Islamic Education in
Joshua M. Landis
Assistant Professor of
History and School for International and Area Studies:
“Constructs of Inclusion and Exclusion: Religion and Identity Formation in Middle Eastern School Curricula”
Watson Institute for International Studies
Islamic education in Syrian schools is traditional, rigid, and Sunni. The Ministry of Education makes no attempt to inculcate notions of tolerance or respect for religious traditions other than Sunni Islam. Christianity is the one exception to this rule. Indeed, all religious groups other than Christians are seen to be enemies of Islam, who must be converted or fought against. The Syrian government teaches school children that over half of the world’s six billion inhabitants will go to hell and must be actively fought by Muslims. Jews have their own status. The Jewish religion – the Torah and the Jewish prophets – are considered divine – but the Jewish people, who, it is claimed, deny their prophets, are fated to go to hell and must be eliminated.
At first view, one might expect
One can only wonder how long
Religious education in
I asked some twenty Syrians to describe the
content of their religion classes in an attempt to gain an anecdotal idea of
what Syrians remember studying. All described having to memorize suras from the Quran and hadith; they all recalled learning about
the five pillars of Islam and how to pray. All claimed to have learnt general
values, such as obeying parents and teachers, the importance of honesty and
respect for other people. When asked about their instruction in jihad, and in
how subjects such as
The Genesis of Arabist and Sunni Islamic Orthodoxy
The present school system was established in
Public and Private Schools
In the fall of 1967 following the Six Day
War, over 300 Christian schools and some 75 private Muslim schools were
The nationalization of schools in
Since then, education has been largely public, though middle and upper class Christians in the major cities managed to preserve or revive a number of excellent private parochial schools. In the last five or six years, wealthy Syrians of all confessions have been building private schools in major Syrian cities to accommodate the growing demand for superior and expensive education since the early 1990s. Some of these, such as the Shwayfat school of Damascus, funded by business men Rami Makhlouf and Nadir Qala`i, have been extremely successful and attract children from wealthy families. Today, some 10% of secondary schools are privately funded. Whether a student goes to public or private school, however, does not make a difference to his religious education: all must follow the same national curriculum.
Illiteracy rates have been falling steadily
This study is based on seven school texts prepared for the 2002-2003 school year by the Ministry of Education. All are entitled: Islamic Education. I have used the texts for the 4th, 5th, 7th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grades. The 4th grade text is 150 pages long and each successive text adds a few pages until reaching 240 pages in the 12th grade. For the sake of simplicity, I will use internal citations when quoting from the texts, giving the grade and page of the text separated by a colon. There are no pictures or photographs included in the texts. Each book includes the date it was first published and the year it last underwent important revisions. The 4th grade text was written in 1999 and has not been revised since. The fifth grade text was written in 2001 and is the only text among these seven that has been rewritten under Bashar al-Asad. The 7th grade text was written in 1967 and last revised in 1981; the 9th grade text was written in 1979 and last revised in 1986; the 10th grade text was written in 1986 and last revised in 1992; the 11th grade text does not give the original date of publication but was revised in 1996; and the 12th grade text was written in 1969 and last revised in 1997. The average text has not been revised for about 10 years and was originally written well before that. Clearly, there has been little change in the content of Syrian Islamic texts since the curriculum was established in 1967.
Even after the well publicized and damning critique of the Syrian curriculum published in 2000 by the director of MEMRI, Meyrav Wurmser, entitled, The Schools of Ba`athism: A Study of Syrian Schoolbooks, there has been no change in the language of the texts. All the anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic quotes high-lighted by Wurmser in the texts for the 1999-2000 school year are still included in the 2002-2003 texts.
Islamic versus Arab Identity:
The twelfth grade text explains that Islam is responsible for making the Arabs great. “The revelation of Islamic principles transformed the Arabs into a unified community (umma) possessing a high human civilization which it spread to all people” (12:149). Arabs, we learn, had many bad qualities before being reformed by Islam. They fought amongst themselves, drank alcohol, killed female babies, married many wives, were tribal and discriminatory, and worshiped idols. These bad traits were ended by Islam. Pre-Islamic Arabs were not all bad, however. Their morals were good because of their Arab blood (12:149-152). We are told that even before Muhammad revealed Islam, Arabs had superior moral qualities, such as, “bravery, manliness, generosity, patience, abstinence, and the honoring of agreements, love of freedom and hospitality.” How did they acquire these good qualities? The answer, we are told, is because they “run in their veins with their blood” (12:150). Islam transformed Arabs from being a generous but divided group of sinners into to a virtuous and unified people with a divine mission.
Islam directed the Arabs along a more “positive, refined, and advanced” path (12:154). It also united them as a people and gave them a single objective, which was to carry the Islamic message to other peoples so they might be elevated by Islam as well. Today, it is the responsibility of “the Arabs to carry the Islamic message to the entire world,” because it is the highest form of humanity. This mission is more important today than ever before, the twelfth grade text explains, because the world is now in a crisis of “complete materialism” and faces many “disasters, catastrophes and problems.” Chief among them is the evil of nuclear destruction (12:156). These dangers threaten to destroy human values, but they can be turned back if people embrace the “spiritual and human values of Islam” (12:156). “It is the duty of the Arab World to save humanity and human values” (12:156). Although Arabs had certain virtues before the advent of Islam, their religion set them on the divine path of saving humanity. To be an Arab is good, but to be a Muslim is better, and being both is the best.
Islam and Arabism are further linked, we find out, because to become Muslim is to become Arab. The spread of Islam and knowledge of the Quran, readers are told, “is the best way to Arabize non-Arabs and spread Arab thought and culture to hundreds of millions of non-Arabs,” because all Muslims feel that the Arabic language is “their language” (10: 211). Syrian children learn that not only Islamic culture should be spread to the rest of the world but so should Arab culture and language, because the values of Islam and Arabism are inextricably linked and should serve as a model for others. The message for non-Muslims in these texts is that they cannot be the best Arabs.
The Foundations of Islamic Government
The government is to be an Islamic State without separation of church and state. The student is constantly reminded that the Islamic state is a divine order whose wisdom, justice, and laws are imposed by God. The chapter of the twelfth grade text entitled, “The System of Government in Islam,” concludes with the following sentences:
We can summarize everything in this chapter by explaining that this system is a divine system of independent laws and principles. It has its own characteristics and unique benefits because it is the imprint of God (12:173)
Although the texts make no mention of “democracy” or “republicanism,” they do insist on consultation and popular participation in government. All the same, when faced with the ultimate question of who should rule – man or God – God naturally wins out. The Islamic ruler must confer with and be guided by a shura or advisory council as well as by the people (12:168-171; 9:130). We are told that “the Islamic community implements its power to choose its leader by voting and the free expression of opinion,” but the consultative process is not described in detail (12:170). The ruler’s term of office is not limited to a defined period, but can be extended indefinitely so long as the people support the ruler. An Islamic ruler should take advice from his advisory council, which should be made up of “men of religion and fiqh and of people who have specialties in all different walks of life” (12:171). The primary duty of the ruler is to “follow the book of Allah and the Sunna of his Messenger by implementing Islamic life in all different fields, and he must protect Islam from its internal and external enemies” (12:171). Though the ruler must be a Muslim and must know “the aims and judgments of shari`a law,” the texts do not explicitly state that he must have formally studied Islam or be an Imam (12:170-171). All the same, knowledge of Islam and its laws is the major qualification for all politicians and state employees.
It is incumbent on citizens of the Islamic state to advise the ruler and show him the right path. Their responsibility is to observe his behavior and actions in order to direct him. If he persists in going astray and loses his qualification to rule entirely, the people are to “withdraw their trust from him” (12:173). The ruler can be removed if Muslims agree unanimously to do so when he loses his ability to carry out his duties (12:170). How this is to be accomplished is not explained and no defined powers to limit the executive are given to the people.
The power and form of the legislative council
is also not spelled out. A constitution giving defined power and sovereignty to
the people is something the authors of these texts are unwilling to advocate.
