The Organization of the Bektashi Order
The Bektashi community is comprised of all those who believe in the Bektashi doctrine and follow its
principles. The Bektashi community encompasses the following grades of individuals: ashiks, muhibs
and what may be termed the "clergy".
The ashiks are all those who have inherited Bektashism having been born into a Bektashi
family or those who appreciate the Path of Haji Bektash and work for it but who have nonetheless
not taken the ritual of initiation [nasib, bay'at]. The ashiks are the highest supportive power in the
Bektashi community. They are its faithful followers and they enjoy the same rights as the
initiated members in the spiritual management. They are allowed to vote on regulations; they can
participate in meetings; they work, help and sacrifice for the welfare of Bektashi Path.
The ashiks cooperate with the initiated members in deciding on the leadership and nominating the authorities of their tekkes. Together with the muhibs they have the right to organize Bektashi associations, to found tekkes, or to do any other type of work for the good of Bektashism. In a word, they are its underpinning and its essence.
The muhibs are all those followers of the Way who have the freedom to enjoy all the above mentioned rights and privileges and are spiritually bound to Bektashism through the ritual of initiation.
In order to give a better idea to our readers we will now explain the ritual of initiation which is the solemn oath that all members take, in the name of God and the Prophet and its Founder, in front of their murshid that they will be faithful to the Bektashi Way and that they will always act for the good of the Path. They will strive not tell lies, they will strive to lead a life of good morals and discipline and they will serve the world for the wellbeing of mankind.
They promise that all their virtues will be transformed into good ones and that they will faithfully keep their promises for if they keep their oaths they become, in fact, valuable elements of Bektashism as well as for themselves, their families and the whole world. With this resolution a new life begins for them: a life of purification, betterment and perfection. If they keep their oath at the same time that they become better they also make a moral contribution of great service to Bektashism through which everybody is lead to righteousness and good behaviour.
The muhib are the associates of the Bektashi Way and understand its dogmas in detail. They are the support beams of Bektashi citadel and they keep the torch of the Bektashi Way always ablaze.
Those muhibs who have dedicated all their lives to serving the Way are the supervisory power in Bektashism. It is they who put into practice all policies and regulations. The clergy can be considered like the motor of a machine which directs Bektashism and embodies its existence.
The Bektashi "clergy" are divided into five components:
A - The functionary at the religious services
B - Dervish
C - Baba
D - Dede
E - Dede-Baba
The functionaries of the religious services are all those candidates who have not completed taking the initiatory vows and have not attended the ritual of initiation for the entitlement of being called a dervish. They always abide to the religious services for the fulfilment of the necessary proofs.
The Dervishes are those candidates who have attained the given proofs; they perform the religious ceremonies and have the right to wear the religious garments. The well-disciplined dervish, who has proved to be mature, may carry out the ceremony of celibacy [muceridlik] and as they are more experienced, they stand at a advanced level compared to others.
The Babas are all those dervishes who have been chosen by the people, as was foretold above, and who have been decreed so by the Dede or the Dede-Baba. They are the heads of the tekkes and they have the right to oversee the ritual of initiation.
The Dedes are those Babas who assist the last ceremony of the Bektashi initiation. They direct their own tekkes and all the tekkes of their parishes.
The Dede-Baba is the highest Bektashi spiritual leader. He leads all the surrounding tekkes and represents the Bektashi community with honour.
We would like to point out, that according to the traditional regulations all the muhibs who have contributed a great deal to Bektashism may obtain the honorary title of Dervish, Baba and Dede according to their individual merits. They have the right to wear Bektashi garments when they are in the tekke during the ceremonies. Outside the tekke they have to wear their secular clothing. Although they do not officially belong to the clergy, in case of absence of the latter, they may substitute for them and carry out all the religious services, together with those of the initiation.