Somewhat distinct from but quite similar to Anatolian Alevism is a religious order or sect (tarikat) called the Bektashis, named after Haji Bektash (Hünkâr Hacı Bektaş Veli ), who lived in the 13th century. There have historically been two groups of Bektashis. One, called the Çelebis, claimed that they were direct physical descendants of Haji Bektash ( bel evladı ). A larger group of Bektashis, called the Dedes or Dedebabas, claimed that Haji Bektash had no natural sons but only had spiritual disciples ( yol evladı ). Bektashis are found throughout Anatolia and the Balkans, particularly in Albania.
It has been commonly explained that a person only becomes an Alevi by being born into an Alevi family, but a person can become a Bektashi by joining the sect. In a very broad historical generalization, it has been said that Bektashis were traditionally urbanized and educated while Alevis lived in villages in the Anatolian countryside.
<span>To show that modern Alevi and Bektashi groups have much more in common than they have differences, Alevis will often talk about “Alevi-Bektashi culture” (kültür) “Alevi-Bektashi faith” (inanç), or “Alevi-Bektashi philosophy” (felsefe). Many describe the differences between the groups with these statements: “There is no difference in path, just in practices” ( Yol farkı yok, sürek farkı var ) and “The way is one, the form a thousand and one” (Yol bir, sürek bin bir).
Alevis today place great importance on Haji Bektash. They proudly display his picture in their associations and worship centers. They name associations after him. They often quote sayings attributed to him. Hundreds of thousands of Alevis visit his tomb in Kırşehir every August.
There is very little actual historical detail available about Haji Bektash. It is almost universally accepted that he was a Turkmen born in Horasan in Iran, trained as a mystic, moved to Anatolia, settled in what is now the town of Haji Bektash, and died around A.D. 1271. Beyond these few facts there are many stories about Haji Bektash whose truth is debated. Most of these stories show Haji Bektash as a man with supernatural wisdom and powers.
Today, Alevis love to quote sayings attributed to Haji Bektash. Here is a sample:
“Seek and find.”
“Don’t forget that your enemy is also a human being.”
Düşmanınızın dahi insan olduğunu unutmayınız
“Teach the women.”
“Don’t do to anyone what you don’t want done to you.”
Nefsine ağır geleni kimseye tatbik etme.
“Do not criticize any man or people.”
Hiç bir milleti ve insanı ayıplamayınız.
“Even if you are offended, do not offend in return.”
İncinsen de incitme.
“Take responsibility for your words, actions, and morals.
Eline diline beline sahip ol.
“Take responsibility for your own spouse, job, and nourishment.”
Eşine, işine, aşına sahip ol.