The Syrian Constitution does not prescribe that any religion can be considered official state, guarantees freedom of religion and the rights of all religions, except those religions or movements that violate human rights - are criminal. Initially, Semitic paganism was widespread in Syria with its characteristic cults of local fertility deities. The names of deities ("baal", lord) are preserved in place names throughout the Middle East, including in Syria. At the beginning of the 1st millennium AD, the Northern Dynasty came to power in the Roman Empire, whose representatives had Syrian roots and spread mysteries of Syrian origin. The main myth of these mysteries is the adaptation of the ancient myth of Isis (Hathor, Astarte, Ishtar, Atargatis). The latter, in particular, is dedicated to Lucian's treatise "On the Syrian Goddess", whence comes the Greco-Roman name "Syrian Goddess", which was used during initiations. Syria has historically been one of the world centers of Christianity. In the era of Ecumenical Councils, the dogmatic formation of Orthodoxy takes place and various heresies arise - Nestorianism, Arianism, Doketism, and many others. Sects that fell away from the Orthodox Church due to Christological disputes had a strong influence on the formation and spread of Islam in the 7th – 8th centuries. Today, more than 90% of the Syrian population are Muslims. Within the framework of Syrian Islam, there are a large number of heterogeneous groups - Sunnis, Shiites, Isnaasharites, various Shiite sects (Ismailis, Alawites, Druze). 10% of the population are Christians (Orthodox, Catholics, Protestants), the Armenian community stands out among Christians. Jews almost completely migrated from Syria to Israel and the United States, mainly because of the country's anti-Israeli foreign policy.
In general, the socio-political life of Syria in the last decade is characterized by the growing influence of Sunni Islam, but not radical, but moderate currents. Even under Hafez al-Assad, such groups as the radical wing of the Muslim Brotherhood organization and the Saudi-sponsored Wahhabi communities in Damascus and Aleppo were seriously opposed. Bashar al-Assad at the beginning of his reign tried to continue his father’s policy aimed at maintaining interfaith peace and harmony not only by military but also by peaceful means. For example, in 2001, Bashar al-Assad married a former employee of the bank JP Morgan, who came from a wealthy Sunni family. Sunnis make up 75% of all Muslims in Syria. Currently, the conflict between the Sunni majority and the Alawite ruling group is hidden, but in the early 80s of the XX century, this confrontation almost put the country on the brink of civil war. Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood organization, the Islamic Liberation Party, and a number of large Sufi tariqas advocated the creation of an Islamic state in Syria and the introduction of Sharia as the country's only law. The anti-Ba'ath rebels were brutally suppressed by the Assad government. In total, more than 30,000 people were affected by the actions of the authorities (according to unofficial data). After coming to power, Bashar al-Assad dismissed many influential Sunnis from his father’s entourage, which allowed some researchers to even talk about the “Alavitization” of the ruling elite of Syria. Within the framework of the Higher Alavite Council structure, all issues of the real political life of the state are being resolved, which cannot but cause dissatisfaction among the Sunni majority. Potential conflict is exacerbated by adverse socio-economic trends in the country. Ethnic-confessional conflict may become one of the channels of protest for simple and low-income Sunnis, who show a certain discontent with declining living standards. One of the recent trends (after the war in Lebanon) has been the transition of some Sunnis to Shiism for political reasons. A few years ago, a considerable number of residents of At-Tel, a five-hour drive from Damascus, became Shiites. Such transitions were inconceivable a few years ago, but after the aggravation of the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, many Sunnis saw a real political force in Shiite militants and began to support them.
Unlike the Sunnis, Shiites do not recognize the line of caliphs originating from Abu Bakr, and consider the latter an illegal usurper. The true successor of Muhammad, according to the Shiites, is his son-in-law Ali, who is revered in the extreme Shiite sects as the embodiment of a deity. Historically, Shiite leaders are the direct descendants of Ali and the daughter of Muhammad Fatima. All Shiites seek to restore the sole spiritual and secular authority of the imam (descendant of Ali), however, among various groups of Shiites over time, disputes arose over which of the continuity lines is considered correct. The Isnaasharites, a large part of the Shiite community, consider the transmission line of 12 imams to be correct, the last of which, the Mahdi, is in a hidden state and will return at the end of time to establish Shiism around the world. Forced to resist orthodox Islam for centuries and be persecuted by the authorities, Shiites developed a whole system of secret organizations that were widespread in the history of the caliphate. The number of Isnaasharites in Syria has long been insignificant compared to the Sunni majority, but because of the outbreak of war in Iraq, many Iraqi representatives of the “double-decadent” community migrated to Syria. From a political point of view at the end of the XX century. cooperation between Iran and Syria has consolidated, with both sides supporting the Shiite militant organization of Hezbollah, although religiously the differences between the Isnaashar Shiites who came to power in Iran and the Alawites ruling in Syria are significant. So, the leader of the Iranian revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini even issued a fatwa (theological and legal conclusion), according to which the Alawites, despite all the innovations, are Muslims.
