The thirteenth century was a period of extraordinary currents evolution and development period in the history of Anatolia to which the Turks arriving in large masses had brought their social orders together with their political and military supremacies.
Several thinkers and scientists had actively participated in this current in order to create a unity. Many sage men had undertaken an enlightening role for the education of the Anatolian population. Mevlāna Celaleddin-i Rumi, Yunus Emre , Ahi Evran, Ahmet Fakih, Sultan Veled, seyyad Hamss, Nasreddin Hoca and the others under the spiritualleadership of Ahmet Yesevi are the forerunners of the thirteenth century and of this objective. Some of these great men had aimed at developing the divine feelings, some others had striven to promote the unity and strength, some had undertaken the bolster the peace, love and brotherhood, some had attempted to improve the economic order and some others had set as their goals the establishment of the tolerance and altruistic optimism among the man- kind.
These great men are the foundation stones of our culture and sources of pride within the context of the universal cultural structure. They are unforgettables whose influences have spread well beyond the Anatolian peninsula and continued through the centuries.
Hazrat Haci Bektas Veli is one of these great men.
He was born at the city of Nishabur in Khorasan. His birthday, though not known with any degree of certainty, is believed to be around 1248. His father is Seyyid Ibrahim from Khorasan and his mother is Khatem Khatun of Nishabur.
Haci Bektas Veli had spent the first 25 years of his life in Nishabur where he learned philosophy, physics, literature and other sciences from noted scientists of Turkestan, headed by Lokman Perende. He bolstered his knowledge with extensive travels in Turkestan, Iran, Baghdad, Kerbela, Mecca and Syria.
He then moved on to Anatolia and settled at Sulucakarahuyuk whose current name is Hacibektas upon an invitation from Ahmet Yesevi, developed his thought at the Turkish culture center that he established here,raised untold numbers of pupils and played the leader of military,social and religious unity among the Anatolian Turks by also taldng up the problems of the people and the army.
Marrying Fatma Nuriye Hamm (Kadincik Ana), daughter of Īdris Hoca,Haci Bektas Veli travelled extensively the regions where the Turks had settled in Anatolia, studied the Turkish customs and traditions as maintained intact until then, amalgamated the Islamic faith and Turkish culture in the culture center that he had erected and founded his philosophy on this vector of consensus.
Known also as the founder – saint of the janissary group, he was instrumental in creating the Turkish unity in Anatolia, raised the status of the woman in the social life and continued for his entire life his efforts to protect the Turkish language and culture from foreign influences and heretic intrusions.
Believed to have waisal in 1337, Haci Bektas Veli is buried in his turbeh at Hacibektas town.
He has books titled “Makalat”, “Fevaid”, “Sadhiyye” and “Serh-i Besmele”. The work known as “Velayet-name” is an important source material for the life and miracles of Haci Bektas Veli.
Haji Bektash was born in Nishapur. It is reported in some Bektashi legends that Haji 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 Haji Bektash and this claim is rejected by modern scholars, since Khoja Akhmet Yassawi lived nearly one hundred years before Haji 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 al-Khorāsānī. Modern research connects him to another important religious movement of that time: to the Qalandariyahmovement 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 Anatolian Seljuks.
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.
The paternal line of Haji Bektash Veli:
- Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (1st Shia imam)
- Imam Husayn (3rd Shia imam)
- Imam Zayn al-Abidin (4th Shia imam)
- Imam Muhammad Baqir (5th Shia imam)
- Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (6th Shia imam)
- Imam Musa Kazim (7th Shia imam)
- Sayyid Ibrahim al-Mukarram al-Mujab (brother of 8th Shia imam)
- Sayyid Hasan al-Mujab
- Sayyid Muhammad
- Sayyid Mahdi
- Sayyid Ibrahim
- Sayyid Hassan
- Sayyid Ibrahim
- Sayyid Muhammad
- Sayyid Ishaq
- Sayyid Musa
- Sayyid Ibrahim al-Thani
- Sayyid Hunkar Haji Muhammad Bektash Veli
From the Vilayetname
From the Vilayetname (or: The Saintly Exploits of Hacı Bektaş Veli):
After Lokman Perende had returned from the hajj, the erenler (saints) of Khorasan came to offer him their respects. When they saw a spring flowing from the middle of the mekteb, they said, “We have been here before many times and had never seen such spring.” Lokman Perende replied, “This is by the blessings of Hunkar Haji Bektash.” The erenler asked, “Who is this Hunkar Haji Bektash?” Lokman Perende said, “Haji Bektash Hunkar is this beloved one,” and he then pointed to the young Bektash. The erenler said, “That one is still a child. How on earth could he become a haji?” Lokman Perende then described to the gathering the all of the miracles of Haji Bektash one by one and then said, “While I was performing my prayer at the Kaabah, Bektash was always there praying next to me. When we completed our prayer, he would vanished.” The erenler said, “Where could this boy have found this extraordinary capability?” Then Hunkar Haji Bektash opened his blessed mouth and said, “I am the secret of the exalted Imam Ali, who is the dispenser of the River Kawthar and who is the Lion of Allah, the Emperor of Sainthood and the Commander of the Faithful. My origin and family line is from him. These many miracles are my inheritance which is granted by Allah. It should not be surprising to anyone that miracles like these appear from me, for this is the Power of God.”
