Under the reign of the Ottomans,
the country became the prestigious Heart of Islam:
Selim I added the title
of Caliph, who holds the spiritual and temporal
powers, to that of Sultan. But due to the reforms
of 1924, the Caliphate is abolished, and religion
looses its impact over politics. Nationwide, there
is an implementation of secularizm and liberty of
conscience. Religious brotherhoods are forbidden.
Polygamy is outlawed. These radical reforms, to
which only a small part of the population is prepared,
Decades later, due to the general context and a
certain slackeness, religious life reappears: new
mosques are buit and coranic (İmam hatip) schools
reopen, Islamic clothing is worn as a sign of religious
adherence, mystic brotherhoods such as the famous
Mevlevi Brotherhood composed of Mevlevi
Dervishes better known as the "Whirling
Mevlevi Brotherhoodrepresents a style of Anatolian soufism founded
by Mevlânâ Celâleddin Rűmi, who is
one of the most outstanding mystic philosophers
and poets of the Muslim world. Mevlânâ was
born in Balkh, Khorassan (Central Asia), in
September 1207. Under the growing threat of
the Mongols, his family came and settled in
Anatolia, under the rule of the Seljuk
Turks. Upon his father's (Bahaddin Veled)
death in 1231, he received a moral education
from Seyid Burhaneddin of Tirmiz. After he
completed his studies in the medreses
of Aleppo and Damascus (Syria), he became
a "müderris" (professor) of the
Islamic sciences in Konya. In 1244, after
he met a dervish called Şemseddin of Tabriz
(Iran), he left
the medrese and adopted a new philosophy
of life both scientific
and mystic. The people of Konya, jealous
of their relations, assassinated Şemseddin
on his next arrival in the city. Mevlânâ,
deeply impressed by this event, wrote his
Grand Divan (Divan-ı Kebir). Then he related
to Selahaddin Zerkűbi and later to Hüsameddin
Türkoğlu, but it
was by incitement of Hüsameddin Çelebi
that he created his greatest work called "Mesnevi"
or "In Search of the Absolute".
Mevlânâ died on December 17, 1273 in Konya.
followers and devoted companions established
the Mevlevi Brotherhood. All his life, Mevlânâ
always cared how to make religion loved but
not to impose it. Symbol of Tolerance, today
his views continue to fascinate a large amount
of people among Moslems and non-Moslems.
Ritual of the Mevlevis: the "Sema"
is a rite of communal recitation by calling
forth the name of Allah, or zikr, by
dancing and meditating. The Sema is conducted
by a spiritual guide called sheik.
Like planets revolving at the same time round
the sun and on themselves, the Mevlevi
Dervishes or "Whirling Dervishes"
can revolve during hours in a state of deep
meditation. According to Mevlânâ, every single
creature of the universe, atoms, planets,
animals, plants etc... evocate Allah, the
Sema ritual at Galata Mevlevihanesi in İstanbul.
Women are now allowed to join the brotherhood. They can be seen here wearing colored scarves.
mystic from the Seljuk period is Hacı Bektaş
Veli who was a contemporary of Mevlânâ.
The two men had much in common but, while
Mevlânâ wrote in literary Persian and addressed
himself to the educated classes, influencing
scholars, poets and artists, Hacı Bektaş Veli
sought followers mainly among peasants and
soldiers. As a religious leader and ethical
teacher he counted among those who prepared
the way for the Ottoman
The story of his life is recounted in the
book known as the Velayetnâme which
was written in the 15th century on the basis
of oral traditions. Hacı Bektaş Veli was born
in Nishabur, Khorassan, about 1243-1248. After
years of studies, he traveled toTurkestan,
Iran, Bagdad, Kerbela, Mecca and Syria. He
came to Anatolia about 1275-1280 and settled
in the village of Sulucakarahöyük, now called
established a Turkish Culture Center where
he spread his teachings, the base of the Alevi
tradition, creating a unity among the Anatolian
Turks. His philosophy is based on Peace, Tolerance,
Humanity and Humility which can only be attained
through the Love of God and Mankind. He raised
the status of the woman in the social life.
Hacı Bektaş wrote a number of works on "tasavvuf"
(mysticism), the best known beeing the Makalât.
He is believed to have died in 1337. The connections
between the Bektaşi and Mevlevi orders continued
after the death of Hacı Bektaş and Mevlânâ.
The Order of the Bektaşi Dervishes took over
the religious patronage of the Janissaries,
and under their influence, the Bektaşi doctrines
spread through the conquered countries. However,
contacts with other religions and cultures,
the influence of converts and Shiite propaganda
from Iran in the 16th century changed the
strict Bektaşi order into a heterogeneous
and cosmopolitan association which satisfied
the needs of everyone.
Today, 99% of the population are Moslems. The 1%
remaining are mainly Christians belonging to the
Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Syriac Jacobite Churches,
The majority of Moslems are Sunnis. Anatolian
Shiites (disciples of Ali) are known under the name
"Alevi". Compared to the Sunnis
of Anatolia, they are more flexible. So, except
for their name, they have not much in common with
the Shias of Iran or Irak.