The Alevis
†††††††††††††††††††††† Today's Moslems are mainly divided into 2 types: Sunni and Shia.
†††††††††††††††††††††† Sunnis acknowledge the first four Caliphs (Ebubekir, Omer,
†††††††††††††††††††††† Osman, Ali) as rightful successors of Mohammed, whereas Shias
†††††††††††††††††††††† believe in Ali and the Imams as the right successors of Mohammed.
†††††††††††††††††††††† More than two thirds of the Turkish population are Sunnis. The
†††††††††††††††††††††† Shias of Anatolia are not the same as Shias of Iran. In Anatolia they
†††††††††††††††††††††† are called Alevis which comes from the word Ali. It is a mixture of
†††††††††††††††††††††† Anatolian cultures together with a deep belief in the incarnation of
†††††††††††††††††††††† God in Ali. Compared to the Sunnis of Anatolia, the Alevis are more
†††††††††††††††††††††† flexible. For example, they stopped going to mosques on the
†††††††††††††††††††††† rationale that Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet Mohammed and the
†††††††††††††††††††††† founder of Alevism, was murdered in a mosque, thus violating the
†††††††††††††††††††††† sanctity of the building; and they stopped formal prayers for safetyís
†††††††††††††††††††††† sake. A system of traveling holy elders (dede) replaced the more
†††††††††††††††††††††† traditional Moslem structure of authority. The ban on wine and
†††††††††††††††††††††† alcohol was relaxed, with wine actually used for religious ceremonial
†††††††††††††††††††††† functions. The month of fasting was converted into eight days during
†††††††††††††††††††††† the month of Muharrem.
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