ABOUT TEKKE

The Tekija was built on a solid rocky soil at the right side of the source of the Buna river, one of the biggest in Europe. A very high cliff stretches above the Tekija for some 240 meters. On top of that cliff lie the remains of Stjepan Vukcic-Kosaca’s fort-town dating back to the Middle Ages. The complex was damaged more than once because of rocks collapsing. The European nettle trees that grow from the cracks of the cliff above the Tekija significantly contribute to the frequency of the collapses. It is a well-known fact that the Tekija was rebulit after each of these unfortunate events, on multiple occasions such as: during the first half of the 17th century, in 1716.,1871.,1923., 1949., 1951., 1972. and 2011.

The primary purpse of the structure was to serve as a dervish Zikr praise-chanting (praising God and His names) venue, while the musafirhana (guest house) has a profane purpose.

The Tekija complex contained the following buildings (in the direction heading to the source of the river): in the front was a building with the same height as the Tekija today, in the back was another smaller building, after which was a domed mosque. These structures were then followed by present buildings, the turbe of Sari Saltuk and the Acik-basa and the Tekija itself. All five facilities made up the unique architectural complex.

During the reconstruction of the complex in 1952., the Institute for Protection of Cultural Monuments inhumed the remains of all other facilities except the Teija itself. The ruined facilities of the complex were rebuilt in 2012., following expert analysis of the dilapidated architectural complex.

Kompleks blagajske tekije

The Construction System Accoring to the Sufi Teachings

There is a dominant belief within the dervish orders, applied to the construction of Tekija, which holds that the surrounidng environment is a part of the overall worship of God and a part of Tekija itself.

Tekija itself is surrounded by unique natural gardens and vegetation as well as distinctive fauna.

According to numerical standards, the areas of Bosnian Tekijas is primarily determined by seven principles:

  • the house,
  • staircase,
  • water (still body of water and waterfall),
  • rock,
  • river spring,
  • tomb and
  • cave.

These seven factors are connected via a path
in a cosmological order.

Acctually, it is simply a case of repect towards historical facts , previous revelation, and different traditional guidelines which don’t collide with the teachings of Islam, as was recommended by Prophet Mohammad s.a.v.s.

Arhitectural Elements of the Tekija In Blagaj

The Blagaj Tekija was a place of permanent residence of some dervishes, which is a unique example in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Basically, compared to a monastic lifestyle within Christian monasteries, the dervishes in the Tekijas don’t live there, but merely gather there at a certain times due to a joint prayer and worship. The Tekija in Blagaj was an exception to the rule because it belonged to the Bektashi order, which fostered a monastic lifestyle.

The following sections were built within the complex:

  1. Turbe (a house-shaped structure built around the tomb)
  2. Mejdan odaja (predavaonica)
  3. Mejdan chamber (lecture hall)
  4. Imaret – coffee room, dining hall
  5. Ribat
  6. Hamam – Bathroom
  7. Čila
  8. Semahana
  9. Domed mosque
  10. Ablution facilities and toilet
  11. Kitchen – mutvaka
  12. Bozadžinica (summer cooler nest to the water)
Obredna zgrada blagajske tekije

The Last Reconstruction of the Architectural Complex of the Blagaj Tekke

After the reconstruction of the Old Bridge in Mostar, the next logical step was to begin the procedure reconstructing the second national monument in the Mostar area, a worldwide known traditional bosnian structure – the tekke in Blagaj.

The Islamic Community of Mostar drafted the conceptual solution for the reconstruction of the facilities surrounding the present tekke building.

Archeological research was done from 2008. to 2011.

The reconstruction project was completed by prof. dr. Amir Pasic, with the help of computer technology and results of arcehological research, geodesic records and available photographs. The main three-storey facility acts as an entrance to the main court of the Tekke and connects the other rooms withing the guest room.

The tekke Arhitecture

The second known restoration by significance happened in 1851.

The scale of the restoration was big and in accordance with popular wievs on architectural designs of the time. The building obtained features of Turkish baroque style, which makes it an important and rare representation of this architectural style in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Today’s Blagaj tekke contains baroque features presented in its oval roof on the front faccade under which a teslim-tas was constructed, the polychromed ceiling of the semahana and its door as well as some other decorative elements. Nevertheless, the baroque elements were merely added to the existing structure, built in a traditional style.

