At the exit from Tetovo towards Gostivar, at the foot of Sar Mountain, in the northwestern part of Macedonia, there is the most well-preserved Bektash sanctuary in Europe - Khanqah of Harabati baba, or Arabati Baba Teke, as they are called in Macedonia. It is also known as Ali Baba Khanqah. The construction began in 1538 Sersem Ali Baba, the Ottoman dervish, and it was ended by his successor Arabati Baba, which is considered to be the main architect and the builder of this Khanqah, so it got the name after him, although it is mentioned in a lot of documents that the name came after the founder - Sersem Khanqah.
There are turbas, flower gardens, winter house, observation tower, library, prayer rooms, oven and the kitchen with the dining room, two horse rooms, cemetery of respectable dervishes, military home, ancillary building, shelter, and a large marble fountain inside the wooden Shadirvan.
This complex, surrounded by 7 meters tall walls, is unique on the territory of the Balkans and Anatolia. To this date, around dozen planned objects were preserved. There are representative rooms for religious rituals in the central part, the reception of the guests and the life of dervishes. There were economic objects in the south part, and only the foundations remain now, and the northern part is surrounded by a tall wall with a tower and shelters for a living.
Arabati Baba Teke is celebrating 480 years anniversary, but it is still a mystery how it was founded.
According to the first version, as the dervishes in the Khanqah told us at one time, Ali Baba was the brother of Sultan Mahidevran, the wife of the sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, who was a high rank in important Dimetoka Khanqah, and when Mahidevran was expelled from the palace, Ali Baba as well, and then he made his own Khanqah on the brinks of Ottoman empire.
The second version says Ali Baba was the Minister of Religious Affairs of the Ottoman Empire, who renounced the titles to live the life of the Bektash. Angry that one of his most loyal servants is leaving the palace, Sultan Suleiman shouted through the palace gates to Ali: "If you are a fool, then go!". Ottoman ford for "fool" is "sersem", and that is how Ali Baba got his nickname.
No matter what is correct, the fact is that Sersem traveled the entire Ottoman Empire until he reached the Shar mountain. There he preached his religion with his four students in peace until his death in 1538. The three students left after his death, and the fourth, Harabati Baba fouds the shrine in Tetovo, which celebrates the life of Sersem Ali Baba to this day.
In the second half of the 18th century, Rexhep Pasha and his son Abdurahman Pasha expanded the Khanqahs. Today, unfortunately, many buildings no longer exist, and there is a tower in the courtyard in which, lived Fatima in quarantine, the youngest daughter of Abdurahman Pasha, who suffered from tuberculosis.
Bekteshi are the Islamic Sufi order originating from the 13th century, and the dervishes were famous as noble, peaceful and hospitable people, and we saw that ourselves on many occasions.
- Bekteshi are an Islamic mystical monastic order which follows the tariqa. Islam has four postulates or columns: sharia or law, a tariqa or a mystical path, a hakikat - justice and a marifet, or knowledge. In the tariqa, which we follow, we have a fraternity, and the life in the Khanqah is very similar to monastic life in Orthodox monasteries.
The former Public Prosecutor, lawyer Stavre Dzhikov, testifies to the peacefulness, dedication and spiritual life of the dervish.
- I especially respect the Bekteshi, and Edmond, who is the world head of the Bekteshi, I consider to be my spiritual brother. Bekteshi is the bridge between Muslim and Christianity. Bekteshi, as a religion in the Muslim world, is a philosophical category. They are monks spreading the noble idea of God, Allah. The Bekteshi part of the Muslim world presents the harmonization of human survival. They carry spirituality in which there is no extremism, but humanity, Dzhikov said, who was a lawyer for a time for a Bekteshi society and a good connoisseur of Bekteshi.
Arabati Baba Teke presents a significant historical and cultural object in Macedonia, and it is also very attractive to tourists for its architecture and beauty.
Until the beginning of the military conflict in 2001, textile combine Teteks ran the Khanqah, which built an exclusive catering facility with a lodging. After the end of the conflict, Teteks left the complex of the Arabati Baba Teke, and the Museum of the Tetovo Region, which was located there, was forcefully thrown out.
Besides Bekteshi who spread into the rooms of the abandoned museum, Islamic religious community (IVZ) entered the Khanqah, who now hold few objects.
Tetovo dervishes are in a dispute with IVZ over the ownership of the Arabati Baba Teke ever since. Dervishes claim that the Khanqah is theirs and that they have documents from the Turk times, and IVZ states that they have the right to use the Khanqah as the representatives of all Muslims.
To prove the ownership, Tetovo Bekteshi launched a dispute before the International Court of Justice, although according to some information, Arabati Baba Teke is still listed as a property of the Republic of Macedonia.
Until this dispute is solved, one part of the Khanqah will be used by Bekteshi, and IVZ will use one object as a mosque, and other facilities - hotel, restaurant, shandrvan and others that are gradually deteriorating because there is no one to take care of them.
(Telegraf.co.uk / D.J.)