From Nuṣayrīs to ʿAlawīs: The Religiography of Muḥammad Kurd ʿAlī
Westerners have written masses of books in their languages on the antiquities, civilization, history, economy, and the changing fortunes of this region. But rarely are comprehensive books published by our own people, in our language, and according to our methodology.2
2. The Life of Muḥammad Kurd ʿAlī
3. The Composition and Structure of the Khiṭaṭ al-Shām
I took what I obtained from books by Westerners, but I was more interested in referring to what our ancestors (al-aslāf) had written on this subject despite its fragmented nature. I relied on the Arab authors in particular, since every nation is, for the most part, more knowledgeable about its own history than are others. If Western scholars have investigated the history of this region in the pre-Islamic period, excavated its antiquities and monuments, and analysed its languages and dialects, then surely its history after that period is closer to that for which our scholars are a [more fruitful] source’.(1.3)
The subject matter of the Khiṭaṭ is certainly glorious, and all who wish to know their country to serve and benefit from it must know it… Those who do not have some acquaintance with the treasures their homeland or the deeds of their ancestors are unprepared to effect positive change now or in the future. For who, after all, is better placed to consult the records of the ancestors than their descendants? How can a person love a country that they do not know? How can a person aspire to prosperity–both individually and nationally–while being ignorant of how the past has shaped of their present situation? How is the present understood without the past? And how can a national spirit be born among a people if its history is not truly studied?(1.3)
It is perhaps not unfair to say that the publication which inaugurated the treatment of the Ottoman Empire and its republican rebirth as an object of serious historical investigation, was Muhammad Kurd ‘Ali’s Khitat al-Sham. Notwithstanding the traditional resonance of the title, this six-volume work was a model of modern historical scholarship in terms of both its methodology and overall conception, covering the political, social and cultural history of Syria from early Muslim times right up to the establishment of the French mandate. At least two of its volumes address in detail the Ottoman era as an integral constituent of Syria’s past that decisively impacted every aspect of its political, socio-economic and intellectual life. In a way, the Khitat charted, or at least anticipated, the course which modern historical writing about Syria’s long Ottoman past was to take.
4. Religions and Denominations
5. The Bāṭiniyya
6. The Nuṣayrī-ʿAlawīs
We in Syria are a single nation, however much those who try may endeavor to sow divisions among us. Religious groups were not and never will be the criterion by which this unity is to be judged. The Maronite, the Catholic, the Orthodox, the Protestant, the ʿAlawī, the Ismāʿīlī, the Hebrew (and all the others) are bound to us by the most binding of all ties: that of a common welfare, a shared homeland, the kinship of race and the bonds of language.’(6.48)
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The term religiography is drawn from the work of Dressler (2013) who developed it in his study of the the Turkish historian Mehmed Fuad Köprülü (1890–1966) and the development of knowledge on Turkish Alevism. The toponym that Kurd ʿAlī used in the title, al-Shām, encompassed the contemporary states of Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Jordan, the Turkish province of Hatay (formerly known as the Sanjak of Alexandretta) and the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt. It has been translated into English as ‘Greater Syria’, ‘Historic Syria’ or ‘the Levant’ to give but three examples. In this article, al-Shām has been rendered simply as ‘Syria’ and references to Syria are to be understood thus, unless otherwise indicated. See also Section 3 below.
