Ahmet Yaşar Ocak

Keywords: Alevism, Babai Revolt, Qizilbash, Anatolia, Islam


The history of the 'Alawis, like many other similar phenomena in world history, embodies a process whose roots tap the deep recesses of time. This process, in its extended and explicit chronological aspect, is the product of a social structure peculiar to a certain area and one which exhibits a lack of homogeneity due to the change-albeit very slow-it has undergone. For this reason, a thorough analysis capable of facilitating, in a systematic and fully satisfactory manner, comprehension and explication of this history constitutes a daunting task. The present article represents an attempt to outline a general historical perspective that may assist the reader in understanding the 'Alawi phenomenon as it currently exists in both its historical and actual dimensions. Stress is placed upon the fact that it is an error to view the subject of the 'Alawis as an independent, singular, and unique episode divorced from the history of the Turks and that of Turkey and that of Islam in general and to approach it from this perspective. In other words, apart from similar structuralizations noted as occurring in the historical scheme, the 'Alawis should not be construed as sui generis. Moreover, the writer aims to show that linking the origin of the 'Alawi movement to the struggle for succession that occurred following the death of the Prophet Muhammad can lead to very serious errors in terms of time, space and chronology.