Ken'ân Rifâî: His life, works and understanding of sufism

Thesis Type: Doctorate

Institution Of The Thesis: Bursa Uludağ University, Turkey

Approval Date: 2020

Thesis Language: Turkish

Student: Arzu Eylül Yalçınkaya

Co-Supervisor: Abdullah Kartal, ABDULLAH KARTAL


Sheikh Ken'ân Rifâî, who outstands the unity and love in his Sufi views, draws a portrait of a Sufi that has a conscious personality and following a balanced and middle way. This state of balance makes itself felt in Rifâî's understanding of religion and Sufism. Ken'ân Rifâî, a member of prominent and influential family, was born in Salonika, in 1867. During the Bulgarian ethnic rebellion against the Ottoman Empire, Ken'ân Rifâî moved to Istanbul with his family in 1876. Having graduated from Galatasaray High School, he worked for a short time at governmental offices of Sublime Porte. He then became a high-ranking administrator and teacher under the Ministry of Education. He was appointed in various cities of the Empire from Anatolia to the Balkans such as Balikesir, Adana, Bitola, Kosovo, and Trabzon. Ken'ân Rifâî received his Qadiri license from Sheikh Edhem Efendi and his Rifâî license from Sheikh Hamza Efendi. Upon his return to Istanbul, he built a Sufi lodge adjacent to his mansion and became an official sheikh registered in the Ottoman Council of the Sheikh in 1908. Ken'ân Rifâî continued to train his followers for seventeen years. With his written work and compositions, he had a significant contribution to the literature and culture of the Sufi tradition. He closed his lodge in 1925 with the Republican ban of Sufi orders without any opposition as he considered it as the will of God. Ken'ân Rifâî is an educator and sheikh of the 20th century. It is important to examine Rifâî's life and understanding of Sufism in order to better reflect on the Late Ottoman Sufi movemen.