Since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, French colonial policy has focused on the use of the Alawites (Mutalia, Alevi, Nusairites) as an outpost of the influence of the metropolis. Religious minorities, such as the Alawites, were supposed to split the national liberation movement. To do this, the doctrine of the originally Christian roots of extreme Shiism was spread among them, as a result of which the Alawites had to oppose themselves to the Sunni majority. At the beginning of the 20th century, the French used this tactic with varying success. From 1922 to 1936, there was even Alawite autonomy, which in the end, despite the protests of a number of Alawite sheikhs, was included in Syria. Subsequently, the Alawites lost their influence and became a marginal group in Syrian society. This was facilitated by the low educational level of the majority of the population, high rates of child mortality and a subordinate position in relation to the Sunni majority. After the loss of state independence, the Alawite community had a need to somehow harmonize nusairism with the Sunni akydy (the creed and practice of Ahl Sunnah Val Jamaa). As a result of the reforms, a statement was made that every Alawite is a Muslim if he recognizes the Qur'an and the prophetic mission of Muhammad. In the area of fiqh (Muslim jurisprudence), the Alawites adhered to the Jafarite madhhab, which is traditionally used by Shiites. All esoteric doctrines of the Alawites and their transmission were preserved in full, therefore many Sunni authorities, unlike Khomeini, did not recognize the Alawites as Orthodox Muslims. Modern science has fragmented information about the essence of the teachings of the Alawites. It is assumed that the main sacred text of the community “Kitab al-Majmua” is an imitation of the Qur'an, consists of 16 verses (verses) and contains the main tenets of the doctrine that distinguish the Alawites from other Muslim sects. The Alawites deify the triad of Ali (Sense (ma'na), Muhammad (Name (Ism) and Salman Pers (Gate) (women), using the figures of these people to describe esoteric concepts (al-Batyn). Due to the fact that in Alavite elements of Christianity play a big role in the ritual, the French have repeatedly put forward the theory that the Alawites are descendants of some Christian community or crusaders.In the secret teachings of this sect, elements of astrolatry characteristic of many Middle Eastern teachings are also common (division into worshipers of the sun and moon), mazd eism and other ancient teachings. The whole community of believing Alawites is divided into initiates (whose father and mother should be from Alawites) and laity. It is worth noting that the country's leader Bashar Assad is not an initiate ("Hassa").
During the 1940–1950s, the Alawite sheikhs made efforts to draw closer to the Isa-A-Sahara clergy, which were unsuccessful; Now this line (towards rapprochement with Shiite sheikhs) continues. Despite the minority situation, during the national liberation struggle, the Alawites put forward the theses of modernization, secular society and integration into the modern world. In the first half of the 1960s, they made a career and occupied leading positions in the army and the left-Baathist movement. All these factors contributed to the political success of the Alawite community, despite the anti-Avalan mood among the masses: both Hafez Assad and Bashar Assad came from the Alavite community. Today, the Alawite population is more than 11% of the population. Together, the Alawites and Druze make up a quarter of the total Muslim population of Syria.
Other Shiite sects are Ismailis and Druze. Ismailis and Druze together make up about 3% of the country's population. The Ismailis take their name from Ismail - the eldest son of the sixth imam (direct descendant of Ali), Jafar al-Sadyk. For a number of reasons, the eldest son was not able to inherit the imamat, but the Ismailis, unlike the Isnaasharites (“twelve Christians”), did not recognize the seventh and subsequent imams and consider Ismail the seventh, hidden imam of Mahdi. Since 1963, these groups have been acting as the main but junior partners of the Alawites in the political life of Syria. All these groups have traditionally been widely represented in the country's top military leadership, as a result of which prerequisites arose for the seizure and retention of power by a religious minority. The Ismailis enjoy wide international support from their influential leader - billionaire Aga Khan IV, who is the spiritual leader of this community. Aga Khan IV has wide connections with Western elites and sponsors humanitarian and educational projects in the countries where the Ismailis live, thereby expanding the influence of this sect. It is known that the Ismailis, like the Alawites, deny some of the provisions of Sharia, widely use allegorical interpretations of the Koran and elements of ancient philosophy, and are also supporters of the idea of an imamat, that is, they adhere to the concept of transmitting spiritual influence from Ali ibn Abi Talib, an associate of Muhammad.
The Antioch Orthodox Church, whose residence is located in the old district of Damascus, was founded in 37 AD by the holy apostles Peter and Paul. The spread of Christianity in the Middle East began with Syria; on the territory of the country there are many architectural monuments and sacred objects dating back to the earliest periods of Christian history. Christians in Syria (10%) belong to a number of churches. Most Syrian Christians are supporters of the Greek-Byzantine Orthodox Church. The next largest are Armenian-Gregorians, Catholics are Uniates, who are parishioners of 3 churches: Greek Catholic, Armenian Catholic and Syro-Catholic. In addition to them, followers of local, Middle Eastern Christian churches live in Syria. The number of Christians in Syria tends to decrease. This is not least due to the discriminatory policy of the country's leadership, which seeks to seek legitimacy in the eyes of the Sunni majority: only a Muslim can be the leader of the state, marriage of a Christian to a Muslim is prohibited (there are no such restrictions for Muslims), students in Islamic schools study Islamic culture and history. At the same time, in comparison with other countries of the Middle East, the situation of Christians in Syria remains quite protected. The traditions of tolerance and peaceful coexistence, which inevitably develop in such large shopping centers as Damascus and Aleppo, play a large role in this. Christians are mainly engaged in trade, among them there are more urban residents and people with higher education. Since the time of French rule, Christian families have collaborated with Europeans in the political and cultural spheres. Protestant groups in Syria are not numerous and do not separate themselves from other Christians. In general, it can be noted that a long existence in a multiconfessional environment rallied Christians of all churches. In addition to Christians in Syria, there is a small community of Kurds who traditionally profess Yezidism - a national belief that combines elements of Zoroastrianism, Nestorianism and Sufism.
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