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Battal Gazi

Battal GaziBattal Gazi or Seyyid Battal Ghazi was an Arab Muslim, saintly figure and warrior based in Anatolia associated primarily with Malatya, where his father, Hüseyin Gazi, was the ruler during the late Umayyad period in the 8th century. Legends attributed to Battal Gazi form the bulk of the information obtainable on the historic personality which later became an important part in Turkish folk literature. Battal Gazi is buried in Seyitgazi, a town named after him and where he is believed to have been martyred during a siege of the nearby Amorium in Eskişehir Province. Upon the initiative of Ümmühan Hatun, the wife of the Anatolian Seljuk Sultan Gıyaseddin Keyhüsrev I and the mother of Alâeddin Keykubad I, Battal Gazi's tomb was extended into a larger complex. It contained a mosque, a medrese, cells and ceremonial rooms for dervishes including charitable services for the community such as kitchens and a bakery. Later enlarged in length under the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid II's reign. The Seyyid Battal Gazi Complex in Seyitgazi remains a much visited shrine, even though many other sites across Turkey also claim to be burial places for either Battal Gazi or for his father Hüseyin Gazi. A tomb in Divriği and another one in Ankara on top of a hill named after Hüseyin Gazi are the most famous among these shrines thought to contain the remains of Hüseyin Gazi. The district center of Battalgazi in the Malatya Province, formerly Eskimalatya, the previous location of ancient Malatya is 20 kilometers from the modern day city of Malatya was renamed in honor of Battal Gazi where his wife and two children are buried.

Battal GaziRecords depicting the historic personality consists of legends often written in the mesnevi style which bring to light historically correct elements that support each other or are also often contradictory. For example, Battal Gazi is cited as having participated in his twenties in the Second Arab Siege of Constantinople in 718. The legends name his Byzantine enemy as Leon, which could be no other than Leo III the Isaurian, the Emperor during the siege. Battal Gazi was revendicated as an ancestor of Danishmend Gazi in the romantic epic of the Turkish Bey, Danishmendnâme, in which stories relating to the two figures are blended, likely with an intention of stressing the presence of Islam in Anatolia even before the main Turkish advance following the Battle of Manzikert. The verses that compose Danishmendnâme were compiled from Turkish folk literature for the first time by order of the Anatolian Seljuk Sultan Alâeddin Keykubad. Completed a century after Danishmend's death the final form that exists today is a compendium put together under the instructions of the early 15th century Ottoman Sultan Murad II. Battal Gazi remains a highly romanticized figure in modern day urban culture in Turkey. Much of this due to a series of films in which Battal Gazi was immortalized and brought to life using the romanticized movie star features of the Turkish actor Cüneyt Arkın.

Battal GaziThe names of both Hüseyin Gazi and Battal Gazi and the legend of Battal Gazi are well recognized and familiar to all Turks. The books concerning the legend of Battal Gazi have been read and adopted by all Turks in the past centuries. According to legend, Hüseyin Gazi takes an important role in Islamic battles and that he was murdered by Mihriyayil who was the prince of Mamuriye Castle and that his soldiers were the creators of legends of Seyit Battal Gazi’s Islamic acts and adventures. The lineage root that is hung on the entrance door of Seyit Battal Gazi Shrine in Seyit Gazi indicates that their lineage comes from the Caliph Ali. The Shrine consists of a wide courtyard surrounded by walls, a large hall and a small room. Hüseyin Gazi’s grave is about 70 centimeters in width and only 1.5 meters in length with its height being 70 centimeters from the ground. Initially the upper part of the grave was covered in order to preserve it, but the next day it was found open. Thus it was decided that Hüseyin Gazi had not wished his grave covered, so eventually it was left open and only surrounded by the walls around the grave with an iron gate opening to the inside from the courtyard. The large hall being for resting visitors and the small room, even though used for cooking sacrificed meat, has multiple functions.

Battal GaziThere are three more graves in front of the building that are considered to belong to the soldiers of Hüseyin Gazi. Often the graves of historical figures believed to be saints have also been found in other different locations. Many different legends are connected to the saints at these places, but the majority of these legends or stories have many similar points. In Divriği many diverse legends regarding Hüseyin Gazi have been told and with the majority of these being similar in many aspects. According to one of these legends Divriği had defeated three fourth of the enemy forces in a war by himself using his sword. Being forgotten in the war he had stopped to pray and one of the opponent soldiers had surprised him from behind and decapitated Hüseyin Gazi with his sword. But, Hüseyin Gazi did not like the place where he had become a martyr and so was moved to Iğımbat Mount where he lies now with his head. Many variations of this legend are always told by the visitors to the shrine.

Battal GaziBattalgazi is a town in Eastern Anatolia, north of Malatya. Battalgazi was the original location of Malatya, as implied by its local name, Eski Malatya. The settlement in the vicinity—the Arslantepe mound in particular, which lies to the southeast of Battalgazi, close to the town of Orduzu—dates back to the 4th millenium BCE. Divriği is considered to be an important center for invaders to settle and has a long historical past due to being under the sovereignty of Romans, Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottomans. Today there are still many shrines in Divriği that have been visited by Alevies like Hüseyin Gazi, Seyit Baba, Hasan Paşa, Gazi Baba, Ali Baba, Sultan Melek, Kara Yağıb and Garip Musa. The most visited shrine is the Hüseyin Gazi Shrine which is at the top of Iğımbat Mountain in Divriği. There isn’t any shrines belonging to the Sunnis in Divriği as the Sunnis mostly visit the shrines belonging to the Alawis. Hüseyin Gazi and his son Seyit Battal Gazi were famous Turkish commanders who were determined to spread Islam the world over. Huseyin Gazi was a Muslim hero who strove to spread Islam and died while fighting for the sake of his religion. According to the written records and legends, Hüseyin Gazi was born in Malatya. It is believed that both he and Seyit Battal Gazi have several other graves in other locations. In Ankara, Çorum, Afyon, Eskişehir, Kayseri, Malatya and Tunceli there are additional graves that are believed to belong to Hüseyin Gazi and Seyit Battal Gazi.

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