Menzil's new era: Politics and trade forbidden
By Busra Cebeci
The death of Menzil leader Abdulbaki Erol has not brought peace to the sect. His eldest son, Muhammed Saki Erol, said his father had chosen him to take over Menzil and sent instructions to his followers for the sect's new era, which now includes a ban on politics and trade within the lodges.
"We kept quiet"
Following the death of Menzil Sheik Erol, news of a split within the sect spread quickly. While the Sheikh's eldest son, Muhammad Saki Erol, was expected to assume leadership, his brothers Mubarak and Fettah Erol also declared their leadership. It was left to the followers to pledge allegiance to the son to whom they felt closest as their Sheikh.
Muhammed Saki Erol was the first of the three brothers to break his silence, sending a text of instructions to his followers outlining the rules and prohibitions for the new era of Menzil. This text is a manifesto rather than a set of instructions.
Erol began by stating that his father had chosen him to take over the village of Menzil and expressed his discomfort with the direction of the sect over the past decade. He said: "Over the past ten years, we have witnessed a departure from the core values of our path. We have remained silent to spare His Holiness Gavs any distress. We have deviated from our primary duty during these years. We will focus again on our main duty, which is to engage in irşad activities".
New leader's criticism
Erol's rules and prohibitions reveal differences of opinion between him and his brothers. For example, before Erol's death, Mubarak Erol held the title of "president" over all lodges affiliated with Menzil. Saki Erol, however, explicitly forbade this title, considering it incompatible with Sufism.
In addition, raising funds for projects such as hospitals, complexes, universities and land was a tradition among followers. Saki Erol denounced this practice, stating that it was not in the spirit of Sufism, and he "absolutely" prohibited any collection of money other than the dues required to cover the expenses of the dervish lodges affiliated with him.
In addition, selling products from companies belonging to the Menzil sect had been commonplace within the dervish lodges for years. Saki Erol also banned all forms of trade.
Another notable aspect of the text is its explicit distance from politics. The sect had previously instructed its followers to vote 'yes' in the 2010 referendum on constitutional amendments and expressed support for the AKP (Justice and Development Party) in the subsequent elections. However, Erol declared unconditional loyalty to the state and banned political discussion within the dervish lodges.
"We will return to the ways of our past"
Erol had previously stated on his official Twitter account that they would no longer publish Semerkand publications but would use their own Dehlevi publications. He reiterated this decision in his instructions.
There have also been allegations that Erol's brothers, Mubarak and Fattah Erol, may be acting in concert against him. His enigmatic Twitter post, alluding to the story of Joseph being thrown into a well by his brothers, adds to speculation about possible more profound disagreements between the siblings.