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Dossier – Les interactions entre šīʿites imāmites et chrétiens

The Making of ʿAlawī Šīʿism in the Writings of Samuel Lyde (1825‒1860)

Amelia Gallagher
p. 175-196

Résumés

Cet article élargit l’étude sur les interactions entre les chrétiens et les šīʿites duodécimains pour inclure le šīʿisme ʿalawite-nuṣayrite. Les missionnaires et les érudits chrétiens modernes, qu’ils soient protestants ou catholiques, ont eu une fascination particulière pour des groupes religieux se réclamant de ʿAlī, tel le ʿalawisme syrien, et cet article en propose un aperçu. Une attention particulière est accordée au pasteur et auteur protestant Samuel Lyde (1825‒1860) pour son point de vue protestant sur le ʿalawisme syrien.

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Texte intégral

  • 1 “Les interactions entre šīʿites imāmites (duodécimains) et chrétiens : histoire, théologie, littéra (...)
  • 2 Throughout this essay, simply the term ʿAlawī will be used when possible. The sect was originally n (...)
  • 3 The Nuṣayrī religion is given extensive treatment in Moosa, Extremist Shiites, p. 255‒418.
  • 4 Lyde’s initial study is an overview of the area, written after his initial mission journey: Ansyree (...)

1For my contribution to the conference entitled “Interactions between Twelver Šīʿa and Christians: History, Theology, and Literature”,1 I extended the discussion about the interactions between Christians and Twelver Šīʿīs to include ʿAlawī Šīʿism. Commonly referred to as Nuṣayrī Šīʿism in the academic literature, ʿAlawī Šīʿism technically falls into the category of Imāmī (Twelver) Šīʿism, but with extensive qualification.2 Along with other ʿAlī-centred communities, the ʿAlawī were historically designated as ġulāt, derived from the term ‘exaggeration’ (ġulū), later transformed into the familiar term ‘extremist Šīʿa’ in much of the academic literature due to several factors, but primarily the placement of ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib in the theological centre.3 The notion of ʿAlawī Šīʿism as a religiosity on the extremities of Islam, indeed on the extremities of Šīʿa Islam, has its roots in Islamic classification of heresy and was accepted for further development by European scholars beginning in the 19th century. This essay will focus on how ʿAlawī Šīʿism was presented in its first extended treatment from a Christian perspective in the publications of Samuel Lyde (1825‒1860).4

  • 5 The following studies exemplify this approach: Bar-Asher & Kofsky, Nuṣayrī-ʿAlawī Religion; Friedma (...)
  • 6 See for example, Procházka-Eisl & Procházka, Plain of Saints.

2Lyde’s publications are significant for several reasons. As pioneering studies, they influenced the methodology and analysis of subsequent approaches to this distinct Islamic sect. These approaches, which can still be seen today, outline a two-tiered religious structure negotiated by a prevailing secrecy. Reflective of these approaches, two types of studies on the ʿAlawī currently dominate: the first type draws from the unique cache of manuscripts of secret teachings formerly limited to male initiates only. These teachings that are contained in manuscripts are presented as the chief sources of authentic ʿAlawī beliefs.5 The second approach consists of ethnographic studies dealing with observable religious activities as practiced by non-elite members as well, such as animal sacrifice and shrine visitation.6 Lyde, by using both manuscripts sources as well as observations and informants, anticipated these approaches, albeit unwittingly and unsystematically. His books are memoirs more than academic treatments, despite their pretences. Both the methods and motivations for Lyde’s studies are strikingly personal. Simply stated in his own words, he lived among the ʿAlawī to convert them to Anglican-Protestant Christianity, and learning about their religion was a means to this goal. Like many others who came after him, he believed the real key to understanding this religion lie within the secret teachings and elite religious authorities; however, he was not initially interested in what he considered a jumble of “freemasonry”. With time, his intellectual interest in their religion deepened, and while he relied to an extent on written sources, his portrait was also sketched from observing daily life. In this way, Lyde’s accounts give us important insight into 19th century ʿAlawī religiosity, despite his limitations in academic training.

