Religion and State in Syria

The Sunni Ulama from Coup to Revolution
Author: Thomas Pierret
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 1107026415
Category: Political Science
Page: 276
View: 438
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This book affords a new perspective on Syria as it stands at the crossroads of political, social and religious fragmentation.

Religion and State in Syria

The Sunni Ulama from Coup to Revolution
Author: Thomas Pierret
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 1139620061
Category: Political Science
Page: N.A
View: 8686
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While Syria has been dominated since the 1960s by a determinedly secular regime, the 2011 uprising has raised many questions about the role of Islam in the country's politics. This book demonstrates that with the eradication of the Muslim Brothers after the failed insurrection of 1982, Sunni men of religion became the only voice of the Islamic trend in the country. Through educational programs, charitable foundations and their deft handling of tribal and merchant networks, they took advantage of popular disaffection with secular ideologies to increase their influence over society. In recent years, with the Islamic resurgence, the Alawi-dominated Ba'thist regime was compelled to bring the clergy into the political fold. This relationship was exposed in 2011 by the division of the Sunni clergy between regime supporters, bystanders and opponents. This book affords a new perspective on Syrian society as it stands at the crossroads of political and social fragmentation.

Ashes of Hama

The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria
Author: Raphael Lefevre
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0199365334
Category: Political Science
Page: 288
View: 4462
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When the convulsions of the Arab Spring first became manifest in Syria in March 2011, the Ba'athist regime was quick to blame the protests on the "Syrian Muslim Brotherhood" and its "al-Qaeda affiliates." But who are these Islamists so determined to rule a post-Assad Syria? Little has been published on militant Islam in Syria since Hafez Assad's regime destroyed the Islamist movement in its stronghold of Hama in February 1982. This book bridges that gap by providing readers with the first comprehensive account of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood's history to date. In this ground-breaking account of Syria's most prominent, yet highly secretive, Islamist organisation, the author draws on previously untapped sources: the memoirs of former Syrian jihadists; British and American archives; and also a series of wide-ranging interviews with the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood's historical leaders as well as those who battled against them--many speaking on the record for the first time. Ashes of Hama uncovers the major aspects of the Islamist struggle: from the Brotherhood's radicalisation and its "jihad" against the Ba'athist regime and subsequent exile, to a spectacular comeback at the forefront of the Syrian revolution in 2011--a remarkable turnaround for an Islamist movement which all analysts had pronounced dead amid the ruins of Hama in 1982.

The Alawis of Syria

War, Faith and Politics in the Levant
Author: Michael Kerr,Craig Larkin
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0190458119
Category: Islam and politics
Page: 384
View: 5230
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Throughout the turbulent history of the Levant the 'Alawis - a secretive, resilient and ancient Muslim sect - have aroused suspicion and animosity, including accusations of religious heresy. More recently they have been tarred with the brush of political separatism and complicity in the excesses of the Assad regime, claims that have gained greater traction since the onset of the Syrian uprising and subsequent devastating civil war. The contributors to this book provide a complex and nuanced reading of Syria's 'Alawi communities -from loyalist gangs (Shabiha) to outspoken critics of the regime. Drawing upon wide-ranging research that examines the historic, political and social dynamics of the 'Alawi and the Syrian state, the current tensions are scrutinised and fresh insights offered. Among the themes addressed are religious practice, social identities, and relations to the Ba'ath party, the Syrian state and the military apparatus. The analysis also extends to Lebanon with a focus on the embattled 'Alawi community of Jabal Mohsen in Tripoli and state relations with Hizballah amid the current crisis.

Family Religion in Babylonia, Ugarit and Israel

Continuity and Changes in the Forms of Religious Life
Author: K. Van Der Toorn
Publisher: BRILL
ISBN: 9789004104105
Category: Religion
Page: 491
View: 7807
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This study of family religion in the Babylonian, Ugaritic and Israelite civilizations opens up a little studied province of ancient Near Eastern religion. By focusing on the interaction between family religion and state religion, the author offers fascinating insights in to the development of the religion of Israel.

