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Yanyalı Esat Efendi

By:
Ibrahim Kalin
Source:
The Oxford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Science, and Technology in Islam What is This? Includes complete coverage of Islamic philosophy, sciences, and technologies from the classical through contemporary periods.

Yanyalı Esat Efendi

Yanyalı Esat ibn Ali ibn Osman Efendi was born in the Epirus region of northwestern Greece. He completed his early education in Yanya and Istanbul, studying Arabic, Persian, French, Greek, and Latin. He became a professor at the Eyüp madrasah in Istanbul and assumed the position of the chief religious authority (qāḍī) of Galata. He was also a member of the Naqshibandīyah Ṣūfī order.

Yanyalı Esat Efendi was the first Muslim scholar to translate Aristotle’s Physics directly from Greek into Arabic. His translation and commentary, entitled Tercümet-ü mücelled-i al-semȃniye li-Aristetalis, was commissioned by the Ottoman grand-vizier Damat İbrāhīm Pasha. Yanyalı’s translations and commentaries were part of a larger project by the Ottoman court to bring about a cultural renaissance in the eighteenth century, which became known as the Tulip era.

In his introduction to the translation, Esat Efendi gives a brief discussion of the principles of traditional Greek and Islamic philosophy and refers to Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. He discusses the significance of “wisdom” (ḥikmat) for the purpose of human life and the study of the universe and quotes the wisdom sayings of Greek philosophers. This is notable, considering the low interest in the study of natural sciences and traditional philosophy in the eighteenth-century Islamic world.

Esat Efendi examines the views of such Western commentators of Aristotle as Albertus Magnus, John Duns Scotus, and St. Thomas Aquinas. He refers to the works of al-Farābī, Ibn Sīnā (Avicenna), and Ibn Rushd. While praising Ibn Rushd as a philosopher and scientist, he also criticizes him for his mistakes in physics. Yanyalı mentions the telescope and the microscope in his writings, which indicates the extent of his study of modern science of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Yanyalı’s other works include a book on geometry called Kitāb amal al-murabbaʾ al-musāwi liʾd-dāʾirah. Risālah Lāhutiyyah deals with the kalām proofs for the existence of God. Ḥāshiyah ʿalā ithbāt al-wujūd is also devoted to the same issue. Ḥāshiyah al-fat ḥiyyah ʿalā al-sharḥ al-ḥanafiyyah liʾr-risālat al-ʿaḍūḍiyyah is a work in theology on ʿAḍūḍ al-Dīn al-ʿĪjī’s Sharḥ al-ḥanafiyyah. Finally, Sharḥ manẓūma-yi shahīdī is a translation of Shahīdī’s Persian dictionary, written in rhymes with a running commentary.

Yanyalı also composed poems in Turkish, Persian, and Arabic and published translations of poetry from Latin, Arabic, and Persian.

Bibliography

  • Adıvar, A. Adnan. Osmanlı Türklerinde İlim. 4th ed. İstanbul: Remzi Kitabevi, 1982.
  • Aydüz, Salim. “Esad Yanyevi.” In Osmanlılar Ansiklopedisi, vol. 1, pp. 420–421. Istanbul: YKY, 1999.
  • Brockelmann, Carl. Geschichte der Arabischen Literatur, I–II. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 1943–1944.
  • Sarıkavak, Kazım. XVIII. Yüzyılda Bir Osmanlı Düşünürü: Yanyalı Esad Efendi. Ankara: Kültür Bakanlığı Yayınları, 1997.
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