The Nuṣayrī - 'Alawīs

An Introduction to the Religion, History and Identity of the Leading Minority in Syria


Friedman offers new and updated research on the Nusayrī-‘Alawī sect, today a leading group in Syria, covering a variety of aspects and focusing on the Middle Ages. A century after Dussaud's Histoire et religion des Nosairîs (1900), he reviews the history and religion of the sect in the light of old documents used by orientalists in the nineteenth century, documents that became available in the twentieth century, and later sources of the Nuṣayrī-‘Alawī sect published most recently in Lebanon. Also studied in depth for the first time is the question of the identity of the sect through the ‘Alawī-Sunnī-Shī‘ī triangle.
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Biographical Note

Yaron Friedman received his doctorate from the Sorbonne in 2006. He lectures in Middle Eastern Studies and teaches Arabic in Israel. He has published previously in Studia Islamica, Der Islam and Encyclopedia Iranica.

Review Quote

"Friedman's book is highly illuminating. It approaches a very difficult and complex subject matter in a comprehensive way and manages to present a well-written, concise and almost exhaustive exposition." Sotirios S. Livas in JOAS 20 (2011), 274-276. “This is a knowledgeable and panoramic book, covering a wide range of topics and incorporating important and hitherto unfamiliar sources.” Aryeh Kofsky in Bustan: The Middle East Book Review 3 (2012), 170-175. "Yaron Friedman's book marks an important step forward in the academic study of the ʿAlawi (Nusayri) sect of Syria and of the historical development of Shiʿism in general." Stefan Winter in International Journal of Middle East Studies 43.3 (2011), 577-579. doi:10.1017/S0020743811000869 "Yaron Friedman has produced the definitive study of medieval Nuṣayrī history, religion and identity through his meticulousness, his willingness to challenge Western and Muslim orthodoxies, and his access to hitherto unknown sources." Steve Tamari in Al-Masaq: Islam and the Medieval Mediterranean 25:2 (2013), 271-273. DOI:10.1080/09503110.2013.804325 "Friedman’s research is the first of its kind to use these sources along with other previously published documents. For his groundbreaking work, and considering sources that were not accessible to prior scholarship, one can congratulate Friedman for an outstanding piece of historical scholarship that promises to be useful for future research on this unique community." Jens Kreinath in History of Religions Volume 55, Number 2, November 2015.


The Nuṣayrī-‘Alawīs is an essential work of reference for researchers and students interested in Shī‘ism. It offers particular insights into Islam sects, mysticism and secret societies.