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Re-Reading Bektashi Menakibnames: Transforming an Oral Text into the Prose


The article is focused on the journey of Haji Bektash from Khorasan to Anatolia by relying on his Vilayetnames (books that are written about the lives and journeys of travellers). During this journey, the cities, events and communities are subjected to. Also, menzilname of him is also emphasized1. In addition, Anatolian saints, their relationships among saints and Haji Bektash are also narrated. Intensive emphasis on studies of Haji Bektash in Anatolia caused the ignorance of his studies maintained in different areas. However, there are many communities in Khorasan, Iraq, Balkans, which mentally belong to Haji Bektash. In this respect, the    article reminds this ignored point to scientists2.

Vilayetname of Haji Bektash discusses the name, education, journeys, extraordinary mystic events of Haji Bektash, his development in his cult (Tarikat), the communities and cities he encountered during his journey, and his settlement to Karahöyuk. The article, in this respect, relies on this Vilayetname, and also applies to some writings about small passages from different menakibs on Anatolian saints.

The language of the text mentioned above is plain and subjectfocused. When transforming from oral text, text were benefited from the structural advantages of the prose but they do not have a design of a written text originally. Especially, today’s typography facilities that produce written text are slightly changing the oral culture’s products. In this respect, approaching these texts from the point of today’s written texts’ designing would not contribute to social scientific area. Thus, it is crucial to understand these texts by considering their own socio-cultural conditions.

Another problem about the transforming the texts is mainly about ignoring the meaning of the texts. That is why, both pure meaning of the text and their structure inside oral transformation process should be cared because there is a dual meaning kept in the texts. It seems impossible to understand this dual meaning, which is based on  virtual (Zahiri) and esoteric (Batini) World, unless the theoretical background is given in detail. Thus and so, keeping these two worlds together encourages reader to prepare himself to the texts and follow the meanings carefully3.

One another problem about the subject is maintaining the studies by always referring cumulative information about Haji Bektash Veli. This saving that is collected for many years appears by the effect of historical, political, cultural, and religious structuring. By this way, the subject is transformed into a structure as the active object demands. In that case, this subject should be re-examined since the studies of Fuat Koprulu, who firstly focus on Haji Bektash researches. It could be said that by the researches belong to Koprulu, the current subject gains a wide currency. However, Koprulu’s abandonment his views on Haji Bektash and the other saints, not explaining what has he given up in his writings and what has he added, etc. do not mean that Koprulu’s initial ideas and arguments on Haji Bektash are invalid. On the contrary, researchers who follow Koprulu share the reasons behind the his abandonment and now, it is almost impossible to assert something against this idea4. 

The Journeys of Haji Bektash 

Among the information obtained from Velayetnames, the journeys, cities  visited,  and erbains (a spiritual recursion lasts 40 days) have an important position. His journeys start from Nishabur, Khorasan. As his birth place, Matbua town is also mentioned in the texts. After the first place, Nishabur, Haji Bektash stops by the tomb of Ali (the 4th Caliph of Muslims) in Necef. After that, her visits Makkah, Medina, Jerusalem, Khalil, Damascus, Aleppo –especially Prophet David’s tomband the cave of Ashab-ı Kehf in Elbistan. In each visits, 3 Taşğın, Ahmet, «Alevi Metinlerin Anlaşılmasında Karşılaşılan Sorunlar: Aleviliğin Yeniden Zuhuru», II. Uluslararası  Tarihten  Bugüne  Alevîlik  Sempozyumu  (23-24 Bektash produced one erbain. After his visit in Elbistan, he comes to Kayseri and then Karaoyuk, which is probably near to Konya city because Konya was the capital of Turkish Seljukian Sultanate5. Yunus Mukri and his family could affirm this information6. Basically, the principle point that clarifies Haji Bektash research is his journeys. In this respect, the journey summarized above should be re-created and read. Haji Bektash started his journey from Khorasan and illustrated many miraculous deeds, he encountered many people, community, city and made visits with local people. He temporarily settled these places and he spent some time with communities.

