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In the Name of God بسم الله
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Bektashi Shia Standup To Reactionary Sunnis

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As soon as I crossed the border into Macedonia, I felt like I had been whisked through a hole in the dimension from southeastern Europe to somewhere in Arabia.

Hijabs aren't strictly Islamic. There are Muslim countries all over the world where few women wear them. It's a cultural import from the Arab world. There is nothing wrong with wearing a hijab by choice (they are required by law in Iran), and it would be wrong to assume a woman or her family are Islamist extremists based on their head gear, but I was still startled to see so many in Macedonia. Albanian women do not traditionally wear them. It was obvious that soft-imperial Arab “missionaries” from the Gulf are having a much more profound effect on the ground in Macedonia than in Kosovo.

Shpetim Mahmudi teaches at the University of Tetovo and belongs to the Bektashi order of Sufi mystics. The Bektashis are part of a distinct branch of Shia Islam, and many self-identify as the most liberal on Earth. These are the last people in the Islamic world who will join any kind of jihad. They drink alcohol, for instance, and they are not obligated to pray five times every day in a mosque. Bektashi women don't wear oppressive clothing, and their feelings of openness toward people of other faiths is genuine. Naturally they are detested by Wahhabis and other radical Sunnis as much as they would be if they were pagans or Jews.

Shpetim%20Mahmudi.jpg

Shpetim Mahmudi

“We don’t pray 5 times a day like the Sunnis,” Mahmudi said. “We are similar to Ismailis, and we’re treated badly in Turkey because we don’t go to the mosque. Here in Macedonia, the Sunnis don’t treat us as Muslims. They say this sometimes. They want to be the only one representing the entire community, and they say we should come under their umbrella.”

Bektashi Sufis are no less Islamic than the Wahhabis. They are arguably even more so. Their order is hundreds of years older, after all. But they aren't chauvinists about their religion, and they don't spend billions in petrodollars on a crusade to convert the planet.

“We have nothing to do with the Arab ways,” he said, “but now we’re dressing like them. This is not nice for us. We are close to Americans, not the Middle East. We don’t have that in Albania.”

“Is it getting better or worse here?” I said.

“It was worse ten years ago,” he said. “But it has always been worse in Macedonia. There have always been more fundamentalists here. Macedonia is poorer and less educated. Now it is getting better. But it is changing slowly.”

It’s hard to believe it was worse ten years ago. The difference between the Albanian region of Macedonia and the Albanian regions of every other place – Albania proper, Kosovo, and Montenegro – amazed me. Also, there were no Wahhabis in Macedonia or anywhere else in Yugoslavia during the communist era. The Macedonian Muslim community appears to be fracturing. If a majority of Albanian-Macedonian Muslims are becoming more secular and modern at the same time a minority is becoming more radical – watch out.

“Why is it so much worse here than in Kosova?” I said. “It feels oppressive.”

“It’s different in Kosova,” he said, “thanks to America and NATO. If Kosova cooperated with Muslim countries instead, it would be different. Americans are bringing their culture to Kosova and Albania, but not to Macedonia.”

“What do ethnic Macedonians thinks of Americans?” I said. Ethnic Macedonians are Slavic Orthodox Christians who once belonged to Yugoslavia, but they are not Serbs. They speak their own language, which is similar to Bulgarian, and they have their own cultural traditions.

“You see that?” he said and gestured to a building with opaque glass windows. “They took it from us and turned it into a classroom for their propaganda. An Egyptian woman teaches Albanian women in Arabic even though no one speaks Arabic here. Don’t let anyone see you take a picture of it.”

There weren’t many people around. We both made sure no one was looking. Then I snapped a quick picture and covered my camera again with my jacket.

Occupied%20Building%20Teqe%20Macedonia.jpg

One of the Sufi buildings at the tekke forcibly seized by radical Sunnis

Dervish Abdulmytalib Beqini

“Thank you for letting me visit,” I said.

“Americans are most welcome here,” he said.

“I see you have an American flag,” I said. You won’t find many of those in Islamic holy sites in the Arab world.

American%20Flag%20Gunslot%20Teqe%20Macedonia.jpg

“Yes,” Dervish Beqini said. “We light up the flag with a candle at night. Do you know what those slots are for?” He meant the slot where the flag and candle were perched.

I had an idea.

“What are they for?” I said.

“They are for protecting the tekke,” he said. “We used to fire guns through those slots.”

