Shaykh Mahmud Effendi: The Life and Times of an Islamic Revivalist

Shaykh Mahmud Effendi dedicated his entire life to serving Islam, and over the course of 50 years, he restored the Sunnah and Islam in Turkey while imparting knowledge to tens of thousands of Ulama and Huffadh. Shakyh had millions of followers worldwide and belonged to Tariqa Naqshbandiya.

It is impossible for historians to ignore Mahmut Ustaosmanoğlu, commonly known as Mahmud Efendi, while discussing the development of Islam in Turkey. Because of his concern for these issues, Sheikh Mahmud Effendi is actually the first person to spring to mind when the word “taqwa” or the idea of observing the Sunnah saniyyah is spoken, not just in Turkey but throughout the entire Islamic world.

All of Shaykh Mahmud Effendi’s life has been dedicated to serving Islam, humanity, and peace. It is nearly impossible for others to keep up with him because of how ambitious and energetically he has worked.

In the township of the province of Trabzon, Turkey, in a village by the name of Miço (Tavşanl), Shaykh Mahmud Effendi was born in 1929. Miço (Tavşanlı), a village in the township of the province of Trabzon, Turkey, is where Shaykh Mahmud Effendi was born in 1929. His parents, Fatima Hanimefendi, a daughter of Tûfan Efendi. His father, Ali Effendi, was the son of Mustafa Efendi were well-respected individuals who were renowned for their piety and asceticism.

Shaykh Mahmud Effendi memorized the Qur’an at the age of six while sitting at his parents’ feet. And even though he was still a small boy, he offered his prayers in the mosque, placing great value on extra worship and non-obligatory but recommended prayers (nafelah); that were not required but were nevertheless advised.

All those who knew Shaykh Mahmud Effendi in his youth were astounded by his maturity. Mahmud was the name given to children in his village in the hopes that they would grow up to be just like him.

Shaykh Mahmud Effendi traveled to Kayseri when he was very young with the purpose of pursuing Islamic studies. There, he studied with Tesbihcizade Ahmet Hodja Effendi, a respected scholar in the area, and received instruction in Persian and Sarf and Nahv (Arabic language grammer), among other subjects.

After living in Kayseri for a year, he went back to his hometown and studied Qira’at (the Recitation of the Qur’an) by Mehmed Rüşdü Aşıkkutlu Hodja Effendi, the most esteemed Qira’at expert of his time.

ÇalekliHaci Dursun Feyzi Efendi, the Senior Professor of Soulaymaneyah Madrasah, was a renowned and specialized scholar at the aqlee (intellectual and rational) and naqlee (transmitted) sciences. He taught him the sciences of Balaghah (Rhetoric), ‘Elm al-Kalam (Islamic theology), Tafseer (Interpretation of Qur’an), ‘Elmu’l-Hadith (The Prophet ﷺ words, acts and consents), fiqh (Islamic law), usool al-fiqh (Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence) and other Islamic sciences.

When he was only 16 years old, Shaykh Mahmud Effendi was honored to get his diploma. Shaykh Mahmud Effendi married Zehra Hanim the same year he finished his education. Three children, Ahmed, Abdullah, and Fatima, were born to the marriage.

After receiving his degree, Shaykh Mahmud Effendi started serving as a volunteer Imam and continued to educate and preach.

When Shaykh Mahmud Effendi traveled to Bandrma in June 1952 for his military duty, it was at this time that he first encountered Sheikh Ali Haydar Ahiskhavi al-Naqshebandi al-Khâledi, who would later become his murshid (spiritual mentor).

The illustrious scholar Shaykh Ali Haydar Effendi served as the Hodja of presence for the last four Ottoman Sultans and the mufti of four orders under Islamic law. He was competent of issuing a fatwa for each of the four major sects and was knowledgable about them.



At the İsmailağa Mosque in Fatih, Istanbul, he was recognized as an official imam after completing his military service in 1954.

After spending a lifetime advancing Islam, learning, and teaching his followers spiritually, Shaykh Ali Haydar Effendi passed away on August 1st, 1960, and entered the world of eternity. His spiritual entrustment was given to Shaykh Mahmud Efendi, whom he had groomed to be his successor. Following the passing of his shaykh, Shaykh Ali Haydar Effendi, he entered a new period with glorious duties. Shaykh Mahmud Effendi was occupied with his duties as Imam, working with the community, teaching the students about Islam, and performing spiritual guiding tasks. Shaykh Mahmud Effendi taught a large number of students of wisdom, especially imams, clerics, and muftis.

In 1962, Shaykh Mahmud Effendi embarked on a ship bound for Istanbul to do the Hajj (a pilgrimage to Makkah), and in 1966, he did so again, this time flying from Ankara. He continued to perform the Hajj thereafter whenever he could.

Shaykh Mahmud Effendi advised the people who came to him saying, “Let’s perform jihad (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,” during the ongoing conflicts between the right and left-wing groups prior to the coup of September 12, 1980. He made an effort to calm the crowd, and to a large extent he was successful.

Shaykh Maḥmūd Effendī رحمه الله was once on a journey with his students and they stopped in a shop for a drink. After travelling for over 100 miles – the beloved Shaykh asked the students if they had paid for a plastic cup they had used to serve him the drink. The students told the Shaykh that the shopkeeper had not asked for a price.

The Shaykh drove all the way back with his students and informed the shopkeeper that they had used the cup without knowing if they had to pay for it or not. That is Taqwā and the Akhlāq of the Awliyā’.

He would not let students drop out of school because they were too poor. Instead, he would sell goods from his house to support them. Even some of his family’s gold and jewelry were given to underprivileged students so they could sell it and cover their rent and meals. This is how genuine teachers do. He used to say, “”Kiss the hands of the ‘ulema of Shaam on my behalf, for they are loved by Rasūlullāh ﷺ,” to students he sent to Syria to study at their institution.

Teachers in Syria would reciprocate by kissing his hand on their behalf when the students returned to Turkey. Adab is this.

We have to keep in mind that Allah kept Islam alive through Shaykh after Atatürk and the secularists tried to get rid of Islām in Turkey. As they say, in the darkest nights, shine the brightest stars. And Shaykh Maḥmūd Effendī is without any doubt one of them. The Qutb and ‘Ārif Billāh of this century, and to many, the reviver (Mujaddid) of Islām.

Sad to see Muslims of nowadays consuming people’s properties unjustly without fear.

Shaykh Mahmud Effendi (رحمة الله عليه) said: “You know these things, I wouldn’t be sad if I died, but I’m afraid you’ll slack. Even if Mahmud dies, his creator remains. O Allah, when we die, take us with our faith. If the world continued for one person, it would be for the Messenger of Allah ﷺ.”

إنا لله و إنا اليه راجعون.

To Allah we belong and to Him we shall return.

May Allāh ‎ﷻ elevate his ranks and raise him with our Master Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ in the highest stations of Jannah. Aameen.


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