teosgirl

Member
Alevi religion information
Hi,

I often think about religion.
Perhaps because I've made the decision to raise my children in a country where religion plays a part in every day life (mosque calls, fasting, alcohol avoidance etc) I feel it's necessary.
Whilst I would never convert to Islam and hope my daughters choose not to follow the faith in a strict manner, I feel I must learn in order to constructively criticise it with any amount of credibility. So I try to learn.

Recently I've been reading alot about the Alevi population in Turkey. On the outskirts of Izmir is a village where the vast majority of the population are Alevi. There's no mosque but there's a big performing arts theatre.

I read the online wikki definition of Alevis and I have to say it fascinates me:

[ame=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alevi]Alevi - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]

Does anyone have any first hand experiences or know someone who follows this branch of Islam?

I'm interested to learn more,

Thanks,

Charlotte
 

abla

Member
Alevi religion information
Hi Charlotte

My other half is Alevi.We have been together for 10 years and I only learnt about that this year.They are totally "not in your face muslims"

Wanting to help others all the time.The description on wiki is true.Eg:The key characteristics.
He does not feel the need to pray and believes as I do that religion is in your own heart and mind.
Very open minded thinking people and I like that.Shame he came from a poor family as I feel that if he had had a chance to go to University that he would have gone far.....
 

Lemonhead

Devil's Advocacy LLC
Alevi religion information
Charlotte,

The is one of the lightning rods of Islam and depending on which side a Muslim stands, the difference between right and wrong. These followers are much more secretive of their worship than Sunnis due to their minority numbers and feelings of persecusion over the years. Their teachings are handed down from generation to generation as followers of the Prophet Ali and not subject to formal prayers at the mosque as other sects of Islam require. Following the Prophet Muhammed's death, a power struggle began over the leadership and direction of Islam & Muslims. Read more about the Prophet [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ali"]here[/ame] to have a better understanding of his history and a small snapshot of the road it has lead to in today's Islam.

I'm sure there is much more others will add. I speak from experience and people I know, hoping it get's you started and helps you find what you're looking for.
 

teosgirl

Member
Alevi religion information
Hi Abla, Thanks for the quick response.

It's really fascinating. I read on Wikki that you can't convert? Does your husband agree with that theory? I guess it has something to do with the fact that much of the religion is born out of tradition, and hardly anything seems written down.

I like the idea of the 4 gates and also Musahiplik. Did you husband take part in this? It's almost like a marriage between two unrelated families, I really get the impression that it's all about love and life and happiness, with a special emphasis on respecting others and not hurting people.

I've read about the Sivas Massacre and was shocked. How horrifc. I didn't know Alevis had such a hard time. Did your husband ever have any problems regarding his religion? Is it something you worry about? I know Mehmet Ali recently made a stupid comment, and I thought it was just that, but after further reading it seems that many Alevis have been persecuted in Turkey, and even suffered deadly attacks for practicing their beliefs. I hope this is something Turkey get's to grips with.

Thanks again for answering my questions,

Charlotte
 

teosgirl

Member
Alevi religion information
Lemonhead, thanks for your input. Can I ask, what do you mean ;the difference between right and wrong?'

From what I understand Alevi's almost believe in a type of holy trinity, with Allah being at the top and Mohammed and Ali being refered to as two sides of one coin.

Charlotte
 
Alevi religion information
Charlotte, I wish I could get more unbiased information about the Alevis. Most of the information I get in Turkey seems very biased and prejudiced. In some ways they seem similar to Quakers in other countries in that they do not need formal places of worship or immams as intermediaries in their spiritual quest. They would like support for their Cemevis. On the other hand this may be a very shallow interpretation.

In the area around Iskenderun there is a quite large Jewish population. They don't have synagogues, but you can see them worshipping in barns and farm sheds. This is a much more fascinating country than some people will acknowledge.
 
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Alevi religion information
Hi charlotte i know a lot of alevi people. ..not surprising really when there are about 20 million .They follow a branch of İslam that diverged very early on. they dont have mosques but they do have meeting places called Cem houses and men and women pray together.
There is a lot of prejudice and ignorance among many Turks who believe they are immoral because the woman have more freedom of choice when it comes to clothing and working.
there have been a lot of protests by Alevi community recently especially when it comes to religious education in schools.

heres an article about a recent attack on an Alevi place of worship in İzmir
English :: Sixth Attack on Alevi Place of Worship - Bianet

you might be interested in this clip from a Cem evi...the arm movements are typical of Alevi Semah/dance
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43oektvsQ5Q&feature=related]YouTube - Elif ana cem evi www.piryolu.com Semah 4[/ame]
 

Lemonhead

Devil's Advocacy LLC
Alevi religion information
Lemonhead, thanks for your input. Can I ask, what do you mean ;the difference between right and wrong?'

