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The Beliefs of the Alawi Sect of Syria & Lebanon

There are two groups called Alawis: (a) Arab Alawis of Syria, Lebanon, and in Al-Iskandaron region of Turkey which used to be part of Syria.

(b) Turkish Alawis (Alewis or Alevis) who live in Turkey.

They are two separate groups, with totally different beliefs. The discussion on this page is only about the beliefs of the Arab Alawis.

The Arab Alawis follow Ibn Nusair and that is why their sect is referred to as Nusairia. Many of their beliefs are very blasphemous from Islamic perspective. Their beliefs are probably the farthest away from Islam, compared to other Shia groups.

The following is a summary of their main beliefs of the Arab Alawis:

– They believe in re-incarnation: unbelievers (Muslims, Christians, Jews) return as animals, whilst ‘Alawis are re-incarnated into other ‘Alawis and eventually they can reach the state of luminous stars. Faithful Alawis believe they must be transformed or re-born seven times before returning to take a place among the stars, where Ali is the prince. If blameworthy, they are sometimes reborn as Christians or Jews, among whom they remain, until their atonement is complete.

– The eternal existence of the Universe.

– They deny the Resurrection, Hell, and Paradise after death, but rather they regard that people experience Hell or Paradise in the current World.

– The five prayers are: Ali , Fatima, Hassan, Hussain and Muhsin. Mentioning these names would suffice for abolution, purification from Janaba and the commandments of prayer.

– Fasting is the recitation of the names of thirty men, and thirty women mentioned in their books.

– The main Alawi Holy Book is “Kitab Al-Majmu” compiled by Al-Khasibi and containing 16 Suras. Other sacred books are: Kitab Al-Mashaykha (manual for Sheikhs), Kitab Majmu Al-Ayad (Book of Feasts), and Kitab Taalim Al-Diyana Al-Nusayria.

Alawis consider Ali Ibn Abi Talib as the manifestation of Allah (God). The Alawi profession of faith states: “I testify that there is no God except Ali ibn-Talib the one to be worshipped, no Veil, except Muhammad, who is worthy of praise, and no Gateway (or Path), except Salman Al-Farisi, the object of love”. This is summed up in the following poem in Arabic:

أشهد أن لا إله إلا == حيدرة الأنزع البطين
و لا حجاب عليه إلا == محمد الصادق الأمين
و لا طريق إليه إلا == سلمان ذو القوة المتين

– An Alawi is not considered an Alawi unless he or she vows not to reveal the principles of his religion and learns what are the names and meanings of the principle figures of his religion such as: the name being Adam and the meaning being Sebit, and the name being Jacob and the meaning being Joseph and try to infer this from the Quran. Jacob was nothing but a name who could not surpass his position for he said: ” I will ask for you My Lord for forgiveness”, while Joseph said: ” this day let no reproach be (cast) on you” and he did not depend on any other in this matter because he knew that he is the god who can do what he wants. Moses is the name and Joshua is the meaning for he managed to make the sun return back for him and the sun would only do this to her Lord. Similarly, Ali is the meaning while Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is the name he created from his own light.

– They practice Taqiyya which includes pretending to be Muslims outwardly to deceive Muslims, but keeping their real beliefs private. Their practice of Taqiyya is explained in the following statement by an Alawi man:

“We are accepted as Muslims because we have worked hard to be accepted. We have copied the Sunnis. Some Alawis cover their hair and wear hijab, either for personal reasons or when they marry Sunnis. We don’t eat pork, and even when we do, we don’t eat it in front of people. We fast – or we pretend to fast; out of respect for others, we don’t eat in front of them during Ramadan. We have built mosques in our major towns. Some Alawis go to Friday prayer and to the Hajj. My grandfather was a modern shaykh who encouraged everyone to pray at the mosque in Jable. The charitable foundation established and run by Jamil Al-Asad (the brother of former President Hafiz Al-Assad) finances hundreds of Alawis to go on Hajj, and the women working for the organization have to wear the hijab. Hafiz Al-Asad prayed in Mosque and fasted. When his mother and son died, he prayed for them in Mosque. He built the Na`isa mosque in Qardaha, his home town, in the name of his mother. All these things are proof to Sunnis that we try hard to be part of Islam and like Sunnis. They accept it. We have succeeded.”

– Alawis consider wine as Halal and is consumed in their masses where wine and bread are consecrated and partaken of by the male initiates. The wine is considered to be the very essence of God (Ali), trans-substantiated by the mass and offered to the believer. It is called “The Servant Of Light” (‘Abd al-Nur). Vines are treated with great respect in ‘Alawi culture.


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