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Khoja Akhmed Yassawi

Khoja Akhmed Yassawi (born in Sayram in 1093, and died in 1166 in Hazrat-e Turkestan, both cities now in Kazakhstan), was a Turkic poet and Sufi (Muslim mystic), an early mystic who exerted a powerful influence on the development of mystical orders throughout the Turkic-speaking world. Yasavi is currently the earliest known Turkic poet who composed poetry in a Turkic dialect.

Yassawi made considerable efforts to spread Islam throughout Central Asia and had numerous students in the region. Yasawi's poems created a new genre of religious folk poetry in Central Asian Turkic literature and influenced many religious poets. Yassawi made the city of Yasi into the major centre of learning for the Kazakh steppes, then retired to a life of contemplation aged 63. He dug himself an underground cell where he spent the rest of his life. Turkish scholar Hasan Basri Çantay noted that "It was a Seljuk king who brought Rumi, the great Sufi poet, to Konya; and it was in Seljuq times that Ahmad Yesevi, another great Sufi, lived and taught. The influence of those two remarkable teachers has continued to the present."

A mausoleum was later built on the site of his grave by Tamerlane the Great in the city (today called Turkistan).


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