Abdulaziz Efendi was born in 1313/1895 at their house in Mercan in Istanbul. His father Halis Efendi, a dervish who progressed in tasawwuf and attained spiritual degrees, was a wealthy and respected figure, and a merchant from Kazan.
Abdulaziz Efendi began his education by receiving Arabic and Islamic sciences lessons from Halil Efendi, the Imam of Kaptanpasha Mosque in his childhood. Later he finished the Daruttedris School.
After spending a part of his childhood in Istanbul, he moved to Kazan in 1910 with his family, where they had a house and land. After staying there for a while, he moved to Bukhara where he spent five years studying science and then he returned to Kazan. He spoke about those days with these words:
“I have never slept after sunrise since the age of five-six. When I was seven or eight, I used to go to the garden every morning after the prayer. In our large tree-lined garden, for hours, I would listen to the birds saying “Hu” and make dhikr to Allah. My father never gave me any work. He used to say “Rest in my health friend of Allah, you can work when I die.”
In their large thirty-room house, allocated to the students who were occupied with their studies and religious assemblies, their happiness was shadowed by the death of their father. Around this time the Russian Revolution broke out. Abdulaziz Efendi returned to İstanbul again in 1921 with his siblings. He had fifteen siblings, 12 sisters and 3 brothers from two mothers. Although he opened a shop in Asmaalti with his brothers, this trade venture was very short. Then he continued in Bayezid Madrasa in Carsikapi for a while.
His first duties as Imam were in a mosque in Beykoz and later in Aksaray. After that, he served as an Imam-Khatip, respectively in Yazici Baba, Kefeli and Zeyrek Civizade Ummu Gulsum Mosques. His duty in Zeyrek Mosque continued for thirteen years.
After returning from Kazan to Istanbul, he visited many dervish lodges and sheiks. Among these was Küçük Hussein Efendi, the caliph of Nakhshi sheikh Hajji Feyzullah Efendi. Küçük Hussein Efendi, who was a sweet natured, gracious, and popular figure at that time, sat under a wall-clock, bowed his head down and performed muraqaba ( a kind of self-inspection). Aziz Efendi also sat down in front of him, waited for a while, then he began to hear that the clock was making dhikr to Allah. Every time the clock ticked, it called the sublime names of Allah. He related this in his own words:
“Then I opened my eyes. Sheikh Efendi also opened his eyes. He said to me: “O our dervish, you seem to have heard the dhikr of the clock?” Upon this, I said to myself “ I can receive lessons from this Hodja.” When I said to him, “Sir, with your permission I want to receive lessons from you”, He replied, ‘Son! Your destiny is not with us, if you search you will find it. But aspire to be a dervish, be a dervish; do not seek to be a guide. Being a guide is extremely difficult.’ Now I understand that it is very difficult.”
Finally, through his friend from the madresa Mehmed Zahid Kotku (Rh.a), he met with Mustafa Feyzi Efendi from Tekirdag and found what he was seeking. Thus, the divine passion that he had inside him since an early age had a happy ending by meeting his guide. Almost immediately in the same year, at the age of twenty-seven, he received the certificate to teach Ramus al-Ahadith and authority of guidance in spiritual sciences.
Abdulaziz Efendi (Rh.a) describes one of the seclusions in the sheikhs spiritual contemplation:
“Sheikh Efendi called for seclusion. Everybody took their hide skins. I was a slim, delicate person, I also took my hide skin and went. Sheikh Efendi was taking everyone inside one-by-one. My turn came. He said ‘Go and bring your bed’, I was very upset, surprised and I cried. I went and brought my bed, I thought to myself, "What kind of dervish is this, everyone is entering seclusion with their hide skins, I'm entering with a bed.” So I came to the door. As I stepped in, the sheikh leaned over towards my ear; “Allah is the One who gives, He will give whether you are in a bed or a hide skin.” I went into seclusion in the bed. I never said anything that rhymed in my life, nothing. They would not allow this. One day I wanted to say so many things in a state of seclusion, I started to write everything. I suppose that it could fill books as eulogies. I put my hand over my mouth, and waited. At that moment a few words came out of my mouth. Only one sentence came out of my mouth in whole my life when I was in seclusion. I said “Your shining beauty is the beauty of Allah, Oh Messenger of Allah!” At that time, Sheikh Efendi entered the room, came over to me and said, “Swallow, swallow, swallow.” After that, I never spoke again.
Abdulaziz Efendi was a large-headed, pointed-chinned, blue-eyed person with a wheat colored complexion. His skin was white. His beard was blond, long and sparse. He had a body structure that resembles Ali Efendi. He was of medium height and strong ; he had a wide chest and a majestic appearance. He had a unique walk with his hands tied behind his back, slightly leaning forwards. Generally he never used a vehicle and would walk wherever he went.