The Bektashi Sufis participated in various resistance movements against the Turkish Ottoman Empire.

“Bektashis here always fought for the Albanian cause,” Dervish Beqini. “Some clerics were at one tekke fighting the Turks, and the Turks came and occupied it. Inside were some non-Bektashis, some Orthodox Christians, and they were hidden in the tekke. The baba was very well-known and he took these Christians, put dervish clothes on them, and introduced them to the Turks as Dervish Mark and Dervish Michael, the same names, just with Dervish added. So this baba covered them and saved the lives of Christian people. Both the Christians and Muslims were fighting for the Albanian cause. The Bektashis will fight against occupation. For freedom. For schools. For educating people. Equality and tolerance are our values.”

Jewish%20Gravestone%20Teqe%20Macedonia.jpg

A Jewish gravestone chisled in Hebrew at the Sufi tekke

“When Osama Bin Laden attacked the two towers,” he continued, “the first cleric leader in the world who judged this crucial attack as non-human was the world Bektashi father at the headquarters in Tirana. He publicly denounced this attack. He even went to the Embassy of the U.S. to present his judgment.”

“How long have you had problems with the Wahhabis here?” I said.

“Serious trouble started three years ago when they broke gravestones,” he said. “They didn’t respect our saints. They also broke pictures of Imam Ali on the walls, and of the world head of the Bektashis. They cut the pictures with knives. They think we are too close to Christianity, in part because of the pictures and candles.” The Wahhabis hate candles. “Then the Sunnis came in and occupied the tekke. They said This is Muslim territory.”

ALI ALI ALI ALI ALI

Ali%20Painting%20Macedonia.jpg

A painting of Ali. Shia Muslims, including Bektashi Sufis, believe his descendents are the rightful successors of Mohammad.

Of course the tekke was “Muslim territory” already. Bektashis are Muslims. But Sufis are often thought of as heretics and non-Muslim infidels by reactionary Sunnis.

“Look how they are manipulating people,” he said. “They want to convert the tekke into a woman’s madrassa. They want to move their administration here.”

“They are influenced by Arabs?” I said. It wasn’t really a question.

“Yes,” he said. “They are. And our government is weak. Arabs can manipulate us because our government is neglectful.”

We keep the saint graves. The Muslims know this, they are trying to provoke us and claim that we have done it to ourselves. But no, really they did it. Plus, I see these Wahhabis around. Usually at night the Wahhabis are coming, sometimes in trousers, sometimes in their clothes, sometimes with the things on their heads and with beards.”

The next building over in the compound had been forcibly converted into a Sunni mosque. Speakers for the muezzin’s call to prayer were bolted to the side of the chimney. During our interview the call to prayer screeched from above. “Allahu Akbar…” the muezzin called. My Bektashi Sufi hosts groaned.

Minaret%20Teqe%20Macedonia.jpg

A chimney forcibly converted into a minarat by radical Sunnis

“Ugh,” Mahmudi said and made a face. “You see what we have to listen to five times a day? This is supposed to be a quiet place for meditation.”

Covered%20Woman%20Inside%20Teqe%20Macedonia.jpg

When Mahmudi escorted me back to my car, a woman entered the tekke wearing a tent-like abaya.

“Look at that,” he said. “We never had that. Take a picture, take a picture.”

I took several pictures. I don’t think she saw me. I’ve seen many women dressed like that in the Arab world – especially in ferociously reactionary cities in Iraq like Fallujah – but never anywhere else in the Balkans.

“Please publish these pictues,” he said. “Show the world what is happening here.”

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I don't think this Bektashis are representative of all Bektashis, but in anycase, these people don't sound like Shi'i.

Apart from the connection to Ali (as), I can't see much of what they have stated in this article to have anything to do with Shi'ism.

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Now SHIA are making takfir on Shia. Do the wahhabis offer money for such services or are we eating our own for free nowadays. AUZHUBILLAH YA FATIMA is crying over this wallAHHI.

What is "Shi'i" about these guys? Have you read the definition of Shi'i according to the Prophet's HouseHold? I recommend "Sifat al-Shi'a" by Sheikh Saduq. Here's some excerpts:

(1) The Shia are the people of piety and diligence

Mohammed bin Musa bin al-Mutawakkil, Allah have mercy upon him, narrated to me from Mohammed bin Yahya al-Attar al-Kufi from Musa bin Imran an-Nakh’i from his uncle al-Hussein bin Yazid an-Nawfali from Ali bin Salem from his father from Abu Bassir that Imam as-Sadiq (a) said:

Our Shia are the people of piety and diligence, loyalty and honesty, and asceticism and worship.

