In our century, when describing the advancement of Islam, it is not possible for historians to ignore Mahmut Ustaosmanoğlu, who is also known as Mahmud Efendi. The fact is that Sheikh Mahmud Efendi is the first figure, not only in Turkey but also in the whole Islamic world, who comes to mind when the word taqwa or the idea of practicing the Sunnah saniyyah is mentioned, and this is due to his care on these matters.
Mahmud Efendi lives in Istanbul and has spent all of his life in the service of Islam, humanity and peace. He has worked so ambitiously and enthusiastically that it is almost impossible for others to keep pace with him.
Mahmud Efendi was born in 1929 in a village called Miço (Tavşanlı) where in Of the township of the province of Trabzon-Turkey. His father, Ali Efendi, the son of Mustafa Efendi, and his mother, Fatima Hanimefendi the daughter of Tûfan Efendi, were highly respected people who were known for their asceticism and piety.
At the age of six, Mahmud Efendi memorised the Qur’an, at the feet of his parents. And, although he was still only a young boy, he performed his prayers in the mosque, giving great importance to extra worship and non-obligatory but recommended prayers (nafelah).
Mahmud Efendi’s maturity in his childhood was astonishing all people around him. People in his village named their children “Mahmud” in the hope that they, too, would be like him.
When he was so young, Mahmud Efendi travelled to Kayseri for the sake of Islamic studies and took some lessons, like Sarf and Nahv (Arabic language grammer) and Persian, from Tesbihcizade Ahmet Hodja Efendi, who is an esteemed scholar in that region.
After remaining in Kayseri for a year, he returned to his home village Of, and studied Qira’at (the Recitation of the Qur’an) from Mehmed Rüşdü Aşıkkutlu Hodja Efendi, the most renowned Qira’at scholar of that period.
Mahmud Efendi learned the sciences of Balaghah (Rhetoric), ‘Elm al-Kalam (Islamic theology), Tafseer (Interpretation of Qur’an), ‘Elmu’l-Hadith ( The Prophet Mohammad’s words, acts and consents), fiqh (Islamic law), usool al-fiqh (Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence) and other Islamic sciences by ÇalekliHaci Dursun Feyzi Efendi, the Senior Professor of Soulaymaneyah Madrasah, who was a distinguished and specialized scholar at the aqlee (intellectual and rational) and naqlee (transmitted) sciences.
Mahmud Efendi received his diploma with appreciation when he was just 16 years old. In the same year Mahmud Efendi completed his studies, he married Zehra Hanim. The couple were blessed with three children, named Ahmed, Abdullah, and Fatima.
Mahmud Efendi began to volunteer as an Imam after obtaining his degree and continued teaching and preaching.
In June 1952, Mahmud Efendi went to Bandırma for his military service; it was during this time that he met his murshid (the spiritual guide) Sheikh Ali Haydar Ahiskhavi al-Naqshebandi al-Khâledi.
Sheikh Ali Haydar Efendi was the worthy scholar and the Hodja of presence for the last four Ottoman Sultans and The mufti of four orders in the islamic religious law. He was knowledgeable about the four main sects and he was capable of delivering a fatwa for each of them.
Ali Haydar Efendi’s sheikh, Ali Riza Bezzâz Efendi, who had been buried in Bandırma, had informed Ali Haydar Efendi, who was at the his a dervish lodge in Istanbul at the time, through spiritual means about Mahmud Efendi, commanding him: ‘Come to Bandırma immediately and take possession of your trust.’ Thus, Ali Haydar Efendi went to Bandırma immediately, and arrived at Tekke Mosque. Ali Haydar Efendi told his followers, who had surrounded him: ‘There is a soldier here in Bandırma, find him, and bring him to me.’
Heeding this call, they began to search for the soldier in Bandırma. But, this was a very difficult task, as this soldier had no name, surname, or address.
Mahmud Efendi explains what happened next: “I have always had, from a very young age, great affection to visiting scholars and sheikhs. Whenever I hear of a scholar or one of awleya (the friends of Allah) I visit them.
While I was at training camp, during my military service, I wondered if there was a knowledgeable scholar or sheikh there who I might visit. There was a very devout man in Bandırma, named Halil Efendi, and on one occasion I asked him ‘Are there any famous sheikhs in Bandırma?’ Pointing to the tomb of Ali Riza Bezzaz Efendi in Tekke Mosque, he replied: ‘Well, there is the successor of this spiritual guide, but he is in Istanbul.’
So, I paid a visit to this tomb, and, because I wanted to visit and receive the blessings of his successor, I began to think to myself: ‘How can I find the opportunity to visit Istanbul?’ And, from that moment on, my heart was overwhelmed with affection for this spiritual guide.