Hasib Efendi, who was the leader of the dervish lodge before him and was thirty years older than him, said, “His house is the dervish lodge, he is occupied with Allah.” Abdulaziz Efendi would sit and give sermons and speeches until morning; attempt to convince people, and guide people to the true path; he would guide those who devoted themselves to this path, and those who progressed on the path of spirituality. He taught thousands of students, and taught Ramus al-Ahadith many times.
Abdulaziz Efendi performed his first pilgrimage amidst a mystical veil of spiritually. He departed in 1942 saying “I'm going to hajj.” Without a passport or any other preparation... He crossed the border, but no one knows how he did it. He stayed in a village in Syria for 5 days. The village people were so absorbed by his speeches. When they come to bid their farewells, all of the villagers cried and said: Efendi, we wish we never met you. Indeed, Aziz Efendi's sermons were so enchanting, he had a special charm.
His ability to address people of all levels and ages individually, his concise style of speech in the form of questions and answers with the public was so capturing that a person who attended these sermons always returned.
Nureddin Topcu, a person who completed his PhD in Philosophy in Sorbonne, attended Abdulaziz Efendi’s sermon on the invitation of a friend, as he was leaving around midnight, Topcu turned to his friend before walking out of the door and said, “Would it be rude if we went back inside again?”
Nureddin Topçu's fondness and devotion for Aziz Efendi continued increasingly after that sermon.
One day, the late Nureddin Topcu said, “Imam Efendi, we are so heedless. Aziz Efendi replied; "Of course we are heedless, we would not be able to do anything if we were not heedless."
One day during Aziz Efendi s illness, Nureddin Topcu was cooling him with a hand held fan. Aziz Efendi asked “Don't you have anything to do?” When Topcu replied "No, Efendi" Aziz Efendi remarked “Is there a better job than this?” indicating that the service to a guide is a praiseworthy act.
In his sermons, Aziz Efendi always held a book in his hand, but he spoke spontaneously.
There was a large garden behind the Zeyrek Mosque. In one corner there was a fig tree on an embankment, he used to have gatherings with small groups of people under the cool shade of this tree in the summer, or in the big room on the ground floor of his house. Both of these places had a wide view of Suleymaniye Mosque.
Aziz Efendi was so dedicated that he sacrificed his time, knowledge, property and family in the way of Allah (cc.). He was so kind to his loved ones, to the extent that until four days before his death, although he was unable speak properly due to his illness, he still gave them advice until midnight.
He bore three characteristics that are difficult to find together in a person: submission, devotion and modesty.
His generosity in allocating time for those who came to his door was unequalled! No matter what time of the night it was, he would say, “If there is a light on in the gathering room, you can knock the door and come in!”
Abdul Aziz Efendi, who became the leader of dervish lodge after Hasib Efendi's death in 1949, welcomed his admirers and visitors day and night, he made a great effort to fulfill his duty as guide although his time was limited.
He advised those who came to him to make a choice, saying "One door is every door, every door is no door!" Those who do not really know how to choose, always find it difficult to understand and determine the value of the chosen.
Abdulaziz Efendi (Rh.a), an intellectual of that time, gave particular interest to university students and young students, irrelevant if they performed the prayers or not; even if he realized they were weak in terms of their faith, he would still give long sermons and words of advice to everyone who visited his house. He especially enjoyed serving the university youth in his home; he was always polite to them. He tried to answer their questions and solve their problems. A person who attended Aziz Efendi’s gatherings at that time said:
“As the youth of that time we used to go to Aziz Efendi’s gatherings, he inspired us to pray. He was a very important, valuable, extremely respected person who gave us guidance and encouraged us with constructive actions. The saying “Service to the public is service to Allah” belongs to him.
Zeyrek Mosque, where Aziz Efendi served as an imam, not only functioned as a mosque but also had a second function, it was also a institution for science and thought, and became the center of advice and benefit for those who had the aspiration of servitude.
As always, in that time also the Gumushanevi School guided scholars, scientists and students from all levels. Today, the generation over the age of fifty, those who are devoted to the commands and values of Islam; they are among the first generation of university students who acquired a certain richness of spirit from his vast knowledge and compassion.
Once, when one of his followers asked permission to bring an alcoholic man to him with the hope that he would be healed from the disease, he said:
“You can bring all kinds of people here, as long as he is not arrogant. Because an arrogant man means that he has sold his soul to the devil.”
Aziz Efendi was also at the peak of generosity in material terms. In fact, he was a person of generosity even in times of poverty. Although he came from a rich family, he donated almost all of his father's inheritance to widows, and he lived on his Imam salary with his family and four children. Aziz Efendi was an imam at Zeyrek Mosque at that time. His salary was 19 liras. Due to this, he bought goats to provide for his children, he fed them with the milk of the goats. He bred goats; every day he would go to the bazaar, and after the bazaar closed he collected the leftover vegetables, bring them home and fed his goats.
