Syria

The Millet System

The Millet System refers to the Ottoman administration of separate religious communities that acknowledged each community’s authority in overseeing its own communal affairs, primarily through independent religious court systems and schools.

Imam Musa al-Sadr

Imam Musa al-Sadr (1928-1978) was an Iranian-Lebanese Shi’a religious leader. As head of the Supreme Islamic Shi’ite Council in 1973, he issued a highly influential fatwa recognizing Syria’s Alawis as Shi’a Muslims.

Muhammad Amin al-Husayni

Muhammad Amin al-Husayni (1895-1974) was the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem (1921-1948) and a Palestinian nationalist leader who worked to prevent the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine. Al-Husayni attended the 1919 Pan-Syrian Congress in Damascus, where he supported the creation...

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Jabhat al-Nusra

Jabhat al-Nusra is a Sunni Islamist jihadist militia with affiliations to al-Qaeda currently active in the armed opposition to the Syrian government. The United Nations and the United States have designated Jabhat al-Nusra as a terrorist organization. Its leader is Abu Mohammed al-Jawani.

The Ba'ath Party in Syria

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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Michel Aflaq

Contributed by Carleigh Beriont, Harvard Divinity School

Michel Aflaq (1910-1989) was a Syrian philosopher and Arab nationalist whose ideas provided the foundation for Ba’athist political thought. With...

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The Yezidi in Syria

The Yezidi are a Kurdish religious minority that live in the transnational Kurdish region in Syria, Southeastern Turkey, Armenia, in the Kurdish heartland of Northern Iraq, and in diaspora communities, particularly in Germany. Yezidi beliefs are a syncretic blend of Islamic ‘Adawiyya Sufism, pre-Islamic Kurdish religion, and Zoroastrianism, strongly influenced by the 12th century Sufi mystic Sheikh ‘Adi ibn Musafir (d. 1160/1162). Sheikh ‘Adi’s burial site in Lalish, Iraq, is Yazidism’s primary pilgrimage site. The Yezidis are a closely-knit community that stresses endogamy and a...

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