“The Alawi Dilemma – Revisited,” By Khudr

The Alawi Dilemma – Revisited
By Khudr
For Syria Comment

June 20, 2011

Basil-Hafiz-Bashar

Dr. Joshua,

You are completely right when you say that most Alawis these days either support the regime (better to say that they support Assad family rule) or are living in complete denial of the situation.

I have discovered that a number of my fellow Alawis who used to be staunch critics of Asad family rule are now championing of Bashar. Some who used to curse anytime the name of the ruling family was invoked (in private of course), have now replaced their own identity with Bashar’ s on their Facebook page.

Why do they do this? To understand such odd phenomenon I recommend everyone to read or re-read the essay written six years ago by Karfan. He explains the psychological underpinnings of this occurrence in a most precise way. The post title is: “Myth No.7 : Alawi is still a religious sect”.

I will avoid quoting from it here as it is still available on the net for of all to read. I direct all interested in the subject to read it.

The gist of his argument is that Alawi identity has been transformed by Assad rule. No longer is it centered on religious, cultural or tribal life. Because Alawi life has been so transformed over the last century, the single common bond uniting us is Assad rule itself. Our identity as Alawis is defined as “that minority sect ruling this country.”

Alawis have been living in a complete sub-conscious denial of this fact for decades now and only few, such as Karfan, had ventured into admitting this reality.

What is it to be an Alawi exactly?

Is Alawism a religion? Alawi beliefs as ideas are too shallow to constitute a religion or a sect of a religion. Actually “Alawism” is built on tribal and communal attachment or quasi-ethnicity rather than being centered on ideas. You become an Alawi by being born Alawi.

Courtesies aside, the “initiation ritual” of male Alawis into the religion consists of kissing a few hands and memorizing a seriously ridiculous script in a small memo book. Frequently, one is given the script without his “teacher” or initiator ever bothering to see afterwards whether you memorized it or not. Most of the time your “initiator” knows that your opinion of the whole process and the script is as high as your opinion of “Tom & Jerry” cartoons. Yet he considers you an Alawi and relies on you as such, simply because you are born one and expected to be one.

Female Alawis are “lucky” enough that they do not have to go through this meaningless ritual, yet they are expected to be staunch Alawis because they are born Alawis.

Note that this expectation is not one sided. All other sects and groups around you in Syria and elsewhere expect you to be an Alawi if you are born an Alawi. Hence the usual question “where are you from in Tartous or Latakia?” If you are born in an area where Alawis live, then that’s what you are; end of the story.

If you want to venture into further scholastic study, you will know that the secret books dealing with Alawi beliefs number about five. Their content is as inscrutable and meaningless to a twenty first century person as is the book of rituals. This does not include the Shia theological works, which fill the libraries of most informed Alawi Sheiks whether they regard themselves as true Shi`a or not. I refer here only to those works that are devoted to pure Alawi theology.

It is true that Jews define themselves by culture and ethnic belonging as do the adherents of similar religions. All the same, Jews have an established doctrine and philosophy, but if it does not suit them, they can simply declare that they are “non-practicing Jews.” They can define themselves as Jews as a cultural and ethnic affinity.

There is no such thing as “non-practicing Alawi,” which is something many of us have struggled with. This is a problem in no way unique to Alawis. All the Arab/Islamic sects suffer from this short coming. To call yourself a “non-practicing Muslim” is to be laughed out of mosque. We, young Arab Muslims — and Arab Christians for that matter — do not have the luxury of being able to identify with our religion as a cultural and identity, without being required to buy into the complete religious “package” as it was defined centuries ago by a handful of doughty scholars.

Then what are Alawis exactly?

It is not wrong to surmize that our collective Alawi identity is centered largely on our culture, the coastal accent, the special celebrations, the habits, etc.. Most of these differ considerably from one geographical area to another. However we all have one thing in common: we are united by our common sense of injustice and persecution over the past centuries. Many will argue that the statute of limitations has run out on our sense of persecution, particularly as Alawis have dominated Syria’s security state for almost fifty years. “How can such feelings continue to this day,” many ask. But they do. A common sense of persecution is an important identity marker. It does not matter that we have been able to flex our muscle for decades. The shared sense of persecution is alive and well in our collective psyche.

