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Complex of Hacı Bektaş (Hacıbektaş, Nevşehir)

Hacıbektaş, Nevşehir



The complex is in the town named after its founder Hacı Bektaş, in central Kızılırmak (ancient Halys) region of Central Anatolia. It is arranged with courtyards that are surrounded by different units for different functions. It was built by simple stonemasonry and decorated with ornaments particular to Bektashism. The Complex reached its present form mainly in the 16th century. The first courtyard is called With the foundation of the Republic of Turkey, a modern education system was implemented and all the religious institutions, schools (madrasas) and dervish lodges (tekkes) were closed including this one. After being re-organized as a museum, this place has been open to visits since 16th August 1964. Every year, a series of events is organized in Hacıbektaş to commemorate Hacı Bektaş Veli, which attracts thousands of people in16-18th August.
Haci Bektas Veli is highly venerated Turkish sufi of the 13th century and he is the eponym of the Bektashism, a religious order of Alevi faith. Alevism is the second largest belief after Sunni Islam in Turkey and they follow the teachings of Ali and th Twelve Imams. Originally from Khorasan, Haci Bektas Veli came to Anatolia in the mid 13th century. The base of his philosophy lies on humanity, human rights and social equality. He urges human beings to be to be modest. Being full of love of God one must purify his soul and to abstain from showing off. His sayings were quite universal that they coincide with the Declaration of Human Right that was accepted in 1948 by United Nations. Another important personality of Bektashism is Balım Sultan (d. 1516) as he systemized the rules of the order and regarded as the second most important personality for Bektashis. The special ceremony named “Semah” and the ritual meeting of “Cem” are important components of Alevi and Bektashi society, which are still performed today. Figures in Semah, which represent the movement of a bird (crane) and circulation of planets around the sun, was inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity on the 16th November 2010.
As F. W. Hasluck puts back in 1913, the central tekke of the Bektashi order was frequented by the Christians claiming that the site was once occupied by a Christian monastery. Some Christians believed that the tomb was of St. Charalambos and on entering the site where the tomb of Hacı Bektaş was, they made the sign of cross. According to Ahmet Yaşar Ocak who wrote the article on Hacı Bektaş Veli in Encyclopedia of Islam published by Foundation of Religious Affairs of Turkey, local Christians showed great respect to him and they baptized him with the name Charalambos. Today since the local Christian population does not exist, we don’t see this practice anymore.
Even Alevism is quite spread out in Anatolia, the Middle East and the Balkans, Sunni order of Islam has been the predominant faith of the region. Recent history shows that not only the conflicts between different religions but also different sects can lead to bloodshed as seen in ex-Yugoslavia in the 90’s or more recently the bloody war in Syria in the 21st century. But the history of the world is not made of only wars and despite of the existence of policies trying to solve(!) the problems by war, there is a strong will to create a global society living in peace. The worldview of Hacı Bektaş, underlying the humanist approach may help in forming such a society. The approach by the local Christian community in the Ottoman era, even though under a different name, is also a clear sign how respected personality Hacı Bektaş was.
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    This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.