August 18, 1901
|Died||August 10, 1995
Taylor, Michigan, United States
Rexheb Beqiri (18 August 1901—10 August 1995), better known by the religious name Baba Rexheb, was an Albanian Islamic scholar and Sufi. He was the founder and the head of the Bektashi Sufi lodge (tekke) located in Taylor, Michigan, United States.
Baba Rexheb was born as Rexheb Beqiri, on 18 August 1901, into a family with strong Bektashi ties in Gjirokastër, southern Albania, at a time when Albania was still part of the Ottoman Empire. His father, Refat Beqiri, was a local mullah in the old mahale of Dunavat. Refat’s family had originally migrated to southern Albania from the Kosovar town of Gjakova. He entered the Bektashi Order at the age of sixteen and was promoted to the rank of dervish at the age of twenty. He chose to take an additional vow as a mücerrid (celibate) dervish, which was never broken. For the next twenty-five years he served in the Asim Baba Tekke, under the guidance of his uncle, Baba Selim. During the World War II, Dervish Rexheb became and outspoken critic of the communist partisans under Enver Hoxha. Because of this he was forced to flee following the war. He spent four years in a displaced persons camp in Italy before taking up residence in the Kaygusuz Sultan Tekke in Cairo, Egypt. He stayed there for several years before he was invited to go to the United States by his younger sister, Zejnep Cuçi.
In 1954, Baba Rexheb was promoted to the rank of baba by the head of the Kaygusuz Tekke, Ahmed Sirri Dede, and established the First Albanian American Bektashi Monastery in the Detroit suburb of Taylor.
Baba Rexheb spent the next forty-five years building the Bektashi community in North America. He wrote one book, the voluminous Misticizma Islame dhe Bektashizma (partially translated into English as Islamic Mysticism and Bektashism) as well as completing a full-translation of the famous Turkish epic poem Hadikat-i Su'ada about the Battle of Karbala by Fuzûlî. Baba Rexheb also produced four issues of Zeri Bektashzme, the tekke's periodical. He was a man of great spiritual integrity and his love and compassion attracted Muslims, both Bektashi and Sunni alike, as well as Christians, Albanians and non-Albanians. His encyclopedic knowledge of Islamic Sufism in general and Bektashim in particular were incredible. In addition to his native Albanian, Baba Rexheb also spoke modern Turkish fluently, had scholarly knowledge of Arabic, Persian, and Ottoman Turkish and spoke Greek, Italian and some English as well. Some of his amiable style of guidance and softhearted charm has been noted down by the American Anthropologist Frances Trix in several of her academic works on the tekke as well as on master-student relationships in traditional Sufism.
Baba Rexheb died on August 10, 1995 (Rabi' ul-Awwal 12, 1416 Hijrah). His türbe (mausoleum) is located on the tekke grounds and is open for pilgrims and truth-seekers of all walks.
- "Baba Rexheb 1901-1995: The Bektashi Order of Dervishes". Retrieved 7 October 2010.
- Curtis, Edward E. (2010). Encyclopedia of Muslim-American History, Volume 1. Infobase publishing. ISBN 0-8160-7575-1.