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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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