By Markus Dressler
Within the past due Nineteen Eighties, the Alevis, at the moment regarded as principally assimilated into the secular Turkish mainstream, started to assert their distinction as they by no means had ahead of. The query of Alevism's origins and its relation to Islam and to Turkish tradition grew to become a hugely contested factor. in response to the dominant knowing, Alevism is a part of the Islamic culture, even though positioned on its margins. it truly is extra assumed that Alevism is intrinsically regarding Anatolian and Turkish tradition, wearing an historic Turkish background, best again into pre-Islamic critical Asian Turkish pasts.
Dressler argues that this data concerning the Alevis-their demarcation as "heterodox" yet Muslim and their prestige as companies of Turkish culture-is actually of quite fresh origins. It was once formulated in the advanced historic dynamics of the overdue Ottoman Empire and the 1st years of the Turkish Republic within the context of Turkish nation-building and its target of ethno-religious homogeneity.
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Extra info for Writing Religion: The Making of Turkish Alevi Islam
In the context of these politics, Alevis have not only been object of signiﬁcation but also themselves been engaged in the signiﬁcation of others. In this context I consider the victimization of the Alevis, to which both Alevis themselves and non-Alevi sympathizers (mostly secularist and leftist Turks and Kurds as well as foreign observers) contribute, as an epistemological hindrance for the clariﬁcation of the Alevi genealogy. Such victimization often tends to reduce Alevi history to a history of suﬀering inﬂicted upon the righteous by oppressive others, bears the danger of leading to the perception of the Alevis as only passive subjects of history without any real agency, and is ultimately a hindrance to a historicization of the relations between Alevis and their environment.
This helps him to formulate the thesis of a continuity of the national Turkish sentiment throughout the ages. In this narrative, “heterodox,” “popular,” and “syncretistic” Islamic movements are reasoned to have functioned as major carriers of Turkish traditions and sentiment, the origins of which are traced back to Central Asia. In other words, I aim to show how Köprülü created the historical framework that made it possible to place certain groups from the periphery of Ottoman-Turkish public and Islamic discourse—groups that we recognize today as “Alevis”—into the center of the narrative of the national and religious evolution of the Turks.
As a last example, we ﬁnd in the report of the Anglican missionary George P. Badger on his work in 1842 with the Eastern churches a brief reference to the inhabitants of a certain village, Hassan Teelebi (probably in the Malatya province). He describes them as Turkmen and as “followers of Hussein and Ali, reproachfully called Kuzzal-bash (or Red-heads) by the Turks, and such of the Moslem as consider their own creed more orthodox” (Badger 1850, 94). 34 writing religion The Missionary Project Protestant American missionaries were the ﬁrst Westerners to establish contact and write about the Kızılbaş-Alevis in the 19th century.