Alawite in Israel

Map Source:  Funk Monk - Wikimedia
People Name: Alawite
Country: Israel
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 2,100
World Population: 2,117,100
Primary Language: Arabic, North Levantine Spoken
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Portions
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: No
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Arab, Levant
Affinity Bloc: Arab World
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Alawites are a religious minority. Elite Alawites have been the dominating force in the Syrian government throughout the Assad family’s rule. Many Syrian Alawites are found living in the town of Ghajar which is split between Israel and Lebanon. It sits in the Golan Heights where it belonged to Syria until the 1967 War when Israel captured the area. Then the UN drew Lebanon's border to cut through the heart of Ghajar. When Israel formally annexed Golan, Alawites in Ghajar opted to become Israeli citizens in order to gain economic benefits. This made their group the only Alawite community in Israel. Most Alawites live in Syria, Turkey or Lebanon, but a smaller number are in Israel.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The majority of Alawites are poor and survive through farming, herding or selling the products they produce. A few have advanced in education and mainly work in areas dealing with finance, medicine, business and governmental positions.

The Alawite’s have lived with ongoing feelings of persecution, rejection, poverty, and isolation because of their secretive lives based on their religious beliefs. Those who are living in Israel have found life to be easier through receiving the assistance they need in daily life and Israel has accepted and allowed them to follow their own spiritual beliefs.

The Israelite Alawites in Ghajar maintain their secretive religion which is described as a mystical version of Shia Islam that contains elements of other religions.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Alawite primarily followed the teaching of Ibn Nusair who died in 883 A.D. He started this new sect by splitting off from the Shias. He incorporated ideas from Islamic, Gnostic, neo-Platonic, and Christian practices (including the celebration of communion with the consecration of bread and wine). Jewish Researcher Yaron Friedman and other researchers of Alawi doctrine have concluded that Ibn Nusayr, believed he held the true doctrine of the Shias. That the parts of his doctrine that are similar to Christianity were more a coincidence and not a direct influence from it, as well as other external doctrines that were actually popular among Shia occult groups in Basra, Iraq in the 8th century. That what was revealed to him was the true beliefs of Islam, Christianity, Judaism and other mystical practices. That his belief (doctrine) was the core for all the other religious groups. Alawites also believe that they were originally stars or divine lights that were cast out of heaven through disobedience and must undergo repeated reincarnation before returning to heaven.

According to the Israeli Begin–Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Alawites believe that God might have incarnated twice; the first incarnation was Joshua who conquered Canaan, and the second was the fourth Caliph, Ali. Some tenets of the faith are kept secret from most Alawi and known only to a select few. Most Alawites do not have mosques, only devotional rooms. They disapprove of some Islamic religious duties such as praying five times daily and fasting during Ramadan. However, under persecution they sometimes practice these rituals to protect themselves from traditional Muslims.

In order to end their long isolation, the name of the sect was changed in the 1920s from Nus?yriyya to Alawiyya. By taking this step, leaders of the sect expressed not only their link to Shiaism, but to Islam in general. Alawi translates to “those who adhere to the teachings of Ali.” Many Alawites have condemned their former name of “Nusayri,” with some considering it an insult. The term is frequently used in hate speech by Sunni Muslims when referring to the Alawites and their role in fighting for the Assad regime. The Alawi religion underwent a process of "Sunnification" during the years under Hafez Al Assad's rule.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Sadly, many Alawites feel unwanted, isolated and anger due to the persecution they suffer because of their religious beliefs. They live without knowing the guidance, comfort and confirm saving grace of the Lord and God’s teachings in the Bible. Trusted servants of the Lord are very much needed to personally be willing to live and witness among the Alawites in Israel and other countries so they will know God and be spiritually healed.

What Are Their Needs?

Pray that the bondage of darkness that has infiltrated the minds, hearts and souls of the Alawites will be broken through the witness of strong and caring Christians so God’s truth will free them.

Pray for those who will accept God’s saving grace to find his strength to meet new spiritual challenges.

May Alawite people be grounded in knowing God’s word.

Pray that whole Alawite families and communities will come to God and become a living witness to other Muslims who do not accept the Living Lord.

Text Source:   Joshua Project