Alians


Alians

The Alians are a Shi`a order similar to the Sufi Mevlevi, who live in several regions of Bulgaria. They follow the mystical rituals of the wandering dervishes. Their exact origin is not certain, since there are hardly any historical records preserved from that time, but according to the prevailing theory they settled in Bulgaria after the victory won in 1512 by the Ottoman sultan Selim I, a Sunni, over the first Safavid shah of the Persians, Ismail I.

Alianism is a religious trend in unorthodox Islam, an esoteric form of Sufism. Alians revere Ali ibn Abi Talib, son-in-law and first cousin of the Muslim prophet Muhammad, whom they consider an emanation of God. That makes them similar to the Shi`ites.

It is believed that Alians are descendants of a Sufi-dervish group of priests, who came to the Balkans during the 15th century, in order to keep up the morale of Ottoman soldiers and to help integrate the newly-conquered peoples into the empire. Other Muslims view Alians as heretics, because of their cult to imam Ali. They are an extremely closed society and zealously hide their rituals. It is known, that Alians are mysticists and believe in personal communication to God through a near-trance state. They do not use the traditional Islamic rituals, but use candles and wine.

In Bulgaria, Alians inhabit predominantly the villages of Yablanovo and Malko Selo in Sliven Province; Sevar, Ostrovo, Madrevo, Sveshtari, Bisertsi, and Lavino in Razgrad Province; Preslavci, Chernik, and Bradvari in Silistra Province; and Mogilets and Bayachevo in Targovishte Province.

"Demir Baba teke" is a sacred place to Alians, as well as to other Islamic sects. Demir Baba was buried there, a famous dervish who lived during the 16th century in the lands of northeastern Bulgaria.

Alians refused to visit madrasahs in the Ottoman Empire, because the orthodox Sunni Islam was taught there. As a consequence, they educated their children only within the bounds of their society, and that led them to a decline. The latter, along with the reticence of their esoteric culture, and the urbanization, doomed them to gradual assimilation.

There is also an "Alian" clan in southern Philippines.

References

Cite book
title = Житието на Демир Баба и създаването на ръкописи от мюсюлманите от хетеродоксните течения на исляма в Североизточна България
language = Bulgarian
: Demir Baba's life and the creation of manuscripts by heterodox Muslims in northeastern Bulgaria

cite web
url = http://www.orpheusclub.com/bg/news.php?id=71
title = Демир баба теке е светиня
language = Bulgarian
: Demir baba teke is a holy place

cite web
url = http://www.btv.bg/news/newsprint.php?story=35028
title = Националният институт за паметници на културата иска да спре реставрацията на Демир баба теке
language = Bulgarian
: The National institute of cultural monuments want to halt the restоration of Demir baba teke

cite book
title = Българските алиани. Сборник етнографски материали.
last Георгиева
first = И.
location = Sofia
year = 1997
language = Bulgarian
Bulgarian Alians. A collection of ethnographic materials.


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