Shaykh Muslihuddin Kninjanin

A Contribution to the Study of Cultural History of Banja Luka


  • Haso Popara Sarajevo


Muslihuddin, Kninjanin, Musafi, Shaykh, imam, mufti, professor, Banja Luka, Knin, Požega


This article presents new data concerning the life and work of Shaykh Muslihuddin Kninjanin, a forgotten writer and a polymath from the second half of the sixteenth-to-early seventeenth century. Shaykh Muslihuddin (also known under the pseudonym ‘Musafi’) was born around 1544 in Knin, where his father served as a fortress commander. His grandfather’s name was Ahmed, while his great grandfather’s name was Husein. His ancestors were from the village of Ustirama near Prozor. Shaykh Muslihuddin studied in Sofia and Istanbul, where he joined the Halwati Sufi order. Subsequently, he gained a licence to teach (hilafetnama) from Muhammed Kurt Efendi, the famous shaykh of the Halwati zawiya in Istanbul erected by Mehmed Pasha Sokolović. After completing his education and after spending several long years in various military campaigns, Muslihuddin Kninjanin returned to Knin in 1584, with the intention of establishing a Halwati tekke there. Since he did not find favorable conditions for his work there, he moved to Banja Luka in the same year. There, he built a house and near it a tekke for his disciples and students. Shaykh Muslihuddin is a co-singer of the Ferhad Pasha’s endowment deed (vakufnama) from 995/1587, and the first known imam of the Ferhad Pasha Mosque in Banja Luka. Hi is the founder of the first medrese and library in Banja Luka, which operated continuously until 1912. Shaykh Muslihuddin was a professor of that medrese; the mufti of Banja Luka, a preacher; and a member and a scribe of the Chancellery (Divan) of the Eyalet of Bosnia. Due to his linguistic and stylistic skills, Shaykh Muslihuddin maintained the correspondence on behalf of the Divan with the leaders in Venice and Vienna. As far as it is known, he is the first author in Banja Luka who composed a substantial moral-didactic work in Arabic, translated it into Ottoman and dedicated it to the Sultan. This article is primarily based on the information that Shaykh Muslihuddin had provided about himself in the Introduction to his work entitled Tuḥfa al-mu‘allimīn wa hadiyya al-muta‘allimīn (A Gift to the Teachers and a Present to the Students), as well as in one unpublished document in Ottoman language. While writing this article, we have used the manuscript copy of Tuḥfa al-mu‘allimīn from the King Abdulaziz Library in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. The Ottoman-language document, was found in the manuscript numbered R-10392.


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How to Cite

Popara, H. (2017). Shaykh Muslihuddin Kninjanin: A Contribution to the Study of Cultural History of Banja Luka. Prilozi Za Orijentalnu Filologiju, 63(63), 233–260. Retrieved from



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