Alawites or Nusayris
Historic Perspective of Alawites or Nusayris
The Alawites or Nusayris are a religious minority that is situated primarily in Syria along the Mediterranean coast and on the inaccessible mountain; Jebel Ali Wayne. There are sometimes also known as Messiah T’s. It appears that the nameless Sadie’s was the most common or universal name for this group prior to the 1920s after which the name Alawites started to be used.
But it’s also important to remember that the Alawites are not the same as other similar reliions or minorities in Turkey even if their names are very similar and they also share certain aspects that are similar; but two very different distinct groups they are a very secretive and esoteric group which means that we know very little about their history or their teachings.
There is also an ongoing debate as Alawites are a unique religion of their own or if they belong to Shia Islam. There are different branches and schools within the Alawite religion which makes this question a lot more complex and complicated as well. Despite this serious lack of information there is some general information that recurs in descriptions of this community.
Genesis of Alawites or Nusayris
Some state that it originated with the figure Muhammad of the Sayre; an Ahmadi who lived in the ninth century in Iraq. He said to have been a students of the 10th and 11th Shia Imams of the Twelver Shia branch Ali Al-Hadi and Hasan Askari where things become especially interesting. He began to view himself as kind of prophets according to certain sources and the two Imams as being divine; given a revelation of sorts through Al-Askari; which form the basis of his new religion.
One that distanced itself from Islamic law and practice the movement. It was further established in Syria by abdullah al Husseini ben Hamdan al-hasa especially in the early 11th century by Sir Reuben Kasim al Tabarani the latter is often considered the founder of the religion in Syria as he was able to convert a significant amount of people in the mountain area along the coast, which has since been the center for the Alawites or Nusayris religion.
Contours of Belief System
- Prophet Muhammad (SAW) is the veil or name which conceals Ali’s true identity as God and the gate (bob) is Salman Al-Farsi.
The beliefs and practices of the Alawites or Nusayris are very fascinating and unique. Although we know very little about their religion due to their very secretive nature, they have very rarely disclosed their teachings to outsiders or even to people within the faith itself.
But from what we do know about their faith and their practices it seems that this religion or this branch of Islam however you choose to look at it is one that is very dynamic. So it contains elements from Islam and from Greek traditions like Neo-Platonism and Gnosticism as well as Christianity and a certain local Syrian pre-Islamic traditions as well.
The most important book or scripture for Alawites or Nusayris is known as Kitab Al Mismo The Book Of The Collection which may have been authored by Alta Bharani; it’s also claimed that this book is a forgery so we’re not exactly sure and those who emphasize their being part of Islam also point to the Quran as a very important Scripture. At the beginning of creation, there were lights that surrounded God and praised him but after a revolt they were punished by being sent down to earth in physical bodies and to undergo the process of rebirth. So here already is a very unique aspect of this faith is that they believe in the trans-migration of the soul or in other words reincarnation.
According to teaching, earthly life is seen in a very negative light almost like a kind of punishment and similar to religions like Hinduism; the goal of life then is to escape or be freed from this cycle of rebirths and re-enter heaven. As stars of light perhaps the most central aspect of their religious beliefs and the one that has been probably the most controversial to muslims is their very unique relationship to Hazrat Ali; the cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad as well as the 4th caliph and first Imam of the Shia Muslims.
Uniqueness in Alawites or Nusayris
What is universally accepted is that they very much respected and held a very higher regard but according to many sources the relationship goes even further than that. It is claimed that a proclamation of faith of the Alawites is that, “I profess that there is no god but Ali” indeed it seems according to scripture and the information that we have that Ali is seen as God or an incarnation or manifestation of God.
Alawites or Nusayris today want to emphasize that they are part of Islam tend to reject this idea in any case it seems that Alawites believed that God has been incarnated or manifested seven times in history but that no one really got the message until the last time these incarnations are called Manna and when we look at who they are the answer is pretty surprising they are Able, Seth, Joseph, Joshua, Asif, Peter and lastly Ali.
These all seem to be relatively secondary figures in the biblical and Quranic narratives. They are often associates of great prophets but were never great prophets themselves and this is because according to belief every time God is sent human being as prophets, he also sends certain lower associates called an Immams, which means The Gate.
The one who are considered great prophets and include Adam, Noah, Jacob, Moses, Solomon, Jesus and Mohammed; are thus only fore-shadowing who veil and hide the true identity of God in his real manifestation. No wonder people never got the message and also accompanied by a gate. So to take an example in the last manifestation of God in Hazrat Ali. Hazrat Ali then is mana-God’s manifestation.
Muhammad is the veil or name which conceals Ali’s true identity as God and the gate (bob) is Salman Al-Farsi. It was thought to be the first Persian convert to islam so every time God has manifested himself he does so through this kind of triad. The last and final of which was that of Ali.
There are certain holidays and religious festivals or celebrations which are very syncretic nature of this religion. One of these is known in which bread and wine is consumed and it is thought that Ali is incarnated in the wine which draws clear parallels to Christianity. Obviously Allah waits can also celebrate Christmas no rules or Persian New Year as they’ll fit and add as well as Ashura.
But these holidays have often been emptied of their existing contents and reinterpreted through Allah. for example even if they do celebrate a festival called Ashura; which is a Shiite day of crimson of the death and martyrdom of Imam Hussein, given a different flavor by Alawites; as they don’t actually believe that Imam never died on the battlefield but that he went into spiritual occultation.