Alawis also differ from the Sunni majority in their customs. “Difference” from Sunnis is corner stone of our identity. We perceive ourselves as the “other.,” those who are “different“ from them! This also is hardly unique to Alawis; minorities the world over define themselves in opposition to the majority “other.” This truth seems so obvious and uninteresting to me today, but in my teen years it was a source of considerable consternation and confusion. When my sister put on the hijab, she was castigated by my father who insisted that “We don’t wear the hijab.” This, despite his insistence over the years that “Alawis are Muslims no different from them.”

In a free society, the cultural part of sub-national identity can be expressed openly and proudly without undermining the overarching national community and bond of citizenship. The minorities in such mature societies can live in harmony with other citizen groups, without having to stifle or hid their communal affinities and habits.

But let’s return to Karfan’s analysis. Common Alawi cultural identity was not allowed to be institutionalized or proudly expressed. Even Druze, Ismailis and the various sub sects of Sunni Islam, such as the Sufi orders, for example, have been forced to go underground and reform themselves almost out of existence as it were. In the 1940s and 1950s Syrian place names were changed to reflect our new “national” existence at the price of erasing local identities and heros. I agree with Karfan that Hafiz al-Assad and his top leaders, such as Ali Douba, perpetuated and deepened this effort to wipe out and obscure sub-national identification. Baathism, amplified the prejudices of Arab nationalists against local, religious, and cultural peculiarities to an absurd degree. It would have been suicidal during the late president’s rule to establish any sort of gathering or group of Alawis under any cultural, social or religious banner. We couldn’t even mention the name of our communities openly. We lived in a stifling world of taboos and social conformism.

The only meeting ground or assembly point for Alawis, where we didn’t have to pretend that we were something we weren’t, was deep in the inner sanctums of the security state. We found ourselves in the clubby security of the secret services, the Republican Guard, the army officer academies, and the worker and agricultural syndicates in the coastal area. These were all regime sanctioned and established institutions that linked our identity to the security state and Assad rule.

This is where Karfan comes from when he states that we have been systematically deprived of any attachment to our religious, cultural and social identity under Hafiz rule. Thus, you can see where his claim comes from: “We were turned into identity-less supporters of “Asad’s” rule…  meaningless tribes ranked by how much we support “him”.”

The full ramifications of this fact were not visible or even felt among Alawis until the current crisis challenged us with the notion of radical change. Alawis are subconsciously realizing that being an Alawi means nothing outside of Asad family rule. We haven’t much history – at least not that we have documented. We have been too busy pretending that we are no different from Muslims to build our common identity. We suffer from a devastating lack of institutionalized cultural or social institutions and marker apart from those connected to the Assad regime. We don’t even know much about our religion to grasp on to. Alawis have defined themselves over the past 40 years as the rulers of Syria, and not much else.

You can then understand why almost all Alawis, even those who had shown fierce opposition toward the Assad regime, are turning into “Basharists” now that the entire edifice is under attack. A subconscious fear of losing our identity supplied by Assad rule and the security state is consuming us and taking precedence over rational thought.

Again, this is not something new. We saw it in Germany or Japan during WWII. Two very civilized populations turned into blind followers of a crazy elite that committed atrocities and led their nations to destruction. In both cases, the very identity of the nation was linked to the person of the leader, Hitler and Showa. To defend the leader in the minds of the people was nothing less than to defend their own identity.

We should be careful not to compare too closely the situation in Syria to that of Iraq under Saddam Hussein. His Sunni followers certainly identified with Saddam and his rule, but they had a confident Sunni identity to fall back on. The Sunnis have long fashioned themselves as the natural leaders of the Arabs and Islam. They can point to uninterrupted dominance in countries stretching from Morocco to Saudi Arabia. They have an illustrious history and established religion. They did not need to fight to the last breath to protect their heritage and they did not.

Alawis today believe that they are under attack – not because anyone is actually attacking them as a group of people or community; they are not. Rather, they feel under attack because the regime is threatened and may fall. This is tantamount – at least subconsciously – to their identity being shattered. Similar to those German and Japanese who wasted their lives fighting a lost battle street-by-street, the Alawis will fight to the end. It is hard to convince someone fighting for such high stakes to abandon their cause.

The Syrian opposition, of course, does not have the benefit of the American army, as Great Britain had in WWII or the Iraqi opposition in 2003. There will be no street-by-street fight. My point is, whether the Syrian opposition is able to marshal Western economic sanctions against the Assad regime, or mobilize continued demonstrations with the effect of paralyzing the Syrian economy, or even attracting limited foreign intervention, it should expect staunch resistance. In all likelihood most Alawis will stand behind the Assads.

