• Yunus Emre Institute

Dr. Mehmet Hilmi Demir Discusses The Key Philosophical Tenets Of Yunus Emre


Ethics, Esthetics, And Yunus Emre Explores Yunus Emre’s Philosophy


Washington D.C. - In a lecture hosted by the Yunus Emre Institute in Washington D.C., Dr. Mehmet Hilmi Demir from the Social Sciences University of Ankara perfectly explained the unifying themes of Yunus Emre’s philosophy. Yunus Emre was a 13th century Sufi poet from Anatolia that had a tremendous impact on not only Turkish literary tradition, but also the way that Turkish people live their lives. Dr. Demir was able to break down Yunus Emre’s humanistic philosophy into basic themes and motifs for the audience to engage with.


Dr. Demir covered several key components of Yunus Emre’s thoughts about life and what it means to be a human being. Yunus Emre wrote about love and to love, or to be an Aşık. An Aşık is a lover, specifically one who understands the need to love all things, places, and people as a representation of a universal Being. Regardless of where one comes from or who one is, everyone is fundamentally human and thus worthy and deserving of respect, friendship, and love. Dr. Demir explained that everything that affirms Being is beautiful, thus complete human beings are beautiful. Beauty has three key components: it must be flawless and whole, it must be modest (sadelik), and it must contain unity in multiplicity. Since that which is beautiful affirms universal Being, that which is beautiful is also good.


Dr. Demir derived some practical lessons from this philosophy. What one says is important and reflects who one really is. It is important for one’s words and actions to be constructive. That means that one must be careful not to cause hardship and heartbreak through their actions. Dr. Demir concluded that the ultimate path for humans is the path of love. Yunus Emre believed that while people have many differences, people must not forget to love and understand each other.


Guests were extremely curious about Dr. Demir’s interpretation of Yunus Emre’s philosophy and his poetry. One guest asked about how Yunus Emre made an impact outside of Sufi mysticism and Islam. Dr. Demir explained that there is a certain universality of Yunus Emre’s work, which is why it appeals to people of all faiths. He emphasized the importance of intercultural communication as a means of listening to and understanding people from other religious backgrounds. Another question that was posed to Dr. Demir was about the kinds of barriers Dr. Demir believes stand between Yunus Emre’s philosophy and the reality of peoples’ lives. Dr. Demir carefully explained that much of it boils down to egotism and the way it stops people from fully embracing their fellow human beings. Through self-improvement, having control over one’s desires, and love, people are better able to build a bridge that connects each other. Once that bridge is built, people are able to live out Yunus Emre’s philosophy of universal love.


Yunus Emre Institute is a Turkish cultural center located in Washington, D.C. and around the world. The institute hosts events and programs that educate the public about Turkey’s culture, history, and language. For more information about the institute’s mission or online programs, please email washingtondc@yee.org.tr or follow @yeewdc on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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