The Bektashi Order: The Development of Bektashi Order among the Albanian Speaking Population in the Balkan Region

  • Abstract:
    While referring to Albanians, many politicians and journalists in Europe and abroad have a tendency to mention that Albanian population in Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia are more or less Muslims. Unfortunately nowadays the world understands that to be a Muslim for sure means the same as the orthodox Muslims in Iraq or Afghanistan. But the reality is absolutely different. The Islam in Albanian speaking countries (in Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia) spread through Sufi orders where the most significant and visible especially in Albania was Bektashi order. The first appearance of this order in the Balkan countries is known since the 13th century. This order was more adjustable for the Albanian Christian population than the pure Islam, because in reality the doctrine of the Baktashians was and is a mixture of Islam, Christianity and Paganism; it is known for its tolerance toward other religions, equality of rights between man and woman within the order, different approach to the Islam rules etc. This order had a very tight connection to the Janissaries, the infantry units of the Ottoman Empire coming from the Christian population of the Ottoman Empire. Janissaries were abolished in 1826 and many clerics of the Bektashi order came to Albania to escape from the persecution of Sultan Mahmud II. The self declared Albanian King Zogu I allowed Bektashians in 1929 to build their world centre in Tirana, Albania. During World War II the members of this order were supporting and fighting together with the forces of Albanian Nationalistic Movement for the liberation of Albania. Enver Hoxha´s regime abolished religions in 1967 and even this order faced a very hard persecution by the regime. From 1992 the Bektashi order is trying to organize itself and to spread its peaceful and tolerant doctrine among other doctrines of the Islam religion.