Debating Heresy: Changing Perceptions of Zayniyya Dervishes Toward Ibn 'Arabi in the 15th Century

Cankat Kaplan

Wednesday, September 27, 2017 5:00 PM Salon: ŞAKİR KOCABAŞ SALONU

On September 27th 2017, Center for Turkish Studies will host Cankat Kaplan under the diskussions theses-articles. Kaplan will deliver a speech about “Debating Heresy: Changing Perceptions of Zayniyya Dervishes Toward Ibn 'Arabi in the 15th Century”* based on his thesis.**

“This thesis deals with the ideas of Zayniyya dervishes toward Ibn ‘Arabi and his thought and traces the differences between the Central Asian and Anatolian dervishes in this regard. The early Zayniyya sheikhs Zayn al-Din Khwafi and ‘Abd al- Latif Qudsi, the respective founders of the Zayniyya tariqa in Central Asia and Anatolia, held a dim view of Ibn ‘Arabi’s thought, and saw the use of the science of letters as sufficient to implicate a person as heretic. In contrast to these early Zayniyya leaders, most prominent Anatolian Zayni dervishes later adopted a positive attitude toward Ibn ‘Arabi, and Sheikh Vefa, one of the more prominent Anatolian Zaynis, himself practiced the science of letters.

I follow the changes in the stances toward Ibn ‘Arabi by investigating the opinions of different Zayni dervishes, from Central Asia and Anatolia, on five controversial topics related to Ibn ‘Arabi: the doctrine of oneness of being (wahda al-wujud), the doctrine of levels of existence (maratib al-wujud), and the issues of Pharaoh’s faith, the seal of sainthood (khatm al-walaya) and comparison of sainthood with prophethood, and the state of infidels in hell.

Demonstrating the differences in the attitudes toward Ibn ‘Arabi and, relatedly, in the definitions of heresy in Central Asia and Anatolia, this thesis argues that in the fifteenth century, heresy was not a universal term, but a context-bound historical one. Its meaning changed according to different political, social, and religious concerns of various times and places. In addition, the thesis indicates that in the fifteenth century, tariqas did not produce facsimile disciples. Disciples did not feel themselves obliged to strictly follow their sheikhs in the tariqa, and easily adapted to their cultural and religious environments.”


* MA Thesis, Istanbul Şehir University, 2017.

** The speech will be conducted in Turkish.




As the most traditonal activity of BISAV, the courses take place in every fall and spring of a year.



Add your e-mail address here to be informed about our programs (seminars, symposiums, panels, etc.).