The Turks and Turkmen who rushed into Anatolia from Asia brought with them an understanding of civilization that blended in with the existing values here. The Ahi order, which organized the principles of solidarity and alliance among the tradesmen and the artisans, also improved the social, economic and cultural order in the cultural axes of Anatolia.
Within the time frame in which the Ahi order was formed in Anatolia and spread throughout the region, were there such organizations in the world? Ibn Battuta, one of the most famous travelers of the middle ages, gives a very clear answer to this question: “There is no other organization in the world that can match or even come close to the Ahi order”. This observation of the famous traveler, who analyzed the social, cultural and political aspects of the Islamic World from the west to the east during his travels, which lasted half a century, and who transformed all information regarding that era to the present day through a seeing eye, a questioning tongue and an incredible memory, is very important. The Ahi order is a formation that has brought discipline to all cultural and economic relations from a single person to an entire community, from a small retailer to an entire industry and from the common folk to higher ranks of society, in and around Anatolia. The secret behind the leading position that Anatolian Turkish Civilization had for one hundred years most likely lies behind the Ahi School, which not only handled relations between the people and the commodities, but handled them on a basis of ethics and virtue.
An Inheritance From Seljuks And Beylics (Principalities)
The Ahi order, which handles professional development in three stages, apprenticeship, craftsmanship and mastership, was founded and developed among the Turks living in Mavera’ün Nehr, in Turkistan, during the 5th Century. The Ahi order which was established and developed among the Muslim population in Baghdad during the famous Abbasid Caliph en-Nasır lidinillah’s reign (1180–1225), extended into Anatolia together with the Seljuks, who opened up the way to Anatolia in the 12th century. In the 13th century, the Ahi order undertook serious responsibilities in the organization of the Beylicks in Anatolia, and, most importantly, in the establishment of the Ottoman Empire. The leaders of the Ahi order substantiated a concept rooted from Ahmed Yesevi in the spiritual circle of Mowlana Jalaluddin Rûmi and established an empire that would last for seven centuries. These masters, who reached spiritual and professional maturity, armed with morals of the Ahi order, have been the providers and protectors of love, peace and brotherhood for centuries. In the 13th and 14th centuries, the most important social solidarity and non-governmental organizations in Anatolia were the Ahiyân-ı Rûm, Bacıyân-ı Rûm and Gaziyan-ı Rûm foundations. While women were the members of Bacıyân-ı Rûm, Gaziyan-ı Rûm was busy with conquests. On the other hand, Ahiyân-ı Rûm represented a major influential school as well as a way of life and an understanding of civilization.
The Process Leading To Maturity In The Ahi Order
“Crops cannot be grown without the seed falling in the ground, Those that are modest, are grown by the compassion and mercy of God.”
The maturity process begins with the initiation of an Ahi. The process involves both professional and spiritual training. Respect to the master and discreet devotion to the organization are the basic requirements. The target is to bring up the ‘good man’; to ripen while raw and to mature. The Ahi order aims at achieving these targets both in professional realm and the spiritual realm. Ahi were well versed in a foreign language and theology, and knew swordsmanship for the purpose of protecting the land. Ahis have a set of rules that include more than seven hundred articles, which they must comply with. An Ahi has to be honest in his work, has to obey the requirements of his profession and has to open up his shop on time. The stages of achieving this maturity begins with apprenticeship and continues with craftsmanship, finally becoming a master. Apprenticeship is a long and difficult stage, during which the main principles of the Ahi order are learned, under the guidance of a master. An apprentice who leaves his master without a justifiable cause is never accepted back to the community nor is accepted by another master. It is the responsibility of the master to pass on to the apprentice the skills of the trade, while being loving, caring and patient towards them, so that they may complete their vocational training. The initiates who spend 1001 days with a master are raised to the level of the apprentice with an accompanying ceremony. While apprenticeship in fields such as medicine and jewelry making, which require extensive skill and accumulation of knowledge, takes as long as twenty years, the period in other fields is generally two years. The Ahis that pass these stages, from apprentice to craftsman , generally remains in the interim for about six months to a year. Following a successful examination, after “apron wearing” and “salt handling and tasting” ceremonies, the Ahi is deemed competent to set up his own business. Those Ahis who are short of capital for setting up their own business overcome this hurdle with the support of their master, the organization and the community and proceed on their way to becoming a master.
A master who has worked directly with his young apprentice for years, molding him into the master he has finally become, expresses his feelings in Ahi mannerism, as follows:
“Get hold of the rock and turn it into gold,
May God make you glorious in both Worlds,
May the business you make be propitious,
May your livelihood be plenty, may you not experience hardship or trouble,
Take the advice of the scientists and business leaders, obey my words,
Consider the rights of your mother, father, teachers and masters; never be unfair”.
Then comes the time for the craft to remove his apprentice’s apron and to wear his master’s apron.
Dedication to the Ahi order and support given by emperors such as Osman Gazi, Orhan Gazi, Süleyman Çelebi and Murad I, has helped the Ahi population to grow and spread through Anatolia in a very short time.
Ahi Evran, founder of Ahi community in Anatolia, established the Ahi order in the 13th Century, in Kırşehir. There are many myths and sagas relayed to this mentor. Believed to have lived in Denizli, Kayseri and Kırşehir, Ahi Evran was a tanner by profession.
From The Ahi Order
“Get hold of the rock and turn it into gold. May God make you glorious in both worlds. May the business you make be propitious.
Take the advice of the scientists and business leaders and obey my words.