In a discussion of the Salafiyya of Damascus, Weismann (2001, p. 206) notes that their ‘purpose was to dissociate contemporary Islam from its latter-day tradition, both scholarly and mystic, presenting it as the cause of the decline of Muslim civilization and as an impediment to the adoption of useful Western innovations.’ The word Salafī is an adjective formed from the noun salaf (‘ancestors’), a word usually understood to refer to the first three generations of Muslims, whose pristine Islam was to be recovered and emulated. Jamāl al-Dīn al-Afghānī (1838–1897) and his pupil and later collaborator, Muḥammad ʿAbduh (1849–1905), are frequently cited as the founders of the Salafiyya movement. The term Salafī has also come to be used to refer to a very different tendency in contemporary Islam influenced especially by the thought of Ibn Taymiyya (1263–1328) and Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb (1703–1792). The literature on the genealogy of the term Salafī is extensive and ever expanding. For an excellent overview of its development, see Weismann (2017) and the key works that he analyzes therein. Of particular interest in terms of the use of the term Salafī in the context of Damascus is Coppens (2021). On the contested nature of the relationship between the two forms of Salafism, see Haykel (2009). Kurd ʿAlī does not himself use the term Salafī to describe himself or his work. His biographer al-Ālūsī (1966, p. 12) sees Salafī thought as a vital component of Kurd ʿAlī’s identity, describing him as ‘Iraqi Kurdish of ancestry; Arab by upbringing; Syrian (Shāmī) of homeland, birth and death; Islamic in thought and belief; and Salafī in position.’
By way of example, Kurd ʿAlī (1.3) points out that in the ninety-eight years from 1805 to 1903, Orientalists had written 95 books on the monuments of Petra alone ‘whereas there were very few Syrians themselves who had visited these important ruins, indeed there are some who have not even heard the name [Petra]’.
The Ottomans claimed that the title of caliph had been bestowed upon Sultan Selīm I by al-Mutawakkil III, the last of the ʿAbbāsid shadow caliphs at the Mamlūk court in Cairo in 1517 but only began to use the title in the nineteenth century. The Ottoman Sultanate was abolished by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey in 1922 and when the last sultan, Meḥmed VI, went into exile, his cousin, ʿAbd al-Majīd II, succeeded him as caliph alone until that office too was abolished in 1924.
In his foundational study of the development of Arab nationalism, The Arab Awakening, Antonius (1938, p. 13) describes the period of Ottoman rule as one of ‘torpid passivity’ for the Arabic-speaking provinces of the empire. Brockelmann (1902, p. v), representative of an older European Orientalist historiography of Arabic literature, dates the ‘decline’ of Arab-Islamic literature even further in the past to the Mongol conquest of Baghdad in 1258, entitling the third book of his monumental Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur ‘The Decline [Niedergang] of Islamic Literature’.
Much of the historiography of the Nahḍa emphasizes the role played by Arab Christians in the movement and presents it as a secular movement. However, for many Nahḍawī intellectuals, the Nahḍa was an Islamic phenomenon (see al-Ālūsī 1966, p. 11).
El Shamsy’s work highlights the transformative role played by Arab intellectuals in the production and wide distribution of new critical editions of classical Arab-Islamic texts—an enterprise that established ‘the literature that we today consider the essential canon of Islamic texts’ (p. 5). He argues persuasively that ‘the technology of print was not a cause of the [sociocultural] transformation as much as it was a site and means of it’ (p. 5). Kurd ʿAlī was himself a careful editor of classical Arabic texts.
On the history of Arab nationalism see Choueri (2000). For an accesible introduction to this history of the late Ottoman Empire, see Hanioğlu (2008). On the first three centuries of Ottoman rule over the Arabic-speaking lands, see Hathaway (2008). Masters (2013, pp. 192–224) gives a succinct account of what he calls the ‘end of the relationship’ between the Ottoman Empire and its Arabic-speaking subjects. On the rise of Arab nationalism in Syria specifically, see Reilly (2019, pp. 75–89).
See, for instance, the monographs by al-Dahhān (1955), al-Ālūsī (1966), Hermann (1990) and al-Ṭabbāʿ (2008). There are also a number of articles and book chapters on specific aspects of Kurd ʿAlī’s life and career by Seikaly (1981, 1987), Escovitz (1983), Havemann (1987), Futūḥ (1993), al-Bayyūmī (1995, 2.67–87), Ezzerelli (2004, 2012, 2018), Tamari (2013–2014, 2016) and Rooke (2000, 2006). There are also shorter general pieces in the standard reference works by Brockelmann (1942), Pellat (1986), and al-Ziriklī ( 2002).