No doubt, the authors are circumspect about opposing the practices of the ruler
The authors of the texts are bolder in discussing the judiciary. “Justice in Islamic government” the authors proclaim, “is completely independent from the power of the ruler.” The judge is to rule according to shari`a law. “No one can change or manipulate this. The ruler, the judge, and the people are equal in submitting to the law of God” (12:166). Although there is a place for ijtihad and human judgment, it is limited (12:167). The overriding principle of Islam is justice, we are told. “Neither emotions, family relations, friendship, wealth, poverty nor the power of the ruler should influence the court’s decision” (12:167). Equally, Islam brings justice to all humankind. There is to be no favoritism of “the Arab over the foreigner, white people over blacks, the rich over the poor” and “there is to be no discrimination based on religious sect (tawa’if) or social class in terms of rights and duties (duties).” “All people are equal before the law (12:66).”
Christians and Jews as Protected Communities
Christian and Jewish citizens of the Islamic state enjoy certain rights as dhimma (a protected community) equal to those of Muslims. In a section entitled, “the rights of non-Muslim citizens,” the authors explain that non-Muslim minorities are called “ahl al-dhimma for whom Islam has organized many rights in addition to general human rights.” The most important of these are “equality between them and Muslims in terms of protection of life, money, and honor; freedom of religious belief, worship, and practice; and the freedom to apply personal law according to their beliefs.” These rights cannot be taken away from them so long as they are “within the framework of the dhimma of the Islamic state and under its protection” (12:162). Syrian students in these passages are instructed that Islam advocates equality between all the people of the book.
Equal political rights, as opposed to civil and religious rights, are not extended to dhimma, however, as Muslims are to rule. The executive and the judicial branches of government should be staffed by Muslims. The legislature is not forbidden to dhimma, for the shura is to be open to people of diverse qualifications in order to represent the needs and experience of the community. All the same, because the leading qualification for a deputy is knowledge of Islam and fiqh, non-Muslims are put at a distinct disadvantage. Quite clearly the notion of an Islamic state implies that non-Muslims are second class citizens, who participate only tangentially in directing and carrying out the affairs of state. Although protected, they cannot lead.
Heaven is accessible to Christians but
denied to Jews. We are told that the first people to cross into heaven at the Day
of Judgment are “Muhammad and his people.” They are succeeded by “the prophets
and their followers (10: 153).” This means the followers of Moses and Jesus and
indicates that all people of the book – Christians and Jews – can go to heaven.
However, in an earlier section of the tenth grade text, we are told that the
The texts deal with religious sectarianism as every literalist must – by blaming bad blood and squabbling between the sects on the non-believers for failing to recognize the true faith. The Syrian texts decry sectarianism (ta’ifiyya) and the spirit of chauvinism it produces; yet they also insist that Islam is the best and most complete religion. This contradiction is clearly expressed in the following passage of the ninth grade text:
Faith in all the prophets and divine books ends hateful religious and sectarian divisions. The reason for sending different prophets in different ages was to gradually prepare humanity to accept religion and to be able to discern the most complete religious message, which is Islam. The reason for this was not to spread the spirit of division between people, because God definitely did not intend that (9:110).
God, students are instructed, intended all humanity to accept each new wave of religious revelation as it came down from heaven. God did not intend for the people of the world to resist each new phase of revelation and get mired in the earlier and more primitive phases of revelation, such as Judaism and Christianity. The resistance of Christians and Jews to embrace God’s final revelation makes them responsible for sectarianism. The reason God did not reveal Islam in one original revelation, we are told, rather than sending down first the Torah and then the Gospels, is because humans needed to be gradually prepared and educated to recognize the full truth of Islam (9:110). The Old and New Testament are viewed as the prolegomena to the real thing, the spirituality advanced by the Quran. Thus we may conclude that Judaism is the most primitive of the revealed religions, Christianity is an incomplete advance on Judaism, and Islam is the final and complete message. A firm hierarchy of religions is established; Islam is at the top and the earlier revelations following down the line based on the date of their historical appearance.
