First Albanian Bektashi Monastery (CJ)

Information about this center is no longer updated. This data was last updated on 20 March 2013.

Phone: 734-287-3646
[flickr_set id="72157621942944068"] Research conducted by The University of Michigan-Dearborn Pluralism Project.

Sufi Order

Bektashi is one of the Sufi orders within Islam, stressing that the individual's personal relationship with God can be accomplished spiritually. As a more liberal sect of Islam, Bektashism emphasizes the equality of men and women, allowing them to practice the religion together

History of the Order

Bektashism was organized in 1256 by the Holy Haxhi Bektash Veliu, and in that same year organized the first Bektashi monastery, or tekke. At the height of the Ottoman Empire, the Bektashi order had the support of several sultans, and as a consequence the order spread through out the Balkans, especially Albania. As the empire began to decline, persecution of the Bektashi began. One place where many could find some measure of safety was the Balkans. Torn by war and economic decline, however, people began to leave this region in the twentieth century, and many came to the United States in search of economic opportunity. Money was sent back to families in the region and individuals returned for periodic visits. In 1944, when the Albanian monarchy was abolished and a communist government came to power, Albania was declared an atheist state and closed its borders to the outside world. Albanian Bektashis in American, thus, were faced with a new reality and in time came to see the United States as their new homeland.

Development of the Center

In 1953, a group of fifteen people gathered at St. Andrew's Hall in downtown Detroit and proposed the establishment of a tekke. A member of the Bektashi order, Qani Prespa, located a farmhouse with eighteen acres of land for sale on the outskirts of Detroit. The original fifteen pooled their resources and bought the property for $25,000. Knowing of an Albanian Bektashi dervish (monk) who was living in New York, the fifteen contacted him about becoming the dervish of the Detroit tekke. Dervish Rexhebi agreed, and in 1954, with an Ashura ceremony attended by some 200 people, the tekke officially opened. Dervish Rexhebi's dedication and commitment to the Albanian Bektashi led to his elevation to the rank of Baba.

Description of the Center

The purpose of the tekke is to offer the possibility of spiritual growth by coming closer to God through a relationship with the Baba. To serve its members, the Detroit tekke has a private ritual hall, a meeting room, library, large kitchen, the Baba's quarters, and guest rooms. When Baba Rexhebi died in 1996, a large mausoleum was built on the grounds for his burial.

Albanian Community

The tekke has close relationships with other Albanian Muslims in Detroit. There is a cordial, but not as strong a relationship, with the Albanian Catholic community. Nevertheless, individuals from all of these centers attend functions of the Albanian American National organization.