From what I understand Alevi's almost believe in a type of holy trinity, with Allah being at the top and Mohammed and Ali being refered to as two sides of one coin.

Charlotte

Right and wrong as in the lightning rod of religious differences. Sunnis vs Shi'a, Muslims tending to fight one another based on this being at the root of many a conflict. Not too different from the Catholic Church and the other break-offs of Christianity. The belief of Christ as the Messiah holds true in Christianity, but the day to day worship and practices are points of contention between the sects.

The Prophet Ali's assasination and the infighting after the Prophet Muhammed's death kind of forced Ali's followers to go "underground" for lack of a better term.

Did you also know that the religious teachings are for the most part held secret from the women? Practices such as reciting of prayers are taught to boys at a young age. The girls are not taught many of the inside details of this form of Islam.
 

teosgirl

Member
Alevi religion information
Lemonhead, I thought men and women pray together? That's the information I've read online. Also, it states that men and women are viewed as equal. Although it does state that common day to day internal practices can vary according to area traditions.

Is this something which you've heard about or know as fact? Do all Alevi women go without prayer education?

Charlotte
 

Lemonhead

Devil's Advocacy LLC
Alevi religion information
Sorry back to back and the copy of a long post, but I seem to be having trouble with the link.

Here's a simple explanation taken from another Imam's writing;

The Alawites, in Arabic "`Alawi" [people] or "`Alawiyya" علوية [religion], are a small Imami offshoot sect that is prominent in Syria. They are distinct from the predominantly Turkish "Alevi" offshoot sect, but share some key similarities. Alawites consist of 1.35 million people in Syria and about 3 million worldwide, and make up about 12% of the Syrian population. The city with the biggest percentage of Alawites in the world is Latakia, on the Mediterranean not far from the Turkish border. During the Ottoman empire, Latakia was predominantly Alawite, but today it now Sunni Muslims hold the majority of its population. Clusters of Alawites are also scattered across villages and towns throughout Syria's country side/rural areas.

The term `Alawi is a fairly recent label to the group, coming from the name "`Ali", the 1st Imam of Shi'ah Islam. The group is historically known as the Nusayriyya [religion], after its founder Muhammad ibn Nusayr (or just "Ibn Nusayr). He is known by `Alawis as a pupil of the 11th Shi'i Imam Hasan al-`Askari . In his lifetime, ibn Nusayr claimed to be the saf`ir and bab, or representative and "door" to the Imam , and later as the saf`ir to the 12th Imam, al-Qa'im during his minor occultation.

Thus, the roots of `Alawiyya is essentially twelver Imami, but its offshoot point was with ibn Nusayr during the minor occultation, where he rejected the traditional 4 saf`irs of Shi'ah Islam, and instead declared himself as the sole legitimate authority in communication with the eschatological Qa'im .

History and evolution of `Alawiyya

al-`Alawiyya religiously developed based on not just the teachings of ibn Nusayr, but the surrounded influences of Shi'ah Islam, Christianity, Isma`iliyya, and other local groups. After ibn Nusayr died in the 10th century CE, his grandson at-Tabarani succeeded him in scholarship and his writings became the basis of the `Alawi faith. He lived in Latakia, which was Byzantine (and therefore Christian) controlled at that time. The `Alawis also lived amongst the Druze and Maronites.

Under the rule of the Ottomans, they were oppressed and thus in order to avoid persecution, they had resided in the rural mountainous regions.

The `Alawis have a distinct political presence in the modern day, after the fall of the Ottoman empire. The French empowered the `Alawite chiefs, accepted them into their colonial forces, and gave them autonomy. The `Alawis for a brief period had their own separate entity in Latakia, but this was later incorporated into the rest of Syria in the 30s. It is difficult to understand when the `Alawiyyah shifted from being "a twelver Shi'ah group" to its own religion, but some suggest that the fall of the Ottoman empire and French mandating of the group is essentially the transition point. Although it is possible that the classical `Alawis saw themselves as Shi'ah, their belief system nonetheless has its own share of differences that traditional Sunni and Shi'ah Muslims may find heretical.

In 1949, the secular Arab "socialist" Ba'ath party arose. Since the 60s, the `Alawi family "al-Asad" has been in the Syrian leadership of the Ba'ath party, under Hafez and currently under Bashar al-Asad.

Beliefs

-Secrecy: The `Alawi aqeedah relies on strict taqiyya, and thus the group, its beliefs, and its practices are to remain a secret, even to members of the sect. Women, for example, cannot be taught the religion, as religious direction belongs solely to the man. The group has also refrained from making da`wa (propagation) and jihad (expedition) for the purpose of spreading the religion; instead it remained isolated throughout history.