One day, I performed Friday prayers at Haydar Çavuş Mosque, near the sea. After prayers, I noticed a impressive and radiant figure, wearing a white turban and jubbah in the corner of the mosque. He looked as grand as a sultan. I asked the imam who this man was, and he replied: ‘That is Sheikh Ali Haydar Efendi, the man you have longed to see.’”
Sheikh Ali Haydar Efendi, had shown a great deal of interest in Mahmud Efendi and he had great affection and respect for this younger man. Those around Sheikh Ali Haydar Efendi, occasionally they would ask: “Why do you give such value to a soldier you do not even know?” Sheikh Ali Haydar Efendi replied: “By the protection of Allah no sin has yet been recorded in his book of deeds.”
He completed his military service in 1954, then was appointed as an official imam at the İsmailağa Mosque in Fatih, Istanbul.
On 1 August 1960, Sheikh Ali Haydar Efendi, after long life of serving Islam, obtaining knowledge and spiritual guiding followers, departed from this world to the world of eternity. He had trained Mahmud Efendi as his successor and had passed on his spiritual entrustment to him. A new era with glorious responsibilities began in Mahmud Efendi’s life, after the death of his sheikh, Ali Haydar Efendi. He was busy working with the community as imam, as well as being involved in the islamic education of the students and duties of spiritual guiding. Many students of wisdom, particularly imams, clerics and muftis, took lessons from Mahmud Efendi.
Sheikh Mahmud Efendi sailed from Istanbul to perform the Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah) for the first time in 1962; in 1966 he set out for a second time, travelling from Ankara by plane. From that time on, he performed the Hajj whenever he could.
During the continuous conflicts between the right and left-wing groups, prior to the coup of 12 September, 1980, Sheikh Mahmud Efendi told the people, who came to him saying: “Let’s perform jehad(the holy struggle)”, that: “It is our duty to revive people by enjoining the good and preventing the misdeeds, it is not our duty to kill people”. He tried to calm the people and was successful to a great extent.
In 1988, Mahmud Efendi visited Damascus – Syria for the first time.
In 1992, he travelled to England and Germany with the purpose of tableegh (conveying and delivering the message of Islam), and again in the same year he went to Bukhara and visited the tombs of mashaayekh (Sufi Shaikhs) and ulama (Islamic scholars).
On 25 May 1993, Mahmud Efendi’s wife, Zehra Hanim, who had been sick for many years, passed away.
On 26 August 1993, Mahmud Efendi married Müşerref Hanim, the daughter of Sheikh Mansur Baydemir Efendi, a notable and highly-esteemed person from Qahramanmarash (Kahramanmaraş).
When he reached the age of 65, he retired from his government job as imam in 1996.
In the same year, Mahmud Efendi went on a journey of umrah (minor pilgrimage), which lasted 40 days.
Then for a second time he travelled to Bukhara, Samarqand, and Tashkent to visit Shah al-Naksheband and other shaikhs in Uzbekistan.
In February 2005, Sheikh Mahmud Efendi travelled to India to visit the tombs of Imam Rabbani Mujaddedi Alf-i Saani Sheikh Ahmad al-Farooq al-Sarhandi and various other honorable sheikhs of Islam, like Khaja Baqi Billah, Sayyed Nour Muhammad Badauni, Mirza Mazhar Jan-i Janan and Shah Abdullah Dahlawi.
Mahmud Efendi visited Damascus for a second time in June 2009, and, in a blessed meeting organized in his honor by the venerable scholar Housamaddeen Farfour, he came together with eminent figures and scholars of Damascus, such as Abdul Razzaq al-Halabi, Muhammad Adib al-Kallas, and Ramadan al-Buti.
In addition to travelling to every region in Turkey, on many occasions Sheikh Mahmud Efendi also travelled to the Middle East, Central Asia, India and Europe in an attempt to call people to the beautiful religion of Islam and the truth. Whenever possible, he would visit Mecca and Medina every year to perform Hajj, and once a year to perform Umrah.
On his most recent visit, in April 2011, he performed a spectacular umrah, together with over 50,000 of his lovers and followers – something like this had not been witnessed for centuries.
Sheikh Mahmud Efendi’s outstanding knowledge of the Sunnah, his profound knowledge of the sciences of the Shariah and his Islamic demeanor as a whole have made great impressions on both the scholars and learned members of the Islamic world whom he has met during his journeys and on those who have come to visit him. So, Sheikh Mahmud Efendi has justifiably taken up a leading position in the Islamic world and has been honored with the admiration and affection of people from all walks of life.
