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Şükrü Halûk Akalın



Saltuq-name is an Anatolian Turkish legend, which contains the legends of Sarï Saltuq who lived in the XIIIth century in Anatolia and in the Balkans. As a historical personality, Sarï Saltuq was a commander of ‘Izz al-Dīn Kaykā’ūs II, the ruler of the Anatolian of the Seljuks. According to Yazïcïoghlu Ali, Sarï Saltuq crossed over the sea from Uskudar to Dobrudja with nearly 10.000 Turks, and then proceeded to Dobrudja in 1261 (A.H.660)[1]. As a dervish and a warrior, Sarï Saltuq is a well-known Turkish hero as cited in various sources such as Ibn Batuta, Yazïcïoghlu Ali, Seyyid Loqman, Evliya Chelebi, Birzali and also in the oral tradition among the people of the time and the yeniçeri. Among these sources, the first reference to Sarï Saltık is Ibn Batuta who came to Baba Dagh nearly 50 years after the death of Sarï Saltık. Ibn Batuta listened to the legends of Sarï Saltık in Baba Dagh and wrote that all of them were against the Sharia. The second source is Yazıcıoglu Ali’s Târîh-i Âl-i Seljuk, which was mentioned above. We informed from Târîh-i Âl-i Selçuk that after settling in Dobrudja the Tatar Berke Khan of the Crimea moved the Turks of Dobrudja with Sarï Saltuq to the steppes. Soon they were permitted to return to their homeland in Dobrudja under the leadership of Sarï Saltuq. Meanwhile, one of the sons of ‘Izz al- Dīn Kaykā’ūs II, who was held captive by the Byzantine emperor, tried to escape and yet was recaptured and imprisoned. The patriarch asked for the prince from the basileus, baptized him and made him a monk. After serving in the Hagia Sophia for some time, the prince was then sent to Sarï Saltuq upon the latter’s request; the patriarch knew Sarï Saltuq to be a holy man, whose demands he was thus ready to meet. Sarï Saltuq converted the prince back to Islam and, bestowing upon him the name Barak as well as his own supernatural powers which he himself had received from Mahmud-i Hayrani of Akshehir when he was still a shepherd, sent him to the village of Sultaniyya, presumably in Azerbaijan. Sarï Saltuq himself died in Dobrudja shortly after 1300[2]. Kemal Pasha-zade, the author of Tevârih-i Âl-i Osman mentioned in his work the settling of Sarï Saltuq in Dobrudja. According to Evliya Chelebi, the real name of Sarï Saltuq was Muhammad Buharî. Hodja Ahmet Yassawi sent him to Anatolia to Hadji Bektash Vali. In the sources of Bektashi’s Sarï Saltuq appears as a disciple of Hadji Bektash Vali. Some views about Sarï Saltuq in these sources are rather different from each other.

Certainly, the most important source about Sarï Saltuq is Saltuq-name, which was written in the XVth century by Ebū l’Xayr Rūmi.  Ebū l’Xayr Rūmi collected the legends of Sarï Saltuq from the oral tradition with the order of Prince Cem, Mehmed the Conqueror’s younger son. Ebū l’Xayr Rūmi completed his work in 7 years, between 1473-1480.  According to Saltuq-name the real name of Sarï Saltuq was Sheriff Hızır. In his work, Ebū l’Xayr Rūmi did not mention the dates of birth and death of Sarï Saltuq.  But we can estimate these dates from the events appearing in the Saltuq-name.  As can be infered from such events, Sarï Saltuq was born in the first quarter the XIIIth century, and died in the first quarter of the XIVth century.

There are six manuscripts of the Saltuq-name, one of which is in the Topkapı Palace Museum Treasury Library, and was published in Harvard University as facsimile by Fahir İz and Şinasi Tekin. Two in the Ankara National Library; one in the Library of the University of Istanbul; one in the Library of Halil Nuri Yurdakul in Bor (a suburban town of the city of Niğde). These manuscripts were copied between the XVIth and XVIIIth centuries. And, one copy is in a private library in Sivas, which was copied in the XIXth century. I reviewed and compared these manuscripts and prepared a critical edition of Saltuq-name, which was published by the Ministry of Culture in Ankara as three volumes in 1988[3].

