Alawite

Alawite

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The Alawis, also known as Alawites, Nusayris and Ansaris (‘Alawīyyah , , and ) are a prominent mystical
Mysticism
Mysticism is the knowledge of, and especially the personal experience of, states of consciousness, i.e. levels of being, beyond normal human perception, including experience and even communion with a supreme being.-Classical origins:...

 and syncretic
Syncretism
Syncretism is the combining of different beliefs, often while melding practices of various schools of thought. The term means "combining", but see below for the origin of the word...

 religious group centred in Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 who are a branch of Shia Islam.

Etymology


The Alawis take their name from
{{about|the minority religious group in Syria}}
The Alawis, also known as Alawites, Nusayris and Ansaris (‘Alawīyyah {{lang-ar|علوية}}, {{Unicode|Nuṣayrī}} {{lang-ar|نصيريون}}, and {{Unicode|al-Anṣāriyyah}}) are a prominent
mystical
Mysticism
Mysticism is the knowledge of, and especially the personal experience of, states of consciousness, i.e. levels of being, beyond normal human perception, including experience and even communion with a supreme being.-Classical origins:...

 and syncretic
Syncretism
Syncretism is the combining of different beliefs, often while melding practices of various schools of thought. The term means "combining", but see below for the origin of the word...

 religious group centred in Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 who are a branch of Shia Islam.

Etymology


The Alawis take their name from
{{about|the minority religious group in Syria}}
The Alawis, also known as Alawites, Nusayris and Ansaris (‘Alawīyyah {{lang-ar|علوية}}, {{Unicode|Nuṣayrī}} {{lang-ar|نصيريون}}, and {{Unicode|al-Anṣāriyyah}}) are a prominent
mystical
Mysticism
Mysticism is the knowledge of, and especially the personal experience of, states of consciousness, i.e. levels of being, beyond normal human perception, including experience and even communion with a supreme being.-Classical origins:...

 and syncretic
Syncretism
Syncretism is the combining of different beliefs, often while melding practices of various schools of thought. The term means "combining", but see below for the origin of the word...

 religious group centred in Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 who are a branch of Shia Islam.

Etymology


The Alawis take their name from {{Unicode
Ali
' |Ramaḍān]], 40 AH; approximately October 23, 598 or 600 or March 17, 599 – January 27, 661).His father's name was Abu Talib. Ali was also the cousin and son-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and ruled over the Islamic Caliphate from 656 to 661, and was the first male convert to Islam...

 cousin and son-in-law of {{Unicode
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

, who was the first Shi'a Imam
Imamah (Shi'a doctrine)
Imāmah is the Shia doctrine of religious, spiritual and political leadership of the Ummah. The Shīa believe that the A'immah are the true Caliphs or rightful successors of Muḥammad, and further that Imams are possessed of divine knowledge and authority as well as being part of the Ahl al-Bayt,...

 and the fourth and last "Rightly Guided Caliph" of Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam is the largest branch of Islam. Sunni Muslims are referred to in Arabic as ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah wa āl-Ǧamāʿah or ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah for short; in English, they are known as Sunni Muslims, Sunnis or Sunnites....

.

Until fairly recently Alawis were referred to as "Nusairis", named after Abu Shu'ayb Muhammad ibn Nusayr
Ibn Nusayr
Abu Shu'ayb Muhammad ibn Nusayr was the pupil of the eleventh Twelver Shi'a Imam, Hasan al Askari . Ibn Nusayr proclaimed himself the "bab" or door of al-Askari and later the twelfth Imam Muhammad al-Mahdi during the Minor Occultation, and rejected the authority of the Four Deputies during his...

  (d. ca 270 h, 863 AD) who is reported to have attended the circles of the last three Imams
Imamah (Shi'a doctrine)
Imāmah is the Shia doctrine of religious, spiritual and political leadership of the Ummah. The Shīa believe that the A'immah are the true Caliphs or rightful successors of Muḥammad, and further that Imams are possessed of divine knowledge and authority as well as being part of the Ahl al-Bayt,...

 of the prophet Muhammad's line. This name is considered derogatory, and they refer to themselves as Alawis.{{Page needed|date=December 2010}} They have allegedly "generally preferred" to be called 'Alawis, because of its association with 'Ali ibn Abi Talib, rather than Abu Shu'ayb Muhammad Ibn Nusayr. In September 1920, French occupational forces instituted the policy of referring to them by the term "'Alawi".

In older sources they are often referred to as Ansari
Ansari
Ansari may refer to:* Ansari , list of people with this surname* Khwaja Abdullah Ansari , Persian Muslim scholar and Sufi* Momin Ansari, a Muslim ethnic group found in South Asia* Ansari, an alternate term for Alawis...

s, as this is how they referred to themselves, according to the Reverend Samuel Lyde, who lived among Alawis in the mid-19th century. Another source states that "Ansari", as referring to Alawites, is simply a Western mistransliteration of Nosairi.{{Page needed|date=December 2010}}

Alawis are distinct from the Turkish-based Alevi
Alevi
The Alevi are a religious and cultural community, primarily in Turkey, constituting probably more than 15 million people....

religious sect, although the terms share similar etymologies.

History


{{Shia Islam}}

The origin of the Alawis is disputed. The Alawis themselves trace their origins to the followers of the eleventh Imām
Imamah (Shi'a doctrine)
Imāmah is the Shia doctrine of religious, spiritual and political leadership of the Ummah. The Shīa believe that the A'immah are the true Caliphs or rightful successors of Muḥammad, and further that Imams are possessed of divine knowledge and authority as well as being part of the Ahl al-Bayt,...

