ISLAM and MUSLIMS IN SYRIA

      

General Information

Syrian Arab Republic

National name: Al-Jumhuriyah al-'Arabiyah as-Suriyah

Land area: 71,062 sq mi (184,051 sq km); total area: 71,498 sq mi (185,180 sq km)

Population (2007 est.): 19,314,747

Capital (2003 est.): Damascus, 2,381,800 (metro. area), 1,861,900

Largest cities: Aleppo, 2,492,100 (metro. area), 1,933,700 (city proper); Homs, 751,500; Latakia, 417,100; Hama, 380,200

Monetary unit: Syrian pound

Languages: Arabic (official); Kurdish, Armenian, Aramaic, Circassian widely understood; French, English somewhat understood

Ethnicity/race: Arab 90.3%, Kurds, Armenians, and other 9.7%

Religions: Islam (Sunni) 74%; Alawite, Druze, and other Islamic sects 16%; Christian (various sects) 10%; Jewish (tiny communities in Damascus, Al Qamishli, and Aleppo)

Literacy rate: 73.6% (2004 est.)

Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2007 est.): $87.09 billion; per capita $4,500. Real growth rate: 3.9%. Inflation: 7%.

Slightly larger than North Dakota, Syria lies at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. It is bordered by Lebanon and Israel on the west, Turkey on the north, Iraq on the east, and Jordan on the south. Coastal Syria is a narrow plain, in back of which is a range of coastal mountains, and still farther inland a steppe area. In the east is the Syrian Desert and in the south is the Jebel Druze Range. The highest point in Syria is Mount Hermon (9,232 ft; 2,814 m) on the Lebanese border.

Ancient Syria was conquered by Egypt about 1500 B.C., and after that by Hebrews, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Persians, and Alexander the Great of Macedonia. From 64 B.C. until the Arab conquest in A.D. 636, it was part of the Roman Empire except during brief periods. The Arabs made it a trade center for their extensive empire, but it suffered severely from the Mongol invasion in 1260 and fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1516. Syria remained a Turkish province until World War I.

A secret Anglo-French pact of 1916 put Syria in the French zone of influence. The League of Nations gave France a mandate over Syria after World War I, but the French were forced to put down several nationalist uprisings. In 1930, France recognized Syria as an independent republic but still subject to the mandate. After nationalist demonstrations in 1939, the French high commissioner suspended the Syrian constitution. In 1941, British and Free French forces invaded Syria to eliminate Vichy control. During the rest of World War II, Syria was an Allied base. Again in 1945, nationalist demonstrations broke into actual fighting, and British troops had to restore order. Syrian forces met a series of reverses while participating in the Arab invasion of Palestine in 1948. In 1958, Egypt and Syria formed the United Arab Republic, with Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt as president. However, Syria became independent again on Sept. 29, 1961, following a revolution.

Islamic History and Muslims

Islam in Syria is composed of a Sunni majority and four minority sects; Twelver Shiites, and also Druze (which is not an Islamic sect), Alawi and Ismailis. Sunnis make up 65%-70% of the total population of the country (including a majority of Arabs and a Kurdish minority). Shias comprise up to 20% while Christians make up 5%-10% of the Syrian population, about half of them Greek Orthodox. Alawis are the pre-dominant Shia group (approximately 12% of the total Syrian population), followed by Druze, Twelvers and Ismailis. Sunnis are mainly of the Shafi'i madhhab with pockets of Hanafi and [[Hanbali]. Several large Sufi orders are active in the country, including the Naqshbandi tariqa, Qadiriyya and others. The secularist government has promoted Sufism in an attempt to weaken radical Sunni fundamentalist movements, and a now deceased Naqshbandi alim, shaykh Ahmad Kaftaru, gained stature as Syria's government-appointed chief Mufti.

History

In March 1963 a military coup installed a secular, Baath socialist regime dominated by minority sects. In 1970, an Alawi ruler, Hafez al-Assad, seized the presidency (he was succeeded by his son, Bashar al-Asad, in 2000). The most intractable challenge to Baathist rule has come from Sunni Islamic groups, most notably, the Muslim Brotherhood. The first Islamic uprising was in 1964 in Hama; other such sectarian disturbances followed in 1967, 1973 and from c:a 1976-85, culminating in. Iraqi refugees -- estimated at nearly 2 million, or close to 10% of the Syrian population, in 2007 -- comprise all Iraqi religions, including Sunnis and Twelver Shia, as well as a disproportionate number of Christians. The most notable effect on Syria's religious balance has been the increased size of the resident Twelver Shia community in Syria, which was previously minimal.