3Lyde’s writings further reveal a nuance of Anglo-Protestant missionary culture as it encountered anomalous groups within Islam. The opening remarks of the conference given by Jean Druel, the current director of the Dominican Institute for Oriental Studies (IDEO) in Cairo, observed a common assumption among Christians driving some notable interactions with Šīʿī communities in modern times. It was assumed that the minority or marginal status of Šīʿī communities in the Muslim world and their religious practices made them somehow more approachable to Christians. In this way, an essential affinity with Šīʿism was perceived from the Christian point of view, in contrast to the stalwart position of the Sunnī establishment. While Dr Druel emphasized that this notion may be simplistic, it is nevertheless a presumption that inspired fascination with Šīʿism among Christian missionaries. I would argue that this tendency was especially prevalent regarding heterodox groups within Šīʿism. Other Christian scholars followed in Lyde’s fascination with the ʿAlawī. These scholars include the Jesuit Orientalist Henri Lammens (1862‒1937), and then later, Louis Massignon (1883‒1962), both of whom I will briefly touch upon. It is not coincidental that some of the first significant studies of and among the ʿAlawī were conducted by Christian scholars, both Protestant and Catholic. Rather than ignoring the Christian identity of these authors, we can see how their spiritual perspective influenced their analyses, chief among these being the consideration of the ʿAlawī and similar groups separately and in their own right. As will be shown, Lyde’s understanding of the ʿAlawī and their origins reflected his distinctly Protestant sensibility. Given the topic of the conference, we can also pose a larger question regarding the different ways in which Catholic and Protestants encountered heterodox Šīʿī groups. Reaching beyond ecclesial boundaries, these pioneers of ʿAlawī studies, missionaries at the same time, also shaped the way in which the study of ʿAlawī religiosity developed academically.

  • 7 See Winter, A History of the ʿAlawis.

4Variously described as extremist, gnostic, astral-emanationist, and archaic, today one can expect some familiarity with the central beliefs of ʿAlawī Šīʿism, but for unfortunate reasons. Due to the civil war in Syria and the ʿAlawī background of the Assad family, there have been more journalistic explanations in the Anglophone and Francophone media during the past six years than there has been in the past six decades. With headlines mirroring the titles of 19th-century works, exposés along the lines of “The Secret Sect that Rules Syria Explained” are commonplace. Within the academe, the ʿAlawī are also universally characterized as a mysterious people, protectively guarding their beliefs even among their own. Closely connected with this secretive element is the practice of taqiyya, or the tactical denial of one’s religious identity, a practice which is almost universally associated with ʿAlawī individuals and communities in the secondary literature. A common explanation for the practice of taqiyya is that it served the ʿAlawī to avoid persecution at the hands of Sunnī authorities, especially the Ottomans. While this explanation has merits, such general historical assumptions, the use of taqiyya as a widespread social manoeuvre for example, have been questioned in recent studies.7 It is not my intent to discuss the historiographical re-evaluation or debate, but I wanted to note this general move toward seeing more complexity and nuance in the historical development of ʿAlawī societies.

Missionary-Scholars

  • 8 In common usage, the term ziyāra (visitation) is most associated with a sacred building or shrine. (...)
  • 9 The village is Ǧīlliyya (now Cilli) outside of Samandağ, Turkey. See Lammens, “Une visite au śaiḫ s (...)
  • 10 For an early critique of Lammens’ orientalist views, see Salibi, “Islam and Syria”, p. 330.
  • 11 This contradiction is also noted in Gatier, “Henri Lammens”, p. 308. Lammens’ romantic portrait of (...)
  • 12 Lammens’ negative views on early Šīʿī figures are most cited from his 1912 monograph, Fāṭima et les (...)

5A few years ago, I commenced my current research centred upon a group of ʿAlawī places of pious visitation, or ziyāra, located within a religiously diverse area in the Hatay district in Turkey.8 After learning that Henri Lammens actually conducted research in one of the villages I study, I began to consider how his perspective as a Catholic priest shaped the way he regarded the ʿAlawī and their religion.9 While Lammens has been described as a “militant Catholic” with a “contempt for Islam”,10 I found an unexpected sympathy for the ʿAlawī peasants (fallāīn) in his writings.11 For this particular venture, the historian had turned anthropologist, with the series on the ʿAlawī constituting a departure for Lammens, in that his sources consisted not primarily of manuscripts but also of living communities. Hardly a scholar with a pro-Šīʿī bias, Lammens’ idyllic portrayal of the ʿAlawī pastorale is perhaps due to the fact that he saw the ʿAlawī fallāīn as the ‘original’ Syrians.12 It is also likely that his sympathy indicates the affinities perceived among Christians noted by Jean Druel during the opening remarks of the conference. But we cannot delve extensively into the personal or political motivations of Lammens here. I will confine my remarks to a brief analysis of his approach to the subject of the ʿAlawī religious system.