, Hassan al-'Askarī (d. 873), and his pupil {{Unicode
Ibn Nusayr
Abu Shu'ayb Muhammad ibn Nusayr was the pupil of the eleventh Twelver Shi'a Imam, Hasan al Askari . Ibn Nusayr proclaimed himself the "bab" or door of al-Askari and later the twelfth Imam Muhammad al-Mahdi during the Minor Occultation, and rejected the authority of the Four Deputies during his...

 (d. 868).

The sect seems to have been organised by a follower of {{Unicode|Muḥammad ibn Nuṣayr}} known as al-Khasibi
Al-Khaṣībī
Abu ʿAbd-Allāh Ḥusayn ibn Ḥamdān al-Junbalānī , mostly known as al-Khaṣībī Abu ʿAbd-Allāh Ḥusayn ibn Ḥamdān al-Junbalānī , mostly known as al-Khaṣībī Abu ʿAbd-Allāh Ḥusayn ibn Ḥamdān al-Junbalānī , mostly known as al-Khaṣībī (? - 969 (although the Encyclopedia Britannia cites 957 or 968 as two...

, who died in Aleppo
Aleppo
Aleppo is the largest city in Syria and the capital of Aleppo Governorate, the most populous Syrian governorate. With an official population of 2,301,570 , expanding to over 2.5 million in the metropolitan area, it is also one of the largest cities in the Levant...

 about 969. In 1032 Al-Khaṣībī's grandson and pupil al-Tabarani moved to Latakia, which was then controlled by the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

. Al-Tabarani became the perfector of the Alawi faith through his numerous writings. He and his pupils converted the rural population of the Syrian Coastal Mountain Range
Al-Ansariyah mountains
An-Nusayriyah Mountains also known as al-Alawiyeen Mountains , both names refer to the Alawi sect which has traditionally lived there, and the Syrian official name, Coastal Mountain Range ; are a mountain range in northwestern Syria running north-south, parallel to the coastal plain...

 and the plain of Cilicia
Cilicia
In antiquity, Cilicia was the south coastal region of Asia Minor, south of the central Anatolian plateau. It existed as a political entity from Hittite times into the Byzantine empire...

 to the Alawi faith. Samuel Lyde believed the population was of ancient Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

ite origins, but that parts had come from where the sect originated.{{Page needed|date=December 2010}} Professor Felix von Luschan
Felix von Luschan
Felix Ritter von Luschan was an Austrian doctor, anthropologist, explorer, archaeologist and ethnographer.Note that the Ritter is not part of the name but a title, equivalent to the English knight or baronet.-Life:...

 (1911), according to his conclusions from anthropometric measurements, makes the Druze
Druze
The Druze are an esoteric, monotheistic religious community, found primarily in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, which emerged during the 11th century from Ismailism. The Druze have an eclectic set of beliefs that incorporate several elements from Abrahamic religions, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism...

, Maronites
Maronites
Maronites , is an ethnoreligious group in the Middle East that have been historically tied with Lebanon. They derive their name from the Syriac saint Mar Maron whose followers moved to Mount Lebanon from northern Syria establishing the Maronite Church....

, and Alawites, together with the Armenians
Armenians
Armenian people or Armenians are a nation and ethnic group native to the Armenian Highland.The largest concentration is in Armenia having a nearly-homogeneous population with 97.9% or 3,145,354 being ethnic Armenian....

, Bektashis, ‘Ali-Ilahis
Ahl-e Haqq
The Ahl-e Haqq or Yârsân , are members of a religion founded by Sultan Sahak in the late 14th century in western Iran. The total number of members is estimated at around 1,000,000, primarily found in western Iran and Iraq, mostly ethnic Kurds and Laks, though there are also smaller groups of Luri,...

, and Yezidis of Asia Minor
Asia Minor
Asia Minor is a geographical location at the westernmost protrusion of Asia, also called Anatolia, and corresponds to the western two thirds of the Asian part of Turkey...

 and Persia, the modern representatives of the ancient Hittites
Hittites
The Hittites were a Bronze Age people of Anatolia.They established a kingdom centered at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia c. the 18th century BC. The Hittite empire reached its height c...

.

Under the Ottoman Empire they were ill treated, and they resisted an attempt to convert them to Sunni Islam. They revolted against the Ottomans on several occasions, and maintained virtual autonomy in their mountains. T. E. Lawrence
T. E. Lawrence
Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence, CB, DSO , known professionally as T. E. Lawrence, was a British Army officer renowned especially for his liaison role during the Arab Revolt against Ottoman Turkish rule of 1916–18...

 wrote of their isolationism: "The sect, vital in itself, was clannish in feeling and politics. One Nosairi would not betray another, and would hardly not betray an unbeliever."

After the fall of the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

, Syria and Lebanon came under a French mandate
French Mandate of Syria
Officially the French Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon was a League of Nations mandate founded after the First World War and the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire...