Sunni Islam

The largest religious group in Syria is the Sunni Hanafi Muslims, of whom about 80 percent are native Syrian Arabs, with the remainder being Kurds, Turkomans, Circassians, and Palestinians. Sunni Islam sets the religious tone for Syria and provides the country's basic values.

Sunnis follow nearly all occupations, belong to all social groups and nearly every political party, and live in all parts of the country. There are only two provinces in which they are not a majority: As Suwayda, where Druzes predominate, and Al Ladhiqiyah, where Alawis are a majority. In Al Hasakah, Sunnis form a majority, but most of them are Kurds rather than Arabs.

In theory, a Sunni approaches his God directly because the religion provides him no intercession of saints, no holy orders, no organized clerical hierarchy, and no true liturgy. In practice, however, there are duly appointed religious figures, some of whom exert considerable social and political power. Among them are men of importance in their community who lead prayers and give sermons at Friday services. Although in the larger mosques the imams are generally well-educated men who are informed about political and social affairs, an imam need not have any formal training. Among beduin, for example, any literate member of the tribe may read prayers from the Quran. Committees of socially prominent worshipers usually run the major mosques and administer mosque-owned land and gifts.

The Muslim year has two canonical festivals--the Id al Adha, or "sacrificial" festival on the tenth of Dhul al Hijjah, the twelfth Muslim month; and the Id al Fitr, or "festival of breaking the fast," which celebrates the end of the fast of Ramadan on the first of Shawwal, the tenth month. Both festivals last 3 or 4 days, during which people wear their best clothes, visit and congratulate each other, and give gifts. People visit cemeteries, often remaining for some hours, even throughout the night. The festival of the Id al Fitr is celebrated more joyfully than the Id al Adha because it marks the end of the hardships of Ramadan. Lesser celebrations take place on the Prophet's birthday, which falls on the twelfth of Rabia al Awwal, the third month, and on the first of Muharram, the beginning of the Muslim new year.

Islamic law provides direction in all aspects of life. There are four major schools of Islamic law--the Hanafi, the Hanbali, the Shafii, and the Maliki --each named after its founder and all held to be officially valid. Any Muslim may belong to any one of them, although one school usually dominates a given geographical area. The schools agree on the four recognized sources of law-- the Quran, the Sunna, the consensus of the faithful (ijma), and analogy (qiyas)--but differ in the degree of emphasis they give to each source. Represented in Syria are the Shafii school and the more liberal Hanafi school, which places greater emphasis on analogical deduction and bases decisions more on precedents set in previous cases than on literal interpretation of the Quran or Sunna.

Conservative, Sunni leaders look to the ancient days of Islam for secular guidance. Only since the first quarter of the twentieth century have Syrian Sunnis become acutely aware of the need for modern education. Therefore, secularization is spreading among Sunnis, especially the younger ones in urban areas and in the military services. After the first coup d'état in 1949, the waqfs were taken out of private religious hands and put under government control. Civil codes have greatly modified the authority of Islamic laws, and the educational role of Muslim religious leaders is declining with the gradual disappearance of kuttabs, the traditional mosque-affiliated schools.

Despite civil codes introduced in the past years, Syria maintains a dual system of sharia and civil courts (see The Judiciary , ch. 4). Hanafi law applies in sharia courts, and non-Muslim communities have their own religious courts using their own religious law.


Shia Islam

The Ithna Asharia Shia play only a minor role in Syrian politics. In religious affairs, they look to Shia centers in Iraq, especially Karbala and An Najaf, and to Iran. However, Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution, and Syria's alliance with Iran in its war with Iraq, have elevated the prestige of Syria's Shia minority. As hundreds of Iranian tourists began to visit Damascus each week, the Shia shrine of the tomb of Sitt az Zaynab, daughter of the Prophet Muhammad, located in Al Ghutah outside Damascus, became a major pilgrimage destination, replacing those areas no longer accessible in Iraq. However, the government of Syria has viewed with caution the resurgence of Shia Islamic fervor in Syria and has taken steps to dampen it.


