An Oral Text Belonging to the Badakhshan Ismailis: Guharriz




Ismailism, Badakhshan, Central Asia, Alevism, Guharriz


The Badakhshan Ismaili tradition, which originated in the south-eastern parts of Central Asia, in the region of the Hindu Kush, Pamir and Karakorum mountain ranges, not only copied various written orthodox Ismaili texts internally over the centuries, but also produced various oral works like the Anatolian Alevi tradition, belonged to a heterodox (belonging to the “periphery” rather than the “center”) community. In this study, I will try to analyze Guharriz among these texts. Guharriz’s literary and intellectual level is not high, as it is a work that emerged from the region itself. It contains many spelling mistakes. Although it is written in prose, it also contains poems, most of which are attributed to Nasir- i Khusraw. Its importance for us is that it is the most useful work produced in the region in terms of providing not only theological but also historical clues for our understanding of a mountainous heterodox Alevi-Ismaili society dominated by oral tradition. The fact that some of the elements in the text, such as the stories about creation, are just like those in the Alevi Buyruk texts, is also important for us, as it provides us with a kind of laboratory that can enable us to look at Anatolian Alevism from another perspective. Both traditions ascribe divinity to Ahmad Yassawi - the Badakhshan Ismaili tradition in Cheraghname, the Alevi-Bektashi tradition in Vilayetname-. In our opinion, the only difference between Bedakhshan Ismailism and Anatolian Alevism is that one is officially affiliated to an Ismaili state and therefore its religious identity is registered as Shiite and there is no doubt among scholars about its affiliation, whereas the other emerged historically in a Sufi environment after the Mongol invasions and therefore is not officially affiliated to any Shiite state and there is still controversy about which religious identity it belongs to. Apart from the debate over which religious identity they belong to, they are very similar in terms of tradition and the oral material they produce. Guharriz is one of the main works that provides us with this.


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How to Cite

Ay, Z. 2024. An Oral Text Belonging to the Badakhshan Ismailis: Guharriz. Journal of Alevism-Bektashism Studies. 29 (Jun. 2024), 20–36. DOI: