Nusayri Alawi Religion

The Nusayri Alawi Religion also known as Nusairis, Namiriya or Ansariyya and have about 1.4 million adherents in Syria and Lebanon and constitute 60 percent of the mostly Sunni population.

This belief system draws on the traditions of both Shia and Sunni Islam and other religions as well.

In turkey the sect is recognized as Alevism and has an estimated 5 to 12 million adherents in Turkey. The Turkish government consider Alevis as a muslim sect but in fact many Alevis are not muslims.

They were considered a cultural rather than a religious group and hence were not recognized or funded by the government.

The Alawi sect, which integrates doctrines from other religions, in particular from Christianity arose from a split within the Ismailite sect. After hundreds of years of Ismaili influence, the Alawis moved closer to Islam. However, contacts with the Byzantines and the Crusaders added Christian elements to the Alawis' new creeds and practices. For example, Alawis celebrate Christmas, Easter, and Epiphany.

For centuries, the Nusayri Alawis Religion constituted Syria's most repressed and exploited minority. Most were indentured servants and tenant farmers or sharecroppers working for Sunni landowners.

However, after Alawi President Assad and his retinue came to power in 1970, the well being of the Alawis improved considerably.

Split by sectional rivalries, the Nusayri Alawis Religion have no powerful ruling family, but since independence many individual Alawis have attained power and prestige as military officers.

Although they are settled cultivators, Alawis gather into kin groups much like those of pastoral nomads. The four Alawi confederations, each divided into tribes, are Kalbiyah, Khaiyatin, Haddadin, and Matawirah.

According to Nusayri Alawi Religion belief, all persons at first were stars in the world of light but fell from the firmament through disobedience. Faithful Alawis believe they must be transformed seven times before returning to take a place among the stars, where Ali is the prince. If blameworthy, they are sometimes reborn as Christians, among whom they remain until atonement is complete. Infidels are reborn as animals.

Because many of the tenets of the faith are secret, Alawis have refused to discuss their faith with outsiders. Only an elect few learn the religion after a lengthy process of initiation; youths are initiated into the secrets of the faith in stages.

Their prayer book, the source of religious instruction, is the Kitab al Majmu, believed to be derived from Ismaili writings. Alawis study the Quran and recognize the five pillars of Islam, which they interpret in a wholly allegorical sense to fit community tenets.

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