Bektashism in Albania

bektashism-in-albania-albert-doja

The Bektashi Order is a heterodox Sufi dervish order that is nominally a part of Shia Islam but that has incorporated elements that are close to Christianity and other religions. The order was founded probably in the 13th century in Anatolia. Contrary to the information you find in some publications (including Wikipedia!), Hadji Bektash, a Persian wali living at that time, was not the actual founder of the order but a kind of patron saint that was chosen much later by the sect as a spiritual inspiration.

In the Ottoman Empire, Bektashis have had for a long time a very influential position. Possibly due to their seemingly less “strict” interpretation of Islam, they seem to have attracted quite a lot of converts from the ranks of the Janissaries, the elite soldiers of the Sultan that were recruited among young Christian boys in the Balkans (also known as devshirme).

In the 19th century, following the purge of the Janissaries, the Bektashi order lost a lot of its influence and after Atatürk declared the Turkish Republic, he banned all dervish orders and the Bektashis transferred their headquarter to Tirana, Albania. This transfer was also due to the fact that many leading figures of the Albanian independence movement, including the Frasheri brothers, came from the ranks of the dervish order.

Bektashis are famous for their religious tolerance and hospitality. They don’t keep Ramadan (instead they fast during Nowruz), they don’t reject alcohol and the women are not veiled. They have a kind of confession of the sins that seems close to the Catholic faith. It is because of these syncretistic habits together with their very unique history that make the Bektashi a frequent object of scientific research.

During Enver Hoxha’s dictatorship, Bektashis suffered just like the Christian and Sunni Muslim believers from the paranoid politics of the “First Atheist State in the World”. People who prayed could end up in front of a firing squad or in Burrel, a concentration camp, in which most prisoners didn’t survive for long.

After the fall of the Communist regime, the Bektashi, like the other religious communities enjoy again full freedom of religion, but the times have changed. Bektashism is facing the big problem of all religious groups and especially of heterodox sects: should they stick to their traditionally very little institutionalized organization or should they – in order to survive as a group – develop into a new orthodoxy.

The last aspect is the main topic of an interesting study by the Albanian scholar Albert Doja, “Bektashism in Albania – Political History of a Religious Movement”. Doja, who is a renowned Professor of Sociology and Anthropology, is coming in his very instructive work to the conclusion that when members of a previously persecuted religious minority is acquiring a degree of religious and political respectability within society at large, the doctrines of heterodoxy and liberation theology that were in the case of the Bektashis such a strong undercurrent in the time of the Frasheri brothers, fade in the background.

“In the end, the heirs of the heterodox promoters of spiritual reform and social movement turn into followers and faithful defenders of a legitimate authority. They become the spokespeople for an institutionalized orthodoxy whose support is sought by the political regime.” –

Just like Saudi Arabia was instrumental after 1990 to try to bring the “folk” Sunni Islam in Albania in line with the much stricter Wahabi ideology by providing money and “training”, Iran (via the Saadi Shirazi Foundation – officially an organization that is promoting Persian language and culture, unofficially believed to be a branch of the Iranian Secret Services) is trying to get a hold on Bektashism in Albania, a development that is seen with great skepticism in the Bektashi communities outside Albania (and also by a big group inside Albania).

The future will show which faction will prevail: the orthodox or the tolerant Sufi faction of traditional Bektashism. Doja’s study is the first to ask this question so clearly and is therefore very valuable.

Albert Doja: Bektashism in Albania – Political History of a Religious Movement, Albanian Institute for International Studies, Tirana 2008

 

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 


18 thoughts on “Bektashism in Albania

  1. ekhgzor

    Thanks for your personal marvelous posting! I genuinely enjoyed reading it, you’re a great author. I will remember to bookmark your blog and will come back in the future. I want to encourage you to ultimately continue your great writing, have a nice holiday weekend!

    Reply
  2. Brittney Muniz

    I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your site.
    It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more enjoyable for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a designer to create your theme?
    Excellent work!

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Hi,

      no it is one of the themes you can chose when you use a WordPress blog. Anything else on this website is my sorry effort.

      Reply
  3. fiscoe

    Simply desire to say your article is astonishing. The clarity of your publication is just great and i think you’re knowledgeable on this subject. Fine along with your permission let me to clutch your RSS feed to stay updated with forthcoming posts. Thank you one million and please continue the gratifying work.

    Reply
  4. hintcenter

    Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon on a daily basis. It’s always interesting to read through content from other writers and use something from other websites.

    Reply
  5. tgxcygwkn

    Awesome website you have here but I was curious if you knew of any forums that cover the same topics discussed here? I’d really love to be a part of community where I can get opinions from other experienced individuals that share the same interest. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Thank you!

    Reply
  6. Dave Hosking

    Great article! That is the type of information that are supposed to be shared
    around the web. Disgrace on Google for no longer positioning
    this post upper!

    Reply
  7. m. recinos

    Greetings! I’ve been following your weblog for some time now and finally
    got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from
    New Caney Texas! Just wanted to tell you keep up the great job!

    Reply
  8. yearickkuechler

    My spouse and I stumbled over here coming from a different web page and thought I might as well check things out. I like what I see
    so now i’m following you. Look forward to looking over your web page repeatedly.

    Reply
  9. schleiffschell

    Hey there! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but after browsing through some of the post I realized it’s new to me. Anyways, I’m definitely delighted I found it and I’ll be book-marking and checking back frequently!

    Reply
  10. rosesstromme

    Hi, I want to subscribe for this webpage to obtain latest updates, thus where can i do
    it please help out.

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Hi,

      go to Follow Me on the right side of this page. There you have three options according to your individual preferences. Chose the suitable button, and click. Done!

      Reply
  11. koelewyncheshire

    Hi there I am so happy I found your web site, I really found you by accident, while I was looking on Bing for something else. Nonetheless I am here now and would just like to say thanks a lot for a remarkable post and a all round enjoyable blog (I also love the theme/design). I don’t have time to read through it all at the minute but I have saved it and also added your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read a great deal more. Please do keep up the fantastic work.

    Reply
  12. zeminskijavor

    Exceptional post however , I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this subject? I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit more.
    Many thanks!

    Reply
  13. Clarissa

    I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I
    thought this post was great. I do not know who you are but definitely you are
    going to a famous blogger if you aren’t already
    😉 Cheers!

    Reply
  14. Pingback: My bookshelf – the part I have cataloged so far | Mytwostotinki

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *