In the ulama class, professions would pass from fathers to their sons; therefore following the conquest of Constantinople, many powerful and influential ulama families came into being, especially in Constantinople. Among those, the Dürrizade family held a very special place.
This well-established family, which lasted for more than 200 years from the early eighteenth century until the early twentieth century and which gave six sheikh al-Islams (chief jurist), several kazaskers (chief judges) and many judges and professors to the Ottoman ulama profession, has been mentioned in various sources as the “ancient noble family, pure and good natured family” and the like. The first famous member of the family was Dürri Mehmed Efendi (d. 1736). He was from the province of Ankara and was the son of a man named İlyas Efendi about whom there is not much information. It is not known how the family name Dürri was adopted. Having served as professor and judge following his madrasa education, Mehmed Efendi became the Sheikh al-Islam in Constantinople. He married the daughter of the reis-ül-ulama (Chief of the Ulama) Abdülkadir Efendi from the Babazade Sinan family. Mehmed Efendi had two sons. The elder son, Mustafa, served as sheikh al-Islam for three times. The other son Nureddin died young when he was still a professor.
With the marital union of sheikh al-Islam Mustafa Efendi and Şerife Safiye Hanım who was the daughter of sheikh al-Islam Seyyid Abdullah Efendi of the Paşmakçızade family, the Dürrizade family also became a seyyid (descendant of the prophet Muhammad) family. Therefore later, the family also had some members who served as nakibüleşraf (the chief of sayyids). Mustafa Efendi had five sons; two of them served as the sheikh al-Islam, one as the kazasker of Rumelia, one as judge and the other as professor. In addition, Mehmed Arif Efendi served as nakib al-ashraf. His daughter Şerife Ayşe Hanım (d. 1817) passed away at a young age. From the five sons of Mustafa Efendi, the family expanded a lot.
The Dürrizade family gained more power through the kinships they formed with various ulama families including the Feyzullahzade family and the Çerkezbeyzade family. Among the ulama families that the Dürrizade family formed a kinship with, the most well-known was the Paşmakçızade family. While the names and jobs of the families’ male members can usually be found, the names, upbringings, marriages and dates of death of the female members are most of the time remain unknown.
Even though the Dürrizade family members served in very important scholarly posts, the number of the ones who produced a written work is quite few. Only the books ed-Dürretü’l-Beyza by the Sheikh al-Islam Mustafa Efendi and Neticetül’l-Fetava by sheikh al-Islam Mehmed Arif Efendi are known to have been written by members of this family.
The family graves are located throughout Istanbul. There are some who are buried in Karacaahmet Cemetery in Üsküdar, in Tunusbağı district, and in La’li Çeşmesi Cemetery outside Edirnekapı district, and also in Kayalar Cemetery in Rumeli Hisarı (Rumeli Fortress).
The most important incident about the Dürrizade family was the fatwas given by the family’s latest member sheikh al-Islam Abdullah Beyefendi against the Turkish War of Independence. As a result of this incident, Abdullah Beyefendi was included in the list of 150 personae non gratae. The family continues its existence today.
The Dürrizade Family Waterside Mansion, which was built in the Bebek district of Istanbul by Sheikh al-Islam Mehmed Ataullah Efendi, passed into other hands several times and it witnessed various events. After the death of Sheikh al-Islam Abdullah Efendi in 1828, the mansion, in which the family lived for a long time, became the residence of the high state officials such as Mehmed Emin Rauf Pasha and Ali Pasha. Later it was bought by Sultan Abdülhamid II and was given as a gift to the mother of Abbas Hilmi Pasha, the Khedive (viceroy) of Egypt. It was demolished soon after, and the Egyptian Embassy building was built in its place. In the Republican period, it was assigned to the Egyptian Consulate.
Akalın, M. Şihabüddin, “Dürrî-zâdeler Ailesi ve Onun Diğer Ailelerle Vücuda Getirdiği Sihrî Münasebât” (graduation thesis, 1948), Istanbul University, Faculty of Letters, General Library, no. 1643.
Bilici, Faruk, “Büyük Bir Şeyhülislâm Ailesinin Son Halkası: Dürrizâde Abdullah Beyefendi”, Prof. Dr. Bekir Kütükoğlu’na Armağan, Istanbul: İstanbul Üniversitesi Edebiyat Fakültesi Tarih Araştırma Merkezi, 1991, pp. 307-318.
Şânîzâde Mehmed Atâullah Efendi, Târîh, ed. Ziya Yılmazer, Istanbul: Çamlıca Basım Yayın, 2008, vol. 1, p. 710; vol. 2, p. 1200-1202.