Ismailis

The Ismailis are an offshoot of Shia Islam, the split having occurred over the recognition of the Seventh Imam. The Shia Ithna Asharia, those who accept the first Twelve Imams, believe that Jafar, the Sixth Imam, passed over his eldest son, Ismail, in favor of Ismail's brother Musa al Kazim. Ismailis, however, believe that Jafar appointed Ismail to be the Seventh Imam--hence Ismailis are often called Seveners. Little is known of the early history of the sect, but it was firmly established by the end of the ninth century. From 969 to 1171, an Ismaili dynasty, the Fatimids, ruled as caliphs in Egypt.

Ismailis are divided into two major groups, the Mustafians and the Misaris. The Ismailis of Syria, numbering about 200,000, are predominantly Misaris; this group gained prominence during the Crusades when a mystical society of Misaris, called Assassins, harassed both the Crusaders and Saladin (Salah ad Din al Ayyubi). The Misari Ismaili community has continued in Syria to the present day and recognizes the Aga Khan as its head. The Mirzahs are the leading family in the community.

Originally clustered in Al Ladhiqiyah Province, most of the Syrian Ismailis have resettled south of Salamiyah on land granted to the Ismaili community by Abdul Hamid II, sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1876 to 1909. A few thousand Ismailis live in the mountains west of Hamah, and about 5,000 are in Al Ladhiqiyah. The western mountain group is poor and suffers from land hunger and overpopulation--resulting in a drift toward the wealthier eastern areas as well as seasonal migration to the Salamiyah area, where many of them find employment at harvest-time. The wealthier Ismailis of Salamiyah have fertile and well-watered land and are regarded as clannish, proud, and tough.

Ismailis accept many Shia doctrines, such as the esoteric nature of truth and the inspiration of the Imams. Although holding their Imams to be of divine origin, as the Shia do, Ismailis have a dual Imamate. They believe the succession of visible Imams has continued to the present. There are, however, two imams, the visible and the hidden, the speaker and the silent. The identity of the hidden imam is not known to the community but it is believed he will return to lead the faithful. Ismailis generally follow the religious practice of the Shia Twelvers in prayers, fasts, and Quranic prescriptions, but in their conservatism they resemble Sunnis on some points. For example, they do not observe the tenth of Muharram in the impassioned way of the Shia.


Druzes

In 1987 the Druze community, at 3 percent of the population the country's third largest religious minority, continued to be the overwhelming majority in the Jabal al Arab, a rugged and mountainous region in southwestern Syria.

The Druze religion is a tenth-century offshoot of Shia Islam, but Muslims view Druzes as heretical for accepting the divinity of Hakim, the third Fatimid caliph of Egypt. The group takes its names from Muhammad Bin Ismail ad Darazi, an Iranian mystic. Druzes regard Jethro, father-in-law of Moses, as their chief prophet and make annual pilgrimages to his tomb in lower Galilee. They also revere Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad, the three most important prophets of Islam.

The Druze have always kept their doctrine and ritual of secret to avoid persecution. Only those who demonstrate extreme piety and devotion and the correct demeanor are initiated into the mysteries. The initiated (uqqal; sing., aqil) are a very small minority and may include women. Most Druzes are juhhal, ignorant ones. Apparently the religion is complex, involving neo-Platonic thought, Sufi mysticism, and Iranian religious traditions.

Endogamy and monogamy are the rule among the Druzes. Until recently, most girls were married between the ages of 12 and 15, and most men at the age of 16 or 17. Women are veiled in public, but, in contrast to Muslim Arab custom, they can and do participate in the councils of elders.

 


The 13th century mosque of Abu al-Fida.

Ommayyad Mosque in Syria.

