Haji Bektash Veli
|Sufism and Tariqa|
Haji Bektash Veli or Hadji Baktāsh Wālī (Persian: حاجی بکتاش ولی Ḥājī Baktāš Walī; Turkish: Hacı Bektaş Veli) was a Muslim mystic, Sayyid, humanist and philosopher from Nishapur in Khorasan, Persia (modern-day Iran), who lived and taught from approximately 1209 to 1271 in Anatolia. His original name was "Sayyeed Muhammad ibn Sayyeed Ebrāheem Ātā", was one of the figures who flourished in the Sultanate of Rum and had an important influence on the Turkoman nomads of Asia Minor.
Not much is known about him, his origins are shrouded in mystery and much of his biography is based on legends. It is generally assumed that he was of Iranian) descent, and belonged to a group of Iranian migrants in Anatolia who had left their homeland during the Mongol conquests. But some sources claim that he was Turkic. According to "The history of Āshikpāshāzādah" (Aşıkpaşazade Tarihi), written by one of the grandsons of "Āshik Pāshā" who was the son of "Muhlis Paşa" (Muhlees Pāshā) who was the son of renowned Bābā Eliyās al-Khorāsānī, "Sayyeed Muhammad ibn Sayyeed Ebrāheem Ātā" had come to Sivas, Anatolia from Khorasan with his brother “Menteş” (Mantash) to become affiliated with the tariqat of Bābā Eliyās al-Khorāsānī. On the other hand, the famous reference book of Bāktāsh’īyyah tariqat, Valāyat-Nāma-i Hādjī Baktāsh-ī Wālī, claims that "Hajji Bāktāsh" was the murshid of Bābā Rāss’ūl-Allāh (Bābā Eliyās al-Khorāsānī).
The name attributed to him by his followers can be translated as "The Pilgrim Saint Bektash." The Hajji title implies that he had made the pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina to perform Hajj. He is the eponym of the Bektashi Sufi order and is considered as one of the principal teachers of Alevism. According the to the Encyclopaedia of Islam, the "center and source of his teachings" was Ali ibn Abu Talib, whom Alevis believe to be the righteous successor of Muhammad while also "acknowleding the twelve Shia Imams" and "holding Jafar as-Sadiq in high esteem". Despite his Shia belief and his unorthodox teachings, he is considered a renowned figure in the history and culture of both, the Ottoman Empire and the modern nation-state Turkey. On the other hand, Ibn Khallikan reports that Shī'ite tendencies were belong not to him but rather to his murids, who took refuge in his tekke at Suluca Kara Oyuk in Kırşehir after the Babai Revolt.
Hajji Bektash was born in Nishapur. It is reported in some Bektashi legends that Hajji Bektash was a follower and the caliph ("representative") of Khwaja Ahmad Yasavi, a Sufi mystic from Central Asia who had great influence on the Turkic nomads of the steppes. However, there are no signs of Yasavi influence in the original teachings of Hajji Bektash and this claim is rejected by modern scholars, since Khoja Akhmet Yassawi lived nearly one hundred years before Hajji Bektash.
Silsila connecting to Khwaja Ahemad Yassawi
Actually, the sisilah of Hadji Baktāsh Wālī reaches to the "Yassaw’īyyah tariqah" through another but a similar tariqah, which is well-known as the "Wafā’īyyah tariqah" of Abu’l Wafā al-Khwarazmī, who was a murid of Khoja Ahmad Yasavi and the murshid of Dede Ğarkhen, who was in turn the murshid of Bābā Rasul Eliyās Khorāsānī. Modern research connects him to another important religious movement of that time: to the Qalandariyah movement and to Rāss’ūl-Allāh Bābā Eliyās al-Khorāsānī († 1240), an influential mystic from Eastern Persia, who was the murshid of Aybak Bābā, who was in turn the murshid of one of the leading actors of the Babai Revolt, namely Bābā Ishāq Kafarsudī as well. Eventually, Bābā Eliyās Khorāsānī was held responsible for the Babai Revolt organized by Bābā Ishāq Kafarsudī, and consequently executed by Mūbārez’ūd-Dīn-i Armāğān-Shāh, the supreme commander-in-chief of the armies of the Anadolu Selçuklu Devleti (Sultanate of Rum).
