I must say this is a first-rate aha experience to me!!!
I was always of the conviction that the Alevis and the Alawis were one and the same movement, albeit in different countries. But I believe you when you say they should be regarded as totally separate movements.
And as for Islamic movements with close ties to Zoroastrianism, which one would be regarded the closest? Perhaps the Pantheistic version of Sufism presented by Ibn Arabi? Or are there other candidates?
- Dölj citerad text -
no, Turkish/Kurdish Alevis (Bektashi-Alevis and Kizilbash-Alevis) and
Arabic-speaking ´Alawis (Nusayri) are not the same. For that reason I
did not count them within the mentioned data on Alevis.
Of course, far back in history they might share the heritage of
"extremist Shiism" (_guluww_; ghulaat = 'exaggerators' in worshipping
the Emams/Ahl-e Beyt). But they have no common history and no
connections in terms of theology and organisation in times when we
have sufficient data (late Middle Ages, Modern Times). (Sunni Muslim
heresiographs and following that modern scholars were rather quick to
blame always 'Iranians' for all heterodoxy.)
On the other hand, recently, Alevis and Nusayri-Alawis became
affiliated partly in Turkey and in the Western Diaspora, where
Arab-Nusayri-Alawi from Turkey organise sometimes within Turkish Alevi
groups in lack of having their own organisations. They can associate
of course on the basis of 'love for Ali', hence their identical name:
´Alevii = ´Alawii.
On the other hand, in their traditional regions in Turkey (region of
Antioch = modern Antakya, officially Hatay) and in Syria on an
official level at least (the presidential family especially) they
present themselves as 'good Muslims', in Turkey by building their own
mosques (which neither Alevis nor Alawis traditionally used), in Syria
by participation in mosque prayer on official holidays by the
president for example.
In that context, the Nusayri-Alawi present themselves as more orthodox
Shiites as they ever were and on that basis, as you rightly observed,
linked themselves, albeit more on the state level, with Iran and
Shiites in Lebanon. In Turkey, there were some Turkish Alevi dedes
('priests') who visited Iran for 'education', and we have a Turkish
Alevi organisation in Turkey and in the diaspora that presents itself
as rather mainstream Shii (the _Ehlibeyt Vakfi_; we even encountered
Iranian mission among Turkish Alevis in Bulgaria, where they built a
mosque for them!). However, on a broader level this is prevented by
harsh Turkish nationalism (and Kurdish nationalism, one must add)
among the Alevis, which excludes any possible alliance with
(Shiite-Persian) Iran or Arabs, how much Shiite they may be.
Another reason for a distinctiveness of Alevism and (mainstream
Twelver) Shiism in Turkey is that there exist 'normal' Twelver Shiites
too in Eastern Turkey, a remnant of Safawid and Russian rule over
North-Eastern Anatolia: Azeri Turks so to speak. In Turkey, they have
their own organisations and mosques, too. They call themselves Caferi
(after Emam Ja´far a.s-.Saadeq), not Alevi.
Zitat von Alexander Bard
> Dear Robert
> Many thanks for the information!
> I believe it is good for us here on Ushta to understand the religious
> traditions (and contemporary situation) in the Middle East better.
> Are the Alevis in Turkey and the Alawis in Syria the same group? If so, I
> would expect some 15% of Syrian to be Alawi and hold many powerful positions
> in that country. Which in turn could explain the strong links politically
> between today's Syria on hand and the Shia government if Iran and Hizbollah
> in Lebanon on the other. What do you think?
>> Dear Alexander,
>> again, a difficult question. First of all, who counts as Alevi?
>> Moreover, who counts himself as Alevi? We have groups, which are
>> counted as Alevis by the majority, but insist that they are not
>> (certain rural 'Bektashis' for example; Iranian Ahl-e Haqq, on the
>> other hand, claim that Anatolian Bektashis are a sub-group of
>> themselves). But let's keep that aside and look to those groups as
>> well the academic as the average Alevi functionary might consider as
>> The second problem in that case is that we do not have official census
>> data as the Alevis are not recognised as a distinct denomination,
>> especially in Turkey, where they are simply counted for as 'Müslüman'
>> or 'Islam'. (One exception was interwar Albania, where the Albanian
>> Bektashis were recognised as religious group with their own school
>> textbooks alongside with catholic and greek-orthodox Christians and
>> Sunni Muslims.)
>> But estimates for Turkey are 5--30 percent. Turkey's population: 71.5
>> mio / let's say 15 percent =
>> 10.73 million
>> Migration diaspora in Europe, America etc. approximately
>> 1.25 million (??)
>> Balkan Turkic subgroups (Bulgaria, Makedonia, Romania, Kosova, Greece)
>> 0.5 million (??)
>> Iraq (Shabak and other designations), including other regional
>> subgroups (Qizilbash in Syria, Bektashis in Egypt ??)
>> 0.25 million
>> Albania / Albanians
>> 0.25 million ???
>> Total ca.: 13 million (just a rough estimate)
>> It is not clear what remains of Qizilbash religious traditions under a
>> Twelver Shiite surface (Republic of Azerbayjan, Iran). However, as the
>> very active Alevi organisations did not find counter-organisations or
>> at least some individuals there to cooperate with, there might not be.
>> However, I met an Iranian Qashqa'i in Estanbul who claimed that their
>> religion is the same. He was working for Alevis as a translator
>> Best wishes,