  • 13 For a detailed obituary and full bibliography, see [Mouterde,] “In Memoriam”.
  • 14 See, especially, Lammens, “Le pays des Noṣairis”.
  • 15 Lammens, “Les Noṣairis. Notes”, p. 477.

6A Belgian Jesuit priest, Lammens was an historian with considerable influence during the first half of the 20th century, mainly for his work on early Islamic history and the history of Syria. Well credentialed as an Orientalist scholar, his body of writings enduring well beyond his lifetime. Among the ʿAlawī, he was not a missionary in the conventional sense; rather his pastoral activity was conducted mainly within the Jesuit educational system serving Lebanese Maronites.13 However, Lammens published a handful of articles on the ʿAlawī during the turn of the 20th century, which tend to lack full academic development and read more like a collection of travel notes.14 Indeed, these studies, which can be described as archaeological-ethnographic travel memoirs, resulted from excursions to the mountain range of northern Syria into the Ottoman district of Iskenderun throughout which stretched the ‘Ǧabal al-Nuṣayrī’, between 1897 and 1907. In these articles he is somewhat uneven in his treatment of ʿAlawī religiosity and theology, but nevertheless established a syncretic framework, destining the ʿAlawī to a model of analysis that is still influential today. But despite all the diverse influence he catalogued in the ʿAlawī system, Lammens saw the people of these mountain communities as a foundational part of Syrian history, claiming them as descendants of ‘original’ or indigenous Syrians.15

  • 16 On his initial manuscript sources, see Lammens, “Les Noṣairis. Notes”, p. 461‒462. The first notabl (...)
  • 17 Lammens devoted little space to ethical teaching, however: “As for their morality, but a few lines (...)
  • 18 Lammens, “Les Noṣairis. Notes”, p. 482‒483.
  • 19 Maʿnā is identified as ʿAlī, the archetypical divinity; ism (lit.: name) that is, Muḥammad, is the (...)

7Lammens’ study of the ʿAlawī had two distinct approaches. The primary or initial approach was comparative, where he attempted to outline ʿAlawī religiosity through his travels in Syria, as well as material from sacred manuscripts, identified as a catechism, which had made their way into academic circulation. By this time, several of these rare and secret ‘kitāb’ were known among Western travellers and scholars.16 With such provocative titles as “Were the ʿAlawīs Christian?”, a dominant thread in Lammens’ initial approach was the fundamental affinities with Christianity. He presented these through three main areas: theology, ritual, and calendar. Lammens returned to these similarities in virtually every article he wrote on the topic. The extent to which he discerned the structure of the religion through Christianity, especially Roman Catholicism, is most obviously seen through the language he used to describe ʿAlawī theology and ritual (dogme et liturgie).17 Describing the complex Nuṣayrī theological system, he spoke in terms of “le dogme de la Trinité”, composed of three divine persons “une et indivisible”.18 He borrowed the term “hypostase” for the two persons of the trinity proceeding from the maʿ, identified as the ism and the bāb.19 Of course this presentation of the ʿAlawī godhead itself is not inaccurate. But it is the use of Christian, especially Latinate terminology for crucial concepts that is revealing. For example, he employs the term “personne” for the ʿAlawī trinity’s components, which is a characteristically Catholic way of talking about these essential theological matters, whether the divine person(s) or the human person. Taken as a whole, the theological discussions leave the reader the impression Lammens had discovered a lost Christian community pristine in its essential theological aspects, much like Maronite Christianity with which he was so familiar.

  • 20 Often translated as “mass”, the term quddās, comes from the root q-d-s, the term quddās does indeed (...)
  • 21 Lammens, “Les Noṣairis. Notes”, p. 488.
  • 22 Lammens, “Les Noṣairis. Notes”, p. 491.
  • 23 G. Procházka-Eisl & St. Procházka also note what could be a possible disappearance of feasts shared (...)