Clearly, the difference in the
treatment between Christians and Jews is political. Because the Christian
Atheists and Pagans
At the very bottom of the hierarchy beneath the revealed religions of the “people of the book,” are the belief systems of the rest of humanity, who are categorized as “Atheists and Pagans.” Only one paragraph is devoted to them in the twelve years of Syrian schooling and it is tucked away in the ninth grade text under the subtitle, “Islam Fights Paganism and Atheism.” It explains that “pagans are those who worship something other than God, and atheists are those who deny the existence of God.” Islam must fight these two belief systems because they “are an assault to both instinct and truth.” We are told that these belief systems “contradict the principle of freedom of belief.” This is because “Islam gives freedom of belief only within the limits of the divine path,” which “means a religion descended from heaven.” Because pagan religions were not revealed by God, they are considered an “inferior” form of belief that reflects an “animal consciousness.” How should Muslims deal with these peoples who comprise half of humanity? Students are instructed that “Islam accepts only two choices for Pagans: that they convert to Islam or be killed (9:128).” The Islam of Syrian texts does not have a happy formula for dealing with non-believers. Perhaps in recognition of this failing, the ministry of education has buried a mere six sentences on the subject into the middle of its ninth grade text.
The notion of jihad and the struggle
Our jihad duty today is a fard `ayn because our countries have been exposed to enemy attack and because part of our land has been occupied by Zionist gangs which threaten our very existence. It is therefore the duty of every Muslim to unite in one rank to take back his land and honor by every means possible (9:166).
School children are told that to be martyred while fighting for their country and faith is a privilege which will be rewarded not only in the next life but also in this life.
They learn how the president and state reward
the families of those who have given their lives to defend the homeland and
compatriots. Even if
The president-leader takes unlimited care of the families of martyrs in order to guarantee a life of freedom and honor for them, both financially and socially. The children of martyrs are provided with special care, education, and upbringing. The children of martyrs are given special schools with the most modern methods and ways of teaching. Last but not least, their residences are provided free (9:79).
Although Asadism is manifest in the Syrian religious texts, references to the president are infrequent and have no comparison with the Iraqi schoolbooks in which Saddam Hussein was featured even in the most mundane exercises.
In some Syrian texts, particularly during the
early years of schooling, jihad is hardly mentioned. For example, the fifth
grade textbook, which was newly written in 2001 – a year after Bashar al-Asad
came to power – mentions jihad only twice, and then, only in passing. Moreover,
it contains no mention of
In the ninth grade textbook originally
written in 1969 and last revised in 1986, jihad is mentioned on 22 pages out of
200, or roughly one tenth of the text.
Our youth should ignore those traitors who
encourage them to surrender to
Although some Syrians are careful to draw a
distinction between Zionism and Jews, this is not a distinction made in
The Jews took advantage of Muhammad’s forgiveness in the old days. They exploited his forgiveness in order to deceive the Muslims and this is a characteristic of traitors and betrayers in every time and place. This is an indication of the evil enemy characteristics that are imbedded in the personality of the Jews. This confirms that it is dangerous to live with or near them. This danger threatens the existence of the Arab and Islamic world with destruction and disappearance (10:78).
Because the Jews seek to destroy the Islamic world, the only proper response for Muslims is to “eliminate” the Jews from their midst. This is stated unequivocally in the tenth grade text.
The logic of justice requires the application of a single inescapable verdict on the Jews; namely, that their criminal intentions be turned against them and that they be eliminated (isti’salihim). The duty of Muslims of our time is to pull together, to unite their ranks, and to wage war on their enemy until Allah hands down his judgment on them and on us (10:79).
Wurmser, in her study of Syrian school textbooks, concludes that the Ba`thist
government in Syria will have a very hard time making peace with Israel because
recognizing the Jewish state will shake the ideological and structural
“foundations of Syria’s Ba`athist regime.” Peace would call into doubt
emergency rule and notions of perpetual revolution and sacrifice that bolster
Ba`thi rule, not to mention the many injunctions against trusting Jews and
allowing them to continue their occupation of Islamic lands.
