On a high bank of the Amudarya river, next to the southwestern walls of the ancient citadel of Old Termez rise the blue domes of Hakim at-Termezi architectural complex. Medieval Uzbekistan gave the world many eminent people. Among them was Isa Mahammad ibn Savra ibn Musa ad-Dahhak as-Sulami, known in Islamic world as Imam at-Termezi. He was the founder of the Sufi order Hakimi – “the order of the wise men”, and he went down in history as an outstanding sage muhaddis.
At-Termezi was born in 824 CE in a small village of Bus near Termez. It must be noted that in the 9th century Termez, along with Samarkand and Bukhara, was one of the largest Islamic centers of science and culture. Legend says that at the age of ten, at-Termezi got a revelation from a miraculous old man. The old man blessed the boy to study and propagate the Koran, and the life of Mohammed the Prophet, his deeds and words. This mystical event greatly influenced the evolution of at-Termezi’s religious views.
Early in life he made hajj to Mecca, and later, for many years, he stayed in Arabia where he became a disciple and ardent follower of al-Bukhari – a great expert in hadith (words and deeds of Prophet Mohammed). At-Termezi made a critical analysis of then existing interpretations of the Koran, and of hadiths. He developed a neat and consistent system of views of Islamic essential beliefs in Allah and His Prophet. At-Termezi set them out in his theological works “The Treatise on Hadith Differences and Interpretations”, “The Book on Piety” and “The Book on Names”. At-Termezi wrote over 30 books. His “Great Collection” made him especially famous. Already during At-Termezi’s lifetime it was translated from Arabic into Persian and Old Uzbek. The book contains 408 hadiths. In lively literary style they tell about the personal life, habits, nature and even the appearance of Mohammed the Prophet.
Many of the works of at-Termezi are not only of historical value. Today they are still in demand as a philosophical anthology, dealing with the meaning of Muslim ceremonies and rites, various types of mystics, “love for cognition of God”, Sufism history and prominent Sufis…
In his old age at-Termezi returned to his native Termez and settled near the remains of the ancient Buddhist temple in the outskirts of the town. That place had long since been believed sanctified by prayers. Even today the local people find stone pillar pedestals, fragments of pillars, kilned bricks and ceramics dating back to Kushan times. In the 9th century they built an adobe four-dome Sufi shelter hanaka on the ruins of the ancient temple. Surviving today is the large yard of this hanaka, surrounded by thick adobe walls, and the semi-basement Sufi cell hudjra, where, as it is believed, at-Termezi lived, prayed and conversed with his myurids – students. It was then that eminent scholar and philosopher got his nickname Hakim at-Termezi – “Sage from Termez”.
After his death in 892, he was buried in the yard of his hanaka. In the 11th century there was built a mausoleum over the grave of the imam, with its entrance overlooking the south, and a chillyakhona structure adjoining the main construction. At first the mausoleum was a modest domed structure with a plain, even an ascetic interior; only the dome was decorated withgunch stucco carvings which have survived to the present day. At the end of the 14th century, when the region became part of Amir Temur’s Empire, a new mausoleum was built next to the façade of the old one, and a magnificent white marble gravestone sagana was installed over the grave of the saint. This gravestone can be considered the real masterpiece of decorative stone carving art. Near the mausoleum there was built a commemorative ayvan mosque. Early in the 15th century a large Sufi shelter hanaka with a spacious hall for Sufi mystic assemblies was built there, too.
There is an epitaph on the gravestone of at-Termezi. It goes as follows: “In the name of the one who is to be praised. This ismarkad of a sheikh, imam, scholar and saint Abu Abdullah Mohammad bini Ali Hakim Termezi, let Allah have mercy upon him. He was one of the great sayyids, he commanded high eloquence, he wrote popular works and made up remarkable aphorisms. He was a friend of Abu Abdallah Bukhari, the author of the collection “Sahih”. Of the shekhs he studied the laws better than Hanafa jurists. He died, let Allah save him, in 255 anno hegirae”.
In 1990, under the decision of UNESCO, the whole world celebrated the 1000th anniversary of Hakim at-Termezi. He is believed to be the spiritual patron of Termez. The holy life of the imam, his high spiritual qualities and philosophical views were exemplary for his contemporaries and the next generations to come. Hakim at-Termezi Mausoleum has long since become a pilgrimage place for the Muslims from all over the world.