If no alternative is found for Syria other than confrontation to the bitter end, then I am afraid the closing words of Karfan continue to ring true: “another thing that is common to us Alawis: We have no future, at least not one that is worth looking forward to.

*Khudr has written several other excellent articles for Syria Comment in the past. They are “What do Sunnis intend for Alawis following regime change?” and Asad’s Alawi dilemma

Comments (390)


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351. daleandersen said:

Memo to WHY-DISCUSS

RE: مندس “I personally do not know anyone who simpythizes with the regime”

You were right to rebuke that little fool. He must be blind, deaf and dumb. There are scores of regime sympathizers all around him, right in front of his face, right here on Syria Comment. All he had to do was smell the air. The regime sympathizers have a distinctive odor..

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Dale_Andersen/bashar-assad-speech-syria_n_880207_93398788.html

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June 24th, 2011, 3:38 pm

 

352. Aboud said:

@349 Something tells me you are the kind of person who, in Hitler’s Germany, would have rejected Einstein’s theories because they came “from a Jew”

@350 Probably things like racism. Calling junior a clueless giraffe who is way out of his depth, however, is perfectly permissible in civilized countries.

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June 24th, 2011, 3:38 pm

 

353. Nour said:

#352:

LOL. What a silly comparison. This guy is a rabid zionist who sees everything in light of what is good for “Israel.” And you and him are on the same boat; so that’s quite telling.

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June 24th, 2011, 3:46 pm

 

354. Syrian Knight said:

Aboud, you have a lot to learn about the laws of those so-called ‘civilized’ countries. You can get arrested for donating money, even if it was just one penny, to Palestinian charities, because you would be ‘supporting terrorism.’ The unwritten definition of a terrorist in Canada is a Muslim or Arab. Meanwhile, you can donate all the money you want to fund Israeli wars against innocent people. George Galloway, in fact, has been banned from ever coming to Canada, because he donated money to needy families in Gaza while he was there. If you go on vacation in Lebanon, and donate even 1 Lebanese pound to ANY organization that isn’t in the March 14 terror group, and you come back to Canada, and the government finds out, you go to jail.

Racism laws here are inherently biased, and normally only pertain to statements made against Israel. ANYTHING against Israel can be considered a hate crime here. They will call you ‘anti-semitic.’ But then our PM in 2006 blocked a bill recognizing the destruction Lebanon received. He said that Lebanon faced no destruction at all, and that it was ISRAEL that was the real victim, and that it was ISRAEL that faced the most destruction in that war that killed 1,400 Lebanese, all civilians, and 168 Israeli, all invading soldiers.

Get a clue. Everything is politics.

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June 24th, 2011, 3:51 pm

 

355. SANDRO LOEWE said:

Any new about national diallogue? More deaths? Any new about amendments to be done to Constitution? It looks like nothing is gonna change…. this regime is uneffective uncreative.

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June 24th, 2011, 3:55 pm

 

356. Syrian Knight said:

And BTW, Canada has, on numerous occasions, arrested ACTUAL peaceful protesters. Last year, they arrested over 1,100 people protesting at the G20 summit, and BEAT THEM. They also cracked down on an anti-Police Brutality rally (Ironically), beat them, and arrested many of them earlier this year. Now you have Canada hunting down, from 2 weeks ago, people that took part in the RIOTS in Vancouver over the loss in the Stanley. A lot of innocent people are getting arrested, because the police is asking everyone to relinquish ALL images you may have during the riots. Suffice to say, people have been Photoshopping people into those images to get them arrested. There was a woman was protested during a speech by the PM some time ago. She was arrested and beaten!

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June 24th, 2011, 3:57 pm

 

357. OFF THE WALL said:

EHSANI2
Thank you very much. I second Yazan and Aboud’s recommendation.

Aboud
Welcome to a long list of EHSANI’s admirers.

With respect to your comment on Inflation, while eating 7% of the SYP value, can also eat 2% of the dollars. So inflation alone will not make the difference. If I understand EHSANI, it is primarily the confidence of the Syrians in the constant flow and accessibility of hard currency into Syria that will decide their major action. This remains to be seen.

YAZAN
Many thanks for your answers and thoughtful posts.. I have been reading, but not commenting because you and few others covered the topic rather well.

مندس
Safe trip, safe stay, and safe return. Thanks for the information. Early on, and right after the first few demonstrations, I argued that the organizational skills of the young activists in Syria will improve with every failed demonstration. Your post gave me reasons to believe that I was right.

TARA
I have been reading every single one of your posts. I agree with مندس, you give many of us reasons to hope.

