Acts 17:22-23

Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, "Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; "for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you:

The Alevi

A majority of the Dimili Kurds of Turkey and some Kurmanji speaking Kurds follow Alevism which is considered by some as a subgroup of the Cult of Angels. They have been described by various names such as the Alawis "the Followers of Ali", the Alevis "the People of Fire", or the Qizilbash "the red heads," from their red headgear. Dimili Alevism bears close similarities to ancient Aryan cults. Its rites include daily bowing to the rising sun and moon and the incantation of hymns for the occasion. The communal ritual gathering of Jamkhana is observed by these Dimili Alev as the Ayini Jam, "the Tradition of Jam." The major Jam, or the grand annual, communal gathering, coincides with the great Muslim Feast of Abraham that concludes the Haj - Islam’s pilgrimage to Mecca and includes the sacrifice of a lamb. Jam was the great Aryan hero in the tradition of the Zoroastrians to whom is ascribed the creation of the feast of New Ruz - the Kurdish and Iranic new year. The myth holds that Jam was sacrificed at the end of his own days to the rising sun by none else than Azhi Dahak. The red headgear that gave the name Qizilbdsh, which is Turkic for "red heads," to these socio-religious revolutionaries, are still worn among the Alevi Dimila Kurds Observers also frequently comment on the Christian influences on Alevism, which could have been the result of intermarriage with the Armenians.

Beliefs in Alevism-

Alevi worship takes place in assembly houses called cemevi, not in mosques. The ceremony âyîn-i cem, or simply cem features music and dance called semah, which symbolize the putting off of one’s self and uniting with God. In Alevism, men and women are regarded as equals, and pray side by side.

Key Alevi principles include:

  • Love and respect for all people -“The important thing is not religion, but being a human being.”
  • Tolerance towards other religions and ethnic groups -“If you hurt another person, the ritual prayers you have done are counted as worthless.”
  • Respect for working people -"The greatest act of worship is to work”.

The Alevi spiritual path is commonly understood to take place through four major life-stages, or "gates":

  1. Sheriat (Sharia) ("religious law")
  2. Tarikat ("spiritual brotherhood")
  3. Marifat ("spiritual knowledge")
  4. Hakikat ("reality" or "truth" i.e., God)

Four Gates of Alevism

These may be further subdivided into "four gates and forty levels." The first gate (religious law) is considered elementary (and in this we may perceive a subtle criticism of other Muslim traditions). Alevi legal principles do exist. The following are major crimes that cause an Alevi to be declared shunned:

  • Killing a person
  • Committing adultery
  • Divorcing one’s wife
  • Marrying a divorced woman
  • Stealing
Most Alevi spiritual life takes place in the context of the second gate (spiritual brotherhood), during which one submits to a living spiritual guide. The existence of the third and fourth gates is mostly theoretical, though some older Alevis have apparently received initiation into the third.

William Booth

You must pray with all your might. That does not mean saying your prayers or sitting gazing about in church or chapel with eyes wide open while someone else says them for you. It means fervent, effectual, untiring wrestling with God... This kind of prayer be sure the devil and the world and your own indolent, unbelieving nature will oppose. They will pour water on this flame.

Followers of Ali

 Alevi’s as “Followers of Ali” ascribe to 'Ali (who is the cousin, son-in-law, and adopted son of the prophet Muhammad) supernatural strength and wisdom which is surpassed only by the prophets, as well as a uniquely intimate connection with the Prophet Muhammad. This is found in such statements like the following:

Muhammad is the city of spiritual knowledge, Ali is the door.

Muhammed ilim şehridir, Ali kapısıdır.

Further other common Alevi phrases portray a mystical unity between 'Ali and Muhammad, and liken their relationship to the two sides of a coin, or two halves of an apple:

Ali is Muhammad, Muhammad is Ali;

Ali Muhammed'dir, Muhammed Ali

I saw one apple, praise Allah

Gördüm bir elmadır, elhamdü-lillâh

Some common prayers even go as far to ascribe deity or at least an equal authority between God, Muhammad and Ali.

For the love of God, Muhammad, Ali

Hak-Muhammed-Ali aşkına

Considering Islam’s emphasis on monotheism, such ideas are deeply controversial and can cause problems between the Dimili and other Kurds who don’t adhere to Alevism. Ali is elevated to such a high position that each of the twelve Imams is said to partake of the "light" of 'Ali. Thus the various Imams are called the "First Ali", the 'Second 'Ali' , and so on up to the "Last 'Ali".                       

Concept of God

The Alevi concept of God is derived from the philosophy of the Sunni branch of Islam and involves a chain of emanations from God, to spiritual man, earthly man, animals, plants, and minerals. The goal of spiritual life then is to follow this path in the reverse direction, to unity with God, or Haqq (Reality, Truth). From the highest perspective, all is God.

Another important Alevi concept is that of the "Perfect Human Being". The Perfect Human Being has been identified with our true identity as pure consciousness (hence the Qur’anic concept of our consciousness being pure and perfect). Our task then would be to fully realize this state of consciousness while still in our human bodies.

Many Alevis define the Perfect Human Being in practical terms, one who is in full moral control of his actions and speech; one who treats all people equally; one who serves the interests of others. Someone who has achieved this level of enlightenment is also called eren or munavver.

Modern humanism and universalism has had a profound effect on modern Alevi theology. During the 1960's, many younger Alevis came to conceive of Alevism in non-religious terms, with some even relating it to Marxism. The 1990's brought a new emphasis on Alevism as an ethnic or cultural identity. Alevi communities today generally support secularism, partly out of mistrust of majoritarian religiosity.

Although attempts to identify the origin of Alevism are somewhat controversial. Alevism has many beliefs and practices that may have been influenced by Orthodox Christianity particularly Armenian. Enough influence (we believe) to form bridges for evangelism and Apologetics.