8In recounting the central Nuṣayrī ritual, Lammens also notes the similarities between its consecration of wine (quddās) with “our solemn masses”.20 In the materials used to perform the ritual, he emphasizes the use of wine, candles and incense.21 He further reported that the feasts of Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, Palm Sunday, and Pentecost all held considerable place in the ʿAlawī calendar.22 In both the exclusive ritual and the public festival calendar, the number of similarities between the religions is rather astounding, and one wonders if Lammens’ enthusiasm in citing them influenced his informants, his perceptions, or both. The ʿAlawī celebration of feasts held in common with the Christian calendar according to Lammens, in particular, has certainly receded among the ʿAlawī since Lammens’ writing, at least in my area of fieldwork, which overlaps with areas of Lammens’ study.23

  • 24 Lammens, “Les Noṣairis. Notes”, p. 492.
  • 25 Gatier, “Henri Lammens”, p. 309.
  • 26 In the study of Bar-Asher & Kofsky, Nuṣayrī-ʿAlawī Religion, p. 73‒74, the Christian element of ʿAl (...)

9Lammens’ initial conclusion that beneath a veneer of decadent Šīʿism, the ʿAlawī were a people who continued to practice an altered form of Christianity,24 became permanently associated with Lammens and further evidence of his Catholic triumphalism. At the same time, these early articles on the ʿAlawī reveal the process of working out rudimentary elements of both the religion and its long, (and at this time) obscure, history. Lammens actually added more nuance to his initial conclusions in his subsequent studies.25 Ultimately, he characterized the ʿAlawī religion as essentially an articulation of Šīʿism, but unfortunately, he never developed his more processed conclusions into a monograph. Nevertheless, the way in which ʿAlawī theology is presented today still owes much to Lammens’ studies, with most contemporary scholars admitting a syncretic framework, continuing to adjust the dominant strands within that framework.26 And within journalistic literature, it is more common to emphasize the Christian parallels. Whether emphasized or dismissed, the Christian affinities are always addressed, due in part to the emphasis of the early scholars like Lammens.

  • 27 His archaeological survey of ʿAlawī villages is the subject of Lammens, “Au pays des Nosairis”.
  • 28 Dussaud, Histoire et religion.
  • 29 Lammens, “Les Noṣairīs furent-ils chrétiens ?” In this article, he criticizes Dussaud’s monograph b (...)

10The question of the origins of the ʿAlawī was paramount to Lammens, and he was not alone. Lammens returned time and again to these parallels, which were more than mere coincidence to him, and much deeper than mere borrowings. He saw these affinities as essential to the original identity of fallāīn, as he referred to them. As was the trend of the time, Lammens went on to account for his Christian-origins thesis in terms of the material evidence. The supporting methodology of his Christian-origins thesis consisted of an archaeological survey of the ‘Nuṣayrī Mountains’ in which he established the identity of ancient Christian ruins within the vicinity of ʿAlawī settlements.27 Studying only about a dozen sites, Lammens’ survey was not exhaustive by today’s standards. Nevertheless, he used these archaeological remains and their inscriptions to bolster his comparisons to Christianity, drawing him to the conclusion that the fallāīn were descendant from indigenous Greek-speaking Chalcedon Christians. Of course, by this time, the ʿAlawī attracted the attention of non-missionary scholars as well. The archaeologist René Dussaud (1868‒1958), no less interested in the ancient origins of the ʿAlawī, published the first academic monograph dedicated to them in 1900, Histoire et religion des Nosairîs.28 For Dussaud, “la trinité chrétienne” became “la triade païenne”, denying any direct Christian influence on the ʿAlawī religious system in favor of an ancient Phoenician origin. In his ongoing response to Dussaud’s denial of Christian origins for the ʿAlawī, Lammens felt compelled to provide archaeological proof of their Christian origins. Within that process, I think Lammens did achieve a more nuanced analysis of ʿAlawī syncretism.29

  • 30 Lammens, “Les Noṣairis. Notes”, p. 491.
  • 31 Lammens, “Les Noṣairis. Notes”, p. 492.
  • 32 “Where the population is of mixed religion, all sects tend to frequent a shrine that has acquired f (...)