Islamic Traditions of Refuge in the Crises of Iraq and Syria


Author: Tahir Zaman
Publisher: Springer
ISBN: 1137550066
Category: Social Science
Page: 225
View: 3672
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This book considers positions refugees take relative to the state, humanitarian actors and faith-based organisations in the humanitarian field. Attention is drawn to refugee agency as they negotiate circumstances of considerable constraint demonstrating relational dimensions of religious practice and experience.

(Re)constructing Armenia in Lebanon and Syria

Ethno-Cultural Diversity and the State in the Aftermath of a Refugee Crisis
Author: Nicola Migliorino
Publisher: Berghahn Books
ISBN: 0857450573
Category: Social Science
Page: 256
View: 8309
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For almost nine decades, since their mass-resettlement to the Levant in the wake of the Genocide and First World War, the Armenian communities of Lebanon and Syria appear to have successfully maintained a distinct identity as an ethno-culturally diverse group, in spite of representing a small non-Arab and Christian minority within a very different, mostly Arab and Muslim environment. The author shows that, while in Lebanon the state has facilitated the development of an extensive and effective system of Armenian ethno-cultural preservation, in Syria the emergence of centralizing, authoritarian regimes in the 1950s and 1960s has severely damaged the autonomy and cultural diversity of the Armenian community. Since 1970, the coming to power of the Asad family has contributed to a partial recovery of Armenian ethno-cultural diversity, as the community seems to have developed some form of tacit arrangement with the regime. In Lebanon, on the other hand, the Armenian community suffered the consequences of the recurrent breakdown of the consociational arrangement that regulates public life. In both cases the survival of Armenian cultural distinctiveness seems to be connected, rather incidentally, with the continuing 'search for legitimacy' of the state.

The Battle for Home: The Vision of a Young Architect in Syria


Author: Marwa al-Sabouni
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
ISBN: 0500773289
Category: History
Page: 208
View: 906
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An architect’s gripping account of living and working in war-torn Syria, and the role architecture plays in whether a community crumbles or comes together Drawing on the author’s personal experience of living and working as an architect in Syria, this timely and fascinating account offers an eyewitness perspective on the country’s bitter conflict through the lens of architecture, showing how the built environment and its destruction hold up a mirror to the communities that inhabit it. From Syria’s tolerant past, with churches and mosques built alongside one another in Old Homs and members of different religions living harmoniously together, the book chronicles the recent breakdown of social cohesion in Syria’s cities. With the lack of shared public spaces intensifying divisions within the community, and corrupt officials interfering in town planning for their own gain, these actions are symptomatic of wider abuses of power. With firsthand accounts of mortar attacks and stories of refugees struggling to find a home, The Battle for Home is a compelling explanation of the personal impact of the conflict and offers hope for how architecture can play a role in rebuilding a sense of identity within a damaged society.

The Religious Roots of the Syrian Conflict

The Remaking of the Fertile Crescent
Author: Mark Tomass
Publisher: Springer
ISBN: 1137525711
Category: Political Science
Page: 281
View: 2892
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Explores the historical origins of Syria's religious sects and their dominance of the Syrian social scene. It identifies their distinct beliefs and relates how the actions of the religious authorities and political entrepreneurs acting on behalf of their sects expose them to sectarian violence, culminating in the dissolution of the nation-state.

Among the Ruins

Syria Past and Present
Author: Christian Sahner
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0190257377
Category: History
Page: 256
View: 9908
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As a civil war shatters a country and consumes its people, historian Christian C. Sahner offers a poignant account of Syria, where the past profoundly shapes its dreadful present. Among the Ruins blends history, memoir and reportage, drawing on the author's extensive knowledge of Syria in ancient, medieval, and modern times, as well as his experiences living in the Levant on the eve of the war and in the midst of the "Arab Spring". These plotlines converge in a rich narrative of a country in constant flux - a place renewed by the very shifts that, in the near term, are proving so destructive. Sahner focuses on five themes of interest to anyone intrigued and dismayed by Syria's fragmentation since 2011: the role of Christianity in society; the arrival of Islam; the rise of sectarianism and competing minorities; the emergence of the Ba'ath Party; and the current pitiless civil war. Among the Ruins is a brisk and illuminating read, an accessible introduction to a country with an enormously rich past and a tragic present. For anyone seeking to understand Syria, this book should be their starting point.

