Skip to main content

The World Centre Of...

Ask those handful of people who have even heard of Albania what the country is the world centre of, and you are likely to receive depressingly predictable responses - human trafficking, drug smuggling, organised crime and the like.

These assertions are, of course, disputed and not only by patriotic Albanians. But what is truly indisputable is that Albania is the world centre of Bektashism. Many of you may well be saying to yourselves at this point 'What?' And it is true that Bektashism, to say the least, is not well known.

So I hope, in a number of forthcoming posts to say a little more about Bektashim, and perhaps, in the process, say a little more about Albania. For today, here is a little background information.

Bektashism is a Sufi order. Sufism is part of the Islamic tradition, and is often described as a 'mystical' tradition. The order was founded by Haji Bektash Veli in the 13th C. Haji Bektash Veli came from Nishapur in Iran but spent most of his life in Anatolia (modern turkey) as a missionary.

During the Ottoman era Bektashism spread into the Balkans, and became particularly strong in what is now Albania, particularly the south. Thus in 1925 when Kemal Ataturk banned all Sufi orders, the Bektashi took the obvious step and moved their world headquarters to Tirana.

Like all religious communities in Albania the Bektashis were repressed and then banned during the communist era. Following the collapse of communism the Bektashi community reemerged and has been recovering slowly.

Bektashism has much in common with Shia Islam, especially the veneration of Imam Ali and the Twelve Imams, but has also been influenced by other branches of Islam and according to some - especially their detractors - by non-Islamic forms of religion.

One of the centres of Bektashism is at Kruja. Visitors to the castle can also visit two burial sites containing the tombs of leaders of the community. If someone from the community is on hand it is also possible to visit the meeting house - or teqe - where you will be given a warm welcome and boiled sweets. The pictures below are from Kruja. The gentleman who showed us round is Neki Emin.


Anonymous said…
Trust me when I tell you this mate: all this noise over Islamic reformation would come to fruition should the West be smart enough to sponsor the Bektashi brand of Islam.

Then all the world would be a much happier place
ak said…
I know you probably do this because you enjoy it, but I would like to thank you, for I am honored to see a non-Albanian emphasise the positive sides of my country (culture, tradition, etc.) I am not a believer, but thanks man. You are an institution.
The PC said…
brilliant! I knew this would be about bektashis the second I read "world centre"!

you are totally still the bestest.

Popular posts from this blog

Dy Rame Per Tirane

I was watching Top Channel last night, first the news, then Fiks Fare. According to them Tirana's citizens now have a choice not only between Rama and Olldashi, but also between Rama and Rama. A minor right-wing faction, Parti 'Balli Kombetar' , submitted papers to the election authorities registering their candidate, Akile Rama. The people on Fiks Fare got hold of the papers and sent a reporter and camera team to the address listed for Mr A Rama. After much ringing of the bell the gate was reluctantly opened by a middle-aged woman who refused to speak to the reporter and tried to close the gate on her. Back in the studio Saimiri and Doctori - the two presenters of Fiks Fare - revealed that Mr Akile Rama was 73 years old, in hospital, and did not know he was now a candidate for mayor. They also compared two documents - the papers submitted on his behalf, and a genuine document he had signed. The signatures were not even remotely similar. There was an interview with the lea

Albania and the Perils of the 21st Century

Another article on religion in Albania appeared yesterday. Patrick Poole, writing in the American Thinker , argues that Saudi funding for the construction of mosques and the training of imams is a threat to Albania, since these mosques and imams reflect the fundamentalist interpretation of Islam dominant in Saudi Arabia.

DIY Traffic Calming

We had yet another accident on our wide straight road in bright daylight a couple of days ago. I heard the crunch but I'm not sure how they managed a head on collision in these circumstances. Obviously someone in the neighbourhood has had enough and has put in place a creative traffic calming system. It consists of two thick lengths of rope spread across the road. Surprisingly, traffic approaching these almost always slow to a crawl while crossing them. I'm not sure who is responsible for this very welcome development but there is a newly opened cafe at the bottom of the street with open air seating beside the road. I suspect they are responsible since having cars tearing past at high speed is not only unpleasant for their customers but also dangerous. It's too much to hope that the the responsible authorities will get the message and construct some speed bumps. Perhaps we need to find a lot more rope.