See our website http://www.MUSLIMHOPE.COM & our playlist at http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL1C7F68B548009FDD with 75 videos called “Dealing with Islam, Muslims: Sunni, Shi’ite, Alawites, Sufis.” Dr Steve Morrison and Larry Wessels of Christian Answers of Austin, Texas/ Christian Debater (YOUTUBE channel page CANSWERSTV: http://www.youtube.com/user/CAnswersTV?feature=mheesee; websites: http://www.MUSLIMHOPE.COM, http://www.BIBLEQUERY.ORG, & http://www.HISTORYCART.COM) host this series of shows. Islam is not a monolithic religion and consists of differing belief systems. Another sect of Islam is known as the ‘Alawites (also known as Nusayris). Their religious beliefs differ greatly from those of the Sunnis and the Shi’ites and therefore they are considered outside of the Islamic faith by many within Islam. As a result of this they have been persecuted and have been considered wild outlaws. Two of their very distinctive beliefs are that they believe in a “battery-powered electric messiah” and that there is a “Trinity” but not as Christians would believe but this ‘Alawite supreme manifestation of the “Trinity” is Muhammed, ‘Ali, and Salman al-Faris. Millions hold to ‘Alawite beliefs and their religion controls the nation of Syria today.
The Origin of the Alawites is in dispute. According to some sources they were originally Nusayri, a sect that broke ties with Twelver Shiites in the 9th century. The Alawites trace their origins to the eleventh Shia Imam, Hasan al Askari (d.873), and his pupil Ibn Nusayr (d.868). Nusayr proclaimed himself the “bab” or door (representative) of the 11th Imam. The sect seems to have been organised by a follower of Ibn Nusayr’s known as al-Khasibi who died in Aleppo in about 969. Al-Khasibi’s grandson al-Tabarani moved to Latakia on the Syrian coast. There he refined the Nusayri religion and, with his pupils, converted much of the local population. Today Alawites exist as a minority, but politically powerful, religious sect in Syria.
Theologically, Alawites today claim to be Twelver Shiites, but traditionally they have been designated as “extremists — ghulat” and outside the bounds of Islam by the Muslim mainstream for their deification of Ali ibn Abi Talib or Ali. Only one holy book of the Alawites, Kitab al Majmu`, has been translated into French and printed. This was done in Beirut in the mid-nineteenth century by an Alawite convert to Christianity, who was later killed by a fellow Alawite for his treachery. The Alawite religion has many similarities to Isma’ilism. Like Ismaili Shi`as, Alawis believe in a system of divine incarnation as well as an esoteric reading of the Quran. Unlike Ismailis, Alawis regard Ali as the incarnation of the deity in the divine triad. As such, Ali is the “Meaning;” Muhammad, whom Ali created of his own light, is the “Name;” and Salman the Persian is the “Gate.” Alawi catechism is expressed in the formula: “I turn to the Gate; I bow before the Name; I adore the Meaning.” An Alawi prays in a manner patterned after the shahada: “I testify that there is no God but Ali.” But he also must declare that he is a Muslim. Alawites believe that they are the true and best Muslims.
The Alawite religion is secret and Alawites do not accept converts or the publication of their sacred texts. The vast majority of Alawites know precious little about the contents of their sacred texts or theology which is jealously guarded by a small class of male initiates. At the age of 15 or 16 all Alawite men are given a few hours of initiation classes, but from then on, it is up to them to decide whether they want to become students of the religion, attach themselves to a Shaykh, and begin the lengthy initiation process and course of study in the religion.
‘Alawites are an offshoot of Shi’ites. Some other Muslims, particularly in Syria and Lebanon, accept them as Muslims, but others consider themheretics (ghali) and outside of Islam. ‘Alawites have seven pillars of Islam, including Jihad and devotion to ‘Ali,who is divine. ‘Alawites believe in drinking wine, and they have something similar to a communion service.
Tens of thousands of ‘Alawites have been killed by other Muslims, but today ‘Alawites are in control in the country of Syria.
Secrecy: ‘Alawites have tried to keep their inner teaching and rituals secret, somewhat like the masons or Mormons. One of their rituals is a communion, including drinking wine. Like Catholics, they believe that the wine is transubstantiated into deity, Allah.
The Five Pillars of Islam: the creed, prayer, alms, pilgrimage, fasting during Ramadan, are believed only as symbols and there is no need to practice them. They have two other pillars:
Jihad, or holy struggle/war, was also considered the sixth pillar by the Kharijites.
Worship of ‘Ali, (called Waliya), is the seventh pillar. This involves not only devotion to ‘Ali, but also struggle against ‘Ali’s enemies.