HACI BEKTAS

"How glad for those who shed light into the darkness of thought."
Haci Bektas-i Veli

These words, written by Haci Bektas-i Veli, the famous Turkish-Islamic mystic, philosopher, and dervish from Khorasan, echo delicately in our ears as we enter the dervishes' convent. The lines, fraught with meaning, impart peace and love to our souls and transport us to worlds completely different from our own. The stamp of Haci Bektas-i Veli's imprint upon Turkish, Islamic, and world history is deep and unmatched. Let us, therefore, attempt to become acquainted with and develop a sense for his world, filled as it is with love for humanity and for the universe, never forgetting that this is the path of love, the path of peace, the path of knowledge, the path of belief. In Khorasan's city of Nishabur, most likely in the years between 1243 and 1248, a son was born to Seyyid Ibrahim Sani and his wife Hatern Hatun, the daughter of Sheik Ahmet. His mother's compassion and his father's love for equality and humanity were the foundations upon which his upbringing was based and such sentiments informed and enriched his boyhood years. His studies under the tutelage of Hoca Ahmet Yesevi of Turkestan equipped him with a knowledge of positive scielices and in the school of his illustrious philosopher-mentor, he studied mathematics and physics along with literature and philosophy. Under Sheik Lokman Perende, one of Ahmet Yesevi's successors, he studied mysticism. From the works of the poet Omar Khayyam, Feridettin Attar, and Sheik Numan he took his inspiration. Khorasan possessed a vast cultural heritage that had nourished many a scholar and philosopher. Haci Bektas-i Veli completed his studies in Khorasan, acquiring from them a broad and genial view of the world. His education encouraged this young Islamic mystic to become better acquainted with humanity, and Haci Bektas-i Veli began to seek the fire of infinite love within himself. Becoming a well-known Sufi, he set out from Khorasan to make the pilgrimage to Mecca. Leaving Mecca, he traveled to Syria and then continued his journeys in Persia, Iraq, and Arabia. During these years, Anatolia was in a state of severe political and economic disarray. Haci Bektas-i Veli was affected by this situation and came to Anatolia with the idea of restoring fragmented Turkish unity, and took part in the effort to make the peninsula a Turkish and Muslim homeland. Alevi, Alevilik, Cemevi

At length, Haci Bektas-i Veli reached Sulucakarahoyuk, the historical and cultural center of the Kirsehir Akhis located in the heart of the Cappadocia region. Forty kilometers from Kirsehir, this is the town and county of the Nevsehir province, known today as Hacibektas. Even before Haci Bektas-i Veli's arrival, the town and region that he had chosen to make his home had had a rich and varied past

The teachings and philosophy of life of Haci Bektas-i Veli, holy man from Khorasan, enveloped all of Anatolia like a strong and loving embrace. The common-folk had an enormous love and respect for this famous mystic, who called upon all believers to come together and join in the worship of God. He was present at the ceremonies held when Orhan, the second in the line of Ottoman sultans, ascended the throne. As a young man, Orhan had been deeply influenced by the great mystic's teachings. Paying a visit to the mystic's convent, he asked Haci Bektas-i Veli for his blessing upon a new military corps that he had founded. Under the Ottomans, the disunity of the Anatolian Turks was brought to an end and Haci Bektas-i Veli's pioneering efforts in the areas of religion, language, art, and social services played a key role in achieving this target.