Poet and man of thought (b. 20 December 1873, İstanbul - d. 27 December 1936). He was the son of İpekli Tahir Efendi, a Albanian tutor at Fatih Madrasah. Mehmet Akif’s mother came from a family who migrated from Buhara and settled in İstanbul. The name of Akif was initially Rakıf, so as to rhyme with his father’s name; however, it was changed later. He was born in the Sarıgüzel quarter in Fatih province and attended the Emir Buhari Quarter School, Fatih Elementary School and the School of Politics. During his years at high school, he attended the lectures at Fatih Mosque and learned Arabian and Persian. He attended the Halkalı School of Veterinary Medicine, after his father died and their house burned down and he graduated with the first degree (1893). He worked as a civil officer at the Department of Veterinary Medicine at the Ministry of Agriculture and worked in Rumelia, Anatolia, Albania and Saudi Arabia for four years. He learned everything and Arabian from his father. He got married in 1989 and had six children.
Also working as a teacher at the School of Veterinary Medicine, Akif published the reviews Sırat-ı Müstakim and Sebilürreşad with his friend Eşref Edib in 1908. He resigned from his office due to the Balkan War (1913). Opposing the Turkist movement of Ziya Gökalp, he defended the idea of Unity of Islam in his articles published in Sırat-ı Müstakim and Sebilürreşad and at his preaches in Fatih, Beyazıt, Şehzadebaşı, Süleymaniye mosques (1912). He went to Egypt and Hejaz before the World War I began (1913). He was sent to Germany during the war by the Ottoman Intelligence Service on the invitation of the German government in order to see the Muslim captives in Germany in 1914; and to Necep Emiri İbnürreşid, where people stayed loyal to Ottoman Empire against pro-English Şerif Hüseyin in the end of 1914 by t he same organization. Meanwhile he was appointed as the first secretary to High Islamic Counsil.
He tried to encourage people in his preaches at mosques in Balıkesir in order to support the National Struggle rising in the Western Anatolia after the invasion of İzmir (1919). Shortly after his arrival in Ankara, he was elected as deputy from Burdur and served at this office until 1923. He was sent to Konya to prevent therebellions and to guide people. He informed people on Sevres Agreement and National Struggle at the enthusiactic preaches in Kastamonu Nasrullah Mosque (this preaching was published and handed out to all provinces and fronts). His Sebilürreşad was published in Kastamonu on 20 November 1920. He was dismissed from Dar'ül Hikmeti'l İslâmiye for his actions (20 December 1920).
He settled in Tacettin lodge after returning to Ankara. His poem was enthusiastically read out at the Turkish Grand National Assembly and was accepted as the National Anthem (21 Mart 1921). He refused the money award as the poet of the national anthem, although he was economically in a bottleneck. The national anthem has been re-composed four times, and the form by Osman Zeki Üngör was approved. Akif returned to İstanbul after the Independence War was over; however went abroad on seeing the practices against his ideals in the Republic, Such as abolition of caliphate and the tendency to secularism. The publication of Sebilürreşad was terminated with the law of Maintenance of the Regime. If Akif still lived in Turkey under these circumstances, it was highly probable that his acts would haven been regarded a crime. therefore, he left for Egypt on an invitation form Prince Abbas Halim Paşa and settled in Hilvan. He worked as a professor of Turkish language and literature at the University of Egypt (1925-1935). He lived ten years of exile in Egypt and returned to İstanbul to die on his homeland of his cirrhosis. He died on 27 December 1936. He is buried at the Edirnekapı War Cemetery, next to the grave of Babanzade Ahmed Naîm Efendi.
His first poem was published in the school journal at the School of Veterinary Medicine (Mektep Mecmuası, issue of 2 March 1895); and his first professional work of poetry (Kurana Hitap-A Preach on Koran) appeared in Resimli Gazete in 1895. He published translations from İranlı Hafız and Sadi in Servet-i Fünun after 1898. He was recognized with his poems and stories in verse published in the Sebilürreşad review (1908-1910). He defended complete loyalty to Islam as a man of thought and represented the idea of Islamism, which was spreading at the end of 19th century. Agreeing with the famous Islamist philosopher of his time, such as Muhammed Abduh (1948-1905), Abdürreşid İbrahim (1853-1944) and Cemaleddin Afgani (1838-1897); Mehmet Akif believed that the Muslims should apply the Holy Koran to purify the religion from superstitions and to survive from the depressing conditions they were in. The idea was expressed in the words that read “Directly inspired by the Koran / The mind of the century shall interpret Islam”. Thus, he asserted a condition for being a poet of his time on his own understanding. His approach to art was to be with God, as Yunus Emre claimed. Regarded as the leading representative of the idea of “Arts for society”; Akif assumed poetry as an instrument to spread his beliefs and ideas and to continue his struggle.
POETRY: His poems have been collected under the title Safahat (Articles), which consists of seven volumes: Book 1: Safahat (Articles, 1911), Book 2: Süleymaniye Kürsüsünde (At the Chair of Süleymaniye, 1912), Book 3: Hakkın Sesleri (Voices of God, 1913), Book 4: Fatih Kürsüsünde (At the Chair of Fatih, 1914), Book 5: Hatıralar (Memoirs, 1917), Book 6: Asım (Asım, 1924), Book 7: Gölgeler (Shadow, 1933).
THOUGHT-RESEARCH: Kastamonu Nasrullah Kürsüsü'nde (At the Kastamonu Nasrullah Chair, preaching to people at the Nasrullah Mosque during the National Struggle, published by Nihat Paşa, the commander of Al-Jazira, at diayrbakır Printing House, 1921), Kur'an'dan Ayet ve Hadisler (Sentences and Hadis* in the Koran, selections from his articles in Sebilürreşad, edited by Ö. Rıza Doğrul, 1944).
REFERENCE: Süleyman Nazif / Mehmed Âkif: Şairin Zatı ve Âsârı Hakkında Bazı Malumat ve Tetkikat (1924), Mithat Cemal Kuntay / Mehmet Âkif (ölümünün 6. yılı dolayısıyla, 1939), Fevziye Abdullah Tansel / Mehmet Âkif: Hayatı ve Eserleri (1945, 1973), Mehmet Emin Erişirgil / Mehmet Âkif: İslâmcı Bir Şairin Romanı (1956), Hilmi Yücebaş / Bütün Cepheleriyle Mehmed Âkif (1958), Ali Nihat Tarlan / Mehmet Âkif ve Safahat (1971), İhsan Işık / Yazarlar Sözlüğü (1990, 1998) - Türkiye Yazarlar Ansiklopedisi (2001, 2004) – Encyclopedia of Turkish Authors (2005) - Resimli ve Metin Örnekli Türkiye Edebiyatçılar ve Kültür Adamları Ansiklopedisi (2006, gen. 2. bas. 2007) - Ünlü Edebiyatçılar (Türkiye Ünlüleri Ansiklopedisi, C. 4, 2013) - Encyclopedia of Turkey’s Famous People (2013). Muzaffer Uyguner / Mehmet Âkif Ersoy (1991), Taha Toros / Türk Edebiyatından Altı Renkli Portre (1998), İbnülemin Mahmud Kemal İnal / Son Asır Türk Şairleri (c. I, 1999), Fazıl Gökçek / Mehmet Âkif’in Şiir Dünyası (2005).