For an example of such a dismissive view of Kurd ʿAlī’s scholarship, see Hitti (1926, 1931). Another potential factor in the neglect of the intellectual legacy of Kurd ʿAlī may be his political career which included two terms as Minister of Education during the French Mandate. He was, by the standards of post-independence Syria, a political liberal rather than a revolutionary. Moubayed (2006, p. 490) observes that ‘in a career that lasted over fifty years, he played no role in the nationalist movement, either under the Ottomans or the French’. This is clearly based on an understanding of nationalism by Moubayed as characterized by physical-force resistance to colonial power. However, despite his negative (and valid) appraisal of Kurd ʿAlī as a politician Moubayed acknowledges him as ‘an excellent historian and scholar’.
The ʿAlawīs, as will be seen below, have also been known as the Nuṣayrīs. The group rejects the latter designation and it tends now to be encoutered in overtly hostile sources.
The most important source for Kurd ʿAlī’s life in its relationship to the writing of the Khiṭaṭ is the autobiographical essay appended to the final volume of the work and which covers his life up to the time of publication of volume 6 of the first edition in 1928 (Kurd ʿAlī [1925–1928] 1983, 6. 333–47). Published twenty years later, the two opening essays in the first volume of Kurd ʿAlī’s memoirs (al-Mudhakkirāt) on the author’s surname and childhood (Kurd ʿAlī 1948a, pp. 5–20) are also useful.) have also been consulted. Reynolds (2001, p. 251) note that Kurd ʿAlī followed the model of ʿAlī Pasha Mubārak (1824–1893) in including an autobiography as part of a khiṭaṭ. Elsewhere, they note that the tarjama genre (Kurd ʿAlī uses the term tarjama in the subtitle of the autobiography: ‘Ḥayāt Muḥammad Kurd ʿAlī: tarjamatuhu bi-nafsihi’) ‘represents a carefully categorized frame for de-picting the most crucial information about a person in an intellectual context that focused on a person’s value as a transmitter and contributor to knowledge and to a shared academic and spiritual heritage’ (p. 43).
Kurd ʿAlī’s pre-World War I position is is better described by what Khalidi (1991, p. 51) calls Arabism: ‘implying protonationalism rather than full-fledged nationalism with the concomittant desire for separation of the Arabs from the Ottoman Empire.’ See, for instance, Dawn (1991), who describes Kurd ʿAlī as part of a group of ‘Islamic modernists who had become Arab nationalists’ (p. 9). Kurd ʿAlī was also a supporter of the Ottoman Empire. Seikaly (1987) has noted Kurd ʿAlī’s seemingly paradoxical position as both an Ottoman loyalist and a supporter of Arab rights. However, it was possible to hold Arab nationalist views while remaining loyal to the Empire. Initially, many of the early Arab nationalists simply wanted greater rights for Arab subjects of the Sultan.
Sulaymāniyya (known in Kurdish as Silêmanî) is a city in Southern Kurdistan (Başûrê Kurdistanê) and which corresponds to the Kurdistan Region of the contemporary Republic of Iraq. Kurd ʿAlī (1948a, p. 5), tongue no doubt firmly in cheek, and in mockery of the pseudoscientific discourse of race still prevalent in Orientalist writings about non-Europeans in the mid twentieth century, notes how his Kurdish grandfather and Circassian mother make him an ‘Aryan’. Describing himself elsewhere, Kurd ʿAlī states: ‘I am Kurdish in ancestry; Arab in thought, feeling and language; Muslim in belief … No philologist absorbed in the Arabic language and no historian rooted in the study of the cultural history of this nation can be anything but an Arab in feeling, thought and passion, whatever their ancestry and whatever their belief’ (Kurd ʿAlī quoted in al-Mubārak 2015, p. 113).