. The French, when they occupied Syria in 1920, recognized the term "Alawi", gave autonomy to them and other minority groups, and accepted them into their colonial troops. Under the mandate, many Alawi chieftains supported the notion of a separate Alawi nation and tried to convert their autonomy into independence. A territory of "Alaouites" was created in 1925. In May 1930, the Government of Latakia
Latakia
Latakia, or Latakiyah , is the principal port city of Syria, as well as the capital of the Latakia Governorate. In addition to serving as a port, the city is a manufacturing center for surrounding agricultural towns and villages...

 was created; it lasted until February 28, 1937, when it was incorporated into Syria.

In 1939 a portion of northwest Syria, the Sanjak of Alexandretta, now Hatay
Hatay Province
Hatay Province is a province in southern Turkey, on the Mediterranean coast. It is bordered by Syria to the south and east and the Turkish provinces of Adana and Osmaniye to the north. The province is part of Çukurova, a geographical, economical and cultural region that covers the provinces of...

, that contained a large number of Alawis, was given to Turkey by the French following a plebiscite carried out in the province under the guidance of League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

 which favored joining Turkey. However, this development greatly angered the Alawi community and Syrians in general. In 1938, the Turkish military had gone into Alexandretta and expelled most of its Arab and Armenian inhabitants{{POV-statement|date=June 2011}}. Before this, Alawi Arabs and Armenians were the majority of the province's population {{POV-statement|date=June 2011}} Zaki al-Arsuzi
Zaki al-Arsuzi
Zakī al-Arsūzī born Latakia June 1899, died Damascus July 1968) was a Syrian political activist and writer, and is widely regarded as a main inspiration for the Ba'ath Party...

, the young Alawi leader from Iskandarun province
Iskenderun
İskenderun is a city and urban district in the province of Hatay on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. The current mayor is Yusuf Hamit Civelek .-Names:...

 in the Sanjak of Alexandretta, who led the resistance to the annexation of his province to the Turks, later became a founder of the Ba'ath Party along with the Eastern Orthodox Christian schoolteacher Michel Aflaq
Michel Aflaq
Michel Aflaq was a Syrian philosopher, who is credited with being the ideological founder of ba'athism, a hybrid of Arab nationalism and Arab socialism.-Early life:...

. After World War II, Salman Al Murshid played a major role in uniting the Alawi province with Syria. He was executed by the newly independent Syrian government in Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

 on December 12, 1946 only three days after a hasty political trial.

Syria became independent on April 17, 1946. Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War
1948 Arab-Israeli War
The 1948 Arab–Israeli War, known to Israelis as the War of Independence or War of Liberation The war commenced after the termination of the British Mandate for Palestine and the creation of an independent Israel at midnight on 14 May 1948 when, following a period of civil war, Arab armies invaded...

, Syria endured a succession of military coups in 1949, the rise of the Ba'ath Party, and unification of the country with Egypt in the United Arab Republic
United Arab Republic
The United Arab Republic , often abbreviated as the U.A.R., was a sovereign union between Egypt and Syria. The union began in 1958 and existed until 1961, when Syria seceded from the union. Egypt continued to be known officially as the "United Arab Republic" until 1971. The President was Gamal...

 in 1958. The UAR lasted for three years and broke apart in 1961, when a group of army officers seized power and declared Syria independent again. A further succession of coups ensued until a secretive military committee, which included a number of disgruntled Alawi officers, including Hafez al-Assad
Hafez al-Assad
Hafez ibn 'Ali ibn Sulayman al-Assad or more commonly Hafez al-Assad was the President of Syria for three decades. Assad's rule consolidated the power of the central government after decades of coups and counter-coups, such as Operation Wappen in 1957 conducted by the Eisenhower administration and...

 and Salah Jadid
Salah Jadid
Salah Jadid was a Syrian general and political figure in the Baath Party, and the country's de facto leader from 1966 until 1970.- Rise to power :...

, helped the Ba'ath Party take power in 1963. In 1966, Alawi-oriented military officers successfully rebelled and expelled the old Ba'ath that had looked to the Christian Michel Aflaq and the Sunni Muslim Salah al-Din al-Bitar
Salah al-Din al-Bitar
Salah ad-Din al-Bitar , was a Syrian politician who, with Michel Aflaq, founded the Arab Ba'th Party in the early 1940s. During their student days in Paris in the early 1930s, the two worked together to formulate a doctrine that combined aspects of nationalism and socialism...

 for leadership. They promoted Zaki al-Arsuzi
Zaki al-Arsuzi
Zakī al-Arsūzī born Latakia June 1899, died Damascus July 1968) was a Syrian political activist and writer, and is widely regarded as a main inspiration for the Ba'ath Party...

 as the "Socrates
Socrates
Socrates was a classical Greek Athenian philosopher. Credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, he is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of later classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon, and the plays of his contemporary ...

" of their reconstituted Ba'ath Party.


In 1970, then-Air Force
Syrian Air Force
The Syrian Air Force is the Aviation branch of the Syrian Armed Forces. It was established in 1948.-History:The end of World War II led to a withdrawal of the United Kingdom and France from the Middle East, and this included a withdrawal from Syria...

 General Hafez al-Assad
Hafez al-Assad
Hafez ibn 'Ali ibn Sulayman al-Assad or more commonly Hafez al-Assad was the President of Syria for three decades. Assad's rule consolidated the power of the central government after decades of coups and counter-coups, such as Operation Wappen in 1957 conducted by the Eisenhower administration and...