In the 19th century, Sulaiman al-Adni, an Alawite convert to Christianity, wrote a book named al-Bakurah as-Suliamaniya fi Kashf Asrar ad-Diyanah an-Nusairiyah (The First Fruits of Sulaiman in Revealing the Secrets of the Nusairi Religion), which was the first detailed outsider account into the `Alawi religion.

Some major beliefs include:

-Reincarnation: this appears to have been an original ibn Nusayri teaching, that one can reincarnate several times. Women do not reincarnate. Men, however, can live 7 lives as faithful `Alawis, and then finally join 'Ali in a celestial heaven. If they are not faithful, they will be reborn as Christians as a punishment. Non-Alawis reincarnate into animals.

-Trinity: `Alawis believe in three incarnations of God: `Ali , Muhammad , and Salman al-Farisi . Each of the three have their own mystical significance, `Ali being the meaning, Muhammed being the name, and Salman al-Farisi being the gate. The short version of the `Alawi shahada is "I testify that there is no God but Ali," (la ilaha illa-`Ali), the long version (`ayn meem seen) which recognizes the full Trinity says: `I have borne witness that there is no God but He, the most High, the object of worship [al-'Ali al-Ma'bud] and that there is no concealing veil (hijab) except the lord Muhammad, the object of praise, (as-Sayyid Muhmmad al-Mahmud), and there is not Bab except the lord Salman al-Farisi`

-Rejection of the Qur'an: `Alawis reject the literal meanings of the Qur'an, and instead emphasize spiritual, mystical, and metaphorical practices and sayings.

-Celebration of Christian and Persian holidays: Since the religion had a long standing in Christendom, they adopted some Christian celebrations including Christmas, Easter, Palm Sunday, and ahve their own unique practices for these days, which include the communion associated with Catholic tradition. `Alawis also celebrate Nawruz, marking the Persian new year.

-Mysticism: In the `Alawiyya, there are many connections with the Isma'iiyya, as they both view the Islamic shari`ah esoterically and allegorically. They believe in a hidden meaning behind the commands, and take these concepts over their literal meanings. `Alawis even believe that these secret meanings were hidden from the Prophet , and was revealed to the Imams and ibn Nusayr instead.

`Alawites in the modern day

As mentioned earlier, the Syrian Ba'ath party is a secular Arab party, influenced by socialist and Napoleonic ideas, whose head consists of prominent `Alawi families. In recent times, this leadership (under Hafez al-Asad) encouraged `Alawis to behave like "regular Muslims". The government also pushed its secular agenda, instituting laws limiting Islamic education in Syria. Thus, with the encouragement of a more homogeneous Muslim society, strict secrecy even amongst believers, and the recent rise of secularization in Syria, the beliefs that made `Alawites distinct from other Muslim sects are fading away in modern times. Many `Alawis today are irreligious and uneducated in their religion, causing a disappearance of classical Nusayri scholarship, and are thus more "Muslim" in their beliefs, but still highly secular.

Because of its unique relationship with Shi'ah Islam, however, twelver Shi'ites of Iran and Lebanon have recently been reaching out to the Alawites for political and religious assurance. Thus, those `Alawis who do study theology in Damascus often become twelver Shi'ah themselves, and either attend Damascus howzas for Shi'ah Islamic learning, or study in Qum or Lebanon. Some `Alawis continue to become absorbed into the Sunni Muslim sect, as they form the majority of Syria.
 
Alevi religion information
Charlotte, I will willingly defer to Shirly Anne on this (quite rightly). She does know about these areas of Turkish life better than most of us. I'm still confused and trying to understand.

Lemonhead. Life is just too bloody short to work out how many angels you can fit on a pin head.
 
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Lemonhead

Devil's Advocacy LLC
Alevi religion information
Lemonhead, I thought men and women pray together? That's the information I've read online. Also, it states that men and women are viewed as equal. Although it does state that common day to day internal practices can vary according to area traditions.

Is this something which you've heard about or know as fact? Do all Alevi women go without prayer education?

Charlotte

First hand Charlotte. Beginning with my grandfather and passed down to my uncles. My father-in-law passed on to his son and the experiences of my wife having been brought up in in this environment.

No. The women do pray and go to school. My wife was accountant for the government when she lived in Turkey BTW. I think the cut & paste job I posted earlier (see BELIEFS) pretty much restates what I have learned through experiences.

I'm sure there are differences dictated by goegraphy, but my posts are exclusively regarding Turkey.
 

Lemonhead

Devil's Advocacy LLC
Alevi religion information
Life is just too bloody short to work out how many angels you can fit on a pin head.