Kurd ʿAlī (1948a, pp. 11–14) paints an idyllic picture of childhood visits to the farm at Jisrayn in his memoirs, describing how it took him two hours atop a donkey to travel the 8 kilometres from there back to the city. Kurd ʿAlī’s claim of incorruptibility is especially important in view of the accusation by Jemāl Pasha that he had bought Kurd ʿAlī’s cooperation (Djemal 1922, p. 199).
Province (2011) notes that the historiography of the late Ottoman Empire has tended to neglect the importance of the military schools, focusing more on the schools established by foreign missionaries or the state civil schools–especially in terms of the impact of education on the development of the Nahḍa. He notes that the military schools were better funded by the state, and did not charge tuition fees (p. 122), thus making them more accessible to those outside the traditional elite classes of the Ottoman Empire, such as Kurd ʿAlī’s family.
Lazarists is one of the names by which the Congregation of the Mission—a Roman Catholic society of apostolic life founded by French priest Vincent de Paul (1581–1660)—is known. The Lazarists opened their first mission school in Damascus in 1755 (Commins 1990, p. 15). Kurd ʿAlī also translated a number of books from French to Arabic. His usually fulsome biographer al-Dahhān (1955, p. 44) notes that these works of translation are to be regarded as juvenilia which allowed the translator to improve his knowledge of French. Kurd ʿAlī (1948a, p. 309) admits that the translations of two French novels that were published in Cairo in 1907 were careless and undertaken for profit alone, noting wryly that ‘money is one thing, literature another.’
Ṭāhir al-Jazāʾirī was the single most important and influential Islamic reformist cleric in Damascus of his time. Kurd ʿAlī compared his importance to that of Muḥammad ʿAbduh in Egypt. He had been appointed inspector of schools as part of the educational reforms instituted by Midḥat Pasha, during his brief governorship of Syria (1878–1881). See Escovitz (1986) on al-Jazāʾirī and his influence. The longest chapter in Kurd ʿAlī’s (1950, pp. 5–54) Kunūz al-Ajdād (‘treasures of the ancestors’) is devoted to his teacher. The recent work of El Shamsy (2020, pp. 158–71) sheds new light on the major contribution of al-Jazāʾirī to the development of modern Arabic book culture. On al-Jazāʾirī, see also al-Ālūsī (1966, pp. 29–43)
In typically autodidactic fashion, Kurd ʿAlī (6.338) asked Boutroux to provide him with a list of what the philosopher thought were the most important works in French on history, sociology, literature and econmics—and presumably philosophy.
The riḥla (‘journey’) was a long established literary form in Arabic. Travellers would write accounts of the journeys they made (initially to Mecca on the Ḥajj) containing detailed descriptions of the places they visited and the people they met—often for the benefit of future travellers on the same journey.
Jemāl Pasha claimed in his memoirs that Kurd ʿAlī and a number of his contemporaries were ‘so-called revolutionaries’ who, upon receipt of cash sums, ‘became his most humble servants’ (Djemal 1922, p. 199), a claim echoed by Khoury (1983, p. 75). The difficulties of Kurd ʿAlī’s wartime years are explored by Tamari (2013–2014, 2016). Kurd ʿAlī’s own account of the final days of the Empire in Syria (3.115–160) is also illuminating.
The Academy was forced to close in Spring of 1920 as Fayṣal’s beleaguered government did not have the funds to support it. Fayṣal’s Arab Kingdom was defeated by the French Armée du Levant at the Battle of Maysalūn on 24 July 1920. The French occupied Damascus later that day with the Armée du Levant’s General Henri Gouraud becoming the first French High Commissioner of the Levant. Kurd ʿAlī persuaded the French Mandate authorities to allow him to reopen the Academy, which he did in September of 1920. On the Academy, see Newman (2013, pp. 486–87).