, an Alawite, took power and instigated a "Correctionist Movement"
The Corrective Revolution
The Corrective Revolution is an expression used by some self-described revolutionary governments in the Arab World to describe an internal political or bureaucratic power struggle, and also to indicate continued adherence to the ideals of an earlier revolution despite major policy changes, or the...

 in the Ba'ath Party. His coming to power has been compared to "an untouchable becoming maharajah in India or a Jew becoming tsar in Russia—an unprecedented development shocking to the majority population which had monopolized power for so many centuries."

In 1971 al-Assad became president of Syria, a function that the Constitution allows only a Sunni Muslim to hold. In 1973 a new constitution was published that omitted the old requirement that the religion of the state is Islam and replaced it with the statement that the religion of the republic's president is Islam. Protests erupted when the statement was altered, and to satisfy this requirement in 1974, Musa Sadr, a leader of the Twelvers of Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

 and founder of the Amal Movement
Amal Movement
Amal Movement is short for the Lebanese Resistance Detachments the acronym for which, in Arabic, is "amal", meaning "hope."Amal was founded in 1975 as the militia wing of the Movement of the Disinherited, a Shi'a political movement founded by Musa...

 who had earlier sought to unite Lebanese Alawis and Shias under the Supreme Islamic Shiite Council without success, issued a fatwa
Fatwa
A fatwā in the Islamic faith is a juristic ruling concerning Islamic law issued by an Islamic scholar. In Sunni Islam any fatwā is non-binding, whereas in Shia Islam it could be considered by an individual as binding, depending on his or her relation to the scholar. The person who issues a fatwā...

 stating that Alawis were a community of Twelver Shia Muslims. Under the dictatorial but secular
Secularism
Secularism is the principle of separation between government institutions and the persons mandated to represent the State from religious institutions and religious dignitaries...

 Assad regime, religious minorities were tolerated, political dissent was not.

After the death of Hafez al-Assad
Hafez al-Assad
Hafez ibn 'Ali ibn Sulayman al-Assad or more commonly Hafez al-Assad was the President of Syria for three decades. Assad's rule consolidated the power of the central government after decades of coups and counter-coups, such as Operation Wappen in 1957 conducted by the Eisenhower administration and...

 in 2000, his son Bashar al-Assad
Bashar al-Assad
Bashar al-Assad is the President of Syria and Regional Secretary of the Ba'ath Party. His father Hafez al-Assad ruled Syria for 29 years until his death in 2000. Al-Assad was elected in 2000, re-elected in 2007, unopposed each time.- Early Life :...

 maintained the outlines of his father's regime.{{citation needed|date=June 2009}} Although the Alawis comprise the entirety of the top military and intelligence offices, government employees from lower bureaucratic ranks are largely from the majority Sunni Muslim faith, who represent about 74% of Syria's population. Today the Alawis exist as a minority, but are the most politically powerful sect in Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 and the only one with direct government control.

Beliefs


{{Twelvers|collapsed=1}}
Alawis are self-described Shi'i Muslims, and have been called Shia by other sources
including the highly influential Lebanese Shia cleric Musa al-Sadr
Musa al-Sadr
For the Twelver Shī‘ah Imām, see Mūsá al-KāżimMūsá aṣ-Ṣadr , also Musā-ye Sader and Moussa Sadr), was an Iranian-Lebanese philosopher and Shī‘ah religious leader who disappeared in August 1978...

 of Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

. Sunni scholars such as Ibn Kathir
Ibn Kathir
Ismail ibn Kathir was a Muslim muhaddith, Faqih, historian, and commentator.-Biography:His full name was Abu Al-Fida, 'Imad Ad-Din, Isma'il bin 'Umar bin Kathir, Al-Qurashi, Al-Busrawi...

, on the other hand, have historically categorized Alawis as pagans
Pagans
Pagans may refer to:* Paganism, a group of religions* Order of the Vine, a druidic faction in the "Thief" video game series* Pagans Motorcycle Club, a motorcycle club* The Pagans, a 1970s American punk band...

 in their religious works and documents. At least one source has compared them to Baha'i
Bahá'í Faith
The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in 19th-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories....

s, Babi
Bábism
The Babi Faith is a religious movement that flourished in Persia from 1844 to 1852, then lingered on in exile in the Ottoman Empire as well as underground. Its founder was Siyyid `Alí Muhammad Shirazi, who took the title Báb—meaning "Gate"—from a Shi'a theological term...

s, Bektashi
Bektashi
Bektashi Order or Bektashism is an Islamic Sufi order founded in the 13th century by the Persian saint Haji Bektash Veli. In addition to the spiritual teachings of Haji Bektash Veli the order was significantly influenced during its formative period by both the Hurufis as well as the...

s, Ahmadis
Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is the larger of two communities that arose from the Ahmadiyya movement founded in 1889 in India by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian . The original movement split into two factions soon after the death of the founder...

, and "similar groups that have arisen within the Muslim community", and declared that "it has always been the consensus of the Muslim Ulama
Ulama
-In Islam:* Ulema, also transliterated "ulama", a community of legal scholars of Islam and its laws . See:**Nahdlatul Ulama **Darul-uloom Nadwatul Ulama **Jamiatul Ulama Transvaal**Jamiat ul-Ulama -Other:...

