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Welcoming a new hijri year, Sunni and Alevi (Alawi) Muslims in Turkey have come together to celebrate the Islamic occasion, urging unity among world Muslims where sectarianism is dividing communities.

“We do not have an Alevi-Sunni problem in Turkey,” Fermani Altun, head of an Alevi foundation in Turkey, told World Bulletin on Thursday, November 7.

Speaking at the dinner organized by the ruling Justice and Development

(AK) Party to celebrate the Islamic sacred month of Muharram, Altun stressed that Islam does not accept injustice of one group over another.

Hijra of the Prophet Muhammad

“The conflict rather has historical background, as it goes back ninety years to the building of the Turkish Republic - we need to understand the problem to find solution,” Altun, the head of the Ehl-i Beyt organization, added.

Mehmet Gormez, Turkey's Religious Affairs head, agreed.

“We need to understand each other better,” he said.The Islamic calendar, hijri year, marks Prophet Muhammad’s immigration from Makkah to Madinah which was a turning point in the Muslim history.

Muslims make up approximately 99 percent of Turkey's population, but the country is also home to several ancient Christian communities and Jews.

Alevi Muslims, or Alawis, in Turkey follow a mystical branch of Islam which finds its roots in the Shiite sect.

They are originally a sect of the Shiites called “Nusayriyyah” which emerged in the third century after Hijrah. They claim that `Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) is God-incarnated.


Though usually marked by Shiite Muslims, Turkish Muslims confirmed that the memory of Karbala’ is an important event for all Muslims.

“The sadness we feel for the incident does not only belong to one group – Alevis - but is common value of entire Muslims," Altun, the leader of World Ehl-i Beyt, told World Bulletin.

Cemil Cicek, speaker of Turkish Parliament, said that Hasan and Hussein are also important figures for Sunnis.

"We all have the names Hasan and Hussein in our families," said Cicek.

President of the Constitutional Court of Turkey, Hasim Kilic, has also urged unity among world Muslims.

“The madness we live in need to turn into a peace. We support all the groups and their demands, except those groups who are involved in terrorist activities,” Kilic said.

He also touched on current debate in Turkey related to location of Alevi prayer places as this issue needs to be solved immediately.

"The historical mistakes need to be rediscussed and solved," he said. "Many Muslim countries are suffering due to ethnic and religious problems. We as Turkish citizens need to learn our lessons and live peacefully together."

The Day of `Ashura' (10th of Muharram) is certainly a sad day in the history of Islam.

It was on this day that the grandson of the Prophet (i.e. Imam Al-Husayn, may Allah be pleased with him) along with many members of his family were brutally massacred in Karbala' in the year 61 of Hijrah or 680 of the common era.

Source: CAIRO




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