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Araştırmalar Ingilizce

Makalelerde yer alan görüşler yazarlarına aittir. Alevilik-Bektaşilik Araştırmaları Sitesini bağlamaz.

Alawis resist being singled out as a minority

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Wednesday, January 5, 2005

(Bu makale Turkish Daily News Gazetesi’nin arşivinden alıntı yapılmıştır. – This article is quoted from the Turkish Daily News Journal’s archive in internet. Editors of Alevi Bektashi Research Site )

Professor Huseyin Hatemi: The Religious Affairs Directorate must be given an autonomous juridical personality just like churches in Germany

(GUL DEMIR, ISTANBUL – Turkish Daily News)

Turkey's most dominant heterodoxy with the largest number of followers is Alawiism. It has a history of more than 1,400 years with its roots in the Shiite branch of Islam. The Alawis, over the centuries never split into segments or experienced internal conflict aside from the difficulty that geographical conditions brought and some small differences that had their roots in the groupings known as hearths and in applying rules. They never felt themselves to be a minority or a foreigner in this country. They became one of the most important issues on the agenda in the European Commission's Progress Report on Turkey. However, whether or not it was a different faith from Islam was never clarified. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said, “If Alawiism means to love Ali, I, too, am an Alawi.” Discussions on Alawiism and Islam have recently become a current issue again when Religious Affairs Directorate head Ali Bardakoğlu said, “Alawiism is a sub-culture of Islam. If Alawis are regarded as a minority, as in the progress report, all mystic organizations right up to the Aczimendis may regard themselves as a minority.” People from different circles expressed their view on this issue to the Turkish Daily News.

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Sahkulu Rebellion

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Erdem Cıpa (PhD Student in Harvard University) (21.12.2001)


From the reign of Bayezid II onwards the persecution of Anatolian kızıl-bash,(1) varying in degree and intensity, seems to run like a red thread through the history of the Ottoman Empire until well into the seventeenth century. Helped by the efforts of public propaganda by the Porte emphasizing the threat to Islam embodied in the very existence as well as in the undertakings of Safawid shahs and legitimized by fatwas of Sunni Ottoman religious authorities, the persecution of the kızıl-bash often appears to have amounted to well-planned massacres in which thousands were executed. Imperial fermans to provincial administrators ordering the execution of everybody with the “stain” of having kızıl-bash tendencies and of actually being kızıl-bash were common phenomena by the time of Süleyman the Magnificent.(2)

Perhaps the biggest one of those mass executions, however, seems to have happened under Selim I before the campaign that culminated in the Battle of Çaldıran in 1514. In numerous historical accounts dealing with that period of Ottoman history the execution is seen and narrated as part of the “preparations” for the campaign against Shah Isma‘il. According to Ottoman chroniclers, Selim I’s order to his clerks to record the names of all kızıl-bash sympathizers “between seven and seventy years of age” into defters was followed by the execution of the kızıl-bash by sword.(3) Despite the lack of unanimity between chroniclers as to how many kızıl-bash were actually executed, there seems to be no doubt that the number of the persecuted ones was around forty thousand.(4)

Why was the imprisonment and/or execution of so many kızıl-bash in Anatolia ordered? The answer, according to Ottoman chroniclers, is that Selim I wanted to avoid any possibility of resistance and revolt on his way to, and while engaged in, the war with Shah Isma‘il. He did not want to be stabbed in the back. When one considers the fact that almost the whole period of his princehood was colored by social turbulence related partly to the influence of the Safawids in Anatolia, is not surprising to see him obsessed with putting an end to the “kızıl-bash problem”. Selim I, in short, knew the extent of the Safawid influence in Anatolia, and the Şahkulu Rebellion in 1511 was a strong reference point concerning the extent of the danger the kızıl-bash sympathizers of Shah Isma‘il constituted for the Ottoman social order.

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(This is quoted from - TRIMINGHAM, J. Spencer : THE SUFI ORDERS IN ISLAM, Oxford University Press, 1971, p. 80-83. )

...Whilst the Khalwatiyya was characterized by fissiparous tendencies, the headship of each ta’ifa becoming hereditary, the Bektashiyya maintained a strong central organization, with affiliated village groups, and was limited to Anatolia and its European provinces. The Bektashiyya claimed to be a Sunni order, though in fact very unorthodox and having so strong a reverence for the House of ‘Ali that it might well be called a Shi’i order. Tha practical recognition of the order as Sunni seems to be due to the fact that when, after the early association of Turkish Sufis with the ghazi and akhi movements which assisted the Ottoman surge to conquest, when the Ottoman authority came more and more under the influence of orthodox Hanafis, the early ghazi association was not repudiated but found new vigour and a powerful organization in the Bektashiyya.

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The Bektashi Order Dervishes

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aaa fugur

John Kingsley Birge



Among the many Dervish fraternities which have exercised their influence over the lives of a large proportion of the Turkish people of the Ottoman Empire the Bektashis have held a unique place.


