ḤAKIM ATĀ, a Central Asian Sufi associated with the earliest phase of the Yasavi tradition, whose full identity is not known for certain; he is usually named as a direct disciple of Aḥmad Yasavi, and would therefore have lived in the early 13th century (the date 582/1186-87 mentioned for his death, evidently for the first time in the 19th-century work Ḵazinat al-aṣfiā [lith., p. 534], seems not to have been based on any reliable information). Early references to Ḥakim Atā are sparse; he seems to have been first mentioned in the earliest biography of Bahāʾ-al-Din Naqšband, the Anis al-ṭālebin, which was composed at the very beginning of the fifteenth century, in connection with a dream of Bahāʾ-al-Din that was interpreted as predicting his association with the “mašāʾeḵ-e tork” (Boḵāri, p. 84). A “Ḥakim Solaymān” is also mentioned twice, and linked with Aḥ-mad Yasavi, in a hagiography from the second half of the 15th century devoted to an “Oveysi” saint (anon, Hašt ḥadiqa [ms., fols. 72a, 97b]). The first extensive descriptions of him appear in ʿAli-Šir Navāʾi’s (d. 906/1500) Nasāʾem al-maḥabba (p. 384) and the Rašaḥāt-e ʿayn al-ḥayāt (“Ṣāfi,” I, pp. 20-23), a Naqšbandi hagiography from the beginning of the 16th century. Both accounts affirm that he was Yasavi’s disciple, and that he was famed for his verse aphorisms, known as ḥekmats, but they agree on little besides that. Navāʾi says that Ḥakim Atā’s name was Solaymān, and explains that he was called “Ḥakim” because Aḥmad Yasavi praised him for acting wisely (ḥakimāna) when he alone among Yasavi’s disciples thought to wrap the firewood he had gathered inside his cloak to keep it dry.

The Rašaḥāt’s account is problematic: some versions of the work affirm that Ḥakim Atā’s name was Solaymān and make him the fourth successor to Yasavi (listing Ṣufi Moḥammad Dānešmand as his third ḵalifa), while other versions (including quite early ones) distinguish a Solaymān Atā from Ḥakim Atā, and identify them as the third and fourth successors of Yasavi respectively (omitting Ṣufi Moḥammad Dānešmand altogether). Even though the Rašaḥāt’saccount of Yasavi’s four successors is contrived to begin with, this discrepancy remains unexplained; other early evidence identifying Ḥakim Atā as “Solaymān” (and attesting to Ṣufi Moḥammad Dānešmand’s role as Yasavi’s disciple) favors the version naming Ḥakim Solaymān as Yasavi’s fourth successor. The “combined” account in the Rašaḥāt adds only that Ḥakim Atā lived in Ḵᵛārazm and was buried there, at a place called “Āq Qurḡān” [sic]; the Rašaḥāt’s account of Zangi Atā, cast as Ḥakim Atā’s disciple, mentions Ḥakim Atā’s marriage to ʿAnbar Anā, daughter of “Borāq Ḵān” (or, in another account, of “Boḡrā Ḵān”), and the story of her dislike of his dark skin, which prompted him to predict her marriage after his death to “one darker than me,” referring to Zangi Atā. Finally, the Rašaḥāt situates Ḥakim Atā quite precisely in the selsela (chain of transmission) of the Yasavi order as the master of Zangi Atā, whose four disciples included Ṣadr Atā, the one through whom was traced the lineage of the entire Yasavi order in the 15th to 18th centuries. That order, insofar as it is known from our sources, was most firmly established neither in Ḵᵛārazm nor in Aḥmad Yasavi’s native region of Torkestān, but in Mā-warāʾ-al-nahr, where, like other Sufi communities of that region during the same era, it left a legacy of hagiographical literature overwhelmingly in Persian.

Both Navāʾi’s Nasāʾem and the Rašaḥāt preserve separate narrative elements about Ḥakim Atā, such as the story of the firewood, which became combined with further narratives in a popular hagiography in Turkic, known as the Ḥakim Atā ketābï (Zaleman, 1898). This work affirms that Ḥakim Atā was trained by Aḥmad Yasavi, but implies that Zangi Atā never met Ḥakim Atā, thereby cautioning against the uncritical acceptance of the standard presentation of the Yasavi selsela as represented in the Rašaḥāt. Not even the Ḥakim Atā ketābï, however, exhausts the body of oral tradition circulated about this saint, as additional narratives are recorded in later Yasavi hagiographies. The Ottoman Turkish Javāher al-abrār from the late 16th century includes Ḥakim Atā in several miracle-stories about Aḥmad Yasavi (Ḥazini, pp. 46, 55), and the seventeenth-century Lamaḥāt men nafaḥāt al-qods echoes those accounts, while adding a remarkable narrative that seems to echo traditions of Muʿtazilite hostility toward Sufis in Ḵᵛārazm (including Ḥakim Atā’s demand to the ulama of that region to “sew a boot for the foot of God” [ms., fol. 39b-40a]). Oral tradition focused on Ḥakim Atā continues to circulate in Ḵᵛārazm.