The interior layout of the rooms is organized with respect towards all the elements of the holy geometry, which means that each element requires additional explanation. Furthermore, each detail in the tekke has its precisely defined logic. However, it seems as if the last two reconstructions have partially renounced this type of dervish symbolism.

Dhikr

When it refferes to the spirit, DHIKR means “remembering”, and when it refferes to a linguistic meaning, it means “to mention”. As a religious expression it means “glorifying Allah by using standardized repetitive phrases, usually chanted out loud, but not neccessarily, accompanied by a specific breating rythm and physical movements. The tradition is based on the 33rd surah, verse 41 from the Qur’an:

„O believers! Remember Allah much“. There is also a traditional saying from the time of Mohammah s.a.v.s. which states: „There is no company which mentions and praises Allah and is not surrounded by angels and covered by God’s grace. And the glorious Allah remembers them, as well as those who are with them…“

Dhikr is consisted of multiple repetitive phrases such as:

  • La ilahe illallah, (There is no God except Allah),
  • Subhanallah, (Praise Allah),
  • Al-hamdulullah, (May all thanks be to Allah),
  • Bismillah (In the name of God/Allah),
  • Lillah, (Everything belongs to Allah),
  • Allahu ekber, (Allah is above all),
  • Estagfirullah, (I seek forgivness from Allah),
  • as well as some of 99 Allah’s names.

Spiritual chants can be considered a ritual. All dervishes must attend regular gatherings (halka) according to the set tariqah schedule. Aside from the set phrases, the derivshes also repeat extended parts from the Holy Qur’an.

What is Islam?

The word Islam is an Arabic word which means peaceful, dedicated and willing submission to the will and way of God. So Islam is a complete way of life based upon a voluntary relationship between an individual and his Creator.

It is the way of life ordained by God which was taught by each of His prophets and messengers such as Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and finally Muhammad s.a.v.s. Islam emphasizes the exclusive worship of the one God who created the entire universe and to whom all creations will eventually return.

What is Tariqa and the Tekke?

The word Tariqa is an Arabic word which means path, road. Within the circles of muslim mysticism it acquired two meanings. In the 9th century it was the method of moral psychology used to practically intoroduce a person into mystical feelings. Later it became a baseline for a system of sermons and ceremonies intended for a spiritual upraisal within different mystical (dervish) orders. The members of the Tariqah get ready for a state of spiritual concentration needed for serene solitude, through which people try to experience reality with their own heart.

Tariqat is a life based on a set of specific rules, aside from the standard rules of Islam. The location and facilities used for dervish gatherings within a Tariqat (order) were named Tekija. The teaching which developed in the Tariqats was named Sufism. It is based on two beliefs: devoted performance of religious rites (cermons) which result in a spiritual mercy of an extrasensory reality and the „knowledge of the heart“ which results in wisdom of the soul based on experience. The Sufis believe that the „knowledge of the heart“ marks the path to God.

There are tenths Tariqah orders around the muslim world. That number was reduced in Bosnia and Herzegovina to only a few usual ones. The Blagaj Tekija was the gathering location for the following dervish orders: the Bektashi, Khalwati, Mevlevi, Qadiri, Naqshbandi.

The Dervish Dhikr

Before the Second World War the tasawwuf almost completely disappeared in Blagaj. Only a few people, whose names are known to recent history, practiced this kind of religious sermons.

Since the reactivation of the Tekija, the interest in dhikr continued to grow, especially after the last war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Today there are two halka (groups) of derivshes who hold dhikr prayers three times a week.

The Blagaj Dervish Mawlid

Muslim pilgrimage sites were built upon medieval traditions of the bogomil prayers and muslim doowa (supplication). They are specific sites for men, women, adults and the young to gather in the spring and pray to the Allmighty God for welfare on this world and the next. That kind of tradition set the foundation for a traditional dervish mawlid (celebration of the birth of the prophet Mohammad s.a.v.s.) at the source of the river Buna in the Blagaj Tekija.

The pilgrimage site in Blagaj brings together the old tradition of gathering next to river sources, mountaing ranges, graves of piuous people, specific natural environments and important historical events in these areas. The pilgrimage site at source of the river Buna represents one of the strongest links muslims from Bosnia and Herzegovina have with their history and the people who left and impotent mark on it. The Blagaj pilgrimage site, with its annual mawlid gathering is, according to the calendar of the Islamic Community, the second in significance after the Ajvatovica (pilgrimage site and religious event). The date of the mawlid is traditionally set as the second Saturday in May.

This post is also available in: Bosnian Turkish

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