Nusayriyyah, Nusayr, Nusayri Theology, Nusayris
Nusayriyyah is an
extreme Shi'ite group named after its purported founder, Abu Shu'ayb
Muhammad ibn Nusayr (d.868). Nusayri doctrine is a mixture of Islamic,
Gnostic and Christian beliefs. The Nusayris possess three distinctive
doctrines which have led them to be treated as heretics by Sunni Muslims.
Nusayris have their own distinct religious leaders, called shaikhs.
These shaikhs are believed to be endowed with a kind of divine authority.
One of the Shaikh's duties is to lead religious and other forms of
ceremony. Nusayris have special feasts in which they celebrate the
anniversaries of their sacred figures.
- The belief in incarnation. The Nusayris believe that Ali
is God in the flesh. Ali created Muhammad from his spirit, and Muhammad
created Salman, an early Shi'ite saint. These three form a Trinity in
which Ali is described as the 'meaning', Muhammad is the 'name' and Salman
is the 'door'.
- The rejection of the Qur'an and all forms of prayer associated
with the Sunni tradition. All Islamic teaching can be interpreted
spiritually and therefore does not have to be taken literally.
- Nusayris believe in reincarnation. Contrary to Islamic belief,
the Nusayris claim that women do not have souls and, therefore, there is
no need to explain the secrets of Nusayri doctrine to women.
At the age of 19 Nusayris undergo an initiation rite in which they
begin to learn some of the secrets of the sect. Nusayris are in fact born
into the sect; the initiation ceremony serves to confirm their
The Nusayris trace their
origins to the eleventh Shi'a Imam al-Hasan al-Askari (d.873) and his
pupil Ibn Nusayr (d.868). The Nusayris mostly lived in the mountains of
Syria, supported by the Shi'ite Hamdanid dynasty. In 1085 the Shi'ite
state fell to the Seljuk Turks. The break down of political support made
the Nusayris extremely vulnerable to attack and persecution. In 1260 the
Mongols captured Aleppo, the capital of the region, and killed many
thousands of Shi'as. At the end of the 13th century many Shi'as were
massacred by Sunni Muslims who objected to Shi'a support for the Christian
crusaders. From then on the Nusayris and other Shi'ite branches were
required to conform to the practices of Sunni Islam.
In the twentieth century Nusayris have enjoyed a degree of political
dominance that is disproportionate to their size. After the first world
war the French, who were ruling Syria at the time, made an unsuccessful
attempt to establish a separate Nusayri state. Since 1970, following the
coup of the Nusayri air force chief, Hafiz al-Asad, the Nusayris have been
dominant in Syrian political and military life. Attempts to politically
discredit President Asad because of his heterodox religious beliefs have
Nusayris use wine as a symbol for God.
It is estimated that
there about 600,000 Nusayris in Syria who make up about 11% of the
population of the country (Halm 1991, 159).
Headquarters / Main Centre
The headquarters of the movement is in Damascus, Syria.
Overview of World Religions Project
Unfortunately, we are not aware of any scholarly texts on this
subject which have yet been translated into English. We know
that a number of Arabic scholars have written wonderful texts
in Arabic, and look for the day when we will be able to add
higher quality texts to this presentation.
Pillars of Faith
Testament of Abraham
Revelation - Hadiths from Book 1 of al-Bukhari
Belief - Hadiths from Book 2 of al-Bukhari
Knowledge - Hadiths from Book 3 of al-Bukhari
Times of the Prayers - Hadiths from Book 10 of al-Bukhari
Shortening the Prayers (At-Taqseer) - Hadiths from Book 20 of al-Bukhari
Pilgrimmage (Hajj) - Hadiths from Book 26 of al-Bukhari
Fighting for the Cause of Allah (Jihad) - Hadiths of Book 52 of al-Bukhari
ONENESS, UNIQUENESS OF ALLAH (TAWHEED) - Hadiths of Book 93 of al-Bukhari
Hanafiyyah School Theology (Sunni)
Malikiyyah School Theology (Sunni)
Shafi'iyyah School Theology (Sunni)
Hanbaliyyah School Theology (Sunni)
Maturidiyyah Theology (Sunni)
Ash'ariyyah Theology (Sunni)
Ja'fari Theology (Shia)
Nusayriyyah Theology (Shia)
Zaydiyyah Theology (Shia)
Early Islamic History Outline
Kaaba, Black Stone
Interactive Muslim Calendar
The individual articles presented here were generally first published
in the early 1980s. This subject presentation was first placed
on the Internet in December 1997.
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