Many Arabs argue against this dire interpretation. Munthar Haddadin, a past
Jordanian Minister, who was a leading negotiator of the Jordanian peace
the leaders decide they want peace and negotiate with
Egypt and Jordan have made peace with Israel
despite textbooks that were much the same as Syria’s; nevertheless, Jordan’s
textbooks have not been substantially changed since the peace, (I will see what
the Jordan paper says about this and revise accordingly) nor has the peace been
an easy one. Popular animus in
Colonialism and the Backwardness of the Islamic World
Backwardness in the Islamic World, Syrian students are instructed, is due to the incorrect understanding of Islam caused by colonialists and their agents. The ninth grade text states:
“The primary reason for backwardness in our society is the incorrect understanding of Islam. This is because the colonialist and his agents have perverted some aspects of Islam and caused false understandings of the true path in order to distance Muslims from science and productive work in all fields of life” (9:161).
are some of these perversions? The ninth grade text gives several examples of
verses from the Quran that are widely misunderstood. All have to do with the
notions of fate and free will. The texts claim that many Muslims believe that
they don’t have to work in this life because God will provide for them. Another
misconception that leads to inactivity among Muslims is the belief that leading
a pious life means renouncing the present world including hard work and study.
Students are advised that hard work and study are forms of worship and a means
to get into heaven (9:162). Ironically, these commendable injunctions to young
Muslims that they take responsibility for their lives are followed by accusations
that external manipulation and skullduggery has caused their backwardness and
that they are not responsible themselves. Who are these colonialists? The Turks,
the French, the Americans, perhaps Westerners in general? We are not told.
Neither are we given a clue to who their agents are? Now that almost 60 years
Alawis, Druze, and Isma’ilis
Over 16% of Syrians are heterodox
Muslims, yet no mention of the different sects of Islam is made in the
textbooks. Not only are Alawites, Druze, and Isma’ilis not mentioned, but no
mention is made of Shi`a Islam as a whole. Islam is presented as a monolithic
religion and Sunni Islam is it. Sunni children are given no guidance on how
they should relate to or think of Muslims whose ritual practices and
interpretation of the Quran differ from their own. Even more troubling,
perhaps, is that heterodox Muslim children are given no explanation for why
their communities practice Islam differently than the instructions provided in
their school texts. Because of the narrow Sunni definition of Islam given in
the texts, non-Sunni Muslims are forced to either deny their communal
differences or to avow that they belong to a religion that is not Islam. It is
quite common in
When I asked Druze friends and
acquaintances what percentage of Syrians accepted the notion that the Druze are
Muslims, the unanimous answer was “3%” – the percentage of Druze in Syria. Although,
All other Muslims, including the heterodox sects, were grouped together in the 1953 Law of Personal Status passed under President Shishakli. Based on Egyptian example, this law integrated all Muslims, except the Druze, into one synthetic court system based on Hanafi law and makes no distinction between them. Alawis, who insisted they belong to the Ja`afari Shi`a mathhab (Twelver Shi’a Islam) as early as 1920, despite French attempts to encourage them to define themselves as a separate religion, have persisted in their drive to be recognized as main-stream Muslims ever since. This insistence has brought rich political rewards – Alawis enjoy all the rights of Muslims and can hold the office of President, which must be filled by a Muslim according the constitution. Nevertheless, Alawites have paid a steep price for political success by denying their distinct religious tradition. In essence, they have given up their religion for political power and equality.
The Alawis I asked to speculate on the success of this bargain were considerably more optimistic about the percentage of Syrians who considered them Muslim than were their Druze counterparts. Several claimed that 50% of Syrians or more accepted them as Muslims. The reason Alawis give for their success is that they try harder than the Druze to be like Sunni Muslims and to assimilate to the textbook version of Islam. One native of Latakia, an Alawi woman who is in her thirties with an advanced degree, gave the following explanation:
We are accepted as Muslims because we have worked hard to be accepted. We have copied the Sunnis. Some Alawis cover their hair and wear hijab, either for personal reasons or when they marry Sunnis. We don’t eat ham, and even when we do, we don’t eat it in front of people. We fast – or we pretend to fast; out of respect for others, we don’t eat in front of them during Ramadan. We have built mosques in our major towns. Some Alawis go to Friday prayer and to the Hajj. My grandfather was a modern shaykh who encouraged everyone to pray at the mosque in Jable. The charitable foundation established and run by Jamil al-Asad (the brother of former President Hafiz al-Assad) finances hundreds of Alawis to go on Hajj, and the women working for the organization have to wear the hijab. Hafiz al-Asad prayed in Mosque and fasted. When his mother and son died, he prayed for them in Mosque. He built the Na`isa mosque in Qardaha, his home town, in the name of his mother. All these things are proof to Sunnis that we try hard to be part of Islam and like Sunnis. They accept it. We have succeeded.
