Vol.14, No.2 | [Article] Folk Song and Islamic Ritual Music: Sorrow of Mersiye in Alevi-Bektaşi



The characteristic of alevi-bektaşi is the combination of Sufism, Shi’ism, and shamanism. They use music very similar to Anatolian folk songs for their rituals, however, their music expresses Islamic beliefs and ideology and is not employed merely as a ‘folk song’, but as a ‘religious practice’.
This article focuses on mersiye, one of the songs sung in the Alevi-Bektaşi ritual, and considers the connection between Islamic belief and folk culture. Comparing the musical contents and place of performance of mersiye, which laments the martyrdom of Imam Hüseyin, with those of ağıt (lament in folk song in Turkey) allows the characteristics of mersiye to be identified. The article analyzes the depiction of mourning in the Islamic tradition through musical devices and the social role of singing the song.