He never gave any importance to the world and worldly belongings; he never kept anything he had or anything in his home if it wasn’t needed. Sometimes he gave his entire salary to a Muslim brother in need without spending any of it himself.
In one of his Friday sermons on submission, he said:
”If you were in total submission Allah would give your riziq like He is giving a bird’s daily sustenance.”
He related an event he experienced to a close friend with these words:
“Sometimes we used to borrow from the grocery store, and one day I said: If You are to give, please give oh Lord! There was nothing left in the house. My wife called from upstairs ‘Efendi, did you leave 50 liras in the pocket of this robe? I said, No give it to me so we can use it. At that times 50 liras was a lot of money, it was as much as my salary.”
Again, one of his followers describes Aziz Efendi’s submission as follows:
“We were sitting under the fig tree in the garden. Meanwhile, his seven-year-old daughter, Mariam came with a basket that she carried with great difficulty. He asked, "Did you see who brought it?" She replied“No, Daddy” he said, “Run, look and see who it was?” Mariam ran off quickly. On her return she said “I didn't see who it was, someone at the door said ‘take this’ and he disappeared.” I had a look. It was a supply of food. Aziz Efendi told me, "At that moment there was nothing to eat at home for the children and my family." This was the extent of his submission to the Creator .
Abdulaziz Efendi married at the age of thirty-nine and had four children, two girls and two boys.
Speaking about Aziz Efendi, his wife, Sazimet Hanım, said, “In our 18 years of marriage, I have never seen him sleep all night. He was always engaged in worship.”
If he had time before noon, he would take a short nap. And yet he was never seen yawning or tired.
Aziz Efendi had all the characteristics of good morals. He never abandoned the Sunnah of the Prophet.
When he was thinking about something, he held his beard with his right hand and inspected the end of it, which was also a Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (sav).
Aziz Efendi always had guests at his table. At dinner, he joked frequently, he fed those who acted shyly with his spoon.
One day, when someone asked him: “Efendi, according to the adab (morals) of this lodge, should questions be asked by the tongue or the heart?” He replied, “Both are accepted, but we prefer the way of heart.”
Abdulaziz Efendi had a great influence on his disciples and followers. That is why he was able to gather and keep many people from various levels around him.
In every person there are manifestations of God's attributes. Those who knew Aziz Efendi say that in him the attribute of “Jalal or beauty” was more prevailing. But this glory was concealed beneath the beauty of his smile. He was an extremely tolerant, smiling, humble, modest person.
Abdulaziz Bekkine became ill after completing his first hajj in August 1952. On Monday, November 2, 1952, around noon he passed away at a relatively early age of 57. His tomb is close to the tomb of Hasib Efendi, his friend from the Madresa, in the Edirnekapi Sakizagaci Martyrs Graveyard.
Also known as Jalal Hodja, Celaleddin Okten’s close relationship and friendship with Mehmet Zahid Kotku (Rh.a) began through Abdulaziz Efendi.
Almost like twins of the same family, Abdulaziz Efendi and Mehmed Zahid Efendi, who had great affection for one another, completed their education together in religious sciences, carried out the necessary duties in their main objective of serving others, in other words seclusion, and attained an abundance of knowledge in accordance with their aspiration and deservedness that came from the pure, unadulterated sources from the Messenger of Allah. Mehmed Zahid Kotku relates the following in his book “The Nurture of Nafs”:
“At one time, we often visited the tomb of Yusha alaihisalam in Beykoz. Our late brother Hajji Aziz always carried Kuddusi’s book Manaqib with him. As we traveled on the ship, we would go into a cabin and read them with immense pleasure. As we read, our pleasure increased…”
The perfection of human character manifests in his behavior. Aziz Efendi, as a person who maintained the dignity and honor of his character, was an example for all those around him, who paid great attention to the manners of speech, actions and listening to others.
Abdulaziz Efendi was a blessed man and unique with his intelligence, his eloquence, his taqwa (piety), his generosity, his love and affection for his students, and his devotion.
The first paragraph of an article, which was written by the late Nureddin Topçu, a follower of Aziz Efendi after his death is filled with emotion:
“I've lost that great being who walked before our souls. My grief is so immense that it will never be embraced by the arms of time and fate. In his final gaze, which is now for me bemusement, it was almost as if a divine order and angelic innocence were combined. I have never seen modesty and warning combined in such a way in a glance before in my life.
After those blue eyes, which easily plunged onto the prophet-type beard closed, I was left alone. It felt like I was expelled from the realm of truth and love and took refuge in the world of shadows and poor delinquents.”
“KAZANLI ABDÜLAZİZ BEKKİNE EFENDİ (RH.A)”