Üsküdar Uzbeks’ dervish lodge and convent is the third institution which was established around the same time and under the same name during the Ottoman period. Just like the Afghanis, Hindis, and Kalenderhanes, it is an independent convent from the Khalidiyya and Mujaddidiyya branches of the Naqshbandiyya sufi order and its followers usually come from Central Asian origins. Uzbeks’ darwish lodge and convent in Üsküdar which represents the classical Naqshbandi order’s approach is an institution with religious, social, cultural, artistic, and political sides. The first one of the convents of the Uzbeks’ was established by İsmail Bey, the director of Istanbul’s financial administration (defterdar), in the district of the Little Hagia Sophia around the neighborhood of Sultanahmet Kadırga (on Şehit Mehmet Pasha Slope) in 1692. The second one was established by La‘lîzade Abdülbaki Efendi on the Kalenderhane Street, which is one of the main road heading to the Eyüp Sutan Mosque, in 1743. Since the residents of the Uzbeks’ lodges are singles, these places also came to be known with the name kalenderhanes (hospices for wandering derwishes).
Üsküdar Uzbeks’ Lodge is located on Servili Köşk road in Üsküdar’s Sultantepe Hacı Hesna Hatun district. This lodge which is referred to in the sources as “el-Hâc Hoca”, “Hâce Hacı Hoca”, “Hâce” and “Kalenderhane” was founded by the governor of Maraş Abdullah Pasha (d. 1755) in order to provide housing for the wandering dervishes coming from the Central Asia. When a man named Hasan Ağa paid all its expenses in 1757-1758, Seyyid Hacı Hâce Abdullah Efendi from Nakshbandiyya order became the master of the lodge (postnişin) and started to perform the responsibilities of imam and give sermons to the congregation by building a pulpit into the prayer house/dervish lodge. The lodge was expanded during the reign Sultan Mustafa III by its second master (postnişin) Şeyh Seyyid Abdülekber of Samarkand (d. 1787/1788).
The representatives of Naqshbandi order, Mustafa Efendi (d. 1781), Abdullah Efendi (d. 1784/1785), Abdülekber Efendi (d. 1787/1788), Abdülgafûr Efendi (d. 1788) and Mehmed Efendi (d. 1795/1796) served as the masters of the lodge during the eighteenth century. After Mehmed Efendi, probably Seyyid Halil Efendi from Bukhara who was also known by the nick name “revnak (brilliance)” became the master of the convent.
It is known that the lodge welcomed people from all kinds of professional background and hosted especially the pilgrims from the Central Asian cities like Tashkent, Khokand, Samarkand, Bukhara, Kashgar, Andican, Namangan, and Karakul who were on their way to Hejaz to perform their pilgrimage. Because the same convoy of pilgrims returned back to their homes through the same route over Istanbul, they would be hosted in this lodge again. Üsküdar Uzbeks’ Lodge became in close relationship with other Uzbeks’ and Afghans’ Lodges in Istanbul. In accordance with the purposes of its establishment, it provided important services especially during the nineteenth century.
According to the findings, the lodge which was visited by many people served to about forty people a day in average. It is also known that the guests who showed inappropriate behavior were sent off the lodge and those who came for educational purposes were hosted for longer periods of time. From this perspective, it did not only serve as a dervish lodge but also functioned as a contact point between the Ottoman State and the Central Asia, a guesthouse, and a dormitory. At special religious nights the lodge’s kitchen would serve Uzbek style rice cooked with carrot, meat, and nicely sliced orange peel. After having the meal and saying prayers, mawlid (a poem about Prophet Muhammad’s birthday) and hymns in the Eastern Turkish would be chanted in the mosque/lodge until the night prayer: And after mawlid, the ceremony of visiting the Prophet’s blessed beard was performed by the sheikh who wore a special Uzbek garment called “çapan.”
Uzbeks’ lodge became the most important center in keeping the Central Asian culture and mystical practices peculiar to Yasawiyya order alive in Istanbul. On Mondays and Thursdays Hatm-i Hacegan ceremony used to be performed in the lodge and a special style of dhikr (chanting the names of Allah) called “dhikr erre” which had more tiring and enthusing features rather than artistic ones and performed together with Ahmad Yasawi’s lyrics with simple tunes.
In the nineteenth century first Mehmed Receb Efendi of Bukhara (d. 1816) and then his son Mehmed Sadık Efendi (d. 1846) became the master of the lodge. Sadık Efendi became famous by his artistry. He was born in the town of Vobkent (Vabkîne) of Bukhara. He brought a different branch of the art of marbling paper (ebru) which he had learned in his homeland to Istanbul where this art had been performed since the 16th century. By teaching this art first to his sons, İbrahim Edhem Efendi and Mehmed Salih Efendi, he helped it to spread. After Sadık Efendi, his brother el-Hâc Abdurrezzâk Efendi (d. 1854), his older son İbrahim Edhem Efendi (b. 1826/d. 1904) and younger son Mehmed Salih Efendi (d. ?) became the masters of the lodge.
One of the most famous of the lodge – who was born in the lodge – İbrahim Edhem Efendi (b. 1826/d. 1904) was educated by the teachers from Bukhara and learned Uzbek and Azeri Turkish, Armenian, and good enough French to understand technical issues. He became known with the nick name hezarfen (a man of thousand skills) for his skills in carpentry, woodwork, foundry, turnery, smithery, machinery, printing, and textile industry. The most famous ebru artists of the recent years, Necmeddin Okyay (b. 1883/d. 1976), Sâmi Efendi (b. 1838/d. 1912), Aziz Efendi (b. 1872/d. 1934), Abdülkadir Kadri Efendi (b. 1875/d. 1942) learned this art from him.
Midhat Pasha appointed İbrahim Edhem Efendi to the director of productions at the School of Industry which he (Midhat Pasha) founded in 1869. By realizing casting of the first lead pipe in the lodge, İbrahim Edhem Efendi helped many turners to be raised. He is also the first person to build a steam engine in Turkey (1875). With the help of the tools he made, İbrahim Edhem Efendi was able to attend the 1867 International Paris Fair and won a medal. During his leadership at the lodge (1855-1904), he turned the lodge into a place of learning and art and raised many famous figures. During the Russo-Ottoman War of 1876, he was appointed as the commander of the national battalion called “Mevkib-i Hümâyun” which was established in Üsküdar. Because of the accusations and rumors “that he might cast cannons and blow the palace up,” he was sent to Hejaz for a while with the excuse of restorations of the Ka’ba. On Fridays, the lodge became a place frequented by the wise, artists, scholars, poets such as Salih Zeki Bey, Minister of the Military College Galib Pasha, Halide Edip Adıvar’s father Edip Bey, and Rıza Tevfik Bölükbaşı.
Because Ata Efendi, the master of the Lodge during the War of Independence, was one of the prominent members of “Karakol Cemiyeti” (The Karakol Society), established to stand up against the invading forces, injured members of “Kuvay-ı Milliye” (National Forces) were mended in the lodge. The lodge also mediated for the smuggling arms and ammunitions to Anatolia. This place became a place frequented by the people who wanted to go to Anatolia such as Adnan Adıvar, Halide Edip Adıvar, İsmet İnönü, Celaleddin Arif Bey and many others played important roles in the War of Independence.
After the abolishment of the darwish lodges and convents, Ata Efendi’s brother Sheikh Necmeddin Efendi (Özbekkangay)’s family resided in the selamlık (public room) section of the lodge, and after his death the lodge was turned into ruins. It could be restored between the years 1983-1994 only with the help of Ertegün family who come from the Sheikh’s lineage.
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