Fret no more. I've done all the work for you and have come up with the answer - 32

Now I'm off to find ways to save the dolphins and the world's homeless animals. In my spare time is there anything I should add to the list such as poverty or feeding the hungry? ; )
 

carolk

R.I.P
Alevi religion information
Fret no more. I've done all the work for you and have come up with the answer - 32

Now I'm off to find ways to save the dolphins and the world's homeless animals. In my spare time is there anything I should add to the list such as poverty or feeding the hungry? ; )

Do you think you might be kind enough to bring me a chinese take away - seeing as your asking?
 

civciv

Member
Alevi religion information
I know a couple who eventually married due to him being Alevi and her being Muslim. It took a long time for their families to come to terms with their marriage. Im really ignorant about Alevis but they make up a large percentage of Turkish population. From those Alevis who I spoke about I got the impression they didnt really talk about their beliefs in public.
 

Lemonhead

Devil's Advocacy LLC
Alevi religion information
I know a couple who eventually married due to him being Alevi and her being Muslim. It took a long time for their families to come to terms with their marriage. Im really ignorant about Alevis but they make up a large percentage of Turkish population. From those Alevis who I spoke about I got the impression they didnt really talk about their beliefs in public.

I would think this is more or less because they just didn't "approve" of her or perhaps your right with his family having had hopes of an Alevi bride.

There are different beliefs and practices among Alevi factions. The one Shirley noted in an earlier post doesn't practice the same customs or beliefs as those originating in Syria or areas of Turkey with Arabic ancestory such as mine. Remeber it wasn't too long ago when Arabic was main language spoken in Turkey. My grandmother spoke Arabic and broken Turkish. It wasn't until the next generation that Turkish became fuid while all of her children continue to speak Arabic. Sad to admit; I have long lost the ability to speak Arabic becauseI haven't spoken it regularly in 25 years.

I stated that the religious practices are taught mainly to the males (from my experiences - not disputing what others have been taught). I'll try to shed some light on something as I feel the topics of marriage, secrecy, and the male's religious education can be related in terms of a clearer explanation.

An Alevi man can marry a Muslim woman of another sect, but the Alevi woman is forbidden to marry a Muslim man from another sect. Tie this into the "cloak of secrecy", it is believed that since the female traditionally accpepts the male's religion, the inner teachings kept close to the vest of so many practicing Alevis will not be comprimised by a female bringing in an "outsider", if the religion is taught only to the males. The male marries and continues the cycle of teaching his male heirs what had been passed on to him.
 

teosgirl

Member
Alevi religion information
Lemonhead,

Your copy and paste article isn't refering to Turkish Alevi's. It's just another shade of culturally influenced Islam.

I don't think they practice the same at all...perhaps it's a bit like refering to protestants and catholics as following the same faith; same ideas in principle but different methods behind their practice.

Charlotte
 
Alevi religion information
exactly Ali..the one you pasted was about Alawite and even though Hatay is on the Syrian border..and Syria claims it still...the large Alevi communities do have different practices to the Alawite. The Syrian PM is an Alawite.
İ was talking to Yusuf about the question of secrecy and mixed marriage and he said he'd never heard of that before and he grew spending most of his childhood and early youth among Alevi people. Samandağ and Harbiye are Alevi towns in Hatay and there are many village in the province too.
The Alevi have been persecuted a lot in Turkey and it has to be said that there is little religious tolerance here either for Alevi or other minorities.
this is an interesting article highşlighting current problems between State and alevi community.
Problems with Turkish state continue, says leader of Alevi community - Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review
 

bethx

Member
Alevi religion information
Hi,

I often think about religion.
Perhaps because I've made the decision to raise my children in a country where religion plays a part in every day life (mosque calls, fasting, alcohol avoidance etc) I feel it's necessary.
Whilst I would never convert to Islam and hope my daughters choose not to follow the faith in a strict manner, I feel I must learn in order to constructively criticise it with any amount of credibility. So I try to learn.

Recently I've been reading alot about the Alevi population in Turkey. On the outskirts of Izmir is a village where the vast majority of the population are Alevi. There's no mosque but there's a big performing arts theatre.

I read the online wikki definition of Alevis and I have to say it fascinates me:

Alevi - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Does anyone have any first hand experiences or know someone who follows this branch of Islam?

I'm interested to learn more,

Thanks,

Charlotte


My husband and his family are alevi, Ive tryed to do a lot of research on it but it is quite a hard thing to research as they are very secretive of their ways. From things I've seen first hand it is a very interesting religion. They also believe alot in fortunes. The dont believe woman should be covered unless they choose so. Theres still alot id like to learn about it but until my understanding of turkish improves although I watch alot of things I cant quite understand whats going on so it is hard to explain.

Im not sure about whether the woman are taught prayers although I can ask my husband when he comes homa tomorow.
 

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