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Seyitgazi

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Seyitgazi is a small town to the Southeast of Eskişehir. You can easily get there by dolmuş. I first visited it on the 19th of December 2007, a cold and cloudy day, the last day before the feast of sacrifice. Hence lots of sheep and sharpening of knives. My main reason for going there was the a visit to the dervish monastery that sits on a rock overlooking the town. The whole complex was under restoration. I returned after the restoration finished, in 2012. I liked the surrounding country, to just go for a hike there will be a joy.

The name of the town derives from Şehit Battal Gazi, the leader of an Arab army that in the 8th century tried to capture Afyon. He was slain here, and was buried next to a Byzantine princess who for love followed him into death. The mother of Kayobad, hearing from this romantic story, built a stately türbe (and possibly a medrese). These became the most popular destination for Anatolian muslim pilgrims. Because of this the founder of the Baktaşı order, Haçı Bektaş, started a dervisj monastery here in the 13th century. Under Sultan Selim (1512-1526) türbe and monastery were extensively restored. A 7 meters long cenotaph indicates the importance of Şehit Battal Gazi.

Tekke or Dergah = the largest kind of building (often a complex) designed specifically for gatherings of a Sufi brotherhood. It was a place for spiritual retreat and character reformation, and often served as hospices for Sufi travelers and Islamic students.

Regarding the Bektaşi Order:
This is an Islamic Sufi order (‘tariqat’) named after the 13th century Alevi saint Hacı Bektaş Veli, but founded by Balım Sultan in the early 16th century. In addition to the spiritual teachings of Hacı Bektaş Veli, the Bektaşi Order was later significantly influenced during its formative period by Shia beliefs circulating in Anatolia (14th – 15th century). Balım Sultan systematized and structured the mystical practices and rituals of the Order, fusing a number of Shia and Sufi concepts, which resulted in a wide appeal and influence among both the Ottoman intellectual elite as well as the peasantry. The order had in particular close ties with the Janissary corps, the elite infantry troops of the Ottoman Army.

The Bektaşi Order shares much in common with other Islamic mystical movements, such as the need for an experienced spiritual guide — called a ‘baba’ (= father) in Bektaşi parlance — as well as the doctrine of ‘the four gates that must be traversed’: the ‘Sharia‘ (religious law), ‘Tariqah‘ (the spiritual path), ‘Marifa‘ (true knowledge) and ‘Haqiqah‘ (truth).
Bektaşism places much emphasis on the concept of the ‘Unity of Being’ (which has often been labeled as pantheism). It is also heavily permeated with Shiite concepts, such as the marked veneration of Ali, The Twelve Imams, and the ritual commemoration of Aşurah marking the Battle of Karbala.

The order is mainly found throughout Anatolia and the Southern Balkans. Because of the shared spiritual base (the teachings of Hacı Bektaş Veli) and some common rituals, the Bektaşi Order nowadays is very close to the Anatolian ‘Alevi’ (which is not an Order, but a people’s movement based on religion).
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