Obituary: Sufi leader Tosun Bayraktaroglu

By Ahmet Sait Akcay

ANKARA (AA) – Tosun Bekir Bayraktaroglu, who died in New York on Feb. 15, was the sheikh of the Helveti-Jerrahi Sufi order and art history professor. He was 92.

Fondly remembered as 'Tosun Baba' by his followers, he devoted his life to Sufism and retired from the world of art.

His spiritual awakening started when he met Sheikh Muzaffer Ozak Ashki al-Jerrahi in 1970 at Jerrahi Lodge in Istanbul.

At the request of his sheikh, he set up the Jerrahi order of Americas in New Jersey in the late 1970s.

Born in 1926, he graduated from Robert College in Istanbul in 1945.

Later he studied architecture at University of California, Berkeley and then did a master's in Fine Arts from Rutgers University.

He was an art history professor for 30 years still 1991. His work was displayed at exhibitions across Europe and the U.S.

For 10 years he ran a business in Morocco, and also served as an honorary consul of Turkey.

He once said in an interview: “A Muslim used to live in the best of aesthetic from birth to death. You could see the same beauty in their homes, cuisine, speech, worship and festivals.Unfortunately, today you see the most horrible looking furniture in Muslim homes."

He translated many classical books including works of Ibn Arabi, Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani and Imam Birgivi.

He is author of ‘the Most Beautiful Names’ and ‘The Name and The Named’. His work mainly dealt with divine attributes of 99 names of God in Sufi tradition and reflections through life.