They perform fifty-one rak’as in a single day and night.

They pass their nights with worship and their days with fasting.

They defray the zakat from their wealth, perform the hajj, and refrain from committing any forbidden thing.

/.../

Our Shia are those who offer the prayers, defray the zakat, perform the hajj to the Holy House of Allah, fast during the month of Ramadan, declare their loyalty to the Prophet’s household, and declare their disavowal of the enemies of the Prophet’s household."

http://shiaonline.wordpress.com/2007/04/02...es-of-the-shia/

Now, going by the article, they have already gone against the definition of Shi'i as given by the Prophet's HouseHold.

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Every Shia that isn't in RUKUR 51 times a day, you consider outside our DIN?

I guess I am not Shia enough. My heart is too heavy with love of the HOUSEHOLD to frittle about in so many rituals.

"I" don't consider, I gave you the words of the Infallibles.

"Shia" is a very strong term and the true meaning of it is a person that does much more than the commonfolk. The Infallibles specifically stated that those who don't uphold these things, should refer to themselves as the Lovers of the Prophet's HouseHold, and I believe most of us, atleast me, would fall into that category rather than the Shi'i category.

But even that category has certain requirements, and those include atleast trying to follow what Shi'ism teaches. The people in the article are not even attempting to follow that.

If you make things up by yourself and then claim that "your heart has too much love for these rituals", it means you are not loving the Prophet's HouseHold but your own perception of them.

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^^

Yes, I shudder to call myself shia ithna ashari as thats a deep and profound terminology. May Allah (s.w.t) grant us - the muhibb-e-Ahlulbayt, the tawfiq to become deserving of the title SHIA!

My heart is too heavy with love of the HOUSEHOLD to frittle about in so many rituals.

Its quite sad if you regard namaz as a mere ritual bro... namaz is the meraj of a momin.

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Sufi mysticism is not an excuse to abandon required ritual practice. Obedience to the divine law is the first necessary step to the more mystical aspects; it is a precondition that builds discipline needed for the journey. Shariah precedes tariqah on any sufi path.

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You think so because Shaytan is pleased when he sees people go through useless rituals (work with no pay). When you get Rahmat from one of the 14 in a dream then you will see the light, inshallah.

There have been days when I don't pray, then make it up in my dreams. And wallahi my back is sore when I wakeup.

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You think so because Shaytan is pleased when he sees people go through useless rituals (work with no pay). When you get Rahmat from one of the 14 in a dream then you will see the light, inshallah.

There have been days when I don't pray, then make it up in my dreams. And wallahi my back is sore when I wakeup.

The 14 infallibles taught those "useless rituals." Imam Ali (as) and Imam Hussein (as) both received the blows that killed them while in the midst of this "useless ritual."

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The 14 infallibles taught those "useless rituals." Imam Ali (as) and Imam Hussein (as) both received the blows that killed them while in the midst of this "useless ritual."

As Salam Alaykum:

I am a balkan shia muslim and I am embarresed by those who say that they do not have to pray etc. . . I am glad to see Islamic sentiment is strong in Macedonia amongst Albanians. I respect the Bektashi and sufis since they, Shia in belief, spread Islam in the Balkans until the Sunnis took power because of the Ottoman policy. In that article one has just seen two extremes. True shia-sufis do not neglect the "rituals" of Islam. Salat is a blessing and it is what Rasulullah (Salli Allahu alayhi wa Alihi wa salam) brought us from the Night Journey. I canot believe that they were complaining that an Egyptian woman was teaching Arabic! What they should fear is the complete amoral society developing in these regions thanks to a certain country's amoral culture.

It was embarrasing to read that article. Calling the hijab "oppressive clothing!" Everyone is walking around half naked, but that is okay?

ws

Every Shia that isn't in RUKUR 51 times a day, you consider outside our DIN?

I guess I am not Shia enough. My heart is too heavy with love of the HOUSEHOLD to frittle about in so many rituals.

As Salam Alaykum:

Think about what you just said. You intimate that you do not have to do "rituals" that the Aimmah (Alayhim as salam) gave their lives to keep alive. ONe of Imam Hussain's (alayhi as salam) last remarks were that he felt sad that he would no longer be able to pray Salat ul Layl.

ws

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