, both Sunni and Shi'i, that the Nusayri Alawi are kuffar
Kafir
Kafir is an Arabic term used in a Islamic doctrinal sense, usually translated as "unbeliever" or "disbeliever"...

 unbelievers
Unbelievers
Unbelievers may refer to:*Infidels, is one who doubts or rejects central tenets of a religion, especially those regarding its deities*"Unbelievers," a song by Starflyer 59 from their 2003 album Old...

 and mushrikun polytheists." However the prominent Sunni Grand Mufti of Jerusalem
Grand Mufti of Jerusalem
The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem is the Sunni Muslim cleric in charge of Jerusalem's Islamic holy places, including the Al-Aqsa Mosque.-Ottoman era:...

 Mohammad Amin al-Husayni
Mohammad Amin al-Husayni
Haj Mohammed Effendi Amin el-Husseini was a Palestinian Arab nationalist and Muslim leader in the British Mandate of Palestine. From as early as 1920, in order to secure the independence of Palestine as an Arab state he actively opposed Zionism, and was implicated as a leader of a violent riot...

, issued a fatwah recognizing them as part of the Muslim community in the interest of Arab nationalism
Arab nationalism
Arab nationalism is a nationalist ideology celebrating the glories of Arab civilization, the language and literature of the Arabs, calling for rejuvenation and political union in the Arab world...

.

Heterodox


According to Yaron Friedman, distinct Alawi beliefs include the belief that prayers are not necessary, they don't fast
FAST
-Primary meanings:Fast may refer to:* Fast as in high speed or velocity, may be used with anything that has a speed.* Fasting, abstaining from foodSlang:* Fast, a slang term for someone who is sexually promiscuous-Sports:...

, nor perform pilgrimage
Pilgrimage
A pilgrimage is a journey or search of great moral or spiritual significance. Typically, it is a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person's beliefs and faith...

, nor have specific places of worship. The most obvious difference between Alawites and Shi'ite Muslims, is that Alawis believe the Sunni Caliph and Shi'ite Imam
Imam
An imam is an Islamic leadership position, often the worship leader of a mosque and the Muslim community. Similar to spiritual leaders, the imam is the one who leads Islamic worship services. More often, the community turns to the mosque imam if they have a religious question...

 Ali
Ali
' |Ramaḍān]], 40 AH; approximately October 23, 598 or 600 or March 17, 599 – January 27, 661).His father's name was Abu Talib. Ali was also the cousin and son-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and ruled over the Islamic Caliphate from 656 to 661, and was the first male convert to Islam...

 is an incarnation of one of the persons of God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 and wholly divine, along with Jesus Christ, The Prophet Muhammad and many other eastern holy men. Many of the tenets of the faith are secret and known only to a select few Alawi. In the 19th century, however, an Alawite named Sulaiman al-Adni converted to Christianity and in 1863, compiled a book called Al-Bakurah as-Suliamaniya fi Kashf Asrar ad-Diyanah an-Nusairiyah (The First Fruits of Sulaiman in Revealing the Secrets of the Nusairi Religion). Orientalists like Louis Massignon
Louis Massignon
Louis Massignon was a French scholar of Islam and its history. Although a Catholic himself, he tried to understand Islam from within and thus had a great influence on the way Islam was seen in the West; among other things, he paved the way for a greater openness inside the Catholic Church towards...

 gained access to a number of Nusairi manuscripts.

According to some sources, Alawis have integrated doctrines from other religions (Syncretism
Syncretism
Syncretism is the combining of different beliefs, often while melding practices of various schools of thought. The term means "combining", but see below for the origin of the word...

), in particular from Ismaili Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 and Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

. According to scholar Cyril Glasse, it is thought that "as a small, historically beleaguered ethnic group", the Alawi "absorbed elements" from the different religions that influenced their area from Hellenistic times onward, while maintaining their own beliefs, and "pretended to adhere to the dominant religion of the age." Alawites are reported to celebrate certain Christian festivals, "in their own way", including Christmas, Easter, and Palm Sunday, and their religious ceremonies make use of bread and wine. According to Matti Moosa, a "leading scholar of the Nusayris",
The Christian elements in the Nusayri religion are unmistakable. They include the concept of trinity; the celebration of Christmas, the consecration of the Qurban, that is, the sacrament of the flesh and blood which Christ offered to his disciples, and, most important, the celebration of the Quddas (a lengthy prayer proclaiming the divine attributes of Ali and the personification of all the biblical patriarchs from Adam to Simon Peter, who preached the gospel sermon originating the Church (Matthew 16:18, Acts 2), who is perceived, paradoxically, as the embodiment of true Islam).


Glasse writes that they also practice a religious feast called by the Persian name Naw Ruz.

Alawis have much in common with the Ismailis in terms of overall beliefs, and they are sometimes regarded as "an offshoot of this group."
According to scholar Umar F. Abd-Allah, who uses Sulaiman al-Adni's book along with other sources, the Alawis, like the Ismaili
Ismaili
' is a branch of Shia Islam. It is the second largest branch of Shia Islam, after the Twelvers...

s and related groups, believe that the Shariah has both an esoteric, allegorical (Batini
Batin (Islam)
Batin is defined as the interior or hidden meaning of the Quran. This is in contrast to the Quran's exterior or apparent meaning . Some Muslim groups believe that the Batin can only be fully understood and interpreted by a figure with esoteric knowledge, who for Shi'a Muslims is the Imam of the...

) meaning and an exoteric, literal (zahiri
Zahir (Islam)
According to some Muslim groups, zahir is the exoteric or apparent meaning of the Quran. In other words, this refers to interpretations of Quranic doctrine that are conducted by normal human beings...