Muslim identity of Alawites in
When I asked my Alawi informant if the Druze were accepted as Muslims, she answered:
They have their identity. They don’t pretend that they are Muslims. Of course, I don’t know a lot about them because we don’t have any in Latakia. I think they are classified as non-Arab in the minds of most people. They are separate and a small group; most live in Suwayda’.
Our Sunni Damascene friends always talk about them as strange and different. “Ya latif! Shoo byakaloo!” they would say, as if they eat horrible things. Of course it isn’t only their food, they are talking about. And they say these things about the Druze to us without hesitation, and don’t consider that we (the Alawis) are like the Druze. The Druze don’t pretend to be part of Islam. I never saw a Mosque in Suwayda’.
There is only Islam and Christianity in
When I asked the Alawi if she had made a mistake in suggesting that people classified the Druze “as non-Arabs,” rather than as “non-Muslims,” she said, “no.”
To be Arab, in the end, you have to be
Muslim; everything else is not that important. Ultimately, Islam is the
measurement of `
Also, the names of their children – they are all western: Joan, Andrew, Charles, Lara, George, Hanna …. None of these names are Arab. They used to name their kids Khalil, `Abdullah, Hasiiba, etc. This is an indication that they don’t feel Arab. What is the meaning of these names? They have no meaning in Arabic.
They wear gold chains around their necks and wrists. They say, ‘merci, bonjour, bonsoir, and bonne fête.’ I used to tell my Christian boyfriend that everyone would know he wasn’t Arab if he said these things, but he didn’t care. The Christians criticize the Sunna in a terrible way – how they are religious and how they treat their women. They are embarrassed by Islam and don’t defend the Arabs. In the end, the Sunna are the Arabs. We [the Alawis] don’t speak about Islam like the Christians do. We are Arab.
The identification of Arabness and Islam was total for my Alawi informant. She insisted that because Christians believe in the trinity, they cannot be real Arabs. “Because Christians cross themselves and say, ‘the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost,’” she argued, “they deny Islam.” The first thing “we had learned in Islam class is that ‘God has no equal and never gave birth.’” Because the Christian espousal of the trinity denies this Islamic injunction, she claimed, they cannot feel Arab and be Arab.
That an Alawi would internalize this
association between Sunni Islam and Arabness is a testament to the
effectiveness of Islamic education in Syrian schools and the socialization
The Syrian government and the Ba`th Party ostensibly espouses secularism and equality between all Arabs regardless of their religion. This message of equality is directly undermined by the state Islamic curriculum. By teaching that Muslims should rule over non-Muslims and that they are the best Arabs as measured by their faith in God, the government contradicts the message that Christian and Muslim Arabs are equal (11: 227).
Can the hyper-conformism of
The Alawites refuse to be annexed to Muslim
Syria because, in
Sulayman al-Asad’s anxiety about being forced
into a state of Muslim Arabs is palpable in his petition to the French. His
heirs have worked hard to gain acceptance as Muslims and Arabs in
All the same,
The religious curriculum, however, contradicts the Ba`th Party’s original impetuous to secularism. By setting out a clear hierarchy of virtue among peoples, with Muslims at the top of the scale as God’s preferred people and Christians, Jews, polytheists and atheists falling below them in descending order, Syria’s Islamic texts undercut the notion that Arabs or Syrian citizens are equal. Non-Muslims are defined as strangers to the Arabo-Islamic project who enjoy rights so long as they are “under Muslim protection.” Indeed, the Arab and Islamic missions as described in the texts are so closely identified with each other that school children may easily confuse ethnicity with religion to assume that heterodox Muslims are lesser Arabs and Christians hardly Arab at all.
