Baba Qazim Bakkali 1895-1983
Baba Qazim was born in the year 1895/1312 in the small village of Bakkal near the town of Gjakova, Kosova. He graduated from the elementary school (mektep) in his hometown and in 1909, at the age of 14, he was enrolled in the teacher-education school (dâru’l-mu’âllimîn) from Skopje. At that time this school was one of the few modern educational institutions in the Ottoman Balkans. Understandably all the medium of instruction was Turkish and Albanian students had no opportunity to be trained in their mother tongue. Baba Qazim was unable to finish his schooling due to the outbreak of the Balkan wars in 1912. The Serbian armies quickly occupied both Kosova and Skopje. Out of a love for his people Baba Qazim left to the city of Vlora, where after the proclamation of the Albanian independence on the 28th of November, 1912 a temporary government was formed under the leadership of Ismail Qemal Bey. This new government opened a provisional teacher-education school in the city of Berat and it was opened for all those Albanian students who had attended the now closed Ottoman institutions. Baba Qazim was among these students.
He graduated shortly thereafter and took up teaching in a school in the central Albanian town of Pazar Shijak. But his career here was at risk and he involved himself in the political disputes of the day that raged between various factions struggling for control of Albania.
In 1926 he fled back to Gjakova following the coup d’etat of Ahmet Bey Zogolli (King Zog). It was on his return home that decided to change his life and to proceed on path of spirituality. He became an initiate into the Bektashi order, and was attached first to the tekke in Gjakova and then in Stip (Macedonia).
Qazim obtained his dervish garb from the hand of Haji Mehmed Baba of Krujë. He then took his vow of celibacy (mücerridlik) before Salih Niyazi Dedebaba. For sometime Dervish Qazim was a resident of the Bektashi tekke of Shkodër which was under guidance of Baba Hajdar Stambolli. He then went to the city of Elbasan were he stayed at the tekke of Ibrahim Baba (Teqja e Xhafa Ibrahim babajit). Dervish Qazim continued his education and spiritual enlightenment while he sat at the feet of these great Bektashi masters. In 1940 Salih Niyazi Dedebaba appointed him to be the baba of the Harabati Baba Tekke in Tetovo. In 1946 he went to Tirana where the current head of the Bektashi Order, Xhafer Sadiq Dedebaba, conferred the rank of dede on Baba Qazim.
In 1947 Baba Qazim was arrested by communist authorities in Tirana and he was extradited back to Yugoslavia. After a five month incarceration in a Skopje prison, he the charges (which were most likely for collaboration with the Axis) were dismissed and he was released. But by that time the communists had closed the Harabati Baba Tekke. Consequently, Baba Qazim returned to Gjakova where he took over the direction of the Hamza Baba Tekke. Baba Qazim was a figure greatly loved and respected by the Albanian people of Kosova. He left this life in 1983 at the age of 88.