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The Cemevis


According to this branch of Shiism, the cemevis are Alevi houses of worship that have significant importance in Alevi Islam. A cemevi literally means “a house of gathering” that usually is a place for gatherings of Alevis where men and women hold the traditional worship ceremony called ‘cem’, a paradigm of Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) ascent to the heavens, that includes performance of twelve services called ‘Semah’ or ‘Samah’

Traditional Cems and the foundations of Cemevis

Traditionally, the cem were held in open spaces at night using candles and lamps, accompanied by a sacred meal, known as Lokma, that would be distributed by the people attending the cem from nearby areas. Over time and due to urbanization of communities, these cems started to take place in buildings, later becoming the main Alevi houses of worship, where other cultural activities could be held along for the Alevi people. Today, these places are known as cemevis that are multi-story buildings with a broad range of facilities to enable these such cultural and religious activities.

Cemevis in Istanbul

With about 18 million Alevi Muslims living in Turkey, Istanbul is the main hub of these Cemevis apart from Britain, the home to British Alevi Federation. According to some sources, there are more than 300 cemevis in Turkey. Some of these Alevi houses of worship that are located in the city of Istanbul are:

  • Erikli Baba Cemevi
  • Kartal Cemevi
  • Şahkulu Sultan Cem Kültür Merkez
  • Yenibosna Cemevi
  • Gazi Cemevi
  • Sarigazi Cemevi
  • Tuzla Aydınlıköy Cemevi
  • Gürpınar Cemevi
  • Haramidere Cemevi

Cemvis in the United Kingdom

In the UK, The British Alevi Federation is the organization that has established cemevis and cultural centers for around three hundred thousand Alevis Muslims living in the United Kingdom. These Cemevis are located in Bournemouth, Croydon, Doncaster, Edinburg, Glasgow, Harrow, Hull, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle,  Newport, Northamptonshire, Nottingham, Sheffield and York.


Apart from the traditional ‘cem’ ceremonies, these new Alevi houses of prayers also provide facilities to undertake other cultural, educational, sports and musical activities. These include:

  • Yoga and Exercises
  • Piano and Guitar classes
  • Science Education
  • Courses on Mathematics
  • Dance Classes
  • Theological Studies
  • Semah Education
  • Translation and Counselling Services


The main aim behind these cemevis is to preserve the cultural heritage of the Alevis by linking the older generations to the young Alevi Muslims and to impart education of Alevism including the teaching of twelve Imams and their founder Haji Bektash Veli. These centers also aim to provide necessary social and recreational activities while supporting and advising the community to maintain harmony.


Britanya Alevi Federasyonu

IAKM England

Wikipedia 2021, Jem (Alevism), accessed 22nd August 2021

Wikipedia 2021, Cemevi, accessed 22nd August 2021


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