The politics behind
It should be noted that
That being said,
Bashar al-Asad has called for reform of
The irony in
Due to the rise of political Islam in the
Islamic World, liberalization seems a distant possibility. Other “secular”
states in the region, such as
[†] Syrian Jews are an
exception to this rule. Almost all have left
 I would like to thank my wife, Manar Kachour Landis, for explaining the Syrian education system to me and for assisting in the research for this article in numerous ways.
Library of Congress Country Studies. “
 Mouawad, "
 Explained to me by Dima Kashour who taught at Shwayfat.
World Bank - “
 Fargues, "Les chrétiens arabes d'Orient: une perspective démographique," pp. 59-78.
 The Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace, “The West, Christians and Jews in Saudi Arabian Schoolbooks.”
 Tierney, “Zionist Intruders,”
 Wurmser, The Schools of Ba`athism, 54.
Interview with Dr. Munthar Haddadin in
 Landis, “Shishakli and the Druzes.”
 Anderson, “Syrian Law of Personal Status.”
On the Alawis under the French see, Landis, Nationalism, Chap. 2. On the effort of
Alawites to gain recognition as Twelver Shiites, see
 al‑`Alawi writes in Al‑`Alawiyyun, p. 12:
"The Alawites are nothing but Twelver, Imami Shiites. If some heterodoxy has appeared among the uneducated members of the community, that is of no account, for the value of a people, their religion, and their culture cannot ultimately be based on the actions of the ignorant among them. The Alawites do not differ from Shiites except that some of them adhere to the tariqa al‑Janblaniyya which is a Sufi tariqa like all other Sufi tariqas.... in which some of the beliefs of the prophet's house have been added. Yes, the most that can be held against the Alawites is that some have constructed cultic shrines, but we believe that this would not have happened if the community had not suffered through an oppressive period of history during which the conditions of the community were terrible. The greatest proof of this can be found in the conditions existing today: they have built mosques, they pray, give alms, and go on pilgrimage to the holy city.... They have performed the duties of God ever since the mantle of oppression and injustice was lifted from their shoulders and began to enjoy a bit of freedom."
 Matti Moosa, Extremist
Shiites: The Ghulat Sects,
 MEMRI, “Iraqi Press,”
 Charles M.
Sennott, The Body and the Blood: The
`Ali `Aziz Ibrahim al‑`Alawi, Al‑`Alawiyyun,
Fida'iyyu al‑Shi`a al‑Majhulun,
* J.N.D. Anderson, “The Syrian Law
of Personal Status,” Bulletin of the
* The Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace, “Jews, Zionism and Israel in Syrian Textbooks,” 2002.
* Philippe Fargues, "Les chrétiens arabes d'Orient: une perspective démographique," Les communautés chrétiennes dans le monde musulman arabe, ed. Andréa Pacini (Beirut: Proche-Orient Chrétien Ste. Anne- ISSR, 1997).
* Joshua Landis, Nationalism and the Politics of Za`ama: the
Collapse of Republican Syria, 1945-1949, Ph.D. dissertation,
* ---- “Shishakli and the
Druzes: Integration and Intransigence,” in T. Philipp & B. Schäbler, eds., The
* Martin Kramer, "
* Library of Congress Country Studies, “
* The Middle East Media Research Institute, “Editorials from the New Iraqi Press,” Special Dispatch Series - No. 568, Dispatch (7), September 5, 2003, viewed October 3, 2003, http://www.memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=countries&Area=iraq&ID=SP56803
* Ray J. Mouawad, "
John Tierney, “See
Jane Run From the Zionist Intruders,” New
York Times, read on
* World Bank - “Syrian Republic
Data Profile,” source, World Development
Indicators Database, August 2003, viewed on
* Meyrav Wurmser, The
Schools of Ba'athism: A Study of Syrian Textbooks,
 Charles M.
Sennott, The Body and the Blood: The