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, roots progressively.
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 Dervishes", reappear.
The 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 Konya, 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.

His 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 Sole Creator.
Sema ritual at Galata Mevlevihanesi in İstanbul.
Women are now allowed to join the brotherhood. They can be seen here wearing colored scarves.
Another 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 Empire.
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 Hacıbektaş .

He 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, and Jews.
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.