is a strong challenge inherent in any attempt to describe a great
and influential personality like Yunus Emre in a condensed form
such as this. We will, therefore only make an attempt to give an
introduction to the man and his philosophy which will tempt you
into further reading. Wherever possible we will allow Yunus to
speak for himself.
Mystic is what
they call me,
Hate is my only enemy;
I harbor a grudge against none,
To me the whole wide world is one.
Yunus Emre was a great folk poet, a
sufi (Islamic mystic), a troubadour and a very influential
philosopher who had an effect on the Turkish outlook on life that
has stayed alive and vital for 700 years. Above all, and in an age
of religious repression, he was a humanist who’s love for God
was integral to his love for humanity. His abhorrence for conflict
and his dismissive attitude to riches and material assets have
been echoed through the ages, not least in the ’flower power’
era of the 1960s and 70s.
I am not here on
erth for strife
Love is the mission of my life.
Yunus Emre was more concerned with
the reason for living than with the details of how life should be
lived. Essentially he thought that people should live modest lives
filled with love and friendship, aspiring towards spiritual purity
and an indivisible unity with God. He despised the pursuit of fame
and riches because none of these could mean anything after death.
Death is a recurring theme in his
poetry but without morbid overtones. He wants us to accept that
death is inevitable, so that we don’t squander our time on
earth, but also to realize that death is not the end of the road.
For each of us death will demonstrate the futility both of
pursuing riches and of filling life with hatred, war and grudges.
Our only worthwhile legacy is the product of a life filled with
friendship and love.
Firm hands will
lose their grip one day
And tonques that talk will soon decay:
The wealth you loved and stored away
Will go to some inheritor
Yunus Emre was the epitome of
tolerance in a world dominated, from East and West, by fanaticism
and by the idea that human beings are born in sin and have to
spend their lives trying to rise above their base natures.
See all people
See the humble as heroes.
According to the traditional
outlook the only path to redemption is a difficult one, narrow and
dangerous, and can only be negotiated with the help of qualified
guides, the leaders of organized religions. Most religions,
moreover, insist that their path is the only possible route to
heaven and that the followers of other paths, no matter how well
intentioned, are destined for the other place. Yunus Emre rejected
this single path approach.
For those who
trully love God and his ways
All the people of the world are brothers.
We regard no
one's religion as contrary to ours,
True love is born when all faiths are united as a whole.
True faith is in
the head, not in the headgear.
His beliefs were rooted in
religion, and he was undeniably an Islamic sufi, but his
philosophy was independent and he taught that every belief and
every idea, religious or otherwise, that leads to the creator is
You better seek
God right in your own heart
He is neither in the Holy Land nor in Mecca
Yunus Emre’s idea of God (the
'Friend' of his poetry) is that God is everywhere and within each
of us. The love of humanity and the love of God are therefore
We love the
For the Creator's sake
In his poems Yunus Emre shows
himself to be a humane, sensitive and modest person firmly
grounded. His poems were, and remain, great because he uses
language beautifully but simply, his images are rich but extremely
clear. Yunus Emre wrote in Turkish and his words can be read today
in the original with very little difficulty. That is one reason
why his influence has remained so strong, his work is accessible
to ordinary people, appreciated and kept alive by them. His hymns
are still being sung, and his words quoted, by thousands of people
in Turkey today while his popularity is growing world wide.
Come, let us all
be friends for once
Let us make life easy on us,
Let us be lovers and loved ones,
The earth shall be left to no one.
Emre and His Mystical Poetry
By Talat Halman (ed)
Indiana University Turkish Studies