11Archaeological debates on the origins of the Ottoman Empire’s various peoples were particularly urgent in the late 19th century because of political implications leading up to its dissolution. In part, the interest Lammens had in ʿAlawī Šīʿism reflected this political climate of competition among Ottoman religious communities and foreign interests. His attention to the ʿAlawī was also paternal and even pastoral, but underlying all motivations was the historian’s interest in early Islam and Syria in particular. With his Christian-origins thesis born through his contacts with the living community and its leaders, he outlined the parallels to support his thesis through theology, ritual, and festival calendar. This was justified through the close location of the Greco-Christian archaeological remains, for at this time, the fields of anthropology and archaeology were closely bound. But the key to understanding both Lammens’ sympathy for the fallāīn and the motivations for his Christian-origins thesis was what he perceived of as a lack of hatred towards Christians. Within the tense atmosphere of inter-religious relations leading up to World War I, this affinity, indeed the fraternity which Lammens observed in his travels, stood out to him. Moreover, the ʿAlawī had (heroically, in Lammens’ view,) resisted the construction of mosques in their villages over the course of six centuries.30 In his initial study, Lammens asserted that in contrast to the distain held by both Sunnīs and Šīʿīs towards Christians, the ʿAlawī visited Christian sacred places, and consulted with local Christian priests, seeking their blessed objects due to their efficacious in healing.31 Of course, the ubiquity of inter-religious encounters via this type of folk-practice during this time was well documented by Frederick W. Hasluck.32 But to Lammens the fraternal nature of this encounter he observed in his initial study was compelling enough to motivate the subsequent ones.

  • 33 Massignon, “Esquisse”, p. 914; Massignon, “Nuṣairī”.
  • 34 Massignon, “Esquisse”, p. 914.
  • 35 Considered lost until the manuscript’s recent rediscovery in a Cambridge library. See Krieger, “Red (...)
  • 36 According to B.T. Krieger, with publication of formerly guarded Nuṣayrī manuscripts by the Lebanese (...)

12This particular fascination with the ʿAlawī was carried on by other Catholic scholars. Louis Massignon in his later research on Nuṣayrī sources, emphasized the inner-Šīʿī aspects and was among the first to trace their formation to 9th-century Iraq, to the early post-occulation Šīʿism.33 Typically, Massignon advanced the state of knowledge through his cataloguing of sources. This growing trove of Nuṣayrī manuscripts indicated to him a foundation of theology and ritual that was fundamentally Šīʿī. Regrettably, Massignon’s planned study of these literary sources never materialized, as it would have completed our picture of his theology in regards to Šīʿī Islam. While subsequent scholars have made use of Massignon’s inner-Šīʿī approach to the ʿAlawī, they have abandoned Massignon’s qualms about using secret Nuṣayrī manuscripts as source material.34 Disregard of the privacy of ʿAlawī teaching, of course, goes back to Lyde, and even further. One of the first complete Nuṣayrī manuscripts to become known to the outside world also served as the main written source for Lyde’s chief study, to be discussed below.35 Through unconventional publishers, the dissemination of once-private manuscript collections continues without abatement.36 Connected to this is somewhat of a contested issue as to whether we still know ‘too little’ of ʿAlawī Šīʿism, or if we dwell too much upon religious sources never intended to be disclosed to the world. I would say that the answer to this depends upon the perspective of the author, today, just as it did in the mid-19th century. That is where we will turn, when the outside world first came to know ʿAlawī Šīʿism as such, through the writing of Samuel Lyde.

Samuel Lyde: The First European to Live Among the ʿAlawī

  • 37 See Friedman, “Ibn Taymiya’s Fatawa”.
  • 38 Two recent articles on this subject include: Alkan, “Fighting for the Nuṣayri Soul”; Talhamy, “Amer (...)
  • 39 Lyde, Ansyreeh and Ismaeleeh, p. iv.
  • 40 Lyde, Ansyreeh and Ismaeleeh, p. v.

