Median Jews are not Muslims

Islam is a religion with four branches, Sunni, Shia, Ibadi (in Oman) and Mutazili. There are four surviving schools (Arabic: madhhab) within Sunni Islamic jurisprudence (Arabic: fiqh). These are Hanafi, Hanbali, Maliki and Shafi’i. In addition are there the heterodox Sunni Ahmadiyya who believe that the expected Mahdi (messiah) has already arrived. Ahmadiyya are nevertheless practicing Muslims. There are three surviving branches of Shia Islam. These are Ismailis, Twelvers and Zaydis. Sufis exist among Muslims generally. All the above groups adhere to sharia in their daily life, read the Quran, revere the hadiths (hagiographic literature about the prophet Muhammad) and are practicing Muslims.

Core Median Judaism (Alawism, Alevism, Alianism, Bektashism, Druzism, Yarsanism and Yezidism) were in the Middle Ages called “ghulat” in Arabic, meaning “extremist” due to them sometimes pretending to be so called “extremist shiites”. However, the previous historical layers (Assyrian, Median, Zoroastrian, Hellenistic and Christian) remain in their historical practices and it is clear that they are anything but Shia Muslims as they completely reject sharia, do not revere the hadiths and do not read the Quran. There is nothing Muslim about Median Judaism except for some syncretic elements borrowed from Islam, mostly pro forma references to Islamic figures and Islamic concepts historically introduced to evade forcible conversion to Islam by sometimes posing as so called “extremist shiites”. But Median Judaism similarly borrowed from previous incarnations of religious imperialism in the region and in many cases to some degree retains those very syncretic elements. 

Median Jews need education about the history and evolution of Median Judaism and core Median Judaism needs to be reformed to remove the non-Jewish syncretic elements as incorporated during the various eras of religious imperialism. At the same time should local surviving Jewish customs be brought back into the mainstream of the various denominations of Median Judaism which should also borrow from each other.

The government of Israel will likely not officially recognize Median Judaism and Median Jewry as long as there is a real threat that the AKP regime will impede Median Jewish emigration to Israel and that threat may possibly remain for as long as the AKP remains in power. Official Israeli recognition of Median Jewry as Jews will ignite great waves of Anti-Semitic hatred and possibly persecution throughout Turkish-speaking parts of Turkey but not likely in Iran where the population is pro-Jewish. However, with no way of protecting these tens of millions of Jews would it be irresponsible of Israel to prematurely officially recognize Median Jewry and Median Judaism.

Much is at stake in the power struggle between the AKP (the Turkish branch of the Muslim Brotherhood) and the Dönmeh-led Derin Devlet (Turkish for ‘Deep State’) as Median Jews including the Dönmeh (who are part of the Bektashi order) are potentially under threat of genocide if the Muslim Brotherhood takes full control over Turkey. This struggle may take many years and even decades and we should keep in mind that the struggle for the right of Soviet Jewry to emigrate lasted many, many years. This is not an overt struggle, but a covert one, but still an epic struggle in the history of the ancient-modern multicultural, multiethnic, multiracial and multireligious diverse Jewish nation.

Published by Daniella Bartfeld

Daniella Bartfeld is the founding director of the Aliyah Organization

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