A Whip Story

Mehmet Demirci
6 minutes

Ekrem Hakkı-İlhan Ayverdi rented the Tanman’s mansion in Heybeliada in 1982 and spent the summer there. The İnci-Agah Oktay Güner family of five, including their children, were their guests in this mansion for a month. Ms. İnci tells it like this:

Some days, after dinner, they go for a walk around the neighborhood. Mr. Ekrem loved such trips. We would get on a phaeton and go to a tea garden called İsmail’in Yeri. Ekrem Bey orders the coachman not to whip his horse. That’s why the horse goes more freely. Ekrem Bey tells the coachman that he will compensate for the delay caused by this, and not to whip the horse. When he arrives, he pays the coachman, caresses the horse’s head and kisses its eyes. “This is the horse’s feed money,” he says, and gives another coin.

Who was this Ekrem Hakkı Ayverdi? This architect-engineer (1899-1984), who worked as a contractor for many years, later devoted his earnings and life to research on Turkish-Ottoman Architecture and published volumes of books. His sister Samiha Ayverdi (1905-1993) says the following about him:

“Ekrem Hakkı Ayverdi was a dervish person who clung to his door with love and loyalty. As a result, he was loving, protective and friendly towards all creatures. For this was the worldview of the center to which he professed. He had gone through a process of self-training and self-cleansing.”

This is where his compassion for animals came from. Because his guide Ken’an Rifai Büyükaksoy (1867-1950), to whom he was devoted, was someone who said the following, his relatives tell us: “One day the coachman was whipping the horse of the carriage we were in. He said, ‘Don’t hit, my son, don’t hit,’ and turning to us, he added, ‘I feel this agony in my own body.'”


Although compassion and mercy for animals is an innate trait, spiritual education plays a major role in transforming it into a morality and a way of life. The above-mentioned individuals are people who have gone through this education process. If we go backwards, they also have guides. One of them is Ahmad al-Rifai (v. 1182), one of the most important examples of compassion and mercy. Namely:

There was a mangy dog in the place where he lived, its skin was peeled off and its eyes were blinded. The villagers were disgusted and took him out of the village. Hz. When Pîr heard about this, he went to the place where the dog was, anointed it with oil and medicine, gave it bread, gave it water to drink, and made a good place for it to lie down. He took care of the dog until it was no longer mange.

Hz. On Friday, Pîr had fallen asleep for a while. A cat came and lay on her skirt and slept. Hz. When Pîr woke up and saw that the cat was lying down and it was time for prayer, he asked his wife for a pair of scissors, cut the end of the skirt with the scissors and left that part under the cat, and went to the mosque. When he returned from prayer, the cat was awake and he sewed the cut piece of the skirt back on. But when he saw that his wife did not like what he had done, he said, “My wife, do not be troubled! I have not done anything bad, this has not caused me any hardship. On the contrary, favors have arisen.”


The main source of the spiritual education I am talking about is the Holy Prophet, on whom they all depend. He is the Prophet who said, “Allah has mercy on those who have mercy; have pity on those on the earth so that those in the heavens may have pity on you.”

That a sinful woman was forgiven by God for giving a very thirsty dog water from a well with her shoe, and that a woman who imprisoned a cat and caused it to die of hunger and thirst was condemned to hell.

Our equivalent of a horse is the Prophet. In the time of the Prophet, it was the camel. The Prophet went to a camel that was groaning at the sight of him, patted its head, and rebuked its owner, saying, “Do you not fear Allah about this animal He has given you? The animal complained to me that you had starved it and made it very tired.” He asked the milkers to cut their nails so that the udders of the sheep would not be hurt or scratched during milking.


The works of Samiha Ayverdi, one of the heads of the same spiritual education, contain interesting observations on this subject. A few of them are as follows:

On an exceptionally cold winter day, how it is raining heavily. A horse cart barely made it to the front of the police station. One white horse, one horse. And the coachman untied the horse there, took it to the sidewalk, left it, and left. We are also looking out the window. Soon the horse lay down on the sidewalk. You don’t know how much famine there was during the Second World War, rice, bulgur, bread, everything with documents. A lady ran out. With a quilt in his hand, he covered the horse and poured a large quantity of rice in front of him. The horse started eating that rice from where it was lying. Imagine; he sacrifices a quilt and perhaps offers the horse the rice he will cook for his children. The owner, on the other hand, leaves the animal, which is his bread and butter, sick in the rain, and walks away. We look on in horror, wondering what will happen. After a while the horse put its head down and died.

Another incident from our author: It must have been early 1900, there was a ruthless water carrier in the neighborhood, who did not take good care of his scrawny donkey and was always cruel. He pokes him with his spiked stick. The animal couldn’t walk because of the beatings and fear. One day a sick horse, eating grass on the sidewalk, backed up and threw such a kick at the clumsy man that his upper lip was split and his two front teeth were knocked out. A wise man also considers this action of the horse as a punishment by God’s soldier.

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