The Syrian Jihad

Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State and the Evolution of an Insurgency
Author: Charles R. Lister
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0190462477
Category: History
Page: 500
View: 9297
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The eruption of the anti-Assad revolution in Syria has had many unintended consequences, among which is the opportunity it offered Sunni jihadists to establish a foothold in the heart of the Middle East. That Syria's ongoing civil war is so brutal and protracted has only compounded the situation, as have developments in Iraq and Lebanon. Ranging across the battlefields and international borders have been dozens of jihadi Islamist fighting groups, of which some coalesced into significant factions such as Jabhat al Nusra and the Islamic State. This book assesses and explains the emergence since 2011 of Sunni jihadist organizations in Syria's fledgling insurgency, charts their evolution and situates them within the global Islamist project. Unprecedented numbers of foreign fighters have joined such groups, who will almost certainly continue to host them. Thus, external factors in their emergence are scrutinized, including the strategic and tactical lessons learned from other jihadist conflict zones and the complex interplay between Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State and how it has influenced the jihadist sphere in Syria. Tensions between and conflict within such groups also feature in this indispensable volume.

Twilight of the Saints

Everyday Religion in Ottoman Syria and Palestine
Author: James Grehan
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
ISBN: 0199373035
Category: History
Page: 341
View: 982
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This is a study of everyday religious culture in Syria and Palestine in the 18th and 19th centuries (when they were part of the Ottoman Empire). It is a social history, dealing with beliefs and practices that are mostly forgotten or ignored in the region today, but that once occupied the religious mainstream. Contrary to standard theories about religion in the Middle East, this book argues that members of different religious groups participated in a common, overarching religious culture, which was still visible at the beginning of the 20th century.

Power, Sect and State in Syria

The Politics of Marriage and Identity amongst the Druze
Author: A. Maria A. Kastrinou
Publisher: I.B.Tauris
ISBN: 1784532207
Category: Druzes
Page: 268
View: 7862
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The Syrian state's rhetoric of Arab nationalism left little room for the official recognition of minority identities in pre-war Syria. Yet in practice, the state continually engaged with the Druze and other minorities to reinforce its legitimacy, often through cultural policy. Uncovering this neglected aspect of pre-war Syrian politics, Kastrinou explores the cultural politics of marriage in Syria, primarily among the Druze, to reveal how practical rituals of marriage inform sectarian and national identity formation. Challenging the assumed inherence of sectarianism and Druze endogamy, the book provides an historical and ethnographic account of political power and its relation to social control in Syria. It demonstrates the centrality of the body to Druze cosmology and how ritual performances of birth, marriage and death maintain and negotiate sectarian cohesion. Connecting these struggles to national and international politics, Kastrinou examines how both the Syrian government and the European Union have sponsored marriage-themed dance performances in Syria, each leveraging its cultural importance to legitimise their own policy goals. The book establishes marriage as a pervasive idiom for the construction of collective identity in Syria, which is appropriated by individuals, sects, states and intergovernmental organizations alike. Its conclusions are relevant to scholars of Middle East studies, sectarianism, anthropology and politics.

Money, Power and Politics in Early Islamic Syria

A Review of Current Debates
Author: Professor John Haldon
Publisher: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.
ISBN: 1409480941
Category: History
Page: 226
View: 7601
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The transformation of the eastern provinces of the Roman empire from the middle of the seventh century CE under the impact of Islam has attracted a good deal of scholarly attention in recent years, and as more archaeological material becomes available, has been subject to revision and rethinking in ways that radically affect what we know or understand about the area, about state-building and the economy and society of the early Islamic world, and about issues such as urbanisation, town-country relations, the ways in which a different religious culture impacted on the built environment, and about politics. This volume represents the fruits of a workshop held at Princeton University in May 2007 to discuss the ways in which recent work has affected our understanding of the nature of economic and exchange activity in particular, and the broader implications of these advances for the history of the region.

