Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Writing Religion: The Making of Turkish Alevi Islam

Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Writing Religion: The Making of Turkish Alevi Islam

Article excerpt

Writing Religion: The Making of Turkish Alevi Islam. By Markus Dressier. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. 323 pp. $58.50.

Dressier, an assistant professor of religious studies at Bayreuth University in Germany, writes that Alevism is viewed by "most insiders and outsiders" as "part of the Islamic tradition, although located on its margins," and most often described as heterodox and syncretic reflecting the influences of Sufism as well as the Shiite sect. And yet, "it is widely taken for granted that Alevism constitutes an intrinsic part of Anatolian and Turkish culture ... carrying] an ancient Turkish heritage ... [from] the depths of [the] Central Asian Turkish past."

Alevis constitute a sizable minority of Turkey's inhabitants, 10-15 percent of the national census, according to Dressier. The author contends that roughly 20-30 percent of these are Kurdish. Alevis are also present in the Turkish migrant communities in Germany and other Western European countries.

Despite these numbers, Turkish authorities have tended to disregard the Alevi sect, either by ignoring it or declaring it part of the dominant, state-administered Sunni Muslim community. …

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