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June 24th, 2011, 4:00 pm

 

358. SANDRO LOEWE said:

#356

That is why the rate of canadians asking for political asylum in Syria is skyrocketing, while syrians, iraqis and other no longer ask for political asylum in free occidental unperfect democracies.

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June 24th, 2011, 4:01 pm

 

359. Syrian Knight said:

SL, have you forgotten that in the entire world, Syria is one of, if the highest taker of refugees? 2,000,000 Iraqis are in Syria. There are millions of other people in Syria from other countries, including Armenia, Palestine and Lebanon, plus Syria is home to more then half of the world’s Assyrian population. How many Iraqis has Canada taken in, again?

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June 24th, 2011, 4:07 pm

 

360. aboud said:

@353 “This guy is a rabid zionist who sees everything in light of what is good for “Israel” ”

And you don’t think that Baathists see things only through Bashar-tinted sunglasses? Don’t hate the messenger, just because you hate the message :)

According to Baathists here, everyone in Canada who demonstrates and protests gets “beaten”. Tell me, how many people did the police kill over the hockey riots? Those rioters caused more mayhem and destruction than anything seen in the Arab world, and yet the Canadian police’s response was far humane.

And junior thinks he’s going to teach the world about democracy…

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June 24th, 2011, 4:10 pm

 

361. Syrian Commando said:

#342

Syrian Knight, they removed that video you linked!! I HOPE YOU HAVE IT SAVED!!

#347

>The program will be over in the next few days

Bullsh*t. QE3 coming right up. The dollar is finished:

http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?s1id=AMBNS

>Why don’t you support your argument with evidence that China dumped 90% of its U.S. holdings?

This is the word on the street, we won’t know until they release their next statement in the coming month.

http://www.zerohedge.com/article/it%E2%80%99s-official-china-will-be-dumping-us-dollars

It’s all hidden under currency swaps.

#353

It’s quite telling that there’s a lot of yidds pretending to be Syrians on here!

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June 24th, 2011, 4:15 pm

 

362. Syrian Knight said:

“Those rioters caused more mayhem and destruction than anything seen in the Arab world”

You’re fucking stupid. Did the rioters start burning down buildings, hospitals, courthouses, government buildings and shops??? Were they cutting off peoples’ heads or hanging them and then desecrating their bodies??? Were they shooting at people with assault rifles and RPGs??? You’re a fucking moron to even think that the rioters caused anywhere near as much damage as the terrorists in Syria has, you delusional dumbfuck.

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June 24th, 2011, 4:17 pm

 

363. EHSANI2 said:

This silly link is your proof that China dumped 90% of its U.S. bonds? I thought that you had “proof” from the balance sheet of the Chinese Central Bank.

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June 24th, 2011, 4:21 pm

 

364. Yazan said:

Dear Ehsani,
Since you must be, “in on the con”, please share that knowledge. I’ve already lost 10% of my savings changing SYP to JPY. Should I just move to China and get it over with?

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June 24th, 2011, 4:45 pm

 

365. Syrian Commando said:

I stick to my word, check the balance sheets. The media keeps reporting the outstanding amounts without noting that a lot of the bonds have been “swapped” in various deals.

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June 24th, 2011, 4:46 pm

 

366. Aboud said:

@362 Your tears are deliciouuuuuuuuuuus :)

101 days and counting. Where oh where are the silly people who said it would all be over in two weeks.

(Probably hiding in the same place with others who said junior would launch a “war of liberation” on 5th June. Hehehehehe)

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June 24th, 2011, 4:47 pm

 

367. ziadsoury said:

Yazan, Ehsani, Tara, OTW, Mundas, Aboali and fellow humsi Aboud:

Great discussion. Thank you. I wish I have more time to contribute.

Norman,
I join Husam and Yazan in condemning your statement. You are a racist. First you would not condemn the thugs for beating the doctors in Daraa after treating the injured, second, you want the Alawi to form a new country and take all the Christians with them because the Sunnis are brutal and going to kill everyone, and finally, they got it coming. 20,000 got it coming?

I do remember Syria in the seventies and I know what happened. Both sides were wrong. Both sides committed crimes against humanity. Rifaat abuse of the system and the Syrian people had a major part in the MB uprising against the regime. Things do not happen in a vacuum. I thought, just like Husam did, that you were above this but your true colors are showing.

WD,
Great comment about Hama. I am sure Bashar is using drones against the uprising.

Dr Landis,
Ehsani’s post will be great for a main post.