  Al-Rahman Mosque, Aleppo, Syria

  Islamic Centers and Organizations

معهد الاسد لتحفيظ القران الكريم, Jayrud, Jayrud
Phone: 00963-7710753

Dr. Mohammed, Adnan Ahmed, Homs


Al-Sultan Ebrahem, Jableh


شركة الحاسب الذهبي الإسلامية, Halab
URL: http://www.tgc2003.main-page.com/  

جامع زيد بن ثابت الأنصاري, Damascus, فحامة
URL: islamz.com   Phone: 096393759803

Alomari Mosque, Damascus


Transhumance, W:Ghardia
Phone: 213 -9 82 40 93

Manara cinter, Deraa, deraa
URL: ahmadf.jeeran.com   Phone: 015-240792

مسجد الشيخ علوان, Hama, Syria


Alomary mosque, Deraa, mosque
Phone: 015-8888888

  Al Huda mosque, Aleppo
  Al Nabulsi Mosque جامع النابلسي, Damascus
  Al Rahman Mosque, Aleppe
  AL-EMAM AL-NAWAWI MOSQUE, Nawa
  Al-Fourkan, Homs
  Al-Sultan Ebrahem, Jableh
  Alhamide mosque, Talkalakh
  Alhamzaa, Qumkhanah
  Alhamzah mosque, Qabbasin
  Alomari Mosque, Damascus
  Alomary mosque, Deraa
  Alrahman mosque, Aleppo
  Anas Bin Malik Mosque, Damascus City
  Anass, Kisswa
  Bilal- Ibn - Rabah Mosque, Homs
  Haseeba Mosque, Damascus
  Ibrahim ibn alaadham, Aleppo
  Jame3 AlMobarak, Al-nabek
  Khaled ibn alwalid, Homs
  Khalid Ibnul Waleed Mosque, Hims
  Lala Bash Mosque, Damascus
  Masjed Alrayes, Homs
  Masjed Alrefaie, Damascus
  Masjid Al-hasan, Saqba
  Masjid Bilal, Al Bab
  mosque, Kafer Nebal
  mysaloon mosque, Aleppo
  Omar Al-Khattab Mosque, Homs
  Omar ebn Alkhatab, Qumkhanah
  OmarBenAlKhatab Mosque (the big mosque), Dar`a
  Qubaa Mosque, Homs
  Saladin Mosque, Mlaiha Ech Charqiye
  Shafie Mosque مسجد الشافعي, Damascus
  مسجد منين الكبير, Mnine
  مسجد أنس بن مالك, Daraiya
  مسجد أبو بكر الصديق, Halamouze
  مسجد أبو بكر الصدّيق, Aqrab
  مسجد أبي بكر الصديق, Kafer Hamra
  مسجد أبي ذر الغفاري, Al Harak
  مسجد الفردوس, Nabak
  مسجد المعرة الكبير, Maaret El Noman
  مسجد النهضة الاسلامية, Armanaz
  مسجد الهدى, Taibet El Imam
  مسجد الشيخ محمد الحامد, Hama
  مسجد الشيخ محي الدين, Qatana
  مسجد الشيخ علوان, Hama
  مسجد العمري, Tartous
  مسجد بلال الحبشي, Damascus
  مسجد بلال الحبشي, Damascus
 
مسجد بداما الكبير, Bdama

  مسجد زيد بن ثابت الأنصاري, Damascus-Baramkeh
  مسجد عمر بن الخطاب, Al Musallakhah
  مسجد عمر بن عبد العزيز, Damascus-Baramkeh
  مسجد عثمان بن عفان, Kiswah
  Zein Al-Abdin mosque, Kamishli
  المسجد الكبير, Manbej
  المسجد الكبير, Al Malikiyah
  المسجد الكبير, Abou Kemal
  الجامع الكبير, Jisr Esh Shaur
  الجامع الكبير, Anadan
  الجامع الكبير, Kiswah
  الجامع الكبير, Tadef
  الجامع الكبير, Jirablus
  الجامع الكبير, Palmyra
  الجامع الكبير, Maaret-enn Naamane
  الجامع الكبير, Al Hasakah
  الجامع الكبير, Al Bab
  الجامع الكبير, Qarah
  الجامع الكبير في جسر الشغور, Jisr Ash Shughur
  الجامع الاموي الكبير, Damascus
  الجامع العمري, Inkhel
  الجامع العمري الكبير, Daail
  جمعية حلبون الخيرية, Halboun
  جامع زيد بن ثابت الأنصاري, Damascus
  جامع الفرقان, Bdama
  جامع الفرقان,
  جامع القدس, Damascus
  جامع القصور, Damascus
  جامع المناخ, Hama
  جامع المتقين, Aleppo
  جامع المحطة, Damascus
  جامع المدرسة يوشع بن نون, Maaret-enn Naamane
  جامع النبي محمد, Shadadi
  جامع الهدى, Inkhel
  جامع الأكرم, Damascus
  جامع الايمان, Damascus
  جامع البسام, Inkhel
  جامع البشير, Aleppo
  جامع التوحيد, Halab
  جامع التوحيد, Aleppo
  جامع الرحمة AL-RAHMAH Mosque, Hama
  جامع الرضوان, Aleppo
  جامع الزبير بن العوام, Afess
  جامع السلطان Sultan mosque, Hama
  جامع السويداء الكبير, Sweida
  جامع الشيخ الغلايني, Qatana
  جامع الشيخ سعيد الجابي, Hama
  جامع الشيخ علوان الحموي الحسيني, Hama
  جامع الشيخ عبد الرزاق, Abou Hammam
 
