The Bektashi Order in 19th Century An Outline of Preliminary Research

I have concluded that the Risale-i Lahutiyye belongs to Şeyh Sırri. He is the author and Şeyh Bedrettin is only a transcriber. We can see that Şeyh Bedrettin recorded many details regarding Bektashi rituals from Şeyh Sırri’s writings in the main text. The manuscript begins with “Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim ve bihi’l-avn” (In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful, and with his divine aid). The term destur (meaning “with your permission”, “by your leave”) is also utilized in the introduction. I understand that Şeyh Sırri personally observed Bektashi rites in 1214/1779. According to the manuscript, Kızıl Deli Sultan (Seyyid Ali) was the conqueror of Rumeli and he founded a branch of the Bektashi movement. A contemporary of his was Seyyid Halil Dede  in Hacıbektashköy. At the same time, “sahibu’s-seccade” was Shaykh Abdullatif Efendi . This branch of Bektashis was probably belonging to the Babagan branch. When they accepted his branch’s shaykh Halil Dede as postnişin, they respected other branch’s shaykh Abd al-Latif Efendi as “sâhibü’s-seccade”. In addition, Şeyh Fazlullah Efendi, who was one of the descendants of Kızıl Deli, was also present in ritual (ayn-ı cem).


A second Bektashi manuscript was written in 1255/ 1839. I derived this date from an unnamed writer’s note which mentions the detailed funeral ceremony of Hacı Mehmed Ali Dede. This text was written by the dervishes of the Seyyid Ismail Dede, who was a postnişin of the Shahkulu Tekke. Although this text does not include the initiation ceremony, it includes Gulbenks and prayers in detail. This text can be accessed in the Atatürk Library of the Istanbul Municipality.


Another manuscript that includes the rituals and beliefs of Bektashis was written in 1261/1845. I derived this date from a letter in the text. This text can also be found in the Atatürk Library. The text shows the rituals, beliefs and philosophy of the Bektashis. It includes the initiation ceremony of the order, praise, information about Hacı Bektashi Veli and his descendants, as well as Fadlullah Astarabadi.


I have discovered yet another manuscript that originates in the Tire Bektashi Tekke. At the beginning of the manuscript it is written that this copy of “the Erkanname belongs to Hacı Kırzade Hüseyin Hüsnü Baba who is the shaykh of Hüseyin Ibrahim Baba Tekke of Tire.” It was written in 1312/1894. I derived this date from the list at the end of the manuscript which includes the names and the dates that various individuals joined the order. In this manuscript the initiation ceremony was written from the beginning to end in detail. This manuscript is also found in the Atatürk Library.


The last manuscript that was written in the 20th century is undated. I deduced this date from the explanations which also support the banning of the tekkes by the Republican administration. It was written using Arabic letters. It was written between the years of 1925 and 1928, because the tekkes in Turkey were proscribed in 1928, which was also to the year of the alphabet reform. This manuscript was written to teach the new generation who forgot the Erkan (principles) of Bektashi Order. This manuscript is in the Atatürk Library. It includes comments about Bektashi order that are of importance. The writer is unknown, but he commented on the Republican reforms in a positive way.


I mentioned above the difficulties of finding these manuscripts. When I found the manuscript which includes religious education of Saka Yeniçeriyan (Janissary Troopers), I was astounded. I was looking for a manuscript from the librarian with name of Usul-ı Tarikat-ı Bektasiyye Risalesi. However, when I took the manuscript, I noticed that the subtitle of book was Saka Yeniçeriyan. In this manuscript, the religious education of Saka Yeniçeriyan was written in detail. The date of manuscript is 1206/ 1792.


The third source that I used in my study is the Bektashis were the gravestones in Bektashi tekkes of the 19th century. I also found many Bektashi gravestones in public graveyards. I photographed all of these gravestones, but I did not use all of them because of the limits of this study.


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