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M. Bar-Asher, A. Kofsky
The 'Alawī Religion: An Anthology

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221 p., 156 x 234 mm, 2021
ISBN: 978-2-503-59781-2
Languages: English
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Retail price: EUR 60,00 excl. tax
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The ‘Alawī religion, known for most of its history by the name Nuṣayriyya, emerged in Iraq over a millennium ago. An esoteric, syncretistic religion with a close affinity to Shī‘ī Islam, its origins are shrouded in obscurity. Over time, beliefs and rituals deriving from paganism, Zoroastrianism and Christianity were grafted to the radical Shī‘ī substrate, giving the religion its distinctive character. Throughout their history the ‘Alawites were a persecuted religious minority, but in the 1970s they came to power in Syria and retained absolute rule until recently. There is also a significant population in Hatai Province in southern Turkey.

Arising from the authors’ long-standing interest in the ‘Alawī religion, this anthology offers for the first time a selection from the distinctive literature of the mysterious religion. The book opens with a detailed introduction setting the background for the themes it will cover:  the mystery of the divinity in the ‘Alawī faith; rituals and ceremonies; calendar and festivals; the doctrine of reincarnation; initiation into the divine mysteries and the esoteric circle; and finally, the identity and self-definition of the religion’s followers vis-à-vis Islam and other religions.



Chapter 1: The Mystery of the Divinity

The trinity ʿAlī-Muḥammad-Salmān and its emanations

God’s incarnation in human figures: incarnation and docetism

Cyclical revelation of the deity

Chapter 2: Reincarnation


On the knowledge of the garments of light and the garments of darkness

Reincarnation as retribution for the believer’s sins

The punishment of twenty-four groups of Israelites reincarnated in animals

The story of a Nuṣayrī-ʿAlawī believer reincarnated in a wolf

Chapter 3: Antinomianism, Rituals and Festivals



Rituals and Festivals

Chapter 4: Initiation


Taʿlīq – the spiritual marriage and the bond between master and disciple

Samāʿ – The spiritual pregnancy and birth

The rules of the taʿlīq

The initiation of Sulaymān al-Adhanī

Fulfilment of “the obligatory commandment and the mandatory duty”

Chapter 5: Identity and Self-Definition


Muḥammad ibn Nuṣayr – creator of the Nuṣayrī-ʿAlawī identity

The Nuṣayrī-ʿAlawī identity in the pre-cosmic world and in this world

The attitude towards the first two caliphs and to Sunnī Islam

The figure of ʿAlī vis-à-vis that of ʿUmar

Curses against opponents and enemies of the Nuṣayrī-ʿAlawī religion

Mujīb al-Murshid in the eyes of his followers

Selected sayings of Sājī al-Murshid

Epilogue: The Ode for the Ghadīr Khumm Festival





Interest Classification:
Religion (including History of Religion) & Theology

This publication is also distributed by: Proquest e-books, ISD
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