Syria from Reform to Revolt


Author: Raymond A. Hinnebusch,Tina Zintl,Christa Salamandra,Leif Stenberg
Publisher: N.A
ISBN: 9780815634157
Category: Political Science
Page: 238
View: 9938
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"When Bashar al-Asad smoothly assumed power in July 2000, just seven days after the death of his father, observers were divided on what this would mean for the country's foreign and domestic politics. On the one hand, it seemed everything would stay the same: an Asad on top of a political system controlled by secret services and Baathist one-party rule. On the other hand, it looked like everything would be different: a young president with exposure to Western education who, in his inaugural speech, emphasized his determination to modernize Syria. This volume explores the ways in which Asad's domestic and foreign policy strategies during his first decade in power safeguarded his rule and adapted Syria to the age of globalization. The volume's contributors examine multiple aspects of Asad's rule in the 2000s, from power consolidation within the party and control of the opposition to economic reform, co-opting new private charities, and coping with Iraqi refugees. The Syrian regime temporarily succeeded in reproducing its power and legitimacy, in reconstructing its social base, and in managing regional and international challenges. At the same time, contributors clearly detail the shortcomings, inconsistencies, and risks these policies entailed, illustrating why Syria's tenuous stability came to an abrupt end during the Arab Spring of 2011. This volume presents the work of an international group of scholars from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds. Based on extensive fieldwork and on intimate knowledge of a country whose dynamics often seem complicated and obscure to outside observers, these scholars' insightful snapshots of Bashar al-Asad's decade of authoritarian upgrading provide an indispensable resource for understanding the current crisis and its disastrous consequences."--Back cover.

Syria from Reform to Revolt

Volume 1: Political Economy and International Relations
Author: Raymond Hinnebusch,Tina Zintl
Publisher: Syracuse University Press
ISBN: 0815653026
Category: Political Science
Page: 348
View: 8645
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When Bashar al-Asad smoothly assumed power in July 2000, just seven days after the death of his father, observers were divided on what this would mean for the country’s foreign and domestic politics. On the one hand, it seemed everything would stay the same: an Asad on top of a political system controlled by secret services and Baathist one-party rule. On the other hand, it looked like everything would be different: a young president with exposure to Western education who, in his inaugural speech, emphasized his determination to modernize Syria. This volume explores the ways in which Asad’s domestic and foreign policy strategies during his first decade in power safeguarded his rule and adapted Syria to the age of globalization. The volume’s contributors examine multiple aspects of Asad’s rule in the 2000s, from power consolidation within the party and control of the opposition to economic reform, co-opting new private charities, and coping with Iraqi refugees. The Syrian regime temporarily succeeded in reproducing its power and legitimacy, in reconstructing its social base, and in managing regional and international challenges. At the same time, contributors clearly detail the shortcomings, inconsistencies, and risks these policies entailed, illustrating why Syria’s tenuous stability came to an abrupt end during the Arab Spring of 2011. This volume presents the work of an international group of scholars from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds. Based on extensive fieldwork and on intimate knowledge of a country whose dynamics often seem complicated and obscure to outside observers, these scholars’ insightful snapshots of Bashar al-Asad’s decade of authoritarian upgrading provide an indispensable resource for understanding the current crisis and its disastrous consequences.

The Battle for Syria

International Rivalry in the New Middle East
Author: Christopher Phillips
Publisher: Yale University Press
ISBN: 030021717X
Category: History
Page: 320
View: 7152
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An unprecedented analysis of the crucial but underexplored roles the United States and other nations have played in shaping Syria's ongoing civil war Most accounts of Syria's brutal, long-lasting civil war focus on a domestic contest that began in 2011 and only later drew foreign nations into the escalating violence. Christopher Phillips argues instead that the international dimension was never secondary but that Syria's war was, from the very start, profoundly influenced by regional factors, particularly the vacuum created by a perceived decline of U.S. power in the Middle East. This precipitated a new regional order in which six external protagonists--the United States, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Qatar--have violently competed for influence, with Syria a key battleground. Drawing on a plethora of original interviews, Phillips constructs a new narrative of Syria's war. Without absolving the brutal Bashar al-Assad regime, the author untangles the key external factors which explain the acceleration and endurance of the conflict, including the West's strategy against ISIS. He concludes with some insights on Syria and the region's future.

