The Importance of the Ahl-Bayt According to Giritli Ali Baba

by A. Yilmaz Soyyer



The first step one must take on the path of Tasawwuf, according to the Uyūn al-Hidāyat, is to become initiated as a murid or talib. In addition the murid must develop a deep and profound love for the Ahl al-Bayt. If a murid who is not decent of Muhammad-Ali (sayyid) enters into the Bektashi Order, he will be same degree to Kamber and Salman who not decent too.  If a person loves to Ahl al-Bayt he (or she) will bear a resemblance to the two historical figures Kamber and Salman.  

If an individual is devoid of love for the Ahl al-Bayt they are no better than the Umayyad rulers Yazid and Marwan, whose opposition to the Prophet’s family is well-known. Those who openly are fond of Yazid, the murderer of Imam Husayn, are no better than unbelievers, fasid (vicious mischief-maker). Taking the Ahl al-Bayt as one’s patrons (tawalla) and disassociating with their enemies (tabarra) is considered by Ali Baba to be a necessary religious requirement (wajib).  If one fails to make tabarra to Yazid one has spiritually attained the rank of hypocrite (munafiq), unbeliever (mushrik), oppressor (zalim) and murderer (qatil). Ali Baba disapproved the practice of other Sufi tariqats instructing the neophyte to recite the kalimat ut-tawhid (i.e. La ilaha il Allah) instead of making use of tabarra and tawalla at time of initiation. Giritli writes that any mother can teach a child to recite the kalimat ut-tawhid, but that a murshid must instruct tabarra and tawalla to the murid at time of bay’at (initiation).   

Giritli Ali Resmi Baba based his on position on being a mürid on the actions of the Sahabah who took bay’at to Prophet Muhammad. In his writing he brings forward an ayat (verse) of the Qur’an in order to validate this: “Lo! those who swear allegiance unto thee ( Muhammad), swear allegiance only unto Allah. The Hand of Allah is above their hands. So whosoever breaketh his oath, breaketh it only to his soul's hurt; while whosoever keepeth his covenant with Allah, on him will He bestow immense reward.”  Giritli calls attention to another ayat in order to strengthen the importance of bay’at: “Allah was well pleased with the believers when they swore allegiance unto thee beneath the tree, and He knew what was in their hearts, and He sent down peace of reassurance on them, and hath rewarded them with a near victory.”  Giritli states that the “tree” mentioned in this ayat is none other than the one referred to in the Qur’an as being “a blessed tree, an olive neither of the East nor of the West.”  According to Giritli the “tree” in this ayat signifies the Shajarat ul-Insaniyyah, the Tree of Humanity.

bay’at that was give to either the Prophet or a murshid is the first step in reaching the level of Insan-ī Kāmil.  Giritli writes that the murid must give himself to the murshid unconditionally. He draws attention to one ayat to indicate importance of speech of the murshid, “Nor doth he speak from (his own) desire.”  Giritli says that the “murshid doesn’t say of his own desire, as was with the Prophet.”

In this spiritual approach the role of the 
murshid is of the utmost magnitude. Having the right master, the true murshid, is more imperative than right of one’s natural parents. Ali Baba writes that if a person only follows the customs of their parents he or she remains as if locked in an egg.  If the person wants to be hatched from this egg to 

become a bird, he or she is in need of a new “parent”. The new “parent” will train and educate the novice and he will abandon the custom of his birth parents. Giritli interestingly quotes a passage from the Gospels where Jesus exclaims, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”   The Bektashi initiation ceremony (
ikrar-i cem) symbolizes this new birth.  

According to Giritli the Prophet Muhammad is wellspring of the Bektashi 
silsilah (initatic chain). He points out the Hadith-i Qudsi where Allah states, “O Muhammad! If it were not for you I would have not created.” He writes that Prophet Muhammad was God’s Beloved (Mahbūb-ī Khudā). According to Giritli Ali Baba, Allah exalted the Prophet in the two ayats, “And We sent thee not save as a mercy to all”  as well as, “When thou threw, it was not thy act, but God’s.”  

Curiously Giritli incorporates (perhaps reluctantly, in order to appease the dominant Sunni sensibilities of Ottoman society) the three Caliphs (
Khulafa’ ar-Rashidah) into the spiritual system.  He writes that, “The Prophet Muhammad has four dearly loved ones. They are the elements of prophethood (anāsir-ī nubūwwat) similar to the four natural elements (anāsir-ī arbaca). Abu Bakr is as water, Umar is as fire, Uthman is as air, and Ali is as soil. They are equally comparable to the four prophets. Abu Bakr is like Noah, Umar is like Musa,Uthman is like Jesus and Ali is like Adam and Muhammad is their soul.”  It is important to note that Ali here symbolizes earth as well as Adam (i.e. humanity). Muhammad symbolizes soul of humanity.

Naturally the Prophet’s cousin, Ali ibn Abi Talib, holds a place of particular importance for Giritli Ali Baba. It was Allah, writes Giritli, who proclaimed Ali to be the “Lion of God” and who sent the 
ayat, “Hath there come Upon man ( ever ) any period of time in which he was a thing unremembered?” to.   Additionally he affirms the praises of the Prophet Muhammad for Ali which can be found in numerous Ahadith such as, “Lā fata ila Ali! Lā sayfa ila Dhū’l-fiqār!”, “I am the city of Knowledge and ‘Ali is the Gate.”, “O Ali! Your soul is of my soul, your flesh is of my flesh, and your blood is of my blood.” Giritli Ali Baba points out that Allah lifted up the Ahl al-Bayt (i.e. ‘Ali, Fatima, Hasan, Husayn) in the ayat, “Allah’s wish is but to remove uncleanness far from you, O People of the Household, and cleanse you with a thorough cleansing.”  To prove the claims of the Twelve Imams, he notes a Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad where he said, “I am the chief of the Prophets and ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib is the chief of successors, and after me my successors shall be twelve, the first of them being ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib and the last of them being al-Mahdi.”




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