جامع الصحابة, Inkhel

جامع العجمي, Yabroud
  جامع الغور, Armanaz
  جامع جلال الدين السيوطي, Aleppo
  جامع خالد بن الوليد, Hama
  جامع خديجة, Tartous
  جامع زيد بن ثابت, Hama
  جامع سعد, Inkhel
  جامع سعد بن أبي وقاص, Afess
  جامع عبد الله بن عباس, Aleppo
  جامع عبدالسلام هيكل, Tartous
 
صلاح الدين, Hama

  Douma Society, Douma
  مكتب الرعاية الاجتماعية, Hama
  مسجد ومركز ومعهد الرحمن للرعاية الدينية والصحية, Halab
  معهد الاسد لتحفيظ القران الكريم, Jayrud
  الجمعية الخيرية في عين منين, Mnine
  جمعية الإمام النووي الخيرية, Nawa
  جمعية الإمام النووي الخيرية, Daail
  جمعية الامام النووي الخيرية, Inkhel
  جمعية البر والخدمات الإجتماعية فرع بداما, Bdama
  جمعيةالبر والرعاية الإجتماعية في طيبة الإمام, Hama
 
شركة الحاسب الذهبي الإسلامية, Halab

  Al-maytem Al-islami, Homs
  Arabic courses in Damascus, Damascus
  Arabic for Non Native Speakers, Damascus
  Shariah School in Latakiaٍ, Al Ladhiqiyah
  كلية الشريعة, Damascus
  ملجئ الأيتام الإسلامي, Hama
  مدرسة دار الأرقم بن أبي الأرقم الشرعية, Manbij
  مدرسة دار الأرقم بن أبي الأرقم الشرعية في منبج, Manbej
  معهد تحفيظ القرآن, Inkhel
  www.dalalah.org, Damascus
  المدرسة الشرعية, Daraya
  الثانوية الشرعية بأعزاز, Aleppo
  الثانوية الشرعية بدمشق, Damascus
  الثانوية الشرعية بدير الزور, Deir Zzor
  ثانوية الإمام النووي للعلوم الشرعية, Damascus
  ثانوية دار الأرقم الشرعية للإناث في منبج, Aleppo
  ثانوية سعسع الشرعية, Damascus
  جامعة حلب, Halab
 

   Muslim Owned Business

A.GOLDEN HILLS COMMUNICATIONS, Damascus
  Al Abbas Store, Kartu
  ALY SERJIEH,MD LASIK CENTER, Aleppo
  Connectways.com VoIP Services, Aleppo
  Dal Al Maarifah, Damascus
  Dental Clinic, Aleppo
  Dr Marwan Droubi,general relations, Homs
  Dr. Mohammed, Adnan Ahmed, Homs
  Manara cinter, Deraa
  Semiramis, Damascus
  Transhumance, W:Ghardia
  مكتبة رؤى, Mnine
  مكتبة علم الهدى, Hama
  منظفات مدار, Damascus
  مركز توزيع مواد أطباء الأسنان , وكلاء عامون وحصريون لعدة شركات عالمية - جملة , مفرق, Aleppo
  مركز عمر بن عبد العزيز للتصوير الشعاعي (د. نادر نصري), Aleppo
  مشروع تيسير الزواج, Damascus
  إنترتراما - عالم المفكرات والقواميس الناطقة, Aleppo
  الأوائل للهندسة الالكترونية(AL-AWAIL), Halab
  الحاج كامل بطيخ, Aleppo
  شركة أحد للأغذية, Damascus
  شركة عابو للتجارة والتوكيلات, Halab
 
طبيب اسنان الدكتور بكري اسكيف, Halab

References
Islam in Syria  ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_in_Syria   , September, 2008).
Info please ( http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0108016.html,    September, 2008).
Islam Finder ( http://www.islamicfinder.org/cityPrayerNew.php?country=syria  , September, 2008).
Anonymous, Documents from Representatives of Islamic Organizations in Syria , September 2008.