Skip to main content

Ahl-e Haqq

AHL-E HAQQ

A heterodox sect of Shiʿite Islam based in Iranian and Iraqi Kurdistan.

Ahl-e Haqq (followers of truth) is an esoteric sect of around one million members, found primarily among the Kurds of Iran and Iraq; they are closely related to the Alevi and Bektashi of Turkey, and the Alawi and Nusayris of Syria. Popularly known as Alielahi (deifiers of Ali), the Ahl-e Haqq call their faith Din-e yari (religion of God) and themselves Yaresan (in Iran) or Kakaʾi (in Iraq). The sect dates from the fourteenth or fifteenth century c.e., a time of extreme proliferation of Sufi and Shiʿite religio-political groups in the Irano-Turkic world, which culminated in the establishment of the Safavi dynasty in Iran in 1501, with Shiʿism becoming the official religion.

Regarded as heretics by their Shiʿite and Sunni neighbors, the Ahl-e Haqq adopted a strict code of secrecy. They came to define their faith as a sirr (mystery), to be guarded from the outside world at any cost. The mystery was transmitted orally, in Gurani and other Kurdish languages, in the form of poetry known as kalam, which forms the sect's sacred narrative. Two cardinal dogmas are belief in transmigration of souls and belief in manifestations of the divine essence in human form. There have been seven manifestations and in each the divine essence was accompanied by seven angels. Ali (the first Shiʿite imam) was the second manifestation; his position is overshadowed by the fourth, Sultan Sohak, the founder of the sect. The Ahl-e Haqq neither observe Muslim rites, such as daily prayers and fasting during the month of Ramadan, nor share Islamic theology and sacred space. Instead, they have their own sacred universe and their own rituals, centered on the jam (assembly), when they chant their kalam, play the sacred lute (tanbur), make offerings (niyaz), and share a sacrificial meal (qorbani). A primary feature of their religious organization is the division into two broad strata: seyyeds and commoners. Seyyeds are eleven holy families (khandan), descended from Sultan Sohak or one of the later manifestations. Each khandan is headed by a certain seyyed referred to as pir, who supervises the religious welfare of the commoners initiated into his following.

see also alawi; alevi; bektashis; kurdistan; kurds; shiʿism; sunni islam.

Bibliography

Hamzehʾee, M. Reza. The Yaresan: Sociological, Historical, and Religo-Historical Study of a Kurdish Community. Berlin: Klaus Schwarz, 1990.

Minorsky, Vladimir. "Ahl-i Hakk." In Shorter Encyclopaedia of Islam, edited by H. A. R. Gibb and J. H. Kramers. Leiden, Neth.: Brill; London: Luzac, 1961.

Mir-Hosseini, Ziba. "Faith, Ritual, and Culture among the Ahl-i Haqq." In Kurdish Culture and Identity, edited by Philip Kreyenbroek and Christine Allison. London: Zed Press, 1996.

Mir-Hosseini, Ziba. "Inner Truth and Outer History: The Two Worlds of Ahl-i Haqq of Kurdistan." International Journal of Middle East Studies 26 (1994): 267285.

Ziba Mir-Hosseini

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ahl-e Haqq." Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Ahl-e Haqq." Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 16, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/ahl-e-haqq

"Ahl-e Haqq." Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa. . Retrieved November 16, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/ahl-e-haqq

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.