The minimal attention to selsela relationships in the Ḥakim Atā ketābï, the relatively poorly developed saintly image of Ḥakim Atā in the hagiography of the Yasavi order, the prominence of his shrine in Ḵᵛārazm, and the existence of “descent groups” there claiming him as an ancestor, all suggest that he was a local saint of Ḵᵛārazm who was later grafted onto the Yasavi Sufi lineage; it is no less plausible, however, that his place in the Yasavi selsela reflected an authentic relationship with Aḥmad Yasavi and Zangi Atā, but was simply less important in the public venues of popular hagiography, genealogy, and shrine traditions. Ḥakim Atā’s shrine in the Ḵᵛārazmian locality of “Bāqïrḡān” (near the town of Qonghirat in Uzbekistan) is mentioned as a prominent pilgrimage place already at the beginning of the 16th century.

As noted previously, both Navāʾi’s Nasāʾem and the Rašaḥāt affirm that Ḥakim Atā was renowned for his ḥekmats in Turkic, and each of these works offers a different set of examples of them. Turkic poetry ascribed to Ḥakim Atā is attested at the same time, thus associating him with the composition of aphoristic sayings and verse in Turkic significantly earlier than Aḥmad Yasavi himself. A collection of verse ascribed to Ḥakim Atā, identified as “Solaymān Bāqïrḡāni,” was in circulation at least by the later eighteenth century, and has been printed several times as the “Bāqïrḡān ketābï.”



Primary sources: Suläyman Baqirghaniy, Baqirghan kitabi, ed. I. Häqqul and S. Räf’iddin, Tashkent, 1991.

Ṣalāḥ b. Mobārak Boḵāri, Anis al-ṭālebin wa-ʿoddat al-sālekin, ed. Ḵ. E. Ṣāri-uḡli, Tehran, 1371 Š./1992.

Kemal Eraslan, “Hakîm Ata ve Miʿrâc-nâme’si,” Edebiyat Fakültesi Araştırma Dergisi 10, 1979, pp. 243-304.

Ḥazini, Cevâhiru’l-ebrâr min emvâc-ı bihâr:Yesevî menâkıbnamesi, ed. Cihan Okuyucu, Kayseri, 1995.

Ḡolām Sarvar Lāhori, Ḵazinat al-aṣfiā, lithograph, Kānpur, 1312/1894.

ʿAli-Šir Navāʾi, Nasāʾem al-maḥabba, ed. K. Eraslan, Istanbul, 1979; ʿAli b. Ḥosayn “Ṣāfi,” Rašaḥāt-e ʿayn al-ḥayāt, ed. ʿA. A. Moʿiniān, Tehran, 2536=1356 Š./1977.

ʿĀlem Šayḵ, Lamaḥāt men nafaḥāt al-qods, ms. St. Petersburg Branch of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, C1602. Karl G. Zaleman, “Legenda pro Khakim-Ata,” Izvestiya Akademii nauk (St. Petersburg) 9/2, 1898, pp. 105-50.

Anon, Hašt ḥadiqa, ms. Tashkent, Institute of Oriental Studies, No. 1477.

Secondary sources: Anon, “Predaniya adaevtsev o sviatykh, sekty khanafie, zhivshikh i umershikh na Mangyshlake,” Sbornik svedenii o kavkazskikh gortsakh (Tiflis) 7, 1873, pp. 5-17.

V. N. Basilov, “O proiskhozhdenii Turkmen-Ata (prostonarodnye formy sredneaziatskogo sufizma),” in Domusul’manskie verovaniya i obriady v Sredneĭ Azii, Moscow, 1975, pp. 138-68.

Henry F. Hofman, Turkish Literature: A Bio-Bibliographical Survey, Utrecht, 1969, II, pp. 227-34.

R. Rahmeti Arat, “Hakîm Ata,” İslam Ansiklopedisi V, pp. 101-3 (inc. references to older publications).

(Devin DeWeese)

Originally Published: December 15, 2003

Last Updated: March 1, 2012

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Vol. XI, Fasc. 6, pp. 573-574