What is Alevism?

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Alevism: Alevis are the second largest belief community in Turkey. However language, belief and eth-nic background are not registered in the national census, therefore it is not possible to have official statistics about the number of Alevis. On the basis of reliable academic research, the population of Alevis is estimated at approximately 20 million out of a 70 million population in Turkey.

What is Alevism?

Alevism has evolved by interacting with various beliefs, spiritual doctrines and cultures over a wide geographical area from Central Asia to the Balkan Mountains, throughout its history. A process of gradual convergence between various different Alevi – Bektashi Lodges, since the 13th century constitutes what we call Alevism today. The concept of Alevism is actually a broad term covering different language and ethnic communities sharing the same belief components. What defines the Alevi belief can briefly be summarized as follows;

• In Alevism, every human being is a carrier of the essence of God.

• God in Alevism is Hakk, which means ‘the truth’.

• If God has created everything, then human beings are sacred in the world.

• Therefore, Alevis consider everything as sacred and as the carrier of an essence from God.

• Alevis call each other ‘Can’ (soul), which is a gender-neutral name. As a result of this under-standing, the position of women in Alevism is equal to that of men.

• Alevis consider god, the cosmos and humanity in a state of total unity. This unity is symbol-ized with an exclamation, Hakk-Muhammad-Ali, which unites the three most sacred beings in Alevism – God (Hakk), Muhammed (the cosmos) and Ali (Humanity), a cousin and the son-in-law of Muhammed.

• Ali, as the main sacred person in Alevism, considers the whole world as a place of worship, consequently, any good behaviour can be classified as worship in this world.

• A well-known verse of Hallacı Mansur, a Sufi poet from the 10th century, indicates the unity of God and humanity in Alevism as Ene’l Hakk (I am one with God).

• The founder saint of Bektashism, Hace Bektash Veli, from the 13th century, explains this importance with his saying “My Kaaba is the human being”.

• Alevis do not consider God as fixed into a place of worship, iconography or written books but He is la-mekan (placeless) and the human heart is His only domicile.

• Therefore, Alevis do not fear God but only bear love for him and they do not believe in paradise or hell but an infinite circulation until one reaches the status of perfection and reun-ion with where he or she comes from.

• Alevis regard all holy books and the prophets with great respect. For them, the aim is one but the ways in which they attempt to fulfil these aims are different.

• This understanding prioritises reason over dogma, as Hace Bektash Veli says, “the end of he path would be dark if the path is not science.”

• Alevis consider all nations as one regardless of ethnic, racial, gender and linguistic differ-ences, simply because each creature carries the same sacred essence.

• Humanism, egalitarianism, mutual assistance, and gender-equality are the main social characteristics commonly shared by Alevi communities. Their Alevi lodge-centred social organization is based on a kind of agrarian socialism.

• A well-known saying of Seyh Bedrettin, a religious scholar and rebel against the Ottoman Empire, “everything except the cheek of a lover can be shared”, explains this egalitarianism perfectly.

• As a result, resistance against injustices expressed with the phrases “allegiance with the oppressed (mazlum)” and “standing up against the tyrant (zalim)” have become the main social attitudes in Alevism.

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