He presided over so many Islamic scientific sessions and symposiums, encouraged people to obtain knowledge and to act according to the sunnah of The Prophet Mohammad
The Prophet Muhammed said: “Indeed, Allah will raise a man who will revive the religion for this ummah at the beginning of every century.” (Abu Dawud al-Malahim:1 no:4293, 4/178)
The explanation of this hadith is : “The meaning of tajdeed (reviving) is acting upon the Qur’an and the Sunnah, and reviving this at a time when the commands of the Qur’an and the Sunnah are being destroyed.”
Thus, based on this hadith, scholars have attempted to determine a Mujaddid at the beginning of every century.On 16 Zilkhade, 1431 (October 24, 2010) approximately 400 renowned and respected members of the ulama (scholars) came from 43 countries to meet in Istanbul; they declared that Sheikh Mahmud Efendi was the Mujaddid (Reviver) of the 15th Hijri / 21st Gregorian Century and presented to him “Outstanding Service to Humanity Award”
Mujaddid Sheikh Mahmud Efendi encourages people to obtain knowledge and perform worship not only with his words, but also with his actions; he has never abandoned or neglected any form of worship, and is a source of encouragement and motivation for those who witness his steadfastness. He has carried out many works to educate his people in faith, taqwa, good morals, and respect for people and knowledge.
Muhammad Mazhar al-Farooqe, the seventh grandson of Imam Rabbani Mujaddedi Alf-i Saani Sheikh Ahmad al-Farooq al-Sarhandi and the last shaikh of Mazhari Ribat in Medina Munawwar, visited Sheikh Mahmud Efendi in Istanbul and said: “I have travelled through the worlds; however, in this century I have never encountered an individual who lives full Islam, both external and internal (Shariah and spirutality of Tariqat) as Mahmud Efendi does.”
Yusuf al-Qaradawi, President of the International Union For Muslim Scholars, stated about Sheikh Mahmud Efendi that: “He has carried out many works to educate his people in the faith, taqwa, good morals, and respect for people and knowledge. Sheikh Mahmud Efendi an-Naqshibandi is a Sufi and Hanafi scholar. However, he is not one of the people who spread superstition, vanity, innovation or aberrations. On the contrary, he firmly adheres to Allah’s Book and the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him).
Sayyeed Mohammad Alawi al-Mâliki, one of the greatest scholars of the Islamic world and one of the greatest defender of the ahle sunnah, visited Sheikh Mahmud Efendi in his lodge in Istanbul several times and he said about Mahmud Efendi: “I have seen many communities all over the world. Some of them give importance to wisdom and lost sufism, some of them give importance to sufism and lost wisdom, but Mahmud Efendi and his community is one of the exceptional communities that practices and perpetuates wisdom through practice, the shariah with the tareqah.”
An internationally-known Islamic Scholar Mohammed Ali Sâbûnî, become a Sheikh Mahmud Efendi’s follower, saying: “No doubt, Sheikh Mahmud Efendi is the Sheikh of not only Turkey, but of the entire world.”
Sheikh Mahmud Efendi always encouraged people to seek education, implement wisdom and aim for goodness. Many statesmen visited him and payed special attention. Mahmud Efendi advised many governors and bureaucrats, as well as many other people, both officials and non-officials.
Mahmud Efendi’s sermons, which have been given regularly over the years, have been collected and archived by the followers; as a result six volumes have been published. Mahmud Efendi has given sermons for over fifty years, on every day of the week; when we consider only the number of sermons for women that have been recorded regularly over the last ten to fifteen years, it is obvious that the entire collection of sermons will reach hundred volumes.
The most original and beneficial work of Sheikh Mahmud Efendi is the work of Translating Qur’an to Turkish language, named Qur’an Majeeid. This work, prepared by an academic committee that is headed up by Sheikh Mahmud Efendi, remains faithful to the Qur’an, down to the smallest detail.
Another the most voluminous work by Sheikh Mahmud Efendi is the Interpretation of the Qur’an in Turkish named Rouh al-Furqaan. This Interpretation was compiled by an academic committee led by Mahmud Efendi; this process still continues today.
Sheikh Mahmud Efendi has established various religious, social and charity organizations and foundations, particularly such as The Mujaddid Mahmud Efendi Foundation, The Marifet Association, The Federation of Marifet Associations and Ahle Sunnah wal Jamaah Confederation to offer a much better service to Islam and all humanity. His organizations and foundations give service in education, culture, scientific researches, health, charity, national and international social organizations.
His nearest service team publish monthly a scholarly and cultural magazine named MARİFET.
Mahmud Efendi is keen on developing relationships and cooperations especially between Muslim people and countries and wants a peaceful world.
Today Sheikh Mahmud Efendi The Mujaddid has millions of followers and lovers all over the world and he is the most eminent figure at the advancement of Islam.