The original Bektashi teachings in many ways resemble the teachings of the Khorasanian Qalandar’īyyah and that of Rāss’ūl-Allāh Bābā Eliyās. Hajji Baktāsh Wālī was the murid of "Lokhmānn Bābā" (Lokhmānn Sarakhsī) who was one of the four most famous murids of Bābā Rāsūl (Eliyās al-Khorāsānī), as well. "Lokhmānn Bābā," on the other hand, was also a murid of the renowned Qalandariyah Sufi Qutb ad-Dīn Haydar who was the murid of Khwaja Ahmad Yasavī. For these reasons, his silsila gets connected to Ahmad-i Yasavī through two different channels, one by means of "The Wafā’iyyah tariqah" of Abu’l Wafā al-Khwarazmī, and the other through the Qalandar’īyyah Sufi Qutb ad-Dīn Haydar. He was highly respected by the Sultanate of Rum due to his amicable attitude during the Babai Revolt, and his Khanqah in Suluca Kara Oyuk was permitted to remain open during and after the Babai Revolt thereby saving the most of the lives of the piteous Alevi survivors of this ominous rebellion.
Spread of the Bektashi order
Bektashism spread from Anatolia through the Ottomans primarily into the Balkans, where its leaders (known as dedes or babas) helped convert many to Islam. The Bektashi Sufi order became the official order of the elite Janissary corps after their establishment. The Bektashi Order remained very popular among Albanians, and Bektashi tekkes can be found throughout Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia to this day. During the Ottoman period Bektashi tekkes were set up in Egypt and Iraq, but the order did not take root in these countries.
Different orders within Alevism
It is believed by Alevi's that Hadji Baktāsh Wālī was a teacher of Alevism and that he never started a 'different' Bektashi order. Instead, the Bektashi order was started by Balim Sultan after the passing away of Haji Bektash. The Bektashi order was most popular among rural segments of Anatolia and in the southern Balkans (as well as the military men), in contrast to the Mevlevis, who generally attracted artisans, or the Naqshbandi or Khalwati orders, who attracted theologians and government officials. The Mevlevi Order is named after Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, also known as 'Mevlana' in Turkey, a Sufi mystic who lived in the same time as Haji Bektash Veli. The Mevlevi-order was started by the son of Mevlana. It was also during the Ottoman period that many Alevi in Turkey attached themselves to the veneration of Hajji Bektash, a move which may have further polarized the tension between Alevism and the mainstream Sunni Muslim ideology of the Ottoman empire.
The biggest difference between all of these Sufi-orders is that in the Bektashi and Mevlevi-order everyone can become a 'dede' or 'pir' (religious spiritual leader / preacher), while in the mainstream Alevi belief only a sayyid, a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad through the Twelve Imams can become a dede.
19th century and thereafter
When the Janissary corps were abolished in 1826 by Sultan Mahmud II the Bektashis suffered the same fate. The babas of the tekkes and their dervishes were banished to staunchly Sunni villages and towns, and their tekkes were closed or handed over to Sunni Sufi orders (mostly Naqshbandi; for example, the Goztepe Tekke in Istanbul was given to the Naqshbandis during this period).
Although the Bektashi order regained many of its lost tekkes during the Tanzimat period, they, along with all other Sufi orders, were banned in Turkey in 1925 as a result of the country's secularization policies and all Bektashi tekkes were closed once more along with all others. As a result, the headquarters of the order were moved to Tirana in Albania.
