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Alevi

From Academic Kids

Alevis are a branch of Islam, related to Shia Islam and practised mainly in (majority Sunni) Turkey, among both Turks and Kurds.

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Alevis in Turkey
Contents

Alevis

Adherents of Alevism (in Turkish Alevlik) are called Alevis. The correct number of Alevis isn't known, it varies from 15% to 35%, i.e. 10-23 million of the Turkish population. Alevism has integrated many diverse religious influences over time, such as ancient Turkish Shamanism (the Turkish people are relatively closely related to the Shamanist tribes of Siberia), Zoroastrianism, Sufism (Islamic mysticism) and the Christianity of the Assyrian Church. The Bektashi Sufi holy order is a main element in Alevism. Bektashi Alevi and Kizilbas Alevi both revere Hajji Bektash Wali. Template:Islam

People

Alevis can be ethnic Turks, Kurds, or Zaza with a particular concentration in mid-Eastern Turkey in a belt from orum in the West to Muş in the East. In Balkans, especially in Albania there is a large Alevi/Beaktashi community too. There are also many Alevi who have migrated to the large cities of Western and Southern Turkey, as well as to Western Europe, especially Germany. Traditionally, Alevi worship is not conducted in a mosque, but is intimately connected with the dede (elder) and the cemevi (meeting house), which meant that many Alevis lost contact with their faith when they emigrated from their ancestral homes. However, urban Alevism is now undergoing a revival, especially in Germany.

There are also large communities of Alevis in Southern Azerbaijan (Iran) cities. The town of Ilkhichi (İlxıı) , which is located 87km south west of Tabriz almost entierly populated by Alevis. For political reasons including to create a distinct identity for these communities, during early twentieth century, they are not called Alevi. They are called with various names, such as Alli Allahi, Ahle Hag and Goran. Groups with similar beliefs also exist in Iranian Kurdistan.

Belief

While Alevis, like other Shia groups, particularly revere the memory of Ali, almost to the point of deification, they are not regarded as orthodox, or even as Muslims, by many other Muslims (Shia or not). They interpret the Qur'an largely figuratively rather than literally, they do not teach a religious prohibition of alcohol, and they also have an unusually strong devotion to Jesus and Mary, and strong naturist elements to their faith. Modern Alevi theology has been profoundly influenced by humanism and universalism, probably more so than any other school of Islam.

Historical

The Alevis have traditionally been discriminated against and persecuted in the rural areas of East Central Turkey which are their heartland. Their religion is tolerated in Turkey, but while compared to the Sunnis they suffer less state intervention into their internal affairs and the contents of their teaching, they also enjoy considerably less financial and organizational priviledges. The Turkish state has built and financed Sunni mosques in many almost completely Alevi villages and small towns; many Alevis consider this a purposeful humiliation.

Actual

In the 20th Century, many Alevis became involved in secularist left-wing politics in Turkey, both in the establishment Republican People's Party and parties further to the left, some to the point of left-wing extremism. This meant that Alevis bore the brunt of the anti-leftwing backlash after the military coup of 1980, and of Islamic fundamentalist violence. In the 1980s an ephemeral left-wing organisation called Kızıl Yol (Red Path) announced to struggle for an independent "Socialist People's Republic of Alevistan". The oppression reached its dnouement in Sivas on 2 July, 1993, when 36 Alevis and a Dutch anthropologist attending a cultural conference were burned to death in a hotel by Sunni locals. The response from the security forces at the time and afterwards was weak. This began a process of Alevis organising more consciously and more publicly in favour of their own interests, although most still tend to vote for mainstream centre-left and left parties.

Name

The name is derived from the name of Ali. They are not to be confused with the Alawi of Syria, who are another heterodox branch of the Shia (though also named for Ali). Both have similarities in their beliefs.

External links

fr:Alevi it:Alevismo ja:アレヴィー派 pl:Alewici tr:Alevilik ru:Алавиты

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