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Switch to Forum Live View Syria's Alawites, a secretive and persecuted sect
2 years ago  ::  Jun 11, 2012 - 12:07AM #1
LeahOne
Posts: 16,476
www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/02/us-sy...


Since this comes from Reuters, I thought it likely to be attempting to be 'objective'.  Like most 'Western' posters here, I lack detailed background information on the different tribal, etc groups throughout the ME region.  I hope this will be of some use to other posters in trying to understand the complex society which is Syria these days.......
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2 years ago  ::  Jun 11, 2012 - 12:24AM #2
Amin21
Posts: 4,643

The Alawi haven't faced persecution to speak of since the Ottomans (most of their history, I suppose is accurate that being the case but not in modern times...)


That is not likely to be the case if they maintain solidarity behind assad to the bitter end...


While the group was poor rent control and land reform have disproportionately benefited Alawis.


Alawis theology is considered aberrant by other Shia... but... Iran seems to find them an acceptable ally for the time being.  In some regards, however, in the long run Iran probably has more of a problem with Alawite theology than even Sunni theology.

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2 years ago  ::  Jun 11, 2012 - 1:45AM #3
LeahOne
Posts: 16,476

I found the accounts of Alawite theology very interesting - they seem to have some ideas in common with the Baha'i, who originated in Iran.


I do not understand this business of 'divine' people at all:  but I can certainly see where 'mainstream' Islam would be deeply suspicious that the Alwites are not true monotheists.....the drinking wine in a religious ceremony also seems 'right out' for Islam?


www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/02/us-sy...


 


Here is another Reuters article which I found frightening on several levels  : ((  It's about Alawite sentiment in Syria for Assad due to fear of the Sunni majority.

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2 years ago  ::  Jun 11, 2012 - 2:06AM #4
habesor
Posts: 5,771

Albert Hourani wrote a monograph on minorities in the Arab World which was published by Oxford University Press in 1947. Keep in mind that once the Assad's came to power it was in their interests to give the Alawis a more Islamic image. This is how Hourani described them 66 years ago:


"(3) Alawis. These are also known as "Nusairis" and have a religion which possesses many of the characteristics of dissident Islam, but many non-Islamic elements as well. Like that of the Druzes, it originated through the desire of the indigenous inhabitants of the Syrian hill-country to preserve their solidarity and distinctiveness, while at the same time outwardly conforming to the beliefs of the rulers of the country.


From Paganism (either directly or by way of Isma'ilism) the Nusairis took over the idea of the Divine Triad, or its successive incarnations in the seven circles of world-history, and of the transmigration of souls. From Shi'i Islam they adopted and exagerated the cult of Ali, whom they regard as the incarnation of the Divinity: and from Isma'ilism the idea of an esoteric teaching hidden from the masses and revealed only to the initiates after a complex process of initiation. From Christianity they appear to have derived much of the ritual, the possession of which distinguishes them from other Islamic or post-Islamic sects."



Minorities in the Arab World by A.H. Hourani Oxford University Press (1947) pages 7-8.


As I wrote above, the Alawis have had an image change since the Assad's took over and presented themselves as much more mainstream Islamic than back in the first half of the 20th century.


Habesor

Habesor
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