Not to be confused with Illuminationism.

Ishikism, [pron: 'Ishik-ism] (Turkish: Işıkçılık) or Ishik Alevism (Işık Aleviliği), also known as Chinarism (Çınarcılık), is a syncretic religious movement among Alevis who have developed an alternative understanding of Alevism and its history. These alternative interpretations and beliefs were inspired by Turkish writer Erdoğan Çınar with the publication of his book Aleviliğin Gizli Tarihi (The Secret History of Alevism) in 2004.

The Ishik movement claim that the term "Alevi" is derived from the old Anatolian Luvians, claiming that the word "Luvi" means "People of light" in the Hittite language. Some Ottoman documents from the 16th century refer to the ancestors of today's Alevis as "Işık Taifesi", meaning "People of Light". This is, according to Ishikīs, a proof of the connection between the Luvians and Alevis.

Mainstream Alevis reject all of this. They consider the term "Alevi" to mean "follower of Ali", as in the Arabic word ‘Alawī (علوي). They further consider themselves followers of the teachings and practices of 13th century Alevi saint Haji Bektash Veli.


Ishikīs consider themselves to be esotericists, claiming that Alevism is Esotericism itself, meaning that they identify themselves with every type of esotericism in history (e.g. Jewish esotericists, Christian esotericists, Islamic and Pagan esotericism etc.)

They claim that Alevis is the oldest religion in the world, that has changed shapes throughout time. This "First and True Religion" of the world, is claimed to have been the main source for all other religions and beliefs in the world:

It has now been brought into the open with all its truth, that Alevism, with its tens of thousands of years of history, has influenced all beliefs and has been the Original Source (the so-called "Serçeşme" - meaning "Beginning Spot of Fountain") of the celestial religions.
Erdoğan Çınar in: Aleviliğin Gizli Tarihi, 2004.[1]

The Ishikīs also claim that the religious ceremonies practiced by Alevis were practiced as early as by the Hittites and even by the Sumerians. According to Ishikīs, medieval Christian sects as Paulicianism, Bogomilism etc. were also Alevis. A good example of this belief can be found in the translation of the book The Cathars: The Most Successful Heresy of the Middle Ages[2] (2005) by Sean Martin. Even though the original English version does not contain the word "Alevi", the Turkish translator has translated the title of the book as Ortaçağ'da Avrupa'da Alevi Hareketi - Katharlar (An Alevi Movement in The Middle Ages – The Cathars).[3]

Historical beliefs

Compared to traditional Alevism, the most striking differences of the Ishik movement are their interpretation of history. The Ishik movement claims that Alevis have changed their apparent identity several times in history in order to survive. According to Ishikī belief, heretic sects like the Paulicians and Bogomils were actually Alevis compelled to appear as Christians because of the Byzantine oppression. Likewise the modern Alevis have gained an Islamic appearance because of the Ottoman oppression.

Ishikī thought is convinced that most heterodox groups are inventions as a result of oppression, meaning that groups like the Ghulāt, Ahl-e Haqq, Ismā'īlī, Nusayrī Alawism and Bektashism are in reality separate from real Islam.


The Ishikī versus Traditionalist split has caused a deep gap in Alevi society. This is the first time in centuries that Alevis have experienced such a great split in terms of beliefs.

Ishikī Dedes

Even though most dedes are still traditionalists, some of them have eventually adopted Ishikī thought. The first dedes who openly declared their non-traditionalist beliefs were Ali Haydar Cilasun, with the publication of his book Alevilik Bir Sır Değildir (Alevism is Not a Secret) in 1995, and Hasan Kılavuz in 2003. The latter is now one of the prominent figures in the Alevi Confederation of Europe (AABK) and its television channel YOL TV.

Ishikī organizations

The Ishik movement have succeeded in becoming very influential in important and powerful Alevi organizations. The Alevi Confederation of Europe (AABK) for instance, has abandoned its traditional Alevi beliefs in 2006, which it replaced with a marginal Ishikī type of understanding.[8] Recently some Alevi organizations in Turkey have also changed their definitions of Alevism.

See also


  1. "Aleviliğin, on binlerce yıllık geçmişten gelen, bütün inanışları etkilemiş, semavi dinlere başlangıç oluşturmuş asıl kaynak, "Serçeşme", olduğunu bütün gerçekliğiyle ortaya çıkartıyor." in: Çınar 2007
  2. Sean Martin (2005). The Cathars: The Most Successful Heresy of the Middle Ages. Pocket Essentials.
  3. Sean Martin (2005). Ortaçağ'da Avrupa'da Alevi Hareketi – Katharlar [An Alevi Movement in The Middle Ages – The Cathars]. Kalkedon.
  4. Hamza Aksüt (9 March 2009). "Çınar'dan uyarı: 'Her flörtün sonu evlilikle bitmez'". renkhaber. Archived from the original on 19 March 2009.
  5. Ünsal Öztürk (10 March 2009). "Yazın hayatının tanımadığı bir facia: Erdoğan Çınar". renkhaber. Archived from the original on 21 January 2010.
  6. Harmancı, Hamza (2010). Alevi Tarih Yazımında Skandal. Yurt Kitap Yayın.
  7. Video on YouTube
  8. "AABF ve AABK yeni proğram değişikliği ile Aleviliği kuşa çevirmeye devam ediyor!". Alevi Yolu. 15 January 2007. Archived from the original on 26 January 2008.


Further reading

The primary sources of Ishikism are the works of the Turkish writer Erdoğan Çınar:

But he has also gained the support of other writers as well:

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