Khoja Ahmed Yasawi, who died around 1166–1167, was a great Islamic religious figure. Yasawi was central to the rise of Turkish as a language, and of Turkish culture as the dominant culture of Central Asia. Before his time, writing in Central Asia was usually in Arabic or Persian: it was Yasawi, and his disciple, Suleiman Bakyrgane, who made Turkish a sophisticated medium of communication.
Yasawi was a Sufi scholar, and his influence made Sufism a major part of the religious culture of the region. Yasawi lived most of his life in the city of Turkestan in Kazakhstan, where his magnificent tomb is today a major focus of pilgrimage. Yasawi's life and work is not basic only to the history and culture of Central Asia, Turkishspeaking leaders spread this culture to India (Mughal Emperors), and the Middle East (Ottoman Emperors), so that it became one of the most important foundations of world culture today. In recent times, several western philosophers have become interested in Yasawi's views.
Yasawi wrote three books: Risala ("The Mirror of Wisdom"), Diuani Hikmet ("The Book of Wisdom") and Hikmet Hazrati, The oldest manuscripts of these three books, hand-written in medieval Turkish (Chagatai) from the 16th to 19th centuries, were inscribed on the International Memory of the World Register in 2003. Also included in the collection registered are the manuscript of the Nasabnama ("Genealogy") of 1678–1688, which was originally written by Yasawi's father detailing Yasawi's life and personal history, and a 16th century manuscript of Hikmet Hazret Sultan al Garifin written by Yasawi's disciple Suleiman Bakyrgani.