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June 24th, 2011, 5:31 pm

 

368. why-discuss said:

Ehsani2

#347

I take the chance, US and Euro are very volatile currencies, especially with the new depression starting.
Gold and real estate are the only valid investments these days.
Do you think the price of real estate in Syria will go up 7% within a year? I doubt as not much people are buying.

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June 24th, 2011, 6:02 pm

 

369. why-discuss said:

Ziadkhoury

#367

If you offer him a drone, he’ll take it, who wouldn’t?
Then he’ll be accused of doing “surgical operations” instead of “brutal massacres”. He is a doctor after all.

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June 24th, 2011, 6:05 pm

 

370. why-discuss said:

Dale christian andersen

Being such a good friend to Bush, I guess you have the same smell that Chavez noticed after Bush passed in the UN.

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June 24th, 2011, 6:15 pm

 

371. why-discuss said:

Mawal85

FYI, Internet and mobile phones networks were on the whole day of Friday 24th in Damascus.
I shows that the government services are business as usual in Damascus.

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June 24th, 2011, 6:23 pm

 

372. democracynow said:

مندس,

Thank you for the interesting insights into Syria from the inside. Your optimism and spirit is quite inspiring. Keep it up!

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June 24th, 2011, 6:34 pm

 

373. 873 said:

310. EHSANI2 said:
Dear 873 (#285),
What you wrote about the U.S. economy and the debt levels leading to default is not credible. You are not the first to give this prognosis. There is a cottage industry of commentators and even economists who predict the imminent demise of the U.S. economy. I believe that they are mistaken.

Ehsani,
Your cottage industry includes former Fed heads, CNN Money, CNBC, Bloomberg Business and WSJ. Hardly mere ‘cottage’ cranks. There have been so many informed analyses of the death of the USD, US default and complete collapse by mainstream as well as non-mainstream respected news sources that I hestitate to spend time replying to your post. Meredith Whitney is right on the money w/ her Muni bond collapse scenario. Julian Robertson, Marc Faber, Nouriel Roubini… Carl Icahn returned 7 billion worth of investers money back in Mar (BEFORE Fukushima) saying he would no longer be responsible for losing others’ assets in the coming collapse. In one of the most serious, “Pimco- WOLRD’S LARGEST BOND FUND- dumped ALL US govt-related securities, including US treasuries and agency debt” back in early March. CNBC Mar 10, 2011
Japan, biggest holder of US debt after China, is imploding itself after its nuclear tsunami tragedy and can no longer prop US up. China began dumping dollars and US ‘investment instruments’ years ago.

China ratings house says US defaulting: Report
June 10, 2011 Straits Times

BEIJING – A CHINESE ratings house has accused the United States of defaulting on its massive debt, state media said on Friday, a day after Beijing urged Washington to put its fiscal house in order.
‘In our opinion, the United States has already been defaulting,’ Guan Jianzhong, president of Dagong Global Credit Rating Co Ltd, the only Chinese agency that gives sovereign ratings, was quoted by the Global Times saying.

Washington had already defaulted on its loans by allowing the dollar to weaken against other currencies – eroding the wealth of creditors including China, Mr Guan said.

Its not in the future. Recent Fed auctions drew so few buyers of US debt that the Fed has begun printing up more monoploy money to “buy” its own debt! (months ago) All of this has been well covered in the public domain for YEARS.

This doesnt include the DERIVATIVES debacle.

In the real economy? The unfolding catastrophe across America’s bread basket. Midwest crops are being flooded out from Montana to St Louis. Nuclear power plants are being submerged, with plutonium runoff into the Mississippi Delta. If one of the damns on the upper Missouri goes, downstream is toast, and of course The Madrid fault is on an even uglier level that is beyond the pale to discuss.

To lightly dismiss all these factors as ‘conspiracy theory’ or ‘cottage industry of doomsayers’ suggests a foolish refusal to look reality in the face.

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June 25th, 2011, 12:22 am

 

374. 873 said:

Why doesnt the edit button function? Will you ever fix it? The text jumps around uncontrollably making it nearly impossible to correct a post.

I meant to add this to above post on America’s real economy vis a vis the food sector.

http://www.cartoradiations.fr/Fort_Calhoun.php

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June 25th, 2011, 12:34 am

 

375. daleandersen said:

Memo to 873

RE: the edit button

The edit button works for everyone except you, Dude. It’s just another CIA/Israeli/Saudi/al-Qaeda plot you’ll have to deal with…

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Dale_Andersen/bashar-assad-speech-syria_n_880207_93398788.html

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June 25th, 2011, 3:04 am

 

376. Mina said:

Something that neither Khudr or Karfan miss to address is the fact that in both the Alawite religion and in the Baath ideology, emphasis is given to the common ground of Christianity and Islam. I wonder if in the Baath theory it is just because of the principle of laicity or if there is more about that?

