The Vilayetnames of Haji Bektash & Hacim Sultan: A Brief Comparison

The Vilayetname of Haji Bektash is the primary hagiography of the patron saint of the

Bektashi Order and one of the foremost figures in late Medieval Sufism. The opening of

this work begins, not surprisingly, with his genealogy which is traced back to the Prophet

Muhammad through the seventh Shi’i Imam, Musa al-Kazim.  At his birth he is given the

name Bektash, which means “companion in rank,” or “equal of a prince,”  foreshadowing

perhaps his future role in spiritual history. When six months had passed after his birth

Bektash pronounced the Islamic proclamation of faith, the
shahadah. Emphasis here is

put on his attachment to basic Islamic principles. At the end of the episode on his birth

the writer of the Vilayetname states that, “throughout his whole life Hunkar Haji Bektash

did not once give in to his personal desires. He never reproached anyone nor even saw a

single person’s failings. He never took a single step without his
abdest (ablutions). He was

never negligent of his devotions to God for even a single second.”  

Being the son of one of the ruling figures in Khorasan, it is certain that Bektash’s father

hoped his son would follow in his footsteps. When he was old enough the young Bektash

was given over to the venerable Lokman Perende for instruction. Lokman was one of the

murids of Shaykh Ahmed Yesevi, a saint who held great status among the Turkic

peoples of both Central Asia and Anatolia. Almost immediately Bektash demonstrated his

spiritual capabilities. One day Lokman Perende found the young Bektash sitting in a room

with two individuals who were teaching him the Qur’an. The figures vanished into thin air

as soon as the old tutor entered the room and Bektash explained that the one to his right

was the Prophet Muhammad, who was teaching him the manifest understanding, the

zahir, of the Qur’an and the one to his left was Imam Ali, who was teaching him the hidden

wisdom, the
batin, of the Qur’an.

The miracles performed by the boy had only begun. Bektash was given the label ‘haji’ by

Lokman Perende after he had seen the lad in Makkah while performing the pilgrimage. On

his return to Khorasan Lokman Perende did more than just give Bektash the title of ‘haji’;

he publicly acknowledged the young man’s higher spiritual station, and kissed his hand in

front of all those gathered.  The other
erens (saintly dervishes) were amazed that at such

a young age Haji Bektash possessed such astonishing facilities, and they started

questioning Lokman about his actions. Haji Bektash replied, “I am the secret, the
sirr, of

the illustrious Ali. My origin and descent is from him. These many marvels are a

birthright that Allah has granted to me. It should not be surprising to anyone that

miracles like these appear, for it is by the power of God.”  The
erens still did not believe

him, and Haji Bektash was forced to prove himself. He then displayed to them the

supernatural marks of Imam Ali on his body, after which they could no longer deny his

elevated and superior rank.


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