themes as divine love, effacement (fanāʾ), and subsistence (baqāʾ); the only known manuscript is preserved at Istanbul University Library (FY 1233). Moḥyi Golšani mentions (p. 239) another Persian work, the Simorḡ-nāma, of which no copies appear to have survived. Golšani’s Turkish output is only a divān of some 15,000 couplets, which is strongly marked by the influence of Yunos Emre and ʿEmād-al-Din Nasimi. Its most complete and best preserved manuscript is kept at the library of the Ankara Dil ve Tarih-Coğrafya Fakültesi (Mustafa Çan 982). A number of Golšani’s Turkish ḡazals were translated into Persian with commentary by Ḥakim-al-Din Edris Bedlisi (Moḥyi Golšani, p. 79). Some of Golšani’s Egyptian contemporaries considered him illiterate (ommi) in Arabic (e.g., Šaʿrāni, pp. 147-48), probably because he was not quite fluent in spoken Arabic. His Arabic Divān (a copy of which has been acquired by the Ankara Dil ve Tarih-Coğrafya Fakültesi) shows that he had a good command of written Arabic.



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(Tahsin Yazici)

Originally Published: December 15, 2001

Last Updated: February 14, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. XI, Fasc. 1, pp. 111-112 and Vol. XI, Fasc. 2, p. 113