Jurist, exegete, statesman (B. December 30th, 1491, İskilip
/ Çorum –D. 1574,
Ebussuûd Efendi took lessons first from his father, who was also a famed Shayk al-Islam himself, and then from Müeyyedzade Abdurrahman Efendi and Karamanlı Seyyit Süleyman. When his widely-known fame reached Sultan Bayezit, he was given a “çelebi ulufesi” (T. N. service pay or state grant) of daily thirty akçe (T.N. silver coins) and was granted the rank “pâye-i ilmî” (a rank given to scholars). After this, Ebussuûd Efendi had intensified his studies and step by step he had increased his knowledge.
First, during the reign of Yavuz Sultan Selim, he was appointed to Çankırı Madrasah (1516) and upon his hesitation over working there, he was appointed to İnegöl İshak Paşa Madrasah as a mudarris (lecturer). After his term of office expired there, he was appointed to the Davut Paşa Madrasah and a year later to the Mahmut Paşa Madrasah. In 1525, he was appointed to the madrasah that was built by the Vizier Mustafa Pasha in Gebze. One year later he was deemed worthy of the title “Bursa Sultâniye”. In 1528, after Medâris-i Semâniyye he became a mudarris in Müftü Madrasah. After remaining in this position for five years he was appointed as a kadi first in Bursa and then in Istanbul (1533). In 1537, he was appointed as the Rumelia kazasker (T.N. military judge) and he promptly participated in an expedition.
Ebussuûd Efendi served as Shayk al-Islam in the growth period of the Ottoman Empire, during the reign of Kanunî Sultan Süleyman and Selim II. He was on sultan’s side in Moldavia, Esztergom and Budin expeditions. The first Friday prayer after the capture of Budin, was performed by him. After serving as Rumelia kazasker for eight years he became the Shayk al-Islam in 1545. He played an important role in the acceptance of events such as the conquest of Cyprus.
He took significant actions regarding the law during the reign of Kanunî Sultan Süleyman and Selim II. He was a religious scholar, who reached perfection with his scientific honesty and Islamic honor, so much so that even in the presence of a tough sultan like Kanunî Sultan Süleyman he could say “Order of the Sultan cannot turn an unlawful thing into a lawful thing”. He was highly regarded; not just in the Ottoman lands but in all Islamic geography. His works still maintain their value today and he is considered as a very significant person. He had law codes prepared; Sultan Selim II felt very sorry for his death, as a matter of fact, it is reported by the sources that he was more upset over his death than over his sons’ death.
Mehmet Ebussuûd Efendi, who issued important fatwas, was also a poet. Because he raised many scholars, the Ulama (educated class of Muslim scholars) didn’t show any weakness for a long time after him. For instance, the interest Shayk al-Islam Ebussuut Efendi showed for medicine after Merkez Efendi, who started to make his mark in religious circles of Istanbul, got his scientific dominance accepted to the scholars of his period and this brought him into a state very distinguished from that of other religious scholars. His tafsir “İrşadü’l-Aklu’s-Selim Mezaye’l-Kitabü’l-Kerim” has been one of the most significant works of its field for centuries. Ebussuûd Efendi, who died on August 23rd, 1574, had especially struggled against the sufis, who adopted Batiniyya. He was known among the Ottoman Shayk al-Islams mostly with his fatwas. For example, his fatwa which stated that watching shadow-show did not require punishment and which showed that shadow-show was one of the major entertainment arts of the Ottomans in 16th century, is among these fatwas. It is understood from the fact that he was mentioned in certain sources as “Şah-ı Nakşibendî” that he was a member of Naqshbandi Tariqa.
Ebussuûd Efendi did charity works in Istanbul and İskilip. In Istanbul, he had waterways constructed to the nearby of Municipality in Topkapı, in Şehremini he had a fountain built, in Eyüp Sultan he had a school built, and in Macuncu he had a public bath and a fountain built. Also, the great scholar Shayk al-Islam Ebussuûd Efendi laid down the first foundation stone of the Süleymaniye Mosque. His fatwas were completely put into effect everywhere. Apart from his works in law, tafsir, tenets, medicine, language and literature he also has booklets written in different fields. His statue was erected in his birthplace, İskilip.
İrşâdü Akli’s-Selîm ilâ Mezâye’l-Kitâbi’l-Kerîm, Fetâvâ-yı Ebussuûd (M. Ertuğrul Düzdağ, 1985), Hidâye Hâşiyesi, Cismü’l-Hilâf fî Meshi ale’l-Hufaf, Mevkıfu’l-Ukûl fî Vakfi’l-Menkûl, Tehâfütü’l-Emcâd fî Evveli Kitâbi’l-Cihâd, Meâkidü’t-Tarraka fî Evveli Sûreti’l-Fethi mine’l-Keşşâf, Gamerâtü’l-Melîh fî Evveli Kasri’l-Âmmi mine’t-Telvîh, Sevâkibü’l-Enzâr fî Evveli’l-Menâr.