Ali Baba Giritli's Approach to Sufism

by A. Yilmaz Soyyer


Giritli Ali Resmi Baba lived during the 18th century. On the last page of the Risāle-i Lāhutiyye (the Treatise of the Divine) which had transcribed by Shaykh Sirr-i Rifā'ī and Badr ud-Dīn Khalwātī is written this sentence: “Resmī Ali Baba date: 1204 Hijrah (1789 CE).”  The date in question is most likely the death date of Giritli Ali Baba and it is interesting to note that the remainder of the manuscript contains Bektashi erkānlargülbengs, symbols and other rituals. The details of his life are almost nonexistent. We can presume that he was originally from the island of Crete. On final page of his manuscript Uyūn al-Hidāyat Giritli Ali Baba wrote that he is a servant (bende) of Seyyid Ali Sultan.   We do know the name of Ali Baba’s own spiritual guide (murshid) because in his divan (poetry collection) there is a poem to one Ali Sirrī Baba of the Kizil Deli ocak of Dimetoka.


The work Uyūn al-Hidāyat was widely read in Bektashi circles. It is mentioned on the last pages of an erkânname (book of ceremony and ritual) a list of books belong to the library of an unknown Bektashi tekke was catalogued.  The late Dr. Bedri Noyan (d.1997), who was dedebaba of the Babagan Bektashis in Turkey, cited a quote from Giritli Ali Baba in his important work  Bütün Yönleriyle Bektaşilik ve Alevilik.


My examination of the work is based on two manuscript copies of the Uyūn al-Hidāyat: being a copy found in the Yapi ve Kredi Bank’s library and the other a copy from the Süleymaniye Library.  Girtli Ali Baba’s spiritual philosophy present quite extensively in the Uyūn al-Hidāyat.  It is a philosophy rooted both in love of the Ahl al-Bayt as well as the concept of Wahdat al-Wujud, the former being a clear influence from the great medieval Sufi, Ibn Arabī.


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