We can find historical events of the XIIIth century besides the legends of Sarï Saltuq in Saltuq-name. According to Saltuq-name, Sarï Saltuq battled for the conquest of Anatolia and the Balkans. In some legends, Sarï Saltuq and Osman, founder of the Ottoman Empire, fought against the enemy together. He always revered Osman. There are legends about the historical persons of the XIIIth and XIVth centuries. For example, Nasreddin Hodja, Hajji Bektash, Karaja Ahmed, Gıyasuddin Keyhusrev, Sultan Alauddin, ‘Izz al-Dīn Kaykā’ūs II, Umur Bey and etc.

Also there are some fantastic stories in Saltuq-name. Certainly, the hero of the most fantastic stories is Sarï Saltuq. He battled with witches, dragons, and dangerous, wild animals. He went to Kaf Mountain, and flew on the shoulder of the Simurg, the mythological bird. He had mythological guns. Minu Çihr, the genie helped him when he was in danger. Hızır rescued him several times from enemy.  He talked with the dead, and they responded to him from their graves, and learned something about afterlife. Once, he even talked with the Prophet Muhammed and caliph Ali in their graves. Next, he found elixir, the water of life but could not drink it.

In Saltuq-name, there is a tale about a mysterious ship, made from copper. Actually, this is the death ship, and it comes from afterlife, which sails only in winter. The sailors of this ship were genies. They sunk ships, and killed sailors who sailed untimely.                  

In this paper, I try to present information of the beliefs on afterlife in Saltuq-name. Certainly, these beliefs belong to the teller of the legends as well as to the author of the Saltuq-name.

In the first volume of Saltuq-name, after a long journey, Sarï Saltuq comes to a place, which looks like paradise behind the Kaf Mountain with four genies. Hızır was also with Sarï Saltuq. This was a flourishing place. Everybody was in peace and quite. People never work in this place. They were sitting under the trees, and they were talking to each other. Everybody was in great pleasure. They were meeting their needs from big trees, which provided all kinds of things to eat. There were also some trees, which bore fruit as shirts and caftans. The clothes here never get dirty or wear out. There was no death, nor any illness in this place. All the people here are young. All men were thirty-three years old, and all of women fifteen. The buildings were made of gold and silver, and were decorated with pearl, ruby and emerald. The ground bears the smell of musk, ambergris and camphor. The river flowing in this country tastes like honey and milk. Genies said that this river was flowing from heaven[4].  

The teller of the legend and the author of the book do not mention whether this place was heaven or not. Yet, the picture looks like it. We can see the beliefs about afterlife in this picture. This place is a thriving area, and there is eternal life here. In this legend, the main cult is tree, which can be found in resources of most religions. These trees are the sources of main supplies. The second cult is the river. In Islamic sources the tree is called tuba, and the river kevser.  

Sarï Saltuq asked of the genies whether this place was heaven or not. They hinted that this place was a symbol of heaven. The name of the country was Djavid. Sarï Saltuq talked to the people of this country, and learned about their life. The people were prosperous. Undoubtedly, Sarï Saltuq liked this place, and wanted to live here. Hızır said that it was impossible to live here permanently for a mortal. However, he was permitted to live here for six months only[5].               

Several times Sarï Saltuq talked to the Prophet Mohammed, caliph Ali, and Abu Hanifa in their graves[6]. They gave messages to him from afterlife. Sarï Saltuq heard Muhammad’s voice from his grave. He talked with the Prophet in front of his grave[7]. And talked to Imam Hanifa and Imam Shafi in front of their graves. He asked them questions and they answered him from their graves[8]. In the third volume Sarï Saltuq came to the caliph Ali’s grave. It was in a deep hole. An angel with green wings was waiting at the door. There were also eight hundred eighty eight angels and eight thousand genies in the grave, all were in the service of caliph Ali. Sarï Saltuq entered the room. The room was made from white marble. He saw at the center of the room the coffin of caliph Ali. He looked like alive. When he came closer to the coffin, Ali suddenly held his hands, and looked at him. Sarï Saltuq fainted. When he recovered, an angel said to him to leave the room and pray. After praying, caliph Ali talked to Sarï Saltuq from his coffin, and gave messages from afterlife, and wished Sarï Saltuq well[9].