One of the problems with the term ‘Greater Syria’ (or any translation of al-Shām that uses an adjectival modifier) is that the composite nature of the toponym suggests something contrived, while the single word al-Shām suggests an unarguable topographical reality. In this article, unless otherwise indicated, the toponym al-Shām has been rendered quite simply as ‘Syria’.
Other attempts at translating the title Khiṭaṭ al-Shām have been made by Masters (2001, p. 2) ‘A Map of Syria’; Tamari (2013–2014, p. 12) ‘Syrian Mapping’; Schayegh (2017, p. 146) ‘the districts of al-Shām’. On the nomenclature of Syria, see Shehadeh (2011) and Bosworth (1997). The word al-Shām is also used synecdochally to denote the city of Damascus, and though as a native of that city, one might say that Kurd ʿAlī’s perspective is inevitably Damascene, his usage of al-Shām is certainly in the wider regional sense. Batatu (1999, p. 395) translates the title Khiṭaṭ al-Shām as ‘the Compendium or Affairs of Damascus’, which seems to (wrongly) take al-Shām in the limited sense. For the purposes of this article, the title will be left in its Arabic form: Khiṭaṭ al-Shām.
A total of 611 numbered structures are described in three chapters in volume 6: from  the al-Khayḍarīya madrasa (6.69) to  the Syphilis Hospital of Aleppo (6.161).
On an Egyptian scholar with a motivation comparable to that of Kurd ʿAlī, see El Shamsy (2020, pp. 200–8) where he discusses Maḥmūd Shākir’s criticism of the work of the Orientalist David Margoliouth (1858–1940) on pre-Islamic poetry and that of Ṭāhā Ḥusayn (1889–1973), believing the latter had plagiarized the work of former.
As will be seen, religion and religious diversity were central to Kurd ʿAlī’s construction of Syria. On the complex interplay of relationships between non-Muslim groups and Arab nationalism, see Masters (2001). More broadly, Sharkey (2017, pp. 243–300) examines the interactions of Muslims, Jews and Christians in the final years of the Ottoman Empire. On the specific relationships of the ʿAlawīs to Arab nationalism and the French Mandate, see Winter (2016, pp. 218–68).
The Twelver Shīʿa are sometimes referred to as the Jaʿfarī madhhab. The word Jaʿfarī is derived from the name of the Shīʿī Imām Jaʿfar al-Ṣādiq (d 765). The famous ‘Shalṭūṭ Fatwā’, issued in 1959 by Maḥmūd Shalṭūṭ (1893–1963)—the Shaykh of al-Azhar in Cairo—recognized Ithnaʿasharī (Twelver) Shīʿī Islam as a fifth madhhab. The fatwā is significant in that it constitutes official recognition of the validity of Shīʿī Islam by one of the world’s highest-ranking Sunnī ʿulamāʾ. On this, see Brunner (2004, pp. 284–305). A more recent example of a text that uses the term madhhab as an ecumenical device to construct an Islam of denominations that recognize each other’s validity is the Amman Message which refers to eight madhāhib: Ḥanafīs, Mālikīs, Shāfīʿīs, Ḥanbalīs, Jaʿfarīs, Zaydīs and Ibāḍīs, on which, see Kearney (2018). For a good overview of the terminology of religious groups in Arab-Islamic literature, see Sedgwick (2000).
Rooke (2006, p. 173) presents the Khiṭaṭ as ‘a collective creation’ and basing himself on the first edition (1925–1928) estimates that some 10% of the work (excluding documents and bibliography) is the work of others, most of which appears in the taʾrīkh madanī (vols 3–6). Choueri (1989, p. 49) describes the Khiṭaṭ a ‘team effort on the part of leading Syrian personalities and scholars headed by Muḥammad Kurd ʿAlī.’ However, with 90% of the work coming from Kurd ʿAlī’s own pen, to characterize the Khiṭaṭ as being a group endeavor seems to be an exaggeration.
