The new Turkish mini-series “Alef” (Aleph) is one of the productions that reached many viewers through the quarantine. Aired collectively by the Turkish streaming platform Blutv and American TV channel FX, the series facilities across the murders of a serial killer with a mystical messages. In the storyline, Settar, a veteran detective on the finish of his career, begins the primary homicide investigation along with his new companion, Detective Kemal, transferred from Scotland Yard. However, they are going to encounter one other case earlier than they will resolve the primary one. They will discover themselves in the center of a narrative in which Sufi codes are interspersed with a series of related homicide circumstances.
Starring Kenan İmirzalıoğlu as Kemal, Ahmet Mümtaz Taylan as Settar and Melisa Sözen as affiliate professor Yaşar Turan, the series has an unique story the place ambiguities unfold at a heavy tempo. The prevalence of occasions in Istanbul’s winter creates a good heavier environment. However, our serial killer will attempt to inform us one thing by leaving messages about Sufism and cults.
Series of coincidences
In the manufacturing (spoiler alert when you do not need to know), the killer asks the workforce to search out and print a novel inside every week. The novel written by Faik Ahlat Karaca, who dedicated suicide in the 1960s, ought to be printed by one of the best-selling publishers. Otherwise, new murders will comply with.
Their analysis on this novel takes the workforce to affiliate professor Turan from Istanbul University’s Department of Islamic Research, as a result of her article is the one one they will discover on the subject. With her involvement, the story shifts towards Ottoman historical past, mysticism and non secular teams.
The clues left by the killer in the murders lead us right into a mystical setting. For instance, he attracts the image of Aleph, the primary letter of the Hebrew alphabet which signifies the primary and signifies the oneness and unity of the creator, with blood on the wall. This image may also be seen in the best way the assassin ties up his victims. He inserts an vintage dervish mirror into the stomach of one of the our bodies. Most importantly, the novel, which he needs to be printed, tells concerning the arson of a marginal non secular group.
At the house of one of the victims, a miniature portray attracts the eye of detective Kemal. This portray can also be current in the novel that the killer desires to be printed. The traces of the miniature make them a nonetheless lively Sufi group. While the workforce seems for the proprietor of the miniature, who can also be a pal of writer Karaca, they attain the identify of a businessman who has misplaced his thoughts. Coincidentally, this man is none apart from Turan’s father.
Consulted just for Karaca at first, Turan as soon as once more crosses paths with Kemal. Based on each the content material of the novel and different clues in the murders, Kemal desires to be taught the main points of the hyperlink between the non secular teams and these murders. Turan will inform Kemal concerning the marginal non secular communities, particularly the Qalandariyya-Malamatiyya mystical teams.
Two totally different theses on historical past
There are problematic factors in Turan’s details about Qalandars and different non secular teams. The script appears to have been constructed in line with the theses constructed by the socialist historians in Turkey.
According to the thesis, marginal non secular communities just like the Qalandariyya have been eradicated as a result of they didn’t undergo the official ideology of the Ottoman Empire. This thesis once more means that these dervishes signify the non secular understanding of the commons and the decrease lessons. Upper lessons, particularly the Sunni ulema, can’t tolerate this example. The Ottoman central administration imposed its personal ideology by suppressing these communities. Our killer in Alef believes in the identical ideology. Is this the precise fact?
Ahmet T. Karamustafa from Washington University Department of History and Religious Studies refutes this thesis. His ebook titled “Gods Unruly Friends: Dervish Groups in the Islamic Later Middle Period” is one of essentially the most complete works of these marginal dervish communities.
He states that these teams in the Islamic world don’t mirror “fashionable Islam” however are minority dervish communities with marginal concepts and practices. He additionally attracts consideration to the inaccuracy of categorizing such dervish teams in keeping with classical lessons and deciphering them in a contemporary framework equivalent to “hostility to ideology.”
Inquisition in Ottoman Empire?
One of essentially the most outstanding and life like scenes in the series is the dervish arson scene the place the main points of the talked about novel have been animated as in the event that they have been actual. Here we appear to be watching a witch hunt scene of the Medieval Inquisition. However, such a state of affairs happens in neither Western nor Eastern sources.
State intervention in opposition to a sure group, whether or not non secular or not, has two situations in Ottoman historical past. This group ought to both show behaviors that will disrupt public order or ought to provoke the individuals with hatred and a grudge to encourage riot and makes an attempt of revolution. This continues to be true at the moment.
Although they’re non-Sunni and non-Islamic, many teams that take note of these values have survived. However, the Kadizadelis, who appear excessively Sunni, have been liquidated even when they facet with the state’s ideology. The state handled the communities in keeping with their results on the social order and financial system, fairly than their ideologies. The identical is true for the Qalandariyya, Haydariyye, Malamatiyya, Bektashiyya, and plenty of different non secular communities.