(This is quoted from - BIRGE, John Kingsley : THE BEKTASHI ORDER OF DERVISHES, Luzac & Co., 1937, p. 13-21 Quotations will be continued from Birge’s pioneer book )



The study of mystic orders in Islam is one of particular importance if the Moslem world is to be adequately understood. The religion left by Muhammad very early developed in two directions. On the one hand it produced a rigid, scholastic theology with an inflexible religious law. At the same time, even from within the first two centuries, a tendency away from this fixed, external system showed its beginning and quickly developed into individuals and groups who emphasized the ascetic life and the mystical approach to direct knowledge of God. As orthodox canonists and professional theologians objected to this tendency to “search the conscience” on the ground that the the ultimate result would be in the direction of heresy, organized bands or brotherhoods began to develop, based on the fundamental idea that “the fervent practice of worship engenders in the soul graces (fawaid), immaterial and intelligible realities, and that the ‘science of hearts’ (ilm al kulub) will procure the soul an experimental wisdom (ma’rifa) (1).”

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The Alevi Turks Of Asia Minor (2)

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A visitor is welcome to see the sacred tomb of the Founder of the Order. The grave itself is built up of stones plastered with solemn whiteness, with a head-piece rising to sustain a plaster represantation of the white Bek Tashi cap composed of Twelve Imams, and wound about with a green turban, green being the sacred colour of Islam. The grave was thickly covered with richly embroidered cloths. Six candle-sticks were ranged on each side, huge in size and of fine brass. The walls about were hung with characteristic emblems, swords, scimitars, pikes, lances, battle-axes looking as if gruesome stories might be connected with their history, Dervish begging bowls, bead rosaries, and green and red banners, of which one can easily believe the stories that they have been borne in many a fierce fight. The floor wsa spread with rich rugs and deer-skins, for before deer grew so scarce they were reckoned a most acceptable animal for sacrifice. Antlers also were hung here and there. A score or so of other Dervish graves clustered within the same building, cheerful in the summer sunshine. The yard outside was green, grassy, and quiet, suggestive of an English churchyard. In this sanctuary the worshippers offer their prayers and sacrifices.

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The Tradition Of The Miraculous Origin Of The Munzur Su

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(This is quoted from - MOLYNEUX-SEEL, Captain L. : “A Journey ın Dersim”, GEOGRAPHICAL JOURNAL, 44, 1914, p. 60-61, In the article “Munzur” is written as “Muzur”. It is corrected as “Munzur” and headline is added by our editors.)

...The following, related in four short chapters, is the tradition of the miraculous origin of the Munzur Su.

Chapter I.

A certain Agha, named Sheikh Hassan of the Topuzanli tribe, had a son called Munzur who used to shepherd his father’s sheep. Even in winter, when the mountains were covered with snow, Munzur used to drive out his flock to pasture in spite of his father’s prohibition. It was noticed, however that the sheep always returned with a well-fed appearance. To satisfy his curiosity regarding this mystery, Munzur’s father one day secretlyfollowed his son when he drove out his sheep to graze. What he saw was this: Munzur, arrived in the mountains, struck the snow-covered trees with his staff, whereupon green leaves fell thereform, which the sheep ate. Munzur, however, turning, perceived the presence of his father, and in wrath left the sheep and disappeared.

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The Alevi Turks Of Asia Minor (1)

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(This article is quoted from - WHITE, G.E. : “The Alevi Turks of Asia Minor, THE CONTEMPORARY REVIEW, CIV, July-December 1913, pp.690-698 -. This article is divided into two parts. Now here is the first part of the article.)

Down through the ages the people of the East have been bound into tribes and nations by religious rather than political bonds. Men feel themselves to be one when their worship is one, and hold as aliens those who live next door if their creed and ritual are different. They intermarry only among those with whom they pray. They respect the authority of their Government officials because they must, but they welcome the orders of their priests because they want to. A religious ban is more dreaded than legal penalties, not only because the former represents eternal as well as temporal authority, but because it is supported by the sentiment of those whose opinions the culprit most cherishes. Spiritual dues are more cheerfully rendered than tithes to the reigning Caesar. Of course, the religious and political tithes are often co-extensive, and then there is no question of a clash or a preference between authorities. Indeed dissenters have not always been tolerated at all, and the separation between Church and State, which exists in some Western countries, and is freely discussed in others, has no proper place in the mind of a characteristic old time Oriental. His Government ought to represent his God, and if by some mischance his faith differs from the standard form of Orthodoxy his sect may be tolerated, as Christians have been habitually recognised and permitted in Mahommedan countries, or he may belong to some cult which tenaciously maintains its existence with a greater or less degree of secrecy. But it is the common custom in the Orient for a person to accept his religious connection from his parents, much as he accepts his name or his colour, openly or secretly maintain his religious status unchanged to the end, to render prime allegiance to his sect, and to give his left-over enthusiasm to patriotism for his country.

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