With his scholarly and moral authority, his sincere piety and humility, Omer Nasuhi Bilmen, the famous Qur’anic commentator and scholar of Islamic jurisprudence, is one of the primary and most trustworthy sources on religious matters for Muslims in Turkey. He earned the love and respect of all for the successful and sincere way in which he represented Ahl al-Sunnah belief in his person in terms of belief, worship and moral virtue.
Omer Nasuhi Bilmen, an authority on the Qur’an and Islamic jurisprudence, was Turkey’s fifth head of the Ministry of Religious Affairs. He was born in 1883 in the village of Salasar in the province of Erzurum. Following the death of his father in his early childhood, he began studying under the supervision of his uncle, Abdul Razzaq Efendi, a teacher at Erzurum’s Ahmadiyya Madrassa and district governor of Naqib al-Ashraf. He studied with his uncle and Hussain Efendi of Narman, the mufti of Erzurum. When his two teachers died in close succession he moved to Istanbul in 1908 and studied under Shakir Efendi of Tokat, who held the Ottoman post of official licensed to teach in mosques in the district of Fatih, from whom he later received his diploma in 1909. He also passed the exams set by the Ministry of Education and began teaching in mosques as a licensed teacher as of 1912.
In 1913 he also graduated from the Faculty of Law where he had been studying at the same time. He had a good knowledge of Arabic and Persian, and was able to write in these languages as well as Turkish, and began working as a clerk in the Fatwa Office in July 1913. The following year he was promoted to chief clerk and accepted as a member of the Copyright Board. He served in a number of posts until being appointed to the Religious Affairs Office on June 30th, 1960. He worked there for less than a year before retiring from the Religious Affairs Office in April, 1961. Omer Nasuhi Bilmen also worked as a teacher throughout his long years of working in the civil service administration and taught Ethics and Citizenship at the Darussafaka High School for nearly 20 years. He also taught methods of Islamic law and rhetoric at Istanbul’s Imam Hatip School and Higher Islamic Institute. He continued with his intellectual activities until the end of his life, and after retiring wrote a famous eight -volume treatise of Qur’anic interpretation to serve as a guide for believers. Ömer Nasuhi Bilmen passed away on October 12th, 1971, and was buried in the Edirnekapı Sakızagaci Martyr’s Cemetery.
Omer Nasuhi Bilmen strove on the path of Allah with enormous determination following his transfer to the Istanbul Mufti’s Office right up until the time of his death, and is a most trustworthy scholar. He enjoyed a most important place in the hearts of believers with his determination and clear attitudes regarding religious moral values. He defended these moral values with the great courage and success to be expected of his powerful faith against certain voices that began being raised during the turbulent 1960s.
“Islamic Law and Technical Dictionary of Islamic Jurisprudence”
- Turkish-Language Version of and Commentary on the Holy Qur’an;
- Great History of Qur’anic Interpretation;
- Lessons and Advice from the Holy Qur’an;
- Turkish-Language Commentary on the Islamic Teaching in Surat at-Fatir with a History of Istanbul;
- Buds of Wisdom: a translation and interpretation of 500 hadiths
- Clear Science of Rhetoric;
- A Brief Exposition of the Islamic Doctrine of Monotheism;
- and Elevated Islamic Moral Values are very clear and accessible thanks to the language and clarity of expression employed by the great Sunni scholar Ömer Nasuhi Bilmen.
Omer Nasuhi Bilmen spent much of his life engaged in writing and wrote many works on fundamental Islamic scholarship. He devoted considerable space to subjects concerned with worship in the “Great Islamic Catechism”, which he published in 1947-1948 in order to make his commentaries clearer and more accessible to Muslims than the catechisms that had appeared before; this work contains summarized information about doctrine, and sets out religious commandments in a clear and satisfying way in this and other books. This valuable book, which has achieved the difficult taskof having more than three million copies printed, filled an important gap by discussing many subjects that could not be broached in Turkey for many years and meeting the public’s need for accurate information on religious matters.