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June 25th, 2011, 4:10 am

 

377. Yazan said:

Mina,
I think it was a compromise between the resolutely secular Michel Aflaq and Salah al-Bitar, Hizb al-Baath al-Arabi, and the more traditionalist, Akram al-Horani’s, Hizb al-Arabi al-Ishtiraki. The first was comprised of Paris-educated intellectuals, the second was more of a populist movement.

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June 25th, 2011, 5:21 am

 

378. 5ds said:

the edit button does not always work. the screen jumps. or the screen is blank.

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June 25th, 2011, 1:00 pm

 

379. Mouna said:

Hi … to all who are wondering where Souri333 is, he is currently commenting on Syria-news.com using the screen-name ناصح أمين

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June 25th, 2011, 4:14 pm

 

380. HS said:

On the conference

Some people said that they has been invited to the conference of the opposition in Damascus today but that they decided on their free will that they will not attend .
( The Muslim Brothers are evidently not invited and they are calling for the boycott of the conference )
It reminds me of this story which is dated from the earlier unrest in Homs:
(Some) Aleppo’s merchants have been refused to buy goods from their usual Homs sellers because Aleppo did not join the demonstrations.

On the money blackmarket

The MAIN money flow is very simple :
Syrians from abroad send some money ( US dollars ) to Syria to their relatives.
Some merchants import goods illegally ( to evade customs taxes ) through smugglers from Jordan , Lebanon , Turkey and pay their sellers in US dollars.
In fact , through this compensation , not a single US dollar bills needs to enter in Syria.

Do I need to name the main border cities involved in these very profitable smuggling operations or just to list the towns where armed protesters are active and state officers are killed ?

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June 27th, 2011, 4:54 am

 

381. cruious visitor said:

does anyone know what happened to Karfan? where is he today?

THanks

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July 5th, 2011, 1:17 am

 

382. Syria Comment » Archives » Syria: An Uprising, Not a Revolution, By Yazan Badran said:

[...] sects within this struggle. The specific dynamics of how this works for Alawis were discussed in an excellent piece on this very blog a few weeks [...]

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July 5th, 2011, 11:49 pm

 

383. Syria: An Uprising, Not a Revolution said:

[...] sects within this struggle. The specific dynamics of how this works for Alawis were discussed in an excellent piece on this very blog a few weeks [...]

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July 6th, 2011, 2:37 am

 

384. US Supports Dialogue by Calling for Regime Change? (And Other Syrian Happenings) « بنسبة لنا said:

[...] sects within this struggle. The specific dynamics of how this works for Alawis were discussed in an excellent piece on this very blog a few weeks [...]

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July 8th, 2011, 12:38 pm

 

385. أحمد نظير الأتاسي said:

Dear Khudr
I thank so much for this brilliant article. It is brilliant in analysis and courageous in position the self outside the group looking inside. I hope you are living in Syria, for people like you are the solution. It took me many years to realize what you have described, and I just wrote an angry response to Yazan Badran’s article basically stating what you have said in your article. my friend, what you have describe is called nationalism. There is a real and distinct Alawi nationalism (we can also argue the case of Christian nationalism). Once a group talks in terms of self and other, they develop a group self-awareness that resembles nationalism. It has long puzzled me the paranoia my Alawi friends showed when the word Alawi was mentioned. There was an obvious belligerence and lack of conspicuous pride that really surprised me. For “a sect the rules Syria” I saw no real flaunting of identity. I did not realize that Assad has prohibited such a pride from forming on grounds other than allegiance to his rule. But my friend, nationalism is a middle class “disease”, especially emerging middle classes. This is however known, it is the case of a small sect outgrowing its “small sect” identity. This is exactly the reason why Sufi orders never grew to become major denominations like Ja’fari Shi’ism and Sunnism. This is also the reason why the Safavid Sufi order of the 15th century moved toward Ja’fari Shi’ism once it acquired an empire in the 16th century. Secrecy and clanish allegiances cannot sustain a large group. It is no wonder that rigid legalistic religions like Sunnism and Catholicism grow and become dominant, it is because there “laws” can maintain and regulate a large social group, a majority. What Alawis can do is to formulate an external religiosity to function as a public identity, an identity that is not defined solely in opposition to a majoritarian identity. the Alevis and the Bektashis of Turkey could supply you with great examples. I am not talking as a person from a majority, I am in fact a small minority because I have lived exactly the later half of my life in the West as an “agnostic non-practicing Muslim” (weird ha!!). As for Syria, no one needs to fight for the bitter end, all what it takes is to diminish the executive powers of the president, sacrifice the Baath party, and loosen the grip of the security service, along with a real revival of a public Alawi (and Christian) identity. there many meanings for “downing the regime”. My blod address is given above, hope to continue the dialogue. Honored to have read you.

