Syrian Religion

Essay by TabooHigh School, 11th grade March 2004

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Syria is a very diverse area when dealing with religions. It is not all Muslim; it actually has at least 3 different religions. There are the Alawites, the Shi'i, and Sunnis to mention a couple. These are all very unique religions differing from each other in very unique ways.

There are about 1.4 million Alawites in Syria. The best-known Alawite was Bashar al-Assad who was president of Syria after his father Hafez al-Assad, who was also an Alawite. Know one really knows how the Alawites originated, but some believe that the Alawites might have descended from Alexander the Great. Alawites are located mostly in Latakia, a city in the Northeastern coast of Syria, as well as in the An-Nusariyah Mountains. They are known for being very friendly, hospitable, yet also very mysterious people. They consider themselves Muslims yet still hold very different believes. For example, if an Alawite were to meet a visitor he would say he is Muslim, and would avoid discussing the particular parts of his/her beliefs.

They study the Islamic holy book, the Koran, but their believes often differ. They believe all people were once stars but fell from there because they were disobedient. In order to go back to where they were they have to be "transformed" seven times. Those who live faithful lives will be reborn as Christians. Yet, those who are not faithful will be reborn as animals.

Then there are the Shi'i. The Shi'i represent about 10 to 15% of the Muslim world. The word Shi'I refers to Ali who was the son in law of Muhammed. The are present in various forms such as the Twelver Shi'is. They are significant minorities in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, the Gulf States, Pakistan, and India. They also represent the largest group in...