Darwaza notes (6.213) that he wished in his piece to convey the Samaritans’ account of themselves—something that differs markedly from what is said about them in Jewish and Christian scriptures. He also states that he made use of a manuscript written by a Samaritan priest (who is unnamed) in writing his piece. It is significant that Samaritanism is treated as a religion in its own right and not as a deviant form of Judaism.
al-Maʿlūf, ‘Taʾthīr al-Majmaʿ al-ʿIlmī al-ʿArabī fī Ūrubbā’ [the influence of the Arabic Language Academy in Europe], Majallat al-Majmaʿ al-ʿIlmī al-ʿArabī 5 (al-Maʿlūf 1925), pp. 331–33.
Another indication that Kurd ʿAlī respected Shaykhū as a scholar is the fact that he lists him among the ‘contemporary scholars and littérateurs’ section (6.68) of the first chapter of the taʾrīkh madanī—‘Science and Literature’ (6.3–89).
On al-Bukhārī, see al-Ālūsī (1966, p. 44), Kaḥḥāla ([1957–1961] 1993, 1.777) and al-Ziriklī ( 2002, 2.116). al-Bukhārī is also the first scholar listed in the ‘contemporary ʿulamāʾ and littérateurs’ section (3.66) of the ‘Learning and Humanities’ section. In this section, pre-eminence is given to scholars of religion.
The Syrian Orthodox Church has been officially known as the Syriac Orthodox Church since 2000. It is mentioned very briefly by al-Maʿlūf (6.220) as one of the ‘heresies’ condemned by the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in 451 CE in his essay on Eastern Orthodox Christianity. The Archimandrite echoes the Council’s imputation of monophysitism (one rejected by the church that holds a miaphysite christology) and uses the term Jacobite (after Jacob Baradaeus, d. 578) and notes that there are Sūryānī (Syriac), Armenian and Egyptian ‘Jacobites’. Shaykhū (6.229) also mentions the ‘Jacobites’ in his piece on Catholicism, where they are listed as a ‘heresy’ along with Arianism, Nestorianism and Monothelitism.
In contrast to both Kurd ʿAlī and al-Ghazzī, their contemporary fellow Syrian historian al-Ṭabbākh ( 1988, 1.79) has only one sentence in which he explicitly discusses religion in his Aʿlām al-Nubalāʾ: ‘The most common religion in the land of Syria [Sūrīya] is Islam, then Christianity (in all its denominations), then Judaism; there is also a small number of Ismāʿīlīs, Twelver Shīʿa, Druze and others.’
While often narrowly described as ‘heresiography’ in Orientalist scholarship, Brodeur (2008, pp. 79–80) prefers the term ‘literature on religious others’. He notes that although such works were usually written from ‘the centre to the periphery, where the centre is the author’s particular interpretation of Islam’, their authors wrote with ‘different degrees of openness to understanding religious others on their own terms’ (p. 80). Brodeur observes that pre-modern Muslim writings on religious others do not belong to a single genre and offers a broad classification of this literature into four principal types: refutations, descriptions, general literature on religious others; and miscellaneous, such as histories and encyclopaedias (p. 80).
Kurd ʿAlī (1948b, pp. 408–9) held a very negative view of Freemasonry. In his memoirs, he recounts how he refused an invitation to join the organization in Egypt after the benefits of membership were outlined to him, stating that a Muslim had no place in an organization founded by Jews to counter Catholic oppression. Kurd ʿAlī also disliked Freemasonry in that he believed many of his enemies in the CUP were members of the Lodge. In this regard, Kurd ʿAlī differed from al-Afghānī and ʿAbduh, both of whom were enthusastic Freemasons.
Ghulāt, like Bāṭinī, is an outsider term. Momen (2016, p. 59) cautions against using the term not only because it was the one used by their enemies, but also because the doctrines viewed retrospectively as extreme were part of mainstream Shīʿī discourse prior to the development of a ‘fully-evolved orthodox position’.
