The Bektashi order was founded in 1256 when Persian Hajji Bektash Wali organized the first Bektashi monastery and went on to flourish at the height of the Ottoman Empire.
Bektashis practice their own form of Islam that is closer to Shi’ite rather then Sunni beliefs and permits the use of alcohol.
By the end of the 18th century it had become the leading dervish order in both size and influence in Albania and is an example of the cultural currents that entered the Albanian-speaking parts of the Balkans during Ottoman times, often brought in by Albanians who had come into contact with those currents while in Ottoman service abroad.
The Bektashis played an important role in the Albanian national movement in the late 19th century and called upon the different religious communities to put their confessional differences aside in the interest of national unity. One key to their expansion was the practice of adopting certain Christian practices and “sharing” religious buildings and saints with Christian communities, so that the distinction between the religions in question often became blurred.
When Kemal Ataturk banned Sufi orders from Turkey in 1925, much of the Bektashi leadership moved to Tirana. Like all religions in Albania, it was banned by the communists in 1967 and revived only after the collapse of communism in 1990-1991. It was greatly helped in its revival by the generous support of its co-religionists abroad, in this case the Bektashi community in Detroit in the United States.