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

Turkish Alevis Today

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John Shindeldecker


Almost every single guidebook or encyclopedia I have ever read describes Turkey as 99% Sunni Muslim. But the world is slowly learning of the existence of a large group in Turkey called Anatolian Alevis (Anatolia is a name for the part of Turkey which lies in Asia). The name Alevi sometimes appears in English as Alawi, Alawite, Alouite, or Alevi-Bektashi. Alevi faith and culture is called Alevism (Alevilik).

Finding objective and easily-understood material about Turkish Alevis in a language other than Turkish is very difficult. In fact, Alevi leaders asked me to write this guide because they lack any introductory material in English which they can give to their foreign visitors. My single purpose is to briefly, clearly, and objectively explain the beliefs and practices of Alevis and the issues they face today in a way that a reader with minimal knowledge of Turkey and Islam can understand.

For a variety of reasons, it is impossible to make absolute statements about Alevi beliefs and practices. So, by necessity I use statements like, “almost all,” “many,” “most,” and “some” when describing Alevis and their beliefs. This may be disturbing to the reader who wants a definite answer about what all Alevis believe and practice, but that is the nature of the subject. The reader should not be surprised that there is a wide variety of beliefs and practices among those who call themselves Alevis. There is a similar broad spectrum of belief and practice among those who call themselves Jews, Christians, Buddhists, or Hindus.

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The New Garments of Alevism

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In the past decade, Turkey's official image as a country of Sunni Muslims has been vigorously challenged by the 'coming out' of the Alevis, a large heterodox Islamic minority, which consists of approximately 15 million Turkish- and Kurdish-speaking members. Until that time, due to the official definition of Turkey as an ethnically and religiously homogenous nation, public expressions of deviating collective identities had been banned by law. However, a shift in government policy in the early 1990s enabled the Alevis to come to the fore and to inaugurate an ethno-political movement to achieve official acknowledgement.

The New Garments of Alevism

Ahmad Yasawi

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aaa yasevi

Fahir İz


(This encyclopaedia article is quoted from, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, New Edition, Edited by: H. A. R. Gibb, J. H. Kramers, E. Levi-Provençal, J. Schacht, Volume I, Leiden, E. J. Brill, 1986, pp. 298-299)

Turkish Sufi shaykh of Central Asia. His life story is shrouded in legend like those of many popular saints. Son of a certain Shaykh Ibrahim, he was born at Sayram (Isfidjab) in Turkistan during the second half of the 11th century. He lost his father at the age of seven and the family settled at Yasi. There he began his education (it is said as a disciple of Arslan Baba), later moving to Bukhara where he became a disciple of the great shaykh Yusuf Hamadhan, and eventually succeeded him in 555/1160. He returned to and remained in Yasi untill his death in 562/1166.

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... The Takhtaji

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aaa tahtaci
F. W. Hasluck

(Christianity and Islam Under the Sultans, -Ed. By Margaret M. Hasluck, Oxford 1929, vol: 1, p. 158-159.)

"The Kizilbash of Lycia (the province of Tekke) are as already stated, numerous and generally known as Takhtaji (woodcutters) on account of their employment, but like the Kizilbash elsewhere they call themselves Alevi and are connected with the Bektashi order of dervishes, whose local centre is at Elmali. They are said to owe their conversation to Shia Islam to missionary sheiks dispatched from Konia in the fourteenth century. This woodcutter caste of Takhtaji exists in Cilicia also, where it has embraced a form of the Shia faith and therefore would be reckoned Kizilbash by the Turks.

Although we have little exact information on the religion of the Lycian Takhtaji, what we have confirms the idea of their close religious connexion with the Kizilbash farther east. Thus, every Lycian Takhtaji tribe, however small, has a Baba or Dede, whose office is hereditary. Again, confession and absolution ceremonies exist among them as among the Kizilbash, (6) while Kizilbash and Takhtaji alike claim to have a sacred book...."

Site Editor's Note: Foot Notes are not taken.


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aaa belge03
"Kizil-bash", ENCYLOPAEDIA OF ISLAM, E. J. Brills First Encyclopaedia of Islam 1913-1936, Edited By Mt Th. Houtsma, A. J. Wensinck, T. W. Arnold, W. Heffening and E. Levi-Provençal, p. 1053-1054.

  • (Oryantalist (Şarkiyatçı, Doğubilimci) bilim adamları, misyonerler ve gezginlere ait araştırmalar, içerilerinde bilinçli veya bilinçsiz olarak sunulmuş yanlış bilgiler olmasına karşın yararlanılması gereken araştırmalardır. Bu tür yazıları sitemiz ziyaretçilerine sunacağız ve sonunda varolan yanlışlıklara ilişkin genel bir değerlendirmeyi de editörlerimizin kaleminden yayınlanacaktır. - These quotations are sometimes have wrong information. Later our editors will write an analysis on these orientalist' articles. )

KIZIL-BASH (T. “Red Head”), the name given by the Turks to the confederation of seven Turkoman tribes, Ustadjlu, Shamlu, Tekelü, Baharlu, Dhu’lkadr, Kadjar and Afshar, who placed the shaiks of Ardabil on the throne of Persia and helped Shah Ismail to found the dynasty of the Safawids (q.v.). The latter had given them as a head-dress the red turban worn by the disciples of his ancestors.

This name was taken by J. Morier for the title of one of his novels, The Kuzzilbash, a tale of Khurasan, 3 vols., London 1828, the period of which is the reign of Nadir-Shah.

The name of a religious sect found throughout Asia Minorand regarded as Shii by the Muslims; it is closely connected with the Nusairis of Syria. Its adepts call themselves Alawi, i.e. followers of Ali. Some are Kurds; the others are for the most part Turks and only speak Turkish. Unlike the Muslims, they do not shave the head and let their beards grow freely; they do not observe the canonical prayers (salat) or ablutions. They drink wine and do not observe Ramadan. They fast for the first twelve days of Muharrem and lament the deaths of al-Hasan abd al-Husain. Ali is an incarnation of God who had already manifested himself in other carnations, such as Jesus. God is one in three persons; below him are five archangels, intermediary between the divinity and man, twelve ministers and forty saints. They have a reverence for the Virgin Mary and recite litanies in her honour. They celebrate a service during the night. The priest who officiates sins prayers in honour of Ali, Jesus, Moses and David, accompanying himself on musical instruments. He holds in his hand a willow wand which he steeps in water; this consecrated water is then distributed among the houses. During the ceremony those precent publicly confess their sins; the priest imposes penances, such as fines in money or kind. The lights are then extinguished (hence the Turkish expression cerag-söndüren, “extinguisher of torches” by which they are popularly known) and they abandon themselves to lamentations and weeping for their sins. The lights are again lit; the priest pronounces the absolution (which may be refused, at least for a certain time); he takes pieses of bread and a cup of wine or similar liquid and after consecrating it steeps the bread in the wine and distributes it among those present. Those whose neighbours cannot report favourably upon them are excluded from it. Among the Kurds a sheep is also sacrified and its flesh is distributed at the same time as the bread and wine.

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