Haji Bektashi Veli, united the Christian
residents of Anatolia and Turkoman migrants with their educational and
developmental activities and played an important role in the formation of
cultural unity and central authority in Anatolia. Some holy men migrated to
Anatolia, settled on mountains and empty crossroads and opened dervish
lodges there. These institutions settled on empty land gradually became
centers for culture, development and religious thought. In this manner,
religious congregations spread everywhere, rules of morals, good breeding,
attitudes and beliefs reached a high standard, knowledge and science were
both produced and spread in these centers. The administration encouraged
such holy men to settle in villages, and their educational activities gave
them some privileges. As a result, even in the most desolate places in
Anatolia, dervish lodges emerged, and with the effect of the education they
provided, a common cultural structure began to form.
Haji Bektashi Veli was one of those figures
who came to Anatolia from Khorasan with this purpose in mind. He was born in
Nishabur, Khorasan in 1248, spent his childhood in Khorasan, and was trained
in philosophy and social and positive sciences at Hodja Ahmed Yesevi’s
school. After traveling to Iran, Iraq and Arabia, Haji Bektash settled in
Sulucukarahoyuk in 1275/80.
At that time, Anatolia was under Mongol
occupation, there was a severe social and economic crisis and fighting for
political power. In that difficult climate, Haji Bektashi Veli settled in
Sulucakarahoyuk, developed his philosophy and began to teach his students.
His tolerance and human love based philosophy reached many people, and were
taken up by them in the important center of Christianity of Cappadocia.
Any road that doesn’t follow science, ends
Give education to women,
Control on your tongue, hands and waist,
The greatest book to read is man himself,
Honesty is the door of a friend,
Being a teacher is to give, not to take,
The universe is for man, and man for the universe,
Science illuminates the paths of truth,
We travel in the way of science, comprehension and human love,
Clean where you’ve settled and deserve the money you’ve made,
Let’s be one, be big and energetic,
Don’t hurt anyone, even though you’ve been hurt,
Don’t ask anyone for anything that would be difficult for you to do,
Don’t blame any nation or individual,
Blessed are those who illuminate the darkness of thought,
Keep on searching, and you’ll find,
The beauty of the face consists of the words you speak,
Don’t forget that even your enemy is human,
The biggest God-given miracle is work,
In the language of friendly conversation, you can’t discriminate between man
Everything God has created is in order,
To us, there’s no difference between man and woman,
If you think there is, you’re mistaken.
His thoughts are based on human love and
human existence. This vision is similar to the 1948 Charter on Human Rights.
His thoughts were also shared by M. Kemal Atatürk 600 years later, and the
Turkish Republic was built on the principles of secularism, democracy and
respect for human rights. His thoughts are still alive and still lighten the
way for many people.
It’s not the trivet but the fire gives
The miracle is not in the crown but in the khirkah (woolen garment worn
by a dervish)
Whatever you’re searching for, search in yourself,
It’s neither in Jerusalem, Mecca nor in the Hadj.
“There is no need to discriminate between
religions. Religions cause disputes among people. In fact, all religions aim
to provide peace and brotherhood on earth” says Bektashi Veli in his opus “Velayetname”.
Bektashism, which originates from Haji Bektashi Veli’s ideas, aims to
comprehend the unity of “Universe, God and Man” based on human love. Man is
ornamented with divine characteristics. The first step to success is to know
yourself and love yourself because man harbors divine qualities within
himself, and the man who loves himself also loves God. This quatrain
explains Bektashism’s understanding of love in the clearest way:
Students hew stone,
They hew and present it to their master,
In every inch of the stone,
They call God to mind.
Man is independent. His duty is to behave
modestly and to feed, refine, mature and fill his spirit with love of God.
Bodies are only tools for the main purpose. So discriminating between men
and women or classifying people according to their social status or race is
a huge mistake. Man or woman, all of mankind is equal. Haji Bektashi Veli’s
views are still alive today and celebrated with excitement every year on the
15-17th August in the Haji Bektash region of the province of Nevsehir.
Another institution that contributes to
Anatolian culture unity is ahilik. (rules, manners, attitudes of people
sharing same profession) Ahi, who came to Anatolia with the Yesevi
dervishes, preferred cities to rural areas because they had professions.
Ahilik (being an Ahi), is not only a professional organization but also a
sacred institution with its own rules, traditions, conformities and secrets.
Ahi Evran Veli was a holy man from Khorasan, like Haji Bektashi Veli, who
united Anatolian Ahis and made them an organized force. Ahi Evran’s wife,
Sister Fatima (known as Woman Mother) set up the first woman’s organization
in the world, “Baciyan-i Rum”. Ahis gathered in Ankara and Kirsehir under
the sheik of Evran in the 13th century and spread to all Seljuk cities. Ahis
played an important role in the formation of the Ottoman state, and to some
researchers they even counted Osman Gazi, who founded the Ottoman state, his
son Orhan Gazi and Sultan Murad I among their numbers.
Equality between members is the first Ahi
rule. All members are brothers. On the other hand, the institution has many
internal rules, and beginners have great respect for their elders. To become
a member, one must be invited by an Ahi and people with bad reputations or
who have dubious jobs can never be accepted. For example, murderers, people
who kill animals (butchers) or people who have committed adultery are not
allowed to be members. As with Bektashism, becoming a member is celebrated
with a special ritual. In this ritual, the Ahi candidate wears a special
belt (Sed) and members instruct him to treat everyone equally and honestly.
Absolute affiliation and eternal obedience is expected from all members.
Atheists and religious fanatics are not allowed to join. As with Bektashism,
the Ahi goes through many stages in which he learns patience, purification
of the soul, loyalty, friendship and tolerance.
In addition to these qualifications
mentioned above, there are six important principles:
Open your hand (be generous to everyone),
Share your food,
Open the door of your house when somebody needs shelter,
Close your eyes (don’t be led astray by the artificial beauties of the
Control your waist (Don’t be a victim of your sexual impulses),
Control your tongue.
He who comes with patience and God,
Stands by our side.
He who works with morality and wisdom and passes us,
And stands our side.
There are many degrees in Ahism. In these,
the student learns professional skills, Sufism and religion, reading and
writing, Turkish, Arabic, Persian, music, mathematics and the Constitution
of Ahi “Futuvvetname”
The nine degrees of the Ahi are:
Although the Ahi institution has now weakened, it is still officially
celebrated every year on the second Monday in October.
Reference: Turkish Ministry of Culture