Syria

Turkmen in Syria

There is a large ethnic Syrian Turkmen minority in Syria, numbering over 100,000. The community descends from Central Asian Turkic migrants who arrived in the region with the Turkic Seljuk conquest of Syria in 1055. Numerous other waves of migration followed. The Turkmen population is concentrated in the northern part of Syria, which borders with Turkey. The Turkmen are predominantly Sunni Muslim.

See also: Syria

The Syraic Orthodox Church

The Syriac Orthodox Church, sometimes referred to as the Jacobite Church after the 6th century Monophysite Bishop Jacob Baradeus, traces its history to St. Peter’s establishment of his Holy See in Antioch, the capitol of the Roman province of Syria. The Church is presided over by the Patriarch of Antioch, located in Damascus. The majority of the community of Syriac Orthodox Christians exists today in Kerala, India, as an autocephalous Oriental Orthodox church...

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See also: Syria, Christianity

Sufism in Syria

Sufism (tasawwuf) is an Islamic modality that emphasizes self-purification and the attainment of spiritually advanced states through the assumption of specific practices and disciplines, typically through affiliation with a particular brotherhood and its leader, a sheikh. Sufi practices, whether one is officially bound to a brotherhood or not, are widespread in Syria and include visiting the tombs of saints, members of the family of the Prophet Muhammad, or other revered figures and the recitation of litanies (dhikr).

The Naqshbandiyyah...

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See also: Syria, Islam

Shi'ism in Syria

Ithna’ashari or Twelver Shi’a Muslims are the largest group of Shi’a Muslims worldwide. In the 19th and 20th centuries, Syrian Shi’a Muslims were marginalized among the pan-Arab nationalists, despite their involvement in the establishment of the Ba’ath Party and the political importance of the Alawis. Sunni...

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See also: Syria, Islam

Salafism in Syria

Contributed by Rachel Foran, MTS Student, Harvard Divinity School

Salafism (al-Salafiyya) is a global purist movement of Islamic reform, which seeks to regenerate Islam by a return to the doctrine of the salaf (pious forefathers; companions of the Prophet). Salafism is not a monolithic, homogenous movement. Although most Salafis share a consensus on what constitutes Islamic theology and Islamic law, within the movement exists a spectrum of views on how best to politically engage with society. Salafi political engagement is typically understood as having any of four...

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See also: Syria, Islam

Protestant Christianity in Syria

American Protestant missionaries arrived in Syria in 1848 drawn to the Levant by the emotional resonance of the Holy Land, which figured prominently in American Protestant thought, and by a belief that the spread of American ideals could contribute to social progress in other nations. The early 19th century saw the Great Awakening, a Protestant American revivalist movement that spurred missionary work under the aegis of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM).

...

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The Maronite Church in Syria

The Maronite Church is an Eastern Catholic Church, or Uniate Church, that follows the Roman Catholic Church. It was founded by the 4th century Syriac monk St. Maron (d. 410 CE) and grew out of the Monastery of Bait Maron in the 5th century, spreading throughout the Levant. Mass is held in Syriac-Aramaic and in Arabic. As a result of Maronite ties to Rome, the Maronite community has traditionally been isolated from the Eastern Orthodox churches and among Arabs....

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See also: Syria, Christianity

Judaism in Syria

Syria has had well-established Jewish communities since at least the Roman period. These have included a community of Arab Jews, referred to as Musta’arabi or Mizrahi, from the Roman period, Sephardic Jews who settled in Syria following their forced migration from Spain in 1492, and Jewish merchants from Europe. The largest centers of Jewish life were in Aleppo, Damascus, and in the largely Kurdish town of Qamishli. The Aleppo Codex, the oldest manuscript of the Bible completed in in the year 920, was housed in Aleppo from the 15th century until 1947. A portion of the codex...

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See also: Syria, Judaism

Islam in Syria

Muslims make up about 90% of the Syrian population, including Sunnis and Shi’a Muslims, and encompass a wide variety of beliefs and practices, including varieties of Sufism. The Syrian Constitution requires that the President be Muslim, although there is no official religion of the Syrian state. As of 2004, Sunni Muslims made up about 74%, while Shi’a groups...

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The Greek Orthodox Church in Syria

The Greek Orthodox Church consists of four patriarchates; Syrian Greek Orthodox Christians are under the episcopal jurisdiction of the See of Antioch. The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch has been based in Damascus since the 14th century, though membership is concentrated in Aleppo, Homs, and Latakia. Its membership is majority Arab and the liturgy is in Arabic. The current Patriarch of the Church is John Yazigi, elected in 2012.

The economic policies of the French colonial powers in Syria disproportionately favored middle and upper class Christian—especially Catholic—...

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Druze in Syria

The Druze are an ethnoreligious group concentrated in Syria, Lebanon, and Israel with around one million adherents worldwide. The Druze follow a millenarian offshoot of Isma’ili Shi'ism. Followers emphasize Abrahamic monotheism but consider the religion as separate from Islam.

The Druze are named for Muhammad al-Darazi, an Isma’ili missionary from Persia who lived in Fatimid Cairo, and was propagated by Hamza ibn Ali. The Druze believe in the imamate of al-Hakim ibn Amr Allah (d. 1021), the sixth caliph of Egypt's Isma’ili Fatimid Dynasty. Though the Fatimids (909-1171) were...

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See also: Syria, Islam

The Baha'i Faith in Syria

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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See also: Syria, Baha'i Faith

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