Who are Qalandars?
Like Detective Kemal, we’re interested in these dervish actions. In Sufism, Qalandariyya is the primary group that involves thoughts concerning the non secular orders of Malamatiyya.
The Arabic phrase “malamah” means “scolding, condemnation, blame, disgrace.” In Sufism, it refers to “a spiritual group, which doesn’t give significance to settled rituals equivalent to clothes, dhikr and ceremony and which relies on self-blame, self-condemnation, and thus transferring away from the praise of the individuals and getting nearer to God.”
In addition to the identical meanings because the malamah, the phrase “Qalandar” in Persian means “one who would not care about worldly items, tolerant, mild-tempered, humble.” Qalandariyya is a motion that doesn’t connect significance to the looks of worship, attempt to win hearts with candy phrases, pay a lot consideration to following fards or non secular duties in Islam commanded by God, at prayers and isn’t fond of the worldly items.
It is acknowledged that it deteriorated by marginalizing over time in totally different areas. In the sources, they’re referred to as “antinomians (those that see all the things permissible) and the zindiqs (those that look non secular and don’t carry out the essential necessities of faith), and we additionally see optimistic or impartial names equivalent to Qalandariyya and Abdalan-ı Rum. This controversial state of affairs is expounded to the disinformation of Qalandariyya at totally different occasions and areas.
The deterioration relies on two necessary causes. The first is the deterioration of the political and demographic construction from Asia to Anatolia consequently of the Mongol invasions, and the non secular teams to be dispersed and uncovered to abuse. The second is that in the Iran-Ottoman battle, Iran made its propaganda by means of some non secular teams and put in intelligence features on these teams. Therefore, those that have been recognized with Iran have been severely liquidated. It is known that the flexibility of Qalandariyya to indicate itself down and outward is misused in numerous methods.
As a end result, there are two sorts of Qalandars. While the primary group is those that are literally Sunni, carry out their worship however attempt to appear depressing and deranged and thus break their need to indicate hypocrisy and vanity, the second group is those that do the begging, fortunetelling and reject the essential orders and prohibitions of Islam and accomplish that with the dervish guise and arguments.
Qalandars by means of the eyes of vacationers
Turan tells Kemal that the vacationers are speaking about these Qalandari dervishes and present the images they drew. For instance, Spanish traveler Ruy Gonzales De Clavijo says that he handed by means of the village referred to as Delilarkent (the town of Deliler, at the moment referred to as Deli Baba) in Erzurum, in Eastern Anatolia, the place unusual dervishes resided.
Other vacationers touring the east in numerous centuries speak about dervishes in related methods. Some vacationers like Nicolas De Nicolay additionally drew footage of the dervishes referred to as “abdal, Torlak, Qalandar.”
The most detailed observations concerning the look of marginal dervish teams are made by Giovan Antonio Menavino. In his ebook, he describes the teams we name the second kind as follows:
“Dressed in sheepskins, the torlaks (learn Qalandars) are in any other case bare, with no headgear. Their scalps are at all times clean-shaven and good rubbed with oil as a precaution in opposition to the chilly. They burn their temples with an previous rag in order that their faces won’t be broken by sweat. Illiterate and unable to do something manly, they dwell like beasts, surviving on alms solely. For this motive, they’re to be discovered round taverns and public kitchens in cities. If, whereas roaming the countryside, they arrive throughout a well-dressed individual, they attempt to make him one of their very own, stripping him bare. Like Gypsies in Europe, they observe chiromancy, particularly for girls who then present them with bread, eggs, cheese and different meals in return for his or her providers. Amongst them, there may be normally an previous man whom they revere and worship like God. When they enter a city, they collect round the simplest home of the city and pay attention in nice humility to the phrases of this previous man, who, after a spell of ecstasy, foretells the descent of a terrific evil upon the city. His disciples then implore him to fend off the catastrophe by means of his good providers. The previous man accepts the plea of his followers, although not with out an preliminary present of reluctance, and prays to God, asking him to spare the city the approaching hazard awaiting it. This time-honored trick earns them appreciable sums of alms from ignorant and credulous individuals. The torlaks … chew cannabis and sleep on the bottom; additionally they overtly observe sodomy like savage beasts.”
In brief, “Alef” appears to arouse curiosity about different non secular teams and Sufism in addition to the references to the Qalandarriye. It additionally reveals the teams that proceed their actions underground. How the series will proceed is now an enigma. Will it current a profitable fiction story, or will it make the viewers tired of its heavy tempo? We will see all this in the next episodes.