ČELEBĪ (Čalabī), ʿĀREF (670-719/1272-1320), the son of Bahāʾ-al-Dīn Solṭān Walad and the grandson of Mawlānā Jalāl-al-Dīn Moḥammad Rūmī. His mother was Fāṭema Ḵātūn, daughter of Ṣalāḥ-al-Dīn Zarkūb, one of Rūmī’s foremost ḵalīfas, and he was born on 8 Ḏu’l-qaʿda 670/7 June 1272. His original name, Ferīdūn, as well as the laqab Jalāl-al-Dīn, was given him by his grandfather, who also gave instructions that he was to be known as Amīr ʿĀref, a designation that came to supplant his original name (Aflākī, II, p. 828). Later Mevlevis replaced Amīr with Ulu (Turk. “great”), so that he came to be known as Ulu ʿĀref Čelebī.
All the children that Fāṭema Ḵātūn had borne to Solṭān Walad had died in infancy, and when ʿĀref was born, Rūmī took a close interest in him for the first one and a half years of his life.
Virtually nothing is known concerning ʿĀref Čelebī’s education. Even his disciple Aḥmad Aflākī, who otherwise supplies detailed information concerning his life, has nothing to say on the subject except that he studied the Koran when he was six years old with a certain Ṣalāḥ-al-Dīn from Malaṭīa (Melitene; Aflākī, II, p. 837). It can be concluded, however, from the ḡazals contained in ʿĀref Čelebī’s dīvān—even though they are not particularly brilliant—and from the quatrains he composed on various occasions that he must also have had some literary training.
Seeing the care Rūmī lavished on ʿĀref Čelebī, Solṭān Walad showed his son great respect, even rising whenever he entered the room. This attitude of Solṭān Walad and other members of the family was imitated by the Mawlawīya order (Mevlevis) in general, and it can be said that ʿĀref Čelebī grew up spoiled to some degree. This is confirmed by the reckless conduct he exhibited later in life. ʿĀref Čelebī wished to remain unmarried and it was only as a result of his father’s insistence that he consented to marry. His wife, whose name is unknown to us, bore him two sons, who were to become his successors in leading the Mawlawīya order: Moẓaffar-al-Dīn Amīr ʿĀlem Čelebī and Bahāʾ-al-Dīn Amīr ʿĀdel Čelebī. ʿĀref Čelebī’s undisciplined conduct extended even to the drinking of wine, and his handsome appearance is said to have freely attracted women (Aflākī, II, pp. 834, 842-43, 886-90).
ʿĀref was an avid traveler. His travels secured the spread of the Mawlawīya order in Anatolia and Western Persia and also caused the chroniclers of his life to supply information on the historical, religious, and social circumstances of the regions in question. His journeys in Anatolia included Milas, Čine, and other towns in the beylik (principality) of Menteşe, Afyonkarahisar (Afyūn Qara Ḥeṣār), Denizli (Lāḏīq/Lāḏeq), Eğridir (Egrīdūr), and Ṭavās, Alanya (ʿAlāʾīya), Antalya (Anṭālīa), Akşehir (Aq Šahr), Amasya (Amāsīya), Akdağmadeni (Amasya Madeni; Maʿdan-e Amāsīya), Tokat (Tūqāt), Kayseri (Qaysarīya), and Sīvās, Erzurum (Arzan al-Rūm), Bayburt (Pāyport), and Aḵlāt.
The first journey undertaken by ʿĀref Čelebī outside Anatolia coincided with the early years of the reign of the Il-khan Ḡazān Khan (694-703/1295-1304). He traveled to Tabrīz by way of Erzurum with the intention of visiting ʿErāq-e ʿAjam. While in Tabrīz, he made the acquaintance of Īltormeš (Īltūzmīš; Iltirmiš) Ḵātūn, the wife of Ḡazān Khan, and made her his disciple (Aflākī, II, pp. 844-48). It is known that he went at least once more to Tabrīz, because he had a dispute in Marand with Shaikh Jamāl-al-Dīn Esḥāq Marandī while traveling with the Il-khanid prince Gayḵātū and other members of the entourage of Ḡazān Khan (Aflākī, II, pp. 849-51).
ʿĀref Čelebī’s third journey to Persia took place during the reign of Oljāytū (Öljeytü) Moḥammad Ḵodābanda (703-17/1304-17). After changing his religion several times, Oljāytū had finally settled on Shiʿism and was said, according to Aflākī, to harbor the intention of disinterring the bones of Abū Bakr from his tomb next to that of the Prophet in Medina. When Solṭān Walad heard of this he decided to send ʿĀref Čelebī to Tabrīz, having in mind, no doubt, his son’s influence both on Pāšā Ḵātūn, the wife of Gayḵātū, and Īltormeš Ḵātūn, the widow of Ḡazān Khan. This decision was put into effect after the death of Solṭān Walad in 712/1312-13 and ʿĀref Čelebī’s formal succession to the leadership of the Mawlawīya order. In accordance with his father’s wish, ʿĀref Čelebī set out from Konya (Qūnīa) in 715/1315, and reached the Il-khanid capital of Solṭānīya on 8 Ḏu’l-ḥejja 716/21 February 1317, after spending about eight or nine months in Kayseri, Sīvās, Aḵlāt, and Bayburt on the way. He spent a year, or possibly a little more, in Solṭānīya, and introduced there the Mawlawīya form of samāʿ (Aflākī, II, pp. 858-61). It is not known when he returned from Solṭānīya to Konya. However, he fell sick in Konya after arriving there from Aksaray (Aq Sarā) on the last Friday in Ḏu’l-qaʿda 719/11 January 1320, and he died twenty five days later (24 Ḏu’l-ḥejja 719/5 February 1320; ibid., p. 971).
ʿĀref Čelebī played a great role in the dissemination of the Mawlawīya order, and from youth onwards he willingly confronted all those who were against it, inspired by a self-importance that his grandfather’s solicitude had induced in him. However, far from eliciting respect from those who opposed the order, ʿĀref Čelebī’s conduct aroused fear in them, and gave rise to incidents everywhere he went.
ʿĀref Čelebī was only a mediocre poet; nonetheless, he is known for the quatrains and ḡazals of Sufi content that he wrote as parallels (naẓīra) to those composed by Rūmī.
Šams-al-Dīn Aḥmad Aflākī ʿĀrefī, Manāqeb al-ʿārefīn, 2 vols., ed. T. Yazıcı, Ankara, 1959-61, 2nd ed., Ankara, 1980.
A. Gölpınarlı, Mevlana’dan sonra Mevlevilik, 2nd ed., Istanbul, 1983, pp. 65-95.
Ferīdūn b. Aḥmad Sepahsālār, Resāla-ye Sepahsālār, Kanpur, 1319/1901, pp. 78-79, ed. S. Nafīsī, Tehran, 1325 Š./1946.
The poetry of ʿĀref Čelebī: Ulu Arif Çelebi’nin rübaileri, ed. and tr. F. Nafiz Uzluk, Istanbul, 1949.
A selection of his verse is contained in the Millet Kütüphanesi (Pertev Paşa 509 [eski] 157 [yeni]) manuscript of Manāqeb al-ʿārefīn, fols. 176a-217a.
Originally Published: December 15, 1990
Last Updated: December 15, 1990
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Vol. V, Fasc. 2, pp. 121-122