Hacibektas, is 40 minutes drive from Goreme, located in northern Cappadocia. It is the center of Bektasi sect of Islam founded by the great philosopher Haci Bektas-i Veli in 13th century. You can visit the dervis dergah (lodge) which is a museum today, cilehane (suffering house), bestaslar (five stones) and a cemevi (an alevi temple) in Hacibektas. If your visit is timed for August, you will be able to watch the international commemoration ceremonies, and get an idea of the living traditions of the order’s followers. Hacibektas is the sacred center of Alevi Islam, and every year on 16, 17 and 18 August, tens of thousands of people flock here, not just from Turkey, but from Bulgaria, Albania and other Balkan countries.
HACI BEKTAS-I VELI
” How glad for those who shed light into the darkness of thought. “
These words, written by Haci Bektas-i Veli, the famous Turkish-Islamic mystic, philosopher, and dervish from Khorasan, echo delicately in our ears as we enter the dervishes’ convent. The lines, fraught with meaning, impart peace and love to our souls and transport us to the worlds completely different from our own. The stamp of Haci Bektas-i Veli’s imprint upon Turkish, Islamic, and world history is deep and unmatched. Let us, therefore, attempt to become acquainted with and develop a sense for his world, filled as it is with love for humanity and for the universe, never forgetting that this is the path of love, the path of peace, the path of knowledge, the path of belief.
In Khorasan’s city of Nishabur, most likely in the years between 1243 and 1248, a son was born to Seyyid Ibrahim Sani and his wife Hatern Hatun, the daughter of Sheik Ahmet. His mother’s compassion and his father’s love for equality and humanity were the foundations upon which his upbringing was based and such sentiments informed and enriched his boyhood years. His studies under the tutelage of Hoca Ahmet Yesevi of Turkestan equipped him with a knowledge of positive scielices and in the school of his illustrious philosopher-mentor, he studied mathematics and physics along with literature and philosophy. Under Sheik Lokman Perende, one of Ahmet Yesevi’s successors, he studied mysticism. From the works of the poet Omar Khayyam, Feridettin Attar, and Sheik Numan he took his inspiration. Khorasan possessed a vast cultural heritage that had nourished many a scholar and philosopher. Haci Bektas-i Veli completed his studies in Khorasan, acquiring from them a broad and genial view of the world. His education encouraged this young Islamic mystic to become better acquainted with humanity, and Haci Bektas-i Veli began to seek the fire of infinite love within himself. Becoming a well-known Sufi, he set out from Khorasan to make the pilgrimage to Mecca. Leaving Mecca, he traveled to Syria and then continued his journeys in Persia, Iraq, and Arabia. During these years, Anatolia was in a state of severe political and economic disarray. Haci Bektas-i Veli was affected by this situation and came to Anatolia with the idea of restoring fragmented Turkish unity, and took part in the effort to make the peninsula a Turkish and Muslim homeland.
The principles and elements of Haci Bektas-i Veli’s philosophy and life became the foundation on which the Bektashi dervish order developed. Bektashism was based on four tenets or “doors”:
the Door of the Shariah (Religious Law),
the Door of Mysticism,
the Door of Truth,
and the Door of Spiritual Knowledge.
In their Ceremony of Confession, Bektashis vowed to be responsible “for their hands” (the things they do), “for their loins” (their desires), and “for their tongues” (what they say). This vow was a powerful and meaningful expression of the belief that one’s should be channeled towards love and respect. Love of God and love of man lie at the foundation of Haci Bektas-i Veli’s philosophy. In this philosophy, the mystic examined the universe that the Creator had created. Rules that nature had determined millions of years ago were just as applicable as ever in an infinity in which courtesy and savagery embraced. Since it came into being, humanity has been the greatest observer of a perfect order. In this world, there is a securely anchored chain of rule and order. Haci Bektas-i Veli was deeply influenced by the perfection, harmony, and order that he observed in the universe.
Some of the most known aphorisms of Haci Bektas-i Veli are:
Seek and find. Do not hurt even if you are hurt yourself.
Educate your women. Control your deeds, tongue, and desires.
Whatever you seek, look for it in yourself. The adept are both pure and purifying.
The first step of a talent is modesty. A person’s perfection lies in the beauty of what he says.
Condemn no nation or person. Do not impose on someone that which is too burdensome for him to bear.
The end of the road that does not pass through knowledge is darkness. How glad for those who shed light into the darkness of thought.
Prophets and saints are God’s gift to humanity.