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July 10th, 2011, 2:53 am

 

386. Serendipity Rodey said:

YES, OF COURSE WE NEED TO GET PAST THE “SIEGE MENTALITY” THAT HAS BEEN FORCED UPON THE ALAWI MINORITY AND REGIME IN SYRIA. BUT THE FACT OF THE MATTER, WHICH FEW OBSERVERS (AND CERTAINLY NO WESTERN ONES) HAVE THE COURAGE TO ADMIT, IS THAT ALAWIS PARTAKE OF A GREAT VARIETY OF RELIGIOUS TRADITIONS; WHICH IN THE LONG RUN, SPEAKS FAR MORE HOPEFULLY AND INCLUSIVELY FOR EVENTUAL RELIGIOUS PLURALISM IN THE MIDDLE EAST THAN THE TRADITIONAL INTOLERANCE OF SUNNISM, AND THE WAHHABI EMPHASIS ON ANNIHILATING THE “INFIDEL” THAT WOULD CERTAINLY CHARACTERIZE ANY SUNNI REACTION TO THE TOPPLING OF SYRIA’S GOVERNMENT. I LIVE WITH THE SAD REMINDER OF WHAT A SUNNI “REVOLUTION” DID TO THE VENERABLE BUDDHIST MONUMENTS OF WORLD HERITAGE IN AFGHANISTAN, NOT TO SPEAK OF THE ETHNIC AND RELIGIOUS MINORITIES THERE! THOSE LIVING IN TIBET AND INDIA ARE ALSO WELL AWARE OF WHAT THIS SAME “SCOURGE” DID TO EVERY EXPRESSION OF ENLIGHTENED CO-EXISTENT SPIRITUAL CULTURE IT ENCOUNTERED IN THE JIHADS OF AN EARLIER ERA. IF THE ALAWIS OF SYRIA AND ELSEWHERE ARE EVER ALLOWED SELF-EXPRESSION AS A COMMUNITY WITHOUT AN ARMED ESCORT FOR PROTECTION, WE WILL SEE THAT THEY PARTAKE OF A WONDERFUL DIVERSITY OF PERENNIAL WISDOM, THAT IS ITSELF A WORLD HERITAGE.

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November 23rd, 2011, 2:33 pm

 

387. Toprak Tan said:

You are absolutely wrong. Because i am non practising alevi. :))) This is the proof of your lies!I am not muslim or christian i am just a ALEVI. It is my unique identiy. I can give my life for my people and every alevi can do the same no matter they are kurdish, syrian or turkish or american or european. We still remain alevi.

You are just ridiculous. All of information you got is a non alevi information you can not handle it unless being a nice human.

I am a Turkish Agnostic-Alevi and most of us are atheist.

So how could you dare saying they cant be alevi if they dont practice? And we still remain ALEVI i mean no matter if one of us believe in god or does not practice anything we are still the same we are ONE in ONE.
As Alevite we dont want to spread our secrets beacuse of lots of sick people around us.

For instance i have to light candle every thursday evening but i prefer to not practice it.Because it seems ridiculous to me. But i want my childs my people to practice our rituals.

People do not pay attention to wikipedia informations and muslim or christians information about us. We are just esoteric and love humanism. We just dont want to explain our culture to non alevis.OK? It is a human right. We chose it. Thats it. And everyone, please stop humuliating us on internet! You will not convert or force us again with your sick minds. We know who we are we will not change with your suggesitions or definitions!!!!

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March 24th, 2012, 6:40 am

 

388. Coltshot said:

I understand this is a little late but…

@Toprak Tan,

Alawi’s are not the same as Alevi’s. Infact they are quite the opposite.

Alawi’s in Turkey are known as the Nusayri’s.

While Alevi religion seems to revolve around the belief that God judges people based on the behaviour towards other instead of following dogma’s and all in all is a rather pleasant religion, the Alawi’s have a very pessimistic religion.