Cycle of Fear

Syria's Alawites in War and Peace
Author: Leon T. Goldsmith
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 1849044686
Category: History
Page: 288
View: 1493
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In early 2011 an elderly Alawite shaykh lamented the long history of oppression and aggression against his people. Against such collective memories the Syrian uprising was viewed by many Alawites, and observers, as a revanchist Sunni Muslim movement and the gravest threat yet to the unorthodox Shi'a sub-sect. This explained why the Alawites largely remained loyal to the Ba'athist regime of Bashar al-Asad. But was Alawite history really a constant tale of oppression and was the Syrian uprising of 2011 really an existential threat to the Alawites? This book surveys Alawite history from the sect's inception in Abbasid Iraq up to the start of the uprising in 2011. The book shows how Alawite identity and political behaviour have been shaped by a cycle of insecurity that has prevented the group from achieving either genuine social integration or long term security. Rather than being the gravest threat yet to the sect, the Syrian uprising, in the context of the Arab Spring, was quite possibly a historic opportunity for the Alawites to finally break free from their cycle of fear.

The Yezidis

The History of a Community, Culture and Religion
Author: Birgül Açikyildiz
Publisher: I.B.Tauris
ISBN: 0857720619
Category: Religion
Page: 320
View: 6043
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Yezidism is a fascinating part of the rich cultural mosaic of the Middle East. The Yezidi faith emerged for the first time in the twelfth century in the Kurdish mountains of northern Iraq. The religion, which has become notorious for its associations with ‘devil worship’, is in fact an intricate syncretic system of belief, incorporating elements from proto-Indo-European religions, early Iranian faiths like Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism, Sufism and regional paganism like Mithraism. Birgül Açikyildiz here offers a comprehensive appraisal of Yezidi religion, society and culture. Written without presupposing any prior knowledge about Yezidism, and in an accessible and readable style, her book examines Yezidis not only from a religious point of view but as a historical and social phenomenon. She throws light on the origins of Yezidism, and charts its development and changing fortunes - from its beginnings to the present- as part of the general history of the Kurds. Her book is the first to place Yezidism in its complete geographical setting in Northern Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Transcaucasia. The author describes the Yezidi belief system (which considers Tawûsî Melek - the ‘Peacock Angel’ - to be ruler of the earth) and its religious practices and observances, analysing the most important facets of Yezidi religious art and architecture (including funerary monuments and zoomorphic tombstones) and their relationship to their neighbours throughout the Middle East. Açikyildiz also explores the often misunderstood connections between Yezidism and the Satan/Sheitan of Christian and Muslim tradition. Richly illustrated, with accompanying maps, photographs and illustrations, this pioneering book will have strong appeal to all those with an interest in the culture of the Kurds, as well as the wider region.

We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled

Voices from Syria
Author: Wendy Pearlman
Publisher: HarperCollins
ISBN: 0062654454
Category: History
Page: 352
View: 3284
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LONG-LISTED FOR THE CARNEGIE MEDAL Reminiscent of the work of Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich, an astonishing collection of intimate wartime testimonies and poetic fragments from a cross-section of Syrians whose lives have been transformed by revolution, war, and flight. Against the backdrop of the wave of demonstrations known as the Arab Spring, in 2011 hundreds of thousands of Syrians took to the streets demanding freedom, democracy and human rights. The government’s ferocious response, and the refusal of the demonstrators to back down, sparked a brutal civil war that over the past five years has escalated into the worst humanitarian catastrophe of our times. Yet despite all the reporting, the video, and the wrenching photography, the stories of ordinary Syrians remain unheard, while the stories told about them have been distorted by broad brush dread and political expediency. This fierce and poignant collection changes that. Based on interviews with hundreds of displaced Syrians conducted over four years across the Middle East and Europe, We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled is a breathtaking mosaic of first-hand testimonials from the frontlines. Some of the testimonies are several pages long, eloquent narratives that could stand alone as short stories; others are only a few sentences, poetic and aphoristic. Together, they cohere into an unforgettable chronicle that is not only a testament to the power of storytelling but to the strength of those who face darkness with hope, courage, and moral conviction.