Hajji Bektash Wali
(Ḥājī Baktāš Wālī
: Hacı Bektaş Veli
) was a Persian mystic
and philosopher from Khorasan
who lived approximately from 1209-1271 in Anatolia
. The name attributed to him can be translated as "The Pilgrim Saint
Bektash." He is the eponym of the Bektashi Sufi
order and is considered as one of the principal teachers of Alevism
. He is also a renowned figure in the history and culture of both Ottoman Empire
and modern day Turkey
According to Uzun Ferdowsī's Walāyatnāma
(translated as The Saintly Exploits of Haci Bektas Veli
), the principal biographical work concerning Hajji Bektash, he was born in the town Neyshabur
(Nishapur), which is now a city in the province of Khorasan
in northeastern Iran
. As analyzed by H. Algar and A. Gölpinarli, it is highly probable that he formed part of the westward migration that was occasioned by the Mongol invasion of Khorasan, and that his origins were therefore Iranian
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, this claim is rejected by modern scholars, since Ahmad Yasavi lived nearly one hundred years before Hajji Bektash. In addition, there are no signs of Yasavi influence in the original teachings of Hajji Bektash.
Modern research connects him to another important religious movement of that time: to the Qalandariyah movement and to Bābā Rasul and Bābā Ilyās Khorāsānī († 1240), an influential mystic from Eastern Persia who was tortured to death because of his anti-orthodox views on Islam. The original Bektashi teachings in many ways resemble the teachings of the Khorasanian Qalandariyah and that of Rassul-Allāh Eliyās.
Spread of the Bektashi order
spread from Anatolia
through the Ottomans
primarily into the Balkans
, where its leaders (known as dedes
) 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 Macedonia
to this day. During the Ottoman period
were set up in Egypt
, but the order did not take root in these countries.
Different orders within Alevism
The Bektashi order was most popular among rural segments of Anatolia and in the southern Balkans, in contrast to the Mevlevis
, who generally attracted artisans, or the Naqshbandi
or Khalwati orders
, who attracted theologians and government officials. It was also during the Ottoman period that many Alevi
Muslims 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
ideology of the Ottoman empire.
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 Hajibektash 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.
Notes and references