This article aims to correct a common inaccuracy in the study of Musa al-Sadr’s politico-religious activity vis-a-vis the Syrian ʿAlawi regime. The thesis presented by the author is that Shīʿi authorities in Lebanon provided a religious statement that the ʿAlawis are Jaʿfari Muslims, but that this statement did not come from al-Sadr himself as many historians claim. Tracing the source of this inaccuracy leads to western research from 1986. In order to prove the thesis, the article reviews the Arabic literature on the topic, including writings of the ʿAlawi community in Syria and Lebanon, which systematically do not cite any fatwa by al-Sadr on this matter. This enquiry leads to new conclusions as to the background of the discussed fatwa, as well as concerning the relation between political interests and religious judicial decisions. Appendices appearing at the end of the article include a useful translation, presented for the first time in this work, of the most important Shīʿi declarations concerning the ʿAlawi religious identity, and the correspondence between al-Sadr and the ʿAlawi Youth Movement in Tripoli, Lebanon.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This is supported by the documents of the French Mandate. See: ‘Decreto-Legge Del 4 Maggio 1936 Sull’ordinamento Dei Tribunali Dello Statuto Personale Degli Egiziani Non Musulmani.’ Oriente Moderno 16, no. 6 (1936): 305. 32
© 2022 British Society for Middle Eastern Studies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Earth-Surface Processes