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Alevi News, Events & Articles

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ARCHIVE
 

Charity Commision's Response for the Application for the Registration of the British Alevi Federation as a Charity

05 Oct 2015

Dear Representative,
 
We have considered all of the information you have provided in support of the application for the registration of the British Alevi Federation as a charity. Having done so, we are satisfied that the Federation and its associated Alevi centres are suitable for registration as charities with objects for the promotion of the Alevi faith in accordance with the beliefs set out in the publication Alevism produced by the British Alevi Federation. This is on the basis of our understanding of the aims and activities of the Federation and centres set out below.
 
The British Alevi Federation is the umbrella body for 12 Alevi centres in the UK, 6 of which are registered as charities.
 
Alevism is a broad term covering different language and ethnic communities sharing the same beliefs. Those beliefs are set out in a booklet published by the British Alevi Federation. Historically it is an oral tradition so there is no central text. Alevism has philosophical, cultural and religious aspects. It is recognised as a religion in several European countries. Alevi holy people have been recognised by HM Prison in the provision of services to Alevis in prison.
 
The Federation and its associated centres have purposes to provide a place of worship and a community centre.
 
The advancement of religion is a description of purposes in section 3 (1) of the Charities Act 2011. Religion is partially defined as in section 3 (2) to include (i) a religion which involves belief in more than one god, and (ii) a religion which does not involve belief in a god. Having regard to the case law regarding the definition and characteristics of religion in charity law prior to the Charities Act 2006 and more recently the Supreme Court judgement in Hodkin[1], we understand the characteristics of a religion should as a minimum include the following:
 
(a (a) A spiritual or non-secular belief system, held by a group of adherents, which claims to explain mankind’s place in the universe and relationship with the infinite.
 
The summary of Alevi beliefs set out in the publication Alevism produced by the British Alevi Federation provides evidence of meeting this requirement as follows:
 
  • God in Alevism is Hak, which means the truth
  • If God has created everything, the human beings are sacred in the world.
  • Therefore, Alevis consider everything is sacred and as the carrier of an essence from God.
  • Alevis consider god, the cosmos and humanity in a state of total unity.
  • Alevis do not consider God as fixed into a place of worship, iconography or written books but he is placeless and the human heart is his only domicile.
 
It was confirmed during our meeting that Hak is the truth and the universe but not a God in the sense of a deity. Alevi followers see themselves as part of God or at one with God.
 
(b) A spiritual or non-secular belief system which teaches its adherents how they are to live their lives in conformity with the spiritual understanding associated with the belief system.
 
The summary of beliefs provides evidence of meeting this requirement:
 
Alevis consider all nations as one regardless of ethnic, racial, gender and linguistic differences, simply because each creature carries the same sacred essence        
 
Humanism, egalitarianism, mutual assistance, and gender-equality are the main social characteristics commonly shared by Alevi communities.
 
Resistance against injustices is a social attitude in Alevism
 
 
The publication Alevism explains that self-spiritual development is the main task forAlevis. This involves developing the essence of Hak so people show their sacred potential and evolve to find God in them. It also explains that morality is a “prerequisite of belief” and is explained in the saying “Being the Master of one’s hand, tongue and loins” requiring Alevis not to behave immorally by using their hand not to steal, their tongue not to lie, their loins not to commit adultery. Those who do not observe these moral principles may be excommunicated from the community through social isolation.  
 
The manners ritual is a communal mechanism to evaluate each member of the community whether they observe the principles and codes or not. The community collectively judges persons who are believed to violate any moral principles and impose sanctions such as organising a communal meal or paying for a community project. If a person violates one of the main taboos such as adultery or murder, they will be excommunicated from community life.
Alevism has 4 stages: 1. Acceptance of Alevism; 2. Studying of Alevism; 3. Practice of Alevism; 4. Enlightenment -becoming good and eliminating the bad, reaching Hak.
 
(c)  The performance of religious services/worship.
 
There is evidence of religious services. The centres hold Cem which are gatherings run by a holy person with music, dance and hymns.  Worship is a path which involves reaching towards Hak, the truth. The Cem is a ritual or ceremony which is open to the public. There are also ceremonies for naming, marriage and death.
 
The Alevism publication explains that rites and ceremonies vary in nature as communities may have their own faith practices and calendars. Although there are different local traditions and practices, there is some commonality; the ritual of gathering is the main ritual in Alevism, gathering together under the slogan of “all for one, one for all”.
There are various forms of Cem, the most common are conducted on a weekly basis providing an opportunity for people to converse on spiritual and daily issues, sing hymns, ritual dance and have a communal meal at the end.
 
The Cem ceremony has 12 aspects to include acceptance of all, consent to lead, cleanliness, light, education, respecting people, sharing and communal living.
 
To practice Alevism there are two main rituals called the admission ritual and the manners ritual.
 
The common framework requires Alevis to:
 
  • Have an eternal brother of the path
  • Observe certain moral principles
 
(d)  ‘Advancement’ of religion
Alevi centres are open to all to attend and provide services to advance the beliefs and practices of Alevism. These are advertised to the public. Alevism preaches education and development of the self. It has a central moral aspect to it which is promoted. It promotes the belief that all persons are equal and engages in mutli-faith and community activities.
 
Public Benefit
 
The public benefit requirement is evidenced. Services are free to attend and are advertised in local newspapers, radio stations and through social media. It is open to people from all communities and other faiths who wish to attend.
 
Respect for all religions and people is central to Alevism consequently inter faith activities are undertaken.
 
Examples of the outward living of the faith include:
 
  • working with local food banks
  • food is provided to all who come to the centres.
  • Participation in conflict resolution initiatives between various groups
  • working in partnership with the police to help bridge cultural gaps
 
The centres provide after school courses in English, maths, science, music, dance and other subjects.
 
Alevism had been taught in a non-faith based primary school for the past 3 years as part of their religious education.
 
Relief of need is dealt with by signposting to relevant organisations.
 
 
Charity Commision
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