The erenler of Khorasan said, “If, in reality, you are the secret of the Shah, he has marks. Show these marks to us and we shall believe.” Now the sign of Hazreti Ali was this; in the middle of his blessed hand he had a beautiful mole of emerald tone. So Hazreti Hunkar Haji Bektash Veli opened his sanctified hand and showed his palm. They all saw that there, in the middle his palm, was a beautiful emerald mole. The erenler said, “The Commander of the Faithful also had a beautiful emerald mole on his blessed forehead.” Hunkar Haji Bektash Veli removed the skull cap from his blessed head and all saw a divinely illuminated mole of emerald tint between his brow. All of the erenler begged for forgiveness, saying, “O Dervish of the Dervishes, we have been sorely mistaken.” They surrendered to him asserting, “These are indeed miracles.”
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 the Republic of 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. There is also a Bektashi tekke in Michigan, founded by Baba Rexheb, who was a Bektashi baba and a writer in Islamic mysticism and Bektashism.
Haji Bektash Veli (1209–1271) was born in Nishapur in Khorasan. The dates of his birth and death differ between sources. Some references state he was born in 1248, lived in Anatolia from 1270 to 1280, and died in 1337. Others declare his birth was in 1248 and his death in 1271. Haji Bektash Veli was a follower of Ahmad Yassawi’s teachings. Afterhis arrival in Anatolia, he contributed to the foundation of the Ottoman State, building on solid fundamentals with the help of the Ahi community on religious, economic, military, and social aspects. After leaving Nishapur, he came to Nevsehir, where he set up a lodge and continued to educate and enlighten the public.
His philosophy was based on love for God, love for humanity, tolerance, sharing, social peace, and honesty. Haji Bektash Veli continuously emphasized the importance of knowledge, wisdom, honesty, tolerance, brotherhood, unity, friendship, and morality. He approached religious and Sufi issues clearly in his book Makalat, which was written based on “four gates” and “forty authorities.” The four gates represent Sharia, Tariqa, Marifa, and Haqiqa, and the forty authorities represent the understanding accepted and followed by Turkish Sufis.The Sufism movement, which started with Ahmed Yesevi in Turkistan, inspired Haji Bektash Veli, Rumi, and Yunus Emre in Anatolia. These three people, being more advanced than their contemporaries, laid the foundations of Anatolian tolerance and understanding.
Those who attended Haji Bektash Veli’s lessons and conversations and followed his path were called Bektashi. Bektashism is an Alevi Sufi order that represents Haji Bektash Veli, and this order has been accepted in the Balkans, Albania, Greece, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Hungary, and Azerbaijan. Bektashism is a teaching that focuses on “the human.” Its aim is to reach a level of competence and perfect human status known as Insan-I Kamil, and a training process is essential to reaching this level. The system can be summarized by saying, “Be the master of your hand, waist, and tongue.” It requires free minds that are always thinking. Their philosophy is far from fanatical, and it requires a loving approach toward God. The collaboration of both men and women is highly crucial in this philosophy.
Haji Bektash Veli combined Islamic beliefs with Turkish culture. His wisdom based on tolerance reached many people in a short period. He contributed to Islam in both a simple and universal understanding, and he simplified how to live the spirit of Islam. His method was based on human love, and he taught that the path that will lead humanity to the light and survival was “divine love.” Sufism aims to understand God and reach God’s existence. Bektashi philosophy is based on Sufism and worldly secular thinking. “Ashik” sees the beauty of God everywhere. Humanity is also a part of God and carries God’s light. God gave his own light and beauty to humans when he created them.
Bektashi philosophy also mentions transmigration of the soul: “The ones on that path never die, but they change their image.” The soul tries to reach its own essence: “The body is like a cage, and the soul is like a bird in it” and “Death is not a separation but a path full of light that leads to the beloved and a new birth in a new universe.” Death is like changing the cover of the soul. Bektashism advises us to control our desires rather than kill them totally. It does not prefer to stay passive while the universe is continuously changing. The main characteristic of Bektashi and Mewlevi traditions is the continuous transformation and progress. According to Bektashism, humanity is the masterpiece of God and a part of God. It is the mirror that reflects God’s beauty. The one who seeks something will find it within.
Let’s end with some of Haji Bektash Veli’s sayings:
Only the flesh dies, not the soul.
Women should know how to read and write.
You cannot proceed if you look forwards but with the heart backwards.
Never hurt anyone, even if they hurt you.
Thanks to the ones who shine light on the darkness of thoughts.
Morality is the first step on the path of wisdom.
Whatever you seek, seek within.
I have three good friends. When I leave this world, one of them stays at home, one of them stays on the path, and one of them comes with me. The one at home is my possessions. The one on the path is my acquaintances, and the one who comes with me is my kindness.