Ibn Taymiyya’s thought has become a source for a number of different Islamic movements. In addition to his influence on ‘Modernist’ Salafī thinkers like Kurd ʿAlī, he is a major inspiration to both Wahhābī and ‘Radical Salafīs. Hoover (2019, p. 33) points out that Ibn Taymiyya’s ‘anti-Nusayri fatwas echo down to the present in extremist Sunni polemic against the ʿAlawis and the Druze in Syria.’
The word Nuṣayrī links the group to Muḥammad ibn Nuṣayr al-Numayrī (d. 883) a disciple of ʿAlī al-Hādī (d. 868) and Ḥasan al-ʿAskarī (d. 874), the tenth and eleventh Imāms of the Ithnaʿasharī Shīʿa, respectively. Ibn Nuṣayr is believed by the ʿAlawīs to have been entrusted with a special revelation by Ḥasan al-ʿAskarī—a revelation that forms the basis of the religious beliefs of ʿAlawīs (see Winter 2016, pp. 12–13).
The word ʿAlawī is an Arabic adjective formed from the name ʿAlī (the first Imām of the Shīʿa) and could be translated as ‘ʿAlid’.
A major feature of anti-ʿAlawī polemical literature is the insistence on describing the group as Nuṣayrīs (despite their rejection of the name) and alleging that the name ʿAlawī was given to the group by the French as part of their policy to court religious minorities and inhibit Syrian unity. This trope is sometimes even encountered in scholarly literature. Picken (2008), for instance, refers to the ʿAlawīs as ‘a pseudo-Islamic sect … [who] are also known as ʿAlawis, a name of which they are proud of and which was given to them by the French colonialist powers upon granting them a state at the beginning of the twentieth century in Syria.’ The various statelets into which the French divided their Mandate territory changed names and borders several times between 1923 and 1946. To describe the French as ‘granting’ the ʿAlawīs a state is an oversimplification and reproduction of anti-ʿAlawī clichés. On the French Mandate in Syria, see Yapp (1996, pp. 85–115).
The Taʾrīkh al-ʿAlawīyīn was first published in Latakia in 1924 by Maṭbʿat al-Taraqqī. References to the book in this article are to the 2000 reprint (Beirut: Dār al-Andalus) with introduction by ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Khayyir.
The work is al-Qalqashandī multi-volume Ṣubḥ al-Aʿshā fī Ṣināʿat al-Inshāʾ (‘the dawn of the night-blind in the composition of chancery documents’).
Kurd ʿAlī notes that the clans are named either for famous ancestors or villages and towns in their lands. Among these clans he lists: Kalbiyya, Nawāṣira, Jahiniyya, Qarāḥila, Jalqiyya, Rashāwina, Shalāhima, and Rasālina. The list given by al-Ṭawīl ( 2000, pp. 408–11) is longer and gives more detail. To take two examples, al-Ṭawīl notes how Kalbiyya is one of the largest ʿAlawī clans who live mainly ‘in the heart of the ʿAlawī Mountains’ (p. 408); or how Ḥaddādiyya ‘are named for their ancestor, the teacher Muḥammad al-Ḥaddād the son of the Amīr Mamdūd al-Sinjārī, the nephew of the Amīr Hasan al-Makzūn’ (p. 409).
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Kearney, J. From Nuṣayrīs to ʿAlawīs: The Religiography of Muḥammad Kurd ʿAlī. Religions 2022, 13, 131. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13020131
Kearney J. From Nuṣayrīs to ʿAlawīs: The Religiography of Muḥammad Kurd ʿAlī. Religions. 2022; 13(2):131. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13020131Chicago/Turabian Style
Kearney, Jonathan. 2022. "From Nuṣayrīs to ʿAlawīs: The Religiography of Muḥammad Kurd ʿAlī" Religions 13, no. 2: 131. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13020131