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 Some Notes on the Naqshbandī Tarīqat in Bosnīa" by Prof dr. Hamid Algar

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PostSubject: Some Notes on the Naqshbandī Tarīqat in Bosnīa" by Prof dr. Hamid Algar    Sat Apr 04, 2015 8:04 am

If we set out again from Fojnica in the direction of Sarajevo, after about ten miles we reach a curve in the road, beyond which, to the left, lies a village in the midst of rich cornfields. Leaving the road shortly before the village, we climb a steep path that leads northwards past a few farmhouses and a newly constructed mosque above which flutters the green banner of the Bosnian Muslims. After following the path up a wooded slope for half an hour, we emerge onto a broad hilltop, and here, beyond a cornfield, stands the tekke of Oglavak, the second functioning Naqshbandī tekke in Bosnia. In Oglavak, the atmosphere of rustic simplicity is even more marked than in Zivcic. The tekke, a long, low building, stands on one side of a grassy field where cows pasture and chickens wander, and might in fact be taken, at first sight, for a barn, were it not for the distinctive HU painted on the wall to the right of the entrance. Oglavak is without the lofty majesty bestowed on Zivcic by a mountainous location, but, almost entirely concealed by thick forest, it partakes of the same palpable tranquillity, and is thus a fitting site for the contemplation of creation and Creator.




Both the tekke at Oglavak and the village itself were founded by Sejh Abdurrahman Sirri Baba, the sole murīd of Sejh Husejn. After completing his discipleship towards the end of the eighteenth century, Sirri Baba cleared a space in these wooded hills near Fojnica and established his tekke, and the little village grew up around it. This secluded and rustic spot came in the lifetime of Sirri Baba to occupy a place of much importance in the religious and even political life of Bosnia, and for a time its fame eclipsed that of Zivcic. Indeed, its founder is probably the most celebrated of all the Naqshbandī shaykhs of Bosnia, past and present. 

His influence was such that each new governor of Bosnia would regard it as one of his first duties to visit Oglavak, and for the purpose of receiving such prominent guests two konaks, still standing today, were erected near the tekke. There came to pay their respects to Sirri Baba and his successors, governors and generals such as Stocevic All Galip Pasa, governor of Hercegovina, Mehmed Vechi Pasa, Mehmed Kāmil Pasa and the ferocious Omer Pasa, as well as the leader of the Bosnian revolts against the reforms of Mahmud II, Gradacac Kaptan Husejn. The fame of Sirri Baba evidently reached the Ottoman capital itself, for he received from Sultan Mahmud II a firman exempting the tekke at Oglavak and its incumbent shaykh from taxation.[21]

Sirri Baba’s celebrity rested, however, not so much on patronage as upon his widespread reputation for sanctity and piety, and still more on the numerous ilāhīs that he composed, in both Turkish and Bosnian. The composition of such poems was of course traditional in the Sufi orders, particularly in Turkey, and Sirri Baba’s preceptor, Sejh Husejn, also has a number of ilāhīs to his credit. Those of Sirri Baba are, however, at once more numerous and more widely known and sung. The ilāhīs he composed in Serbo-Croatian are of particular interest, for they furnish one of the most celebrated examples of what has been called the Aljamiado literatures of Bosnia—that is, Bosnian written in the Arabic script.[22] These Bosnian ilāhīs are clearly modelled on their Turkish counterparts but the very fact of their composition may be taken as an indication of the depth of popular assimilation of Islam in Bosnia. Such poetry, moreover, continues to be cultivated in Bosnia, and the present shaykh of Zivcic has written a number of Bosnian ilāhīs in the Arabic script.

Sirri Baba died in 1263/1846-1847, and was succeeded as shaykh at the tekke by his eldest son, Abdullatif Efendi. Upon his death in 1300/1882-1883, supervision of the tekke passed to his younger brother, Sejh Sakir Efendi, who died in 1307/1889-1890. Sakir Efendi was followed in turn by Sejh Abdulhalim Efendi, the eldest son of Sejh Abdullatif, and then in 1917 by the younger brother of Abdulhalim Efendi, Sejh Hamdi Efendi. Sejh Hamdi Efendi died in the 1930s and was succeeded by his son, Sejh Sakir Efendi, a scholar of some prominence known professionally as Sakir (Sacir) Sikiric. His life came to a premature end in 1966 shortly after his return from a journey to Egypt.[23] His younger brother, Hilmi Efendi, now resides at Oglavak and presides over dhikr in the tekke, but he has no claims to shaykhood, regarding himself simply as a vekil, an interim trustee whose task it is to keep the tekke open and functioning.

The tekke at Oglavak is a long oblong building with a low wooden door at its northern end opening onto a narrow passageway. This corridor leads first to the semā’hāne, a small room furnished and decorated in the manner typical of a rural Bosnian mosque: kilims and sheepskins on the floor, and a cluster of specimens, of calligraphy on the wall. Over the mihrab hangs, however, a large ostrich egg, a feature peculiar to tekkes and possessing its symbolic justification.[24] Next to the semā’hāne stands the meydan odasi, the room where the dervishes gather before and after dhikr. A tall hearth of traditional Turkish type is set into one wall, and a low divan runs along the other walls. Finally, the tekke contains a small cell designed for use as a halvetgāh, a place where the dervish may retire for forty-day periods of meditation or penance. The sole furnishing of this cell consists of a Y-shaped iron bar that the dervish sets before him, placing his neck in the curve to ward off sleep. The halvetgāh, according to Hilmi Efendi, has latterly fallen into disuse, and is now used chiefly for storing firewood. Just as the setting of Oglavak lacks the majesty of Zivcic, so too does the tekke have a simpler and more intimate atmosphere than its counterpart described above.

Opposite the tekke on a grassy rise stands the residence of the shaykh, which now presents the aspect of a picturesquely dilapidated farmhouse, and next to it stand two konaks, similarly rustic and unpretentious in appearance. They were, however, both founded by governors of Bosnia who were devotees of the shaykhs of Oglavak: the first by Mehmed Vechi Pasa, and the second by Mehmed Kāmil Pasa, in 1262/1845-1846.[25]

In keeping with its general simplicity, Oglavak contains only one türbe, by contrast with the three at Zivcic. In outer appearance it resembles those at Zivcic: whitewashed walls decorated with a large HU, and a thatched conical roof. In this türbe, constructed by Stocevic Ali Galip Pasa, rest Sirri Baba and his eldest son Sejh Abdullatif Efendi. The walls are decorated with various pieces of calligraphy, as well as plaques bearing the names of the principal companions of the Prophet. On a ledge beneath the sole window of the türbe stands a rack for the pilgrim to place his votive candle. A few tombs are gathered outside the wall of the türbe, chiefly those of the later shaykhs of Oglavak.

Dhikr is performed at Oglavak twice weekly, on Friday and Monday nights, as well as every night during Ramadan. As at Zivcic, the two Bayrams, the Prophet’s birthday and other festivals are also occasions for the gathering of dervishes at the tekke. It seems, however, that its fame has somewhat waned since the death of Sejh Sakir, and that fewer devotees seek out Oglavak than Zivcic: the lack of a shaykh has made itself felt. Nonetheless, the tekke at Oglavak continues to function as a rural stronghold of the Naqshbandī tarīqatp
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Some Notes on the Naqshbandī Tarīqat in Bosnīa" by Prof dr. Hamid Algar
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