The Alawi creed originated in Iraq during the ninth century. Muhammad ibn Nusayr al-Bakri al-Numari (d. 883) was a disciple of the eleventh Shi’a Imam Hasan al-Askari (d. 873) but was reportedly denounced by the Imam for his unorthodox views. He did establish a wide following, however, and the community grew enough to develop into a faith and to train theologians. By the eleventh century, there were two Alawi centers; one in Baghdad, Iraq and one in Latakia, Syria. The Baghdad center was destroyed by the Mongols in 1258.

Alawi Muslims practice an esoteric form of...

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Arabs in Syria

Sunni Arabs arrived in Syria in the 7th century with the wave of early Islamic expansion from the Arabian peninsula, and established the Umayyad Dynasty centered in Damascus. They form the dominant ethnic majority in contemporary Syria.

Armenian Apostolic Church in Syria, The

The Armenian Apostolic Church is an Eastern Orthodox Church and the second largest Orthodox tradition in Syria. The Church was founded in Armenia where Christianity was established as the state religion in the year 301 CE. With the fall of the Armenian kingdoms in the 11th century and the rise of the Safavids in Iran in the 16th century, Armenians immigrated to cities throughout Anatolia and the Levant. In 1742, Rome officially recognized a separate Armenian Catholic Church and over the next two centuries, Protestant and Roman Catholic missionaries proselytized among members of the...

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Ba'ath Party in Syria, The

The al-Ba’ath Arab Socialist Party is a political party founded upon the Arab political philosophy known as Ba’athism, which promotes secular Arab nationalism, Arab socialism, pan-Arabism, and militarism. Ba’athism developed in resistance to European colonialism in the Arab world, and understood colonialism as the root cause of problems in the Arab world. The Ba’athist movement gained prominence in Syria in the 1940s, championed by Michel Aflaq and...

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Baha'i Faith in Syria, The

The Baha’i Faith was founded in 19th century Iran by Mirza Hosayn-Ali Nuri Baha’ullah (d. 1892) and developed from Babism, an Iranian messianic movement, and Shi’a Shaikhism. Baha’is acknowledge numerous prophets, including Muhammad, Jesus, Krishna, Buddha, and most recently Baha’ullah. The Baha’i Faith is monotheistic and universalist, recognizing the truth claims of other religious traditions. Followers believe in progressive revelation, such that each age has its prophet and revelations specific to that time. Both Sunni and Shi’a Muslims consider Baha’is to be heretical, and in Iran...

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