) meaning and that only the hidden meaning is intended. Alawis believe the esoteric meaning is known only to the Imams and later to the Bab and was hidden even to the Islamic prophet Muhammad himself. Only the Bab has access to this esoteric meaning in the absence of the Imam.

Alawis believe in a "trinity" or "schema" of `Ain-Mim-Sin, which stands for `Ali, Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

, and Salman al-Farsi, the Persian Companion of Muhammad. Muhammad is known as ism, or "name", Ali as bab, or "door", and Salman al-Farsi as ma'na, or "meaning", with both Muhammad and Ali considered to be emanations of Salman al-Farsi. According to Abd-Allah, each of these three is said to have been an incarnation of God. Ali, however, constitutes the most important part of this trinity. The Alawi testimony of faith is: `I have borne witness that there is no God but He, the most High, the object of worship and that there is no concealing veil (hijab) except the lord Muhammad, the object of praise, (as-Sayyid Muhmmad al-Mahmud), and there is not Bab except the lord Salman al-Farisi` The Nusairis believe in the subsequent incarnation of God in other persons after the passing of `Ali, Muhammad, and Salman al-Farisi...

Orthodox


Some sources have suggested that the non-Muslim nature of many of the historical Alawi beliefs notwithstanding, Alawi beliefs may have changed in recent decades.
In the early 1970s a booklet entitled al-`Alawiyyun Shi'atu Ahl al-Bait (The Alawis are Followers of the Household of the Prophet), was issued in which doctrines of the Imami Shi'ah were described as 'Alawi, and which was "signed by of numerous `Alawi` men of religion". This book and Musa Sadr's proclamation have led one scholar to wonder whether "a mass conversion from Nusairism to Shi'ah Islam" has taken place. Another scholar suggests that factors such as the high profile of Alawi in Syria, the strong aversion of the Muslim majority to apostasy
Apostasy in Islam
Apostasy in Islam is commonly defined in Islam as the rejection in word or deed of one's former religion by a person who was previously a follower of Islam...

, and the relative lack of importance of religious doctrine to Alawi identity may have induced Syrian leader Hafez al-Assad
Hafez al-Assad
Hafez ibn 'Ali ibn Sulayman al-Assad or more commonly Hafez al-Assad was the President of Syria for three decades. Assad's rule consolidated the power of the central government after decades of coups and counter-coups, such as Operation Wappen in 1957 conducted by the Eisenhower administration and...

 and his successor son to press their fellow Alawi "to behave like 'regular Muslims', shedding or at least concealing their distinctive aspects."

Alawis have their own scholars, referred to as shaikhs, although more recently there has been a movement to bring Alawism and the other branches of Twelver Islam together through educational exchange programs in Syria and Qumm.

Some sources have talked about "sunnification" of Alawites under Baathist Syrian leader and Alawite Hafiz al-Asad. Joshua Landis
Joshua Landis
Joshua M. Landis is Associate Professor in the School of International and Area Studies at the University of Oklahoma and Director of the Center of Middle Eastern Studies...

, Director of the Center for Middle East Studies, writes that Hafiz al-Asad "tried to turn Alawites into `good` (read Sunnified) Muslims in exchange for preserving a modicum of secularism
Secularism
Secularism is the principle of separation between government institutions and the persons mandated to represent the State from religious institutions and religious dignitaries...

 and tolerance
Tolerance
Tolerance or toleration is the practice of permitting a thing of which one disapproves, such as social, ethnic, sexual, or religious practices.Tolerance, tolerant, or toleration may also refer to:...

 in society." While al-Asad "declared the Alawites to be nothing but Twelver Shiites", he "set the example for his people by adhering to Sunni practice. He built mosques in Alawite towns, prayed publicly and fasted and encouraged his people to do the same." In a paper on "Islamic Education in Syria", Landis wrote that "no mention" is made in Syrian textbooks controlled by the Al Assad regime, of Alawites, Druze
Druze
The Druze are an esoteric, monotheistic religious community, found primarily in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, which emerged during the 11th century from Ismailism. The Druze have an eclectic set of beliefs that incorporate several elements from Abrahamic religions, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism...

, and Ismailis or even Shi`a Islam. "Islam is presented as a monolithic religion and Sunni Islam is it." Ali Sulayman al-Ahmad, chief judge of the Baathist Syrian state, has stated: “We are Alawi Muslims. Our book is the Quran. Our prophet is Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

. The Ka`ba is our qibla
Qibla
The Qiblah , also transliterated as Qibla, Kiblah or Kibla, is the direction that should be faced when a Muslim prays during salah...

, and our religion is Islam.”

According to author Theo Padnos, who lived in Syria from 2007 to 2010, the Alawi religion "doesn’t exist anymore." During the years under Hafez Al Assad's rule, Alawites became not Shia, but effectively Sunni. Public manifestation or "even mentioning of any Alawite religious activities" was banned, as was any Alawite religious organizations or "any formation of a unified religious council" or a higher Alawite religious authority. "Sunni-style" mosques were built in every Alawite village, and Alawi were encouraged to perform Hajj
Hajj
The Hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is one of the largest pilgrimages in the world, and is the fifth pillar of Islam, a religious duty that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so...

. While some Alawites may still participate in their religious rites in Syria, Padnos says "it’s hard to find anyone who takes these ceremonies seriously."

