Turkey's Alevi Community By Edge of Humanity Magazine, March 12, 2017
A work for Edge of Humanity Magazine
The Alevi are a religious, sub-ethnic and cultural community in Turkey, numbering in the tens of millions. Alevism is generally considered a sect of Shi'a Islam. However, Alevi worship takes place in assembly houses (cem house) rather than mosques. The ceremony, ayin-i cem or simply cem, features music and dance (semah) which symbolize the main planets around the Sun (by man and woman turning in circles) and the putting off of one's self and uniting with God. In Alevism, men and women are regarded as equals, and pray side by side. Unlike most other Muslim practices, Alevi rituals are conducted mostly in Turkish.
Key Alevi characteristics include:
Love and respect for all people ("The important thing is not religion, but being a human being")
Tolerance towards other religions and ethnic groups ("If you hurt another person, the ritual prayers you have done are counted as worthless")
Respect for working people ("The greatest act of worship is to work")