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Haji Bektash Veli or Haji Bektash Wali (Persian: حاجی بکتاش ولی ‎ Ḥājī Baktāš Walī; Turkish: Hacı Bektaş Veli) was a Persian mystic, humanist and philosopher from Nishapur in Khorasan, Persia (modern-day Iran). Some sources claim he was of Turkish descent. He lived from approximately 1209-1271 in Anatolia. He was one of the figures who flourished in the Sultanate of Rum.

The name attributed to him can be translated as “The Pilgrim Saint Bektash.” He is the eponym of the Bektashi Sufi order and is considered as one of the principal teachers of Alevism. He is also a renowned figure in the history and culture of both Ottoman Empire and modern day Turkey. The Hajji title implies that Haji Bektash Veli made the pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina to perform Hajj.

Hajji Bektash was born in Nishapur, Iran. He was an ethnic Persian

It is reported in some Bektashi legends that Hajji Bektash was a follower and the caliph (“representative”) of Khwaja Ahmad Yasavi, a Sufi mystic from Central Asia who had great influence on the Turkic nomads of the steppes. However, there are no signs of Yasavi influence in the original teachings of Hajji Bektash and this claim is rejected by modern scholars, since Ahmad Yasavi lived nearly one hundred years before Hajji Bektash.

Modern research connects him to another important religious movement of that time: to the Qalandariyah movement and to Bābā Rasul Ilyās Khorāsānī († 1240), an influential mystic from Eastern Persia who was tortured to death because of his anti-orthodox views on Islam. The original Bektashi teachings in many ways resemble the teachings of the Khorasanian Qalandariyah and that of Rassul-Allāh Eliyās.

See also: Qalandariyah, Sufism, Zawiyya, Kosovo, and Albania

Spread of the Bektashi order

Bektashism spread from Anatolia through the Ottomans primarily into the Balkans, where its leaders (known as dedes or babas) helped convert many to Islam. The Bektashi Sufi order became the official order of the elite Janissary corps after their establishment. The Bektashi Order remained very popular among Albanians, and Bektashi tekkes can be found throughout Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia to this day. During the Ottoman period Bektashi tekkes were set up in Egypt and Iraq, but the order did not take root in these countries.

Different orders within Alevism

The Bektashi order was most popular among rural segments of Anatolia and in the southern Balkans (as well as the military men), in contrast to the Mevlevis, who generally attracted artisans, or the Naqshbandi or Khalwati orders, who attracted theologians and government officials. It was also during the Ottoman period that many Alevi in Turkey attached them to the veneration of Hajji Bektash, a move which may have further polarized the tension between Alevism and the mainstream Sunni Muslim ideology of the Ottoman Empire.

19th century and thereafter

When the Janissary corps were abolished in 1826 by Sultan Mahmud II the Bektashis suffered the same fate. The babas of the tekkes and their dervishes were banished to staunchly Sunni villages and towns, and their tekkes were closed or handed over to Sunni Sufi orders (mostly Naqshbandi; for example, the Goztepe Tekke in Istanbul was given to the Naqshbandis during this period).

Although the Bektashi order regained many of its lost tekkes during the Tanzimat period, they, along with all other Sufi orders, were banned in Turkey in 1925 as a result of the country’s secularization policies and all Bektashi tekkes were closed once more along with all others. As a result, the headquarters of the order were moved to Tirana in Albania.

The main Bektashi tekke is in the town of Hacıbektaş in Central Anatolia. It is currently open as a museum and his resting place is still visited by both Sunni and Alevi Muslims. Large festivals are held there every August. Also the Göztepe and Shahkulu tekkes in Istanbul are now used as meeting places for Alevis.


Sayyed Hossein Nasr, Sufi Essays, SUNY Press, 1972, p. 117.

 J. Birge, The Bektashi Order of Dervishes, London, 1937, chapter VI. (p. 22)

 Brian Glyn Williams: Mystics, Nomads and Heretics: A History of the Diffusion of Muslim Syncretism from Central Asia to the Thirteenth-Century Turco-Byzantine Dobruca – International journal of Turkish studies, 2001 – University of Wisconsin (p. 7)


The Harvard Theological Review, Cambridge University Press, Vol. 2, No. 3, Jul., 1909, (p. 343)

Algar, Hamid. “BEKTĀŠ, ḤĀJĪ”. Encyclopedia Iranica. Retrieved 24 October 2011.

Richard Robert Madden, The Turkish Empire:In its relations with Christianity and civilization., Vol.1, 335; “…he sent them to Haji Bektash, a Turkish saint…”.

 Indries Shah, The Way of the Sufi, 294; “..Bektash of the Turks…”.

  Mark Soileau, Humanist Mystics:Nationalism and the commemoration of saints in Turkey, 375; “Haji Bektash was a Turk.”.

   Futuwwa Traditions in the Ottoman Empire Akhis, Bektashi Dervishes, and Craftsmen,G. G. Arnakis, Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Vol. 12, No. 4, Oct., 1953. –“…we see at once a man that made a lasting impression on his fellow Turks.”

  Jestice, Phyllis (2004). Holy people of the world: a cross-cultural encyclopedia, Volume 1. ABC-CLIO. p. 113. ISBN 978-1-57607-355-1.

 Alexēs G. K. Savvidēs, Byzantium in the Near East: Its Relations with the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum in Asia Minor, The Armenians of Cilicia and The Mongols, A.D. c. 1192-1237, Kentron Vyzantinōn Ereunōn, 1981, p. 116.


  a b H. Algar, “Khorāsanian Sufī Hāji Bektāŝ”, Encyclopædia Iranica, v, p. 117, Online Edition 2006, (LINK)

 Mehmet Fuat Köprülü, Türk Edebiyatında İlk Mutasavvıflar, Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı, p. 49.

 J. Spencer Trimingham, The Sufi Orders in Islam, Clarendon Press, 1971, p. 81.

 Mehmed Fuad Köprülü, citing Ibn Bibi in his book Anadolu’da İslamiyet (1922), identifies Bābā Rassul-Allāh with Baba Ishak who led The Baba Ishak Rebellion; this is contradicted by other scholars, such as David Cook in his book Martyrdom in Islam (2007; p. 84), citing historical references, such as the Manākib ul-Qudsiyya (14th century)

Azhar Niaz Article's Source: http://islamicus.org/haji-bektash-veli/

  • writerPosted On: November 3, 2012
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