His journey is too long in terms of both time and distance. Despite this fact, we almost do not have detailed information regarding his journeys. Detailed parts only belong to Anatolian journeys. That is why, the ways that link Bektash to Anatolia should be followed and the communities there should be re-examined to find out the details. If the main directions of his journey are determined, some researches that shed light on the details could be followed. My own research could be exemplified for the current advice. It is possible to find some traces by our research that we maintain on South-eastern Anatolian Alawites: Near to Sergen village (called Barut in past and in the archives, the name of the village is Haji Bektash), which is between the borders of Mardin and Sanlıurfa, there is a place visited by Haji Bektash. Villagers are generally Arabic and they shafii sect. In the light of the information we obtained, it is said that when escaping from the enemy soldiers, Haji Bektash stabs his rod into the soil, the rod gets green, and Haji Bektash disappear from that point. It is also narrated that the green plant transformed from the rod becomes a tree and the tomb of Haji Bektash is structured 6 to 7 hundred meters ahead the tree. The top of the tomb is breaken down but the walls are still standing. In this region, not only Haji Bektah’s tomb is kept, but also Dede Kargın, Gurgur Baba and Aslan Baba’s tombs are visited7.

Encountering with Anatolian Saints 

Among the information obtained from Velayetname, Haji Bektash also encounters with Anatolian saints. Karaca Ahmed Sultan, Hacı Tuğrul the calipsh of Beyazid Bestâmî, Seyit Nureddin in Seferihisar (it is also named Sivrihisar and Senurhisar), his daughter Fatma Bacı are some of the saints Haji Bektash encountered. In addition, Rumi, who  is one of the most famous representatives of Sufism, Mahmud Hayranî, Yunus Emre, Tabduk Emre, Emir Çin are among the saints encountered.

Some of the caliphs can be counted among these names. Sarı İsmail, Seyit Cemal, Kolu Açık Hacım Sultan ve Baba Resul are some of the caliphs. The menakib among these only belongs to Kolu Açık Hacım Sultan. The others do not have any menakib. The information about the others is gained through the Velayetnames of Haji Bektash. Thus, we do not have enough information about the caliphs and the seedbeds (ocak) who assumingly follows the way of Haji Bektash.

Velayetname underlines the relationship among Haji Bektash and historical characters mentioned above. In the light of these arguments, Bektash came to Anatolia, saluted the saints and he was responded by Fatma Bacı among the saints. Fatma Bacı told people that a saint from Khorasan came to Anatolia and saluted the Anatolian saints and she received Bektash’s salute. After that, Anatolian saints talked about the arrival of Bektahs and they had some precautions to prevent his entrance to Anatolia.

According to this summary, we can talk  about a fraction among the saints from Anatolia and Khorasan. This fractions or difference is maintained in the texts the text, so we can ask some questions that would make us curious about the subject. For example, «What sort of differences among Khorasan and Anatolian saints have?», «Why do not Anatolian saints want to receive Khorasan saints inside their region?», «Why do not the precautions against Khorasan saints work?», etc. could be asked. We ask these questions because of the dual meaning behind the text. In doing so, such meanings would be understandable. That is why, some examples could be given now.

The velayetname written about Karaca Ahmed is also tough upon in his own menakibname and the other manuscripts. However, there are some differences among these and Haji Bektash’s  velaySheik Musa Hacı Togrul is sent to see Haji Bektash on behalf of Togrul himself. Hacı Togrul finds Haji Bektash. However, Bektash does not like Togrul’s way of coming, he declares his discomfort, makes him upset and send him back. This was anyway an opportunity to understand Haji Bektash’s situation in detail. The wound made by Haji Bektash on Hacı Togrul is cured by Karaca Ahmed8.

In the passage of «The Story of Karaca Ahmed» (Hikayat-ı Karaca Ahmed), it is written that Karaca Ahmed rides a lion by using a snake as a whip to reach to Haji Bektash and he is welcomed by Haji Bektash, who walk on the wall with his prayer rug.

According to two examples given above, detecting the arrival of Haji Bektash to Anatolie, welcoming of him, his reply to this welcoming, the situation of hosting saints, their evaluations of the welcoming of Haji Bektash, etc. should be re-examined.

Beside the information given above, we can also discuss some arguments in the light of the information provided in Haji Bektash’s velayetname. Firstly, it is interpreted that Khorasan saints may   have a target of capturing Anatolia and Anatolian saints would not be taken seriously. In parallel to this, they had some precautions. For example, by the signal of Karaca Ahmed, Haji Tugrul settled into the pants of a hawk to be captured Haji Bektash, who were settled into the pants of a pigeon. However, their plan was invalidated by Haji Bektash. In addition, according to Khorasan saints’ resources, welcoming style of Anatolian saints are criticized in terms of style and method. This was also indicating the weakness of Anatolian saints. This weakness were seen both in virtual and esoteric world. This style is also criticized by an action, compressing the chest of the saints and saying that «a brave man does not welcome another brave man in this way».