These extraordinary and incredible events were written in order to portray Sarï Saltuq as a saint. In these events we can gain insight into people’s beliefs on afterlife and holy personalities and prophets. According to these beliefs prophets and holy persons can see and hear everything and everyone and talk from their graves. Their corpses are also alive and can move[10].

Sarï Saltuq also was at the place of Dajjal, which is an evil creature and is supposed to appear shortly before doomsday. This place was a great palace, where an angel with green wings was waiting in front of the door. Sarï Saltuq wanted to see Dajjal, but was not permitted to[11]. Sarï Saltuq was also in the cave of Harut and Marut, two evils who could cast spells upon people, and were punished by God to live head down in a cave in perpetuity[12].  

According to Saltuq-name, Sarï Saltuq had incredible powers, such as bringing dead people back to life. There is a tale in the second volume of Saltuq-name, which related an event between a king and Sarï Saltuq. The king made a bet with Sarï Saltuq whether he (Sarï Saltuq) could bring dead people back to life. When they came to the cemetery, the king showed four graves which belonged to two princes and two princesses. Sarï Saltuq prayed for God to bring these dead people back to life. Suddenly, the graves cracked open, and two girls and two boys stood up out of their graves. Their corpses were not spoiled. They took each other by the hand and began to talk, by giving some religious advice and messages. The king was baffled and did not know what to do and what to say. He lost the bet. The four corpses begged to go back to their graves. They said that they were comfortable in their graves, and they were having a wonderful afterlife. Sarï Saltuq prayed, and the four corpses went back into their graves[13].

Another tale in second tome is about a different way of death. Sarï Saltuq comes to a place near Babylon, where there was no dead, or cemetery. He wants to know what happens at the end of life. People answer “Sometimes, a voice comes from the mountains and calls a person’s name. The person, who is called, runs toward the mountains, and gets lost out of sight. We don’t see him again.” Sarï Saltuq gets astonished, and asks what would happen if someone was not to respond to this voice. A man said that his father had once thought not to go. But when his name was called he began to run to the mountain. “I shouted to my father not to go, but he told me that he had a chain round his neck, and was being pulled by it, and could not resist it. The chain was invisible to other people.” This is a well-known tale, which gives the message that there is no escape from the death[14]



[1] Yazıcıoghlu Ali, Târih-i Âl-i Selçuk, Topkapı Sarayı Müzesi Kütüphanesi Revan Köşkü bölümü, Nu.1391, 233a

[2] A.T. Karamustafa, “Early Sufism in Eastern Anatolia”, Classical Persian Sufism: from its origins tu Rumi, London, 1993, pp.190-191

[3] Ebu’l-Hayr-ı Rûmî, Saltuk-nâme I, Hazırlayan: Şükrü Halûk Akalın, Kültür ve Turizm Bakanlığı yayınları, Kaynak Eserler Dizisi 8,  Ankara, 1988; Ebu’l-Hayr-ı Rûmî, Saltuk-nâme II, Hazırlayan: Şükrü Halûk Akalın, Kültür ve Turizm Bakanlığı yayınları, Kaynak Eserler Dizisi 8, İstanbul, 1988; Ebu’l-Hayr-ı Rûmî, Saltuk-nâme III, Hazırlayan: Şükrü Halûk Akalın, Kültür Bakanlığı yayınları, Kaynak Eserler Dizisi 11,  Ankara, 1990

[4] Saltuk-nâme I, p. 243-244

[5] Saltuk-nâme I, p. 245

[6] Saltuk-nâme I, p. 55-56; Saltuk-nâme II, p. 200-201, 206; Saltuk-nâme III, 41-42

[7] Saltuk-nâme I, p. 55-56

[8] Saltuk-nâme II, p. 206

[9] Saltuk-nâme III, p. 42

[10] Saltuk-nâme III, p. 41-42

[11] Saltuk-nâme II, p. 1

[12] Saltuk-nâme II, p. 123

[13] Saltuk-nâme II, p. 56-57

[14] Saltuk-nâme II, p. 129