13Although Lyde claimed to be the first foreigner to “live among” the “Ansaireeh”, he was not the first outsider to remark on them. Every student of Islamic history is familiar with Ibn Taymiyya’s (d. 728/1328) condemnation of the Syrian Nuṣayrī, and indeed the fatwas of the influential Ḥanbalī scholar reveal a degree of continuity in beliefs of the sect at that time.37 In the same way, the earliest European writings contain observations taken while the community was still relatively isolated. Lyde’s account is the most substantial of these. European contact in modern times drew attention to groups such as the ʿAlawī for different reasons. Men of the cloth such as Lyde were greatly affected by the missionary fervour of the time which was intertwined with the well-documented political interest in such groups.38 Turning to the Near East in pursuit of a suitable climate for his health, Lyde took the advice of the British consul in Beirut and made his first missionary trip to the ʿAlawī districts of outside of the coastal city of Latakia in 1851.39 This initial contact was not enough, however, and a full investigation into the ʿAlawī religion would only be accomplished by a “lengthened residence among them”.40 This residence, which can be described as a sort of missionary fieldwork, occurred during the following years, and resulted in the first monograph in a European language dedicated entirely to the ʿAlawī, The Asian Mystery Illustrated in the History, Religion, and Present State of the Ansaireeh or Nusairis of Syria, published shortly after his death in 1860.

  • 41 Randolph, Ansairetic Mystery. Randolph’s biographer finds Lyde’s published works on the Nuṣayrī “un (...)
  • 42 Deveney, Paschal Beverly Randolph, p. 66. In a similar speculative vein, B.H. Springett’s 1921 book (...)
  • 43 Including wife-sharing, incest, and “orgiastic night”. For a revisionary treatment of antinomian pr (...)
  • 44 Deveney, Paschal Beverly Randolph, p. 216. Lyde actually takes pains to deny the various charges at (...)

14For the classically-minded, the various heresies of the Near East offered the possibilities of antiquated cults surviving the millennia, with their secret rituals intact. While this tendency can be seen in Dussaud’s more academic archaeological theories, the results of this encounter also produced decidedly eccentric results. Well before Lyde, a quasi-academic obsession with secret societies swept salons of Europe and North America. At this early stage, information of heterodox sects, Sufi orders, and similar groups came chiefly from some extended travel descriptions. These accounts tended to confound the ʿAlawī with Druze and Ismāʿīlī communities as well. Though this type of popular investigation mainly focused on Ismāʿīlī connections, the Nuṣayrī also make their appearance, beginning with the writings of the Romantic occultist and traveller Gérard de Nerval (1808‒1855) in the 1840s. Then, they are cited again in the spectacularly bizarre writings of the Rosicrucian Paschal Beverly Randolph (1825‒1875). Randolph’s esoteric theories of sex, ritual, and magic depended, at least nominally, on the recovered lore of this mysterious sect, the “Ansairi”, as seen in the title of his 1873 treatise: The Ansairetic Mystery: A New Revelation Concerning Sex!41 Like many other curiosity-seekers, after embarking upon a long journey to the Near East in 1861‒1862, Randolph latched onto the mystique of the “Ansairi”. There is no evidence that he had contact with the ʿAlawī, much less underwent a serious study, rather, according to Randolph’s biographer, “he found something there that led him later to call his system of sexual magic ‘Ansairetic’ and to garb his subsequent teachings in Oriental dress”.42 Likely Randolph took literally the libel concerning antinomian sexual practices associated with the ʿAlawī and similar heterodox groups still in heavy circulation.43 There is also evidence that by the time Randolph had incorporated the Nuṣayrī into his esoteric theories, he had also read Lyde’s 1860 Asian Mystery.44

  • 45 A complete, if biased account of the incident that sparked the riot as well as the trial is in Finn (...)
  • 46 Defined as a “psychotic decompensation” that afflicts foreign visitors to Jerusalem, see Bar-El et  (...)

15In contrast to Randolph, Lyde’s research on the ʿAlawī appears straight-laced, as one would expect. But his career as a missionary who moved in diplomatic circles was somewhat controversial. Visiting Palestine in 1856, he shot and killed a local man during a dispute in Nablus, causing a riot. Months of anti-colonial and anti-Christian violence in Palestine followed the incident. And although acquitted of murder in an Ottoman court, British officials reported that when Lyde went to Jerusalem the following year, he was claiming variously to be John the Baptist and Jesus Christ.45 If accurately reported, this episode is perhaps the first modern documented case of the “Jerusalem Syndrome”.46 In any event, Lyde recovered from the episode in order to complete his study of the ʿAlawī.

  • 47 Inspired by the Second Awakening (1800‒1830) the ABCFM was established to govern foreign American m (...)

