The Role of the Bektashis in Turkey's National Struggle

The Role of the Bektashis in Turkey's National Struggle

The Role of the Bektashis in Turkey's National Struggle

The Role of the Bektashis in Turkey's National Struggle

Synopsis

Dealing with the roles of the Bekt sh's in Turkeys recent history, especially in its National Struggle (1918-1923) as well as their situation in late 19th and early 20th centuries Ottoman Empire, this volume is packed with well documented historical information on individuals who belonged or claimed to belong to the Bekt sh milieu, and contains many documents and several pictures hitherto unknown. It also treats the roles of the other Sufi orders in the National Struggle to emphasize its thesis that the Bekt sh's acted not differently during the National Struggle. It sheds lights on many unknown aspects of Turkeys National Struggle and brings new commentaries on Turkeys official policies regarding the Bekt sh's and Alevis.

Excerpt

The present work is a revised and somewhat expanded version of the doctoral thesis I defended at Leiden University in 2001. When I was trying to find a subject to study and a full professor to supervise the study, I had the good fortune to be in contact with Prof. Dr Erik Jan Zürcher, who proposed the present topic. First, we entitled it “Sufi Orders in the National Struggle”, which seemed an interesting subject to me, particularly as I am a lecturer in the History of Sufism. Later, however, as we discovered the full extent of the subject, we decided to limit it to “The Role of the Bektāshīs in Turkey’s National Struggle”. I could have chosen Mawlawism, but it was not difficult to recognize the attractiveness and popularity of Bektāshism in modern Turkey. Besides, there has recently been a spate of publications describing Bektāshism and ‛Alawism. The academic merit of these books, however, is debatable, and in any event the political roles of Bektāshism and ‛Alawism in recent Turkish history have yet to be comprehensively and critically studied.

It is a very well known aspect of the National Struggle that Muṣṭafā Kemāl visited many influential religious leaders, or wrote letters to them to obtain their support for the National Struggle. In the delicate circumstances of those years, Bektāshī and ‛Alawī leaders could not be excluded. Indeed Muṣṭafā Kemāl also visited them in Hacibektaş township on 23 December 1919 and exchanged letters/telegrams with them. The sticking point here is that his visit and letters/telegrams were and have continued to be interpreted by some present-day Bektāshī and ‛Alawī writers as open sign of mutual approval of each other’s ideals. But it is obvious that although there was no specific mention of collective support or opposition from any given group, nearly all Sufi orders and not just the Bektāshīs supported the National Struggle. Opposition against the national movement and the subsequent reforms was mostly on the personal level or limited to small groups. More importantly, many recent partisan and non-academic works claim that Bektāshī support for the National Struggle was actually support for the subversion of the Ottoman dynasty, and that therefore, the Bektāshīs . . .

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