They actually belief in a form of predestination were there are two kinds of humans: 1. the people of light and 2. the people of darkness. These former used to be creatures in a perfect, divine world of light and were kicked out by God for sinning against him. Now the Alawi’s see themselves as these people of light and can return to their version of heaven through gaining gnosis and passing through a few cycles of reincarnation. The people of darkness cannot return as they never came from there in the first place.

While in the past the great Alawi’s Al-Khasibi and Al-Tabarani allowed converts into their religion (they converted the people of coastal Syria) on a large scale the sect today is totally closed for reasons unknown (probably persecution just like what happened with the Druze).

This belief is full of contradictions since their own sources state that these creatures of light are spread among all nations, not just Arabs and that God appears before many nations to reveal the truth to these people. And if this is indeed true then why were the Syrians allowed into this religion (Al-Khasibi sent people to Iran and Egypte as well but failed to win converts, he only succeeded in Syria and some places in Iraq)?

Most of their religious texts also heavily cricise Imami Shias, Sunni’s and Christians on their doctrines. They disagree with their religions yet they do not mention the previous predestination teaching. A bit wierd, why would their religion matter if they are doomed anyway?

Alawi’s today believe, regardless of the fact that they were very keen to accept converts in the past and the fact that their own books teach that the light-people are spread across the world, regardlessof the fact that their own great leader were usually converts, that all non-Alawi’s will reincarnate as pigs, apes, donkeys or other animals. After that they will be insects and then stones and pieces of metal.

They also hold bizarre views of women, most heard is that they believe women are created by devils and thus have no soul and cannot be reborn or go to the world of light/heaven.

Other versions include that a good women might be reborn as a man, even though women in Adana today believe they can indeed be reborn but not as men (and men not as women). A last version is that the men pray for the women…

Anyway, while I do wish the Alawi people the very best and I think they should be able to live in safety, I understand why people would not like them considering these rather hostile beliefs.

I myself met a few Alawi’s, they never made it a secret they were Alawi’s and they were extremely friendly, open and secular people. But how can I trust their friendliness if these people really think I am going to be a dog for not being born into the right family?

Can’t Alawi’s understand their beliefs are insulting to others?

It could be that the traditional Alawi religion is less strong in Syria today than in Turkey (I met Alawi’s from Turkey) but I find it very hard to defend that Alawi’s are just more liberal Shias, since they are more like dogmatic gnostics with some pretty bizarre teachings.

If an Alawi disagrees with my observation of the religion, please respond. I got all this stuff mainly from the book by Yaron Friedman, the one by Matti Moosa and the one by Bar-Asher and Kofsky.

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September 6th, 2013, 6:28 pm

 

389. TOPRAK TAN said:

@COLTSHOT

As Turkish Alevi(and i know overwhelming majority of Anatolian Alevis and even non-zionist/non-islamist Europeans have the same positive attitudes on Levantine Alevis, the end!) going to give a s**t to your zionazi/jihadist-like propagandas on innocent levantine alevis. Obviously throughout the uprising of this issue, Anyone wise has seen how you zionuts wanted to see the whole Alevi people exterminated.

Why all of these endless efforts against us? I know why because you all are anti-indoeuropeanist. Persians, Germans, Anatolians and any other brothers of us(even assimilated or pure) will not be erased from this earth. You all war mongers and indo-european haters will be learnt to be respectful on non-semites.

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February 1st, 2014, 3:16 pm

 

390. COLTSHOT said:

@TOPRAK TAN

You are wrong.

1.)

I do not hate the Alevi’s, nor the Alawi’s.

2.)

Fact is the Nusayri’s hold very very different beliefs from the Turkish/Zaza Alevi’s.

I have read a German language book about the Nusayri’s from Turkey and their views are a little more mellow. Also I talked with a Syrian Alawi’s and he told me how his people view others. Surely he told me he swore to secrecy so he could not go into doctrinal detail but he was willing to talk about their community/culture.

As for the Anatolian Alevi’s…

It is a good thing you even accept your 80% (on average) indo-european (or semite) background instead of pretending to be the direct decendants of Alp Arslan and Cengis Khan like most Turks tend to do (Turks are only 20% of mongoloid background obviously).

As for the Alevi’s… Can you tell me the rationelle behind your belief that you hold the true religion, and as such hold universalist and tolerant beliefs yet at the same time keep your religion closed for people not born into Alevi families?

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February 26th, 2014, 4:40 pm

 

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