The main Bektashi tekke is in the town of Hacıbektaş in Central Anatolia. It is currently open as a museum and his resting place is still visited by both Sunni and Alevi Muslims. Large festivals are held there every August. Also the Göztepe and Shahkulu tekkes in Istanbul are now used as meeting places for Alevis.
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Notes and references
- Encyclopaedia of Islam. New Edition. ed. Gibb, Kramers, Schacht. Vol. I, A-B. Brill, Leiden, 1986. Pg. 1162, "Bektāshiyya"
- Algar, Hamid. "BEKTĀŠ, ḤĀJĪ". Encyclopedia Iranica. Retrieved 24 October 2011.
- Sayyed Hossein Nasr, Sufi Essays, SUNY Press, 1972, p. 117: "[...] the Baktashi order, founded by a Khurasani, Hajji Baktash, who after fleeing from the Tatars found numerous disciples among the Persians and Anatolian Turks [...]"
- C. Olsen: Celibacy and Religious Traditions. Oxford University Press. 1st Ed. 2007. Pg. 143-144
- Alexēs G. K. Savvidēs, Byzantium in the Near East: Its Relations with the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum in Asia Minor, The Armenians of Cilicia and The Mongols, A.D. c. 1192-1237, Kentron Vyzantinōn Ereunōn, 1981, p. 116.
- M. Kia: Daily Life in the Ottoman Empire. Greenwood Pub Group Inc. 2011. Pg. 169: "The Bektashis traced the origins of their order to the Persian Sufi master Hadji Baktāsh Wālī [...]"
- Brian Glyn Williams: Mystics, Nomads and Heretics: A History of the Diffusion of Muslim Syncretism from Central Asia to the Thirteenth-Century Turco-Byzantine Dobruca - International journal of Turkish studies, 2001 - University of Wisconsin (p. 7)
- R. Khanam, Encyclopaedic ethnography of Middle-East and Central Asia, Global Vision Publishing Ho, 2005 (p. 142)
- The Harvard Theological Review, Cambridge University Press, Vol. 2, No. 3, Jul., 1909, (p. 343)
- Algar, Hamid. "BEKTĀŠ, ḤĀJĪ". Encyclopedia Iranica. Retrieved 24 October 2011.
- University of Georgia, Islam and Islamic Studies Resources, Islamic Studies, Islam, Arabic, and Religion page of Dr. Godlas., "..Haji Bektash Veli is one of the most significant Anatolian (Turkish) Sufi saints..", http://islam.uga.edu/sufismorders.html#Bektashi.
- Futuwwa Traditions in the Ottoman Empire Akhis, Bektashi Dervishes, and Craftsmen,G. G. Arnakis, Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Vol. 12, No. 4, Oct., 1953. --"...we see at once a man that made a lasting impression on his fellow Turks."
- Jestice, Phyllis (2004). Holy people of the world: a cross-cultural encyclopedia, Volume 1. ABC-CLIO. p. 113. ISBN 978-1-57607-355-1.
- Balcıoğlu, Tahir Harimi, Mezhep cereyanları - Madh'hab movements, p. 184, Ahmed Said tab’ı, Hilmi Ziya neşriyâtı, 1940.
- Ibn Khallikan, Shakāyik.
- Mehmet Fuat Köprülü, Türk Edebiyatında İlk Mutasavvıflar, Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı, p. 49.
- J. Spencer Trimingham, The Sufi Orders in Islam, Clarendon Press, 1971, p. 81.
- Ibn-i Bibī, Al-Avāmer’ûl-‘ālā’īyyah, pages 498-499.
- Mehmed Fuad Köprülü, citing Ibn Bibi in his book "Anadolu'da İslamiyet" (Islam in Anatolia) (1922), identifies Bābā Rāss’ūl-Allāh with Baba Ishak who led The Bābā Ishāq Rebellion; this is contradicted by other scholars, such as David Cook in his book Martyrdom in Islam (2007; p. 84), citing historical references, such as the Manākib ul-Qudsiyya (14th century)