Syria



Traditionally Alawis have lived in the Alawite Mountains along the Mediterranean coast of Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

. Latakia
Latakia
Latakia, or Latakiyah , is the principal port city of Syria, as well as the capital of the Latakia Governorate. In addition to serving as a port, the city is a manufacturing center for surrounding agricultural towns and villages...

 and Tartous
Tartous
Tartus is a city on the Mediterranean coast of Syria. Tartus is the second largest port city in Syria , and the largest city in Tartus Governorate. The population size is 98,000 .- Geography and climate :...

 are the region's principal cities. Today Alawis are also concentrated in the plains around Hama
Hama
Hama is a city on the banks of the Orontes River in west-central Syria north of Damascus. It is the provincial capital of the Hama Governorate. Hama is the fourth-largest city in Syria—behind Aleppo, Damascus, and Homs—with a population of 696,863...

 and Homs
Homs
Homs , previously known as Emesa , is a city in western Syria and the capital of the Homs Governorate. It is above sea level and is located north of Damascus...

. Alawis also live in all major cities of Syria. They have been estimated to constitute about 15% of Syria's population {{fact|date=November 2011}} (which would be in 2011 about 3.5 million people of about 23.1 million people in Syria).

There are four Alawi confederations – Kalbiyah, Khaiyatin, Haddadin, and Matawirah – each divided into tribes. Alawis are concentrated in the Latakia
Latakia
Latakia, or Latakiyah , is the principal port city of Syria, as well as the capital of the Latakia Governorate. In addition to serving as a port, the city is a manufacturing center for surrounding agricultural towns and villages...

 region of Syria, extending north to Antioch
Antioch
Antioch on the Orontes was an ancient city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. It is near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey.Founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch eventually rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the...

 (Antakya
Antakya
Antakya is the seat of the Hatay Province in southern Turkey, near the border with Syria. The mayor is Lütfü Savaş.Known as Antioch in ancient times, the city has historical significance for Christianity, as it was the place where the followers of Jesus Christ were called Christians for the first...

), Turkey, and in and around Homs
Homs
Homs , previously known as Emesa , is a city in western Syria and the capital of the Homs Governorate. It is above sea level and is located north of Damascus...

 and Hama
Hama
Hama is a city on the banks of the Orontes River in west-central Syria north of Damascus. It is the provincial capital of the Hama Governorate. Hama is the fourth-largest city in Syria—behind Aleppo, Damascus, and Homs—with a population of 696,863...

.

Before 1953 they held reserved seats in the Syrian Parliament, like all other religious communities. After that, including for the 1960 census, there were only general Muslim and Christian categories, without mention of subgroups in order to reduce "communalism
Communalism (South Asia)
This article deals with the use of the word communalism in South Asia, as a name for a force separating different communities based on some form of social or sectarian discrimination...

" (taïfiyya).

There are also about 2000 Alawis living in the village of Ghajar
Ghajar
Ghajar is an Alawite village on the Hasbani River on the border between Lebanon and the Israeli-occupied portion of the Golan Heights. It has a population of 2,000.-Early history:...

, split between Lebanon and the Golan Heights. In 1932, the residents of Ghajar were given the option of choosing their nationality and overwhelmingly chose to be a part of Syria, which has a sizable Alawite minority. Prior to the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, the residents of Ghajar were counted in the 1960 Syrian census. When Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 captured the Golan Heights from Syria in 1967, Ghajar remained a no-man's land for two and a half months.

Lebanon


There are an estimated 40.000 to 100,000 Alawis in Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

, where they are recognized as one of the 18 official Lebanese sects. Due to the efforts of their leader Ali Eid
Ali Eid
Ali Eid is the leader of the Lebanese Arab Democratic Party.-Life:Ali Eid was born in Tibani, Tripoli, Lebanon. The eldest son of Youssef Eid, a wheat dealer, and his wife Amoun Eid, he began his studies at Tibbineh Boys School known as the American School. In the summer he would study at the...

, the Taif Agreement
Taif Agreement
The Taif Agreement was an agreement reached to provide "the basis for the ending of the civil war and the return to political normalcy in Lebanon." Negotiated in Taif, Saudi Arabia, it was designed to end the decades-long Lebanese civil war, politically accommodate the demographic...

 of 1989 gave them two reserved seats in the Parliament. Lebanese Alawis live mostly in the Jabal Mohsen neighbourhood of Tripoli, and in 15 villages in the Akkar region, and are mainly represented by the Arab Democratic Party
Arab Democratic Party (Lebanon)
The Arab Democratic Party – ADP or Parti Démocratique Arabe in French, is a Lebanese party, based in Tripoli. Its current leader is Ali Eid.- Origins :...

.

Turkey


In order to avoid confusion with Alevi
Alevi
The Alevi are a religious and cultural community, primarily in Turkey, constituting probably more than 15 million people....

s, they prefer the self-appellation Arap Alevileri ("Arab Alevis") in Turkish
Turkish language
Turkish is a language spoken as a native language by over 83 million people worldwide, making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkic languages. Its speakers are located predominantly in Turkey and Northern Cyprus with smaller groups in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo,...

. The term Nusayrī, which used to exist in (often polemical) theological texts is also revived in recent studies. In Çukurova
Çukurova
Çukurova , historically known as Cilicia, is a geographic, economic and cultural region in south-central Turkey, covering the provinces of Mersin, Adana, Osmaniye and Hatay...