Sending Haji Tugrul, who is the caliph of Beyazid Bestami, to  welcome  Haji  Bektash according to precautions taken by Anatolian saints is another point to be discussed. According to information in Velayetname, the cardigan belongs to Haji Bektash reaches to Cafer Sadik and then Beyazid Bestami and Lokman Perende. By this argument, a connection in spiritual world among Haji Bektash and Beyazid Bestami is asserted. Yet Beyazıd Bestami is also the first saint after Imam Cafer Sadık in the chain of cult (tarikat). Basically, we can say that the connection through Haji Tugrul is again    provided etname. In Karaca Ahmed’s menakib, Sheik Musa    ez-Zuli  wonders  the  saints  in  Persian  region and and this is maintained in Anatolia. However, it is interesting that there is no information or sign about the connection of Beyazid Bestami in Alawite and Bektashi literature. That is why, Bestami is no recognized as someone interested in Alawism when Hacı Tugrul was a sign about the participation of Beyazid Bestami among Alawi communities. Moreover, there is a Beyazid Bostan seedbed (ocak) and grandfather among alawites in Diyarbakir and its around9.

It is possible to talk about a couple of subjects by relying on the information about Anatolian saints. First of all, fifty-seven thousands of saints living in Anatolia when Haji Bektash starts his journey could be mentioned. This proves the existence of saints in Anatolia before the arrival of Haji Bektash. What, then, are the sequences and methods of these saints were based on? We at least know that they were independent from Haji Bektah’s. To remember again, we classified the Anatolian saints and Khorasan saints as different categories. In addition to this, however, there is almost no information about the saints called in the text (i.e. where were they living in Anatolia, which lodge they belong to and serve, etc.). There is also less information about their relationship with Haji Bektash. Only Velayetnames provide information about their lives. Such a question could appear at this point: «Before Haji Bektash coming to Anatolie, what sort of activities were maintained by Karaca Ahmed, who is also a spotter, and where were the communities obey to him and lastly, had he caliphs? The information about him in Velayetname seems unclear. However, it is known that until he comes to Anatolie, there are fifty-seven thousands of saints there and Haji Bektash is also recognized as grand saint. If we would have all of the saints’ menakibs, we could have seen how they react to the arrival of Haji Bektash to Anatolia in terms of their own perspective10.

In addition to these, there are some inconsistencies about Fatma Baci and his father, Noureddin. Especially, according to the information about the place in the written resource addresses Seferihisar but in different samples, it is called Sivrihisar. Even, if we examine the spelling, we may find some different cities. 


As a result, a new perspective that could enrich our information on Haji Bektash Veli should be followed. In this frame, if the subject is reconsidered, the information in Vilayetnames would be reevaluated again and the importance of Vilayetnames could be more visible. Moreover, communities and their places that Bektahs encounters and lives during his journey would be detected.

The information given above, as you shall see, have not been evaluated in this frame so far, so they are not included in any written resources. That is why, Haji Bektahs’s work on his journey (menzilname) should be reviewed and the route he followed should be re-followed. Especially, the information after the arrival of Haji Bektash to Anatolia is very important. By this way, both the historical characters and places could be clarified. At the same time, the trace of the places could be done by looking those written resources. In addition, the other cities that were not mentioned in the resources could be focused on.

Actually, some suspicions are made about the historical character of Haji Bektash by means of some discussions about the solidity of the resources. As it has been said, a new methodology problem appears at this point when examining historical sources. In this respect, after examining the  route of Haji Bektash and the places-characters he meet, the scientific perspective of the information on Haji Bektash would be followed. Finally, some unclear points on the life of Haji Bektahs would be clarified.

Literature and History of Turkish or Turkic Volume 7/1 Winter   2012, p.105-129.

10 Taşğın, Ahmet, «Menkıbelerin Kurduğu Zaman ve Mekân: Ahmed Yesevi  ve  Hacı  Bektaş  Örneği», Uluslararası İpek Yolunda Türk Dünyası Ortak Kültür Mirası Bilgi Şöleni (3-4 Ekim 2013), Editör Fahri Atasoy, Ankara: Türk Yurdu Yayınları, 2014, ss. 267-272.