, they are named as Fellah
Fellah
Fellah , also alternatively known as Fallah is a peasant, farmer or agricultural laborer in the Middle East and North Africa...

and Arabuşağı, the latter considered highly offensive by Alawis, by the Sunni population. A quasi-official name used particularly in 1930s by Turkish authorities was Eti Türkleri ("Hittite
Hittites
The Hittites were a Bronze Age people of Anatolia.They established a kingdom centered at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia c. the 18th century BC. The Hittite empire reached its height c...

 Turks"), in order to conceal their Arab
Arabs in Turkey
The Arabs in Turkey are a Semitic people.Arabs in Turkey are mostly Muslims living along the southeastern border with Syria in the provinces such as Batman, Bitlis, Gaziantep, Hatay, Mardin, Muş, Siirt, Şırnak and Şanlıurfa. The Arabs in this part of the border consist of many Bedouin tribes...

 origins. Today, this term is almost obsolete but it is still used by some people of older generations as a euphemism
Euphemism
A euphemism is the substitution of a mild, inoffensive, relatively uncontroversial phrase for another more frank expression that might offend or otherwise suggest something unpleasant to the audience...

.

The exact number of ‘Alawī in Turkey is unknown, but there were 185 000 Alawis in 1970 (this number suggest ca 400 000 in 2009). As Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

s, they are not recorded separately from Sunnis in ID registration. In the 1965 census (the last Turkish census where informants were asked their mother tongue), 180,000 people in the three provinces declared their mother tongue as Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

. However, Arabic-speaking Sunni and Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 people are also included in this figure.

Alawis traditionally speak the same dialect of Levantine Arabic
Levantine Arabic
Levantine Arabic is a broad variety of Arabic spoken in the 100 to 200 km-wide Eastern Mediterranean coastal strip...

 with Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

n Alawis. Arabic is best preserved in rural communities and Samandağ. Younger people in Çukurova
Çukurova
Çukurova , historically known as Cilicia, is a geographic, economic and cultural region in south-central Turkey, covering the provinces of Mersin, Adana, Osmaniye and Hatay...

 cities and (to a lesser extent) in İskenderun tend to speak Turkish. Turkish spoken by ‘Alawī is distinguished by ‘Alawī and non-‘Alawī alike with its particular accent
Accent (linguistics)
In linguistics, an accent is a manner of pronunciation peculiar to a particular individual, location, or nation.An accent may identify the locality in which its speakers reside , the socio-economic status of its speakers, their ethnicity, their caste or social class, their first language In...

s and vocabulary
Vocabulary
A person's vocabulary is the set of words within a language that are familiar to that person. A vocabulary usually develops with age, and serves as a useful and fundamental tool for communication and acquiring knowledge...

. Knowledge of Arabic alphabet
Arabic alphabet
The Arabic alphabet or Arabic abjad is the Arabic script as it is codified for writing the Arabic language. It is written from right to left, in a cursive style, and includes 28 letters. Because letters usually stand for consonants, it is classified as an abjad.-Consonants:The Arabic alphabet has...

 is confined to religious leaders and men who had worked or studied in Arab countries
Arab world
The Arab world refers to Arabic-speaking states, territories and populations in North Africa, Western Asia and elsewhere.The standard definition of the Arab world comprises the 22 states and territories of the Arab League stretching from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Arabian Sea in the...

.

‘Alawī show a considerable pattern of social mobility
Social mobility
Social mobility refers to the movement of people in a population from one social class or economic level to another. It typically refers to vertical mobility -- movement of individuals or groups up from one socio-economic level to another, often by changing jobs or marrying; but can also refer to...

. Until 1960s, they used to work bound to Sunni aghas around Antakya and they were among the poorest folk in Çukurova. Today, ‘Alawī are prominent in economic sectors such as transportation and commerce
Commerce
While business refers to the value-creating activities of an organization for profit, commerce means the whole system of an economy that constitutes an environment for business. The system includes legal, economic, political, social, cultural, and technological systems that are in operation in any...

. A large professional
Professional
A professional is a person who is paid to undertake a specialised set of tasks and to complete them for a fee. The traditional professions were doctors, lawyers, clergymen, and commissioned military officers. Today, the term is applied to estate agents, surveyors , environmental scientists,...

 middle-class had also emerged.

In recent years, there has been a tendency of exogamy
Exogamy
Exogamy is a social arrangement where marriage is allowed only outside of a social group. The social groups define the scope and extent of exogamy, and the rules and enforcement mechanisms that ensure its continuity. In social studies, exogamy is viewed as a combination of two related aspects:...

, particularly among males who had attended universities and/or had lived in other parts of Turkey. These marriages are highly tolerated but exogamy of women, as with other patrilineal groups, is usually disfavoured.

‘Alawī , like Alevis, mainly have strong leftist political preferences. However, some people in rural areas (usually members of notable ‘Alawī families) may be found supporting secularist conservative
Conservatism
Conservatism is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports, at the most, minimal and gradual change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism...

 parties such as True Path Party
True Path Party
The Democratic Party , abbreviated to DP, is a centre-right, conservative Turkish political party, established by Suleyman Demirel in 1983 as the Right Path Party...

. Most ‘Alawī s feel discriminated by the policies of Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı
Diyanet Isleri Baskanligi
In Turkey, the Presidency of Religious Affairs is an official institution established in 1924 after the abolition of the caliphate. Founded by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey as a successor to Sheikh ul-Islam, it represents the highest Islamic religious authority in the country...

.

External links



{{DEFAULTSORT:Alawi}}