  1. Doğan Esra, «Hacı Bektaş Veli’nin Vilayetnamesine Göre Horasan’dan Rum’a İzlediği Yol», Alevilik Bektaşilik Araştırmaları Dergisi, Sayı 4, Köln: 2011, ss. 58-82.
  2. Köprülü, Fuad. «Anadolu’da İslamiyet» Darulfunün Edebiyat Fakültesi Mecmuası, Sayı 4 ve 5 ve Sayı 6, İstanbul Şehzadebaşı: Evkaf-ı İslamiye Matbaası, 1922, ss. 282-311 ve ss. 385-420 ve ss. 457-486.
  3. Köprülü, Fuad, «Anadolu Selçukluları Tarihi’nin Yerli Kaynakları» Belleten, cilt 7, Sayı 25, Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu Yayınları, 1943, ss. 379-457.
  4. Köprülü, Fuad, «Hacı Bektaş Veli», İslam Ansiklopedisi, Cilt 2, İstanbul: Milli Eğitim Basımevi, 1986, ss. 461-464.
  5. Köprülü, Fuad, Edebiyat Araştırmaları, Cilt 2, İstanbul: Ötüken Yayınları, 1989.
  6. Babinger Franz – Fuad Köprülü, Anadolu’da İslamiyet, Çeviren Rağıb Hulusi, Yayına Hazırlayan Mehmet Kanar, İstanbul: İnsan Yayınları, 1996.
  7. Taşğın, Ahmet, «Alevi Metinlerin Anlaşılmasında Karşılaşılan Sorunlar: Aleviliğin Yeniden Zuhuru», Uluslararası Tarihten Bugüne Alevîlik Sempozyumu (23-24 Ekim 2010), Ankara: Cem Vakfı Ankara Şubesi Yayınları, 2012, ss. 237-253.
  8. Taşğın, Ahmet, «Menkıbelerin Kurduğu Zaman ve Mekân: Ahmed Yesevi ve Hacı Bektaş Örneği», Uluslararası İpek Yolunda Türk Dünyası Ortak Kültür Mirası Bilgi Şöleni (3-4 Ekim 2013), Editör Fahri Atasoy, Ankara: Türk Yurdu Yayınları, 2014, 267-272.
  9. Taşğın, Ahmet, «Hacı Bektaş Veli Menakıbnamesinin Yeniden Okunması: İmkanlar ve Sorunlar», I. Uluslararası Nevşehir Tarih ve Kültür Sempozyumu (16-19 Kasım 2011 Nevşehir), Cilt 1, Editör: Adem Öğer, Nevşehir: Nevşehir Üniversitesi Yayınları, 2012, ss. 103-121.
  10. Taşğın, Ahmet, «Hacı Bektaş’ın Rum’a Gelişi: Seyahati ve Rum Erenleriyle Karşılaşması», Doğumunun Yılında Hacı Bektaş Veli Sempozyumu (Nevşehir, 17-18 Ağustos 2009), Yayına Hazırlayan: Filiz Kılıç, Ankara: Atatürk Kültür Merkezi Yayınları, 2009, ss. 1-9.
  11. Taşğın, Ahmet, «Hacı Bektaş’ın Rum’a Gelişi ve Karaca Ahmed İle Karşılaşması», Uluslararası Hacı Bektaş Veli Sempozyumu, Derleyenler Pınar Ecevitoğlu, Ali Murat İrat, Ayhan Yalçınkaya, Ankara: Dipnot Yayınları, 2010, ss. 56-67.
  12. Taşğın, Ahmet, «Dediği Sultan ve Menakıbı: Konya ve Çevresinde Alevi Bektaşi Ocaklarının İzleri», Türk Kültürü ve Hacı Bektaş Araştırma Dergisi, Sayı 66, Yıl 2013, ss. 213-238.
  13. Taşğın, Ahmet – Bünyamin Solmaz, «Hacı Bektaş Ve Hacı Toğrul Karşılaşması: Güvercin Ve Doğan Donuna Bürünme», Turkish Studies – International Periodical For The Languages, Literature and History of Turkish or Turkic, Volume 7/1 Winter 2012, p.105-129.
  14. Vilayetname Menakıb-ı Hünkar Hacı Bektaş-ı Veli, Hazırlayan Abdülbaki Gölpınarlı, İstanbul, İnkilap Kitabevi.

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International relations

International relations



Philology is the study of language in oral and written historical sources; it is the intersection between textual criticism, literary criticism, history, and linguistics.[

Technical science

Technical science