16Unlike Massignon and Lammens, however, Samuel Lyde was not primarily a scholar, but rather evangelical in the modern sense. American Protestant missionaries had preceded Lyde in this area, and he absorbed from his missionary predecessors a strong motivation to lift the ʿAlawī from their state judged to be one of oppression, ignorance, and neglect. But not all Protestant shared the same methods or motivations. Some American missionaries viewed Muslim communities on the periphery (both theologically and geographically) as part of a larger apocalyptic unfolding.47 Lyde, as a Cambridge-educated Church of England pastor, seemed unaffected by any apocalyptic Manifest Destiny discerned from the Book of Revelation. However, Lyde’s biblical worldview did influence how he envisioned the ʿAlawī and their origins, which we shall return to below. In any case, Lyde learned from the American missionaries that since proselytizing among Muslims of the Empire was illegal, the best way to expose them to the Gospel was through the establishment of schools. This objective is clearly stated in the title of his first book, published in 1853: The Ansyreeh and Ismaeleeh: A Visit to the Secret Sects of Northern Syria; with a View to the Establishment of Schools. Lyde went on to establish his school outside of Latakia in 1854, which was taken over by American Presbyterian missionaries following his death in 1859.

  • 48 Lyde, Asian Mystery, p. 118.

17It would seem that Lyde’s attraction (if we may use this word) to the ʿAlawī was purely motivated by his missionary enthusiasm to save them, and not because of any Christian affinity he perceived. In contrast to Lammens’ later way of thinking, Lyde does not dwell on parallels to Christianity. What affinities he did acknowledge among the ʿAlawī were superficial and incidental. Regarding the ʿAlawī trinity: “... we must not suppose this Trinity to resemble that of Christianity, though the name and idea have been taken by the Anaisreeh from it, like many other things.”48 In contrast to the sacred theological language employed by Lammens, Lyde sees any similarities with Christianity as having little importance. This dismissal is in line with the disapproval Protestant missionaries felt towards native Greek and Armenian Christianity.

  • 49 Krieger, “Rediscovery”.

18Although Lyde only lived in his ʿAlawī village for less than five years, he deepened his investigation into the religion within that time. His chief book, The Asian Mystery, reveals a more serious investigation of not only ʿAlawī theology (“the secret teaching”), but popular practice as well. The study was of course initially conceived by the way of missionary fieldwork, but it also uses a Nuṣayrī manuscript of the Manual for Shaykhs (K. al-mašyaa) as its main primary written source. If Lyde’s scholarly efforts seem more earnest than originally assumed that is because this manuscript which he translated for Asian Mystery has been recovered and authenticated.49 In addition, he makes use of various secondary sources on the Nuṣayrī which were also in circulation at the time. Nevertheless, not formally trained as an academic, he offers little useful analysis of these diverse sources. Despite his lack of scholarly insight and cultural acumen, Lyde’s accounts do contain valuable pockets. These are born of a straight-forward and untrained appreciation of daily religious activity which is far more insightful than his mining the secret intricacies of Nuṣayrī theology. When Lyde does achieve an authentic portrait at times in spite of himself, it is when he is simply observing.

  • 50 Lyde, Asian Mystery, p. 166.
  • 51 Lyde, Asian Mystery, p. 167.

19Almost instinctively, Lyde sensed the import of popular practice. After his extended residency, he observed that “religious theory has little to do with the direction of their lives; and a description of their theological system gives but an imperfect idea of their state as affected by religion”.50 He then goes on to describe, often in great detail, aspects of customary practice he could observe: from healing rites, to adornment, to diet. And from my point of view, the value of Lyde’s writing was to record these instances of religious observance, especially concerning the ziyāra. As Lyde states the importance of this phenomenon of pious visitation: “... for of all things which exercise a practical, religious, or rather superstitious influence on them, the zeyârehs are, without comparison, the most powerful. Nearly all good is looked for from them, and all ill dreaded from their displeasure.”51

  • 52 “To the east of my village, about a mile distant, under a magnificent deciduous oak, is another fam (...)
  • 53 Lyde, Ansyreeh and Ismaeleeh, describes a multi-tiered approach to healing: “Ali’s mother, poor thi (...)
  • 54 “Inside the sepulcher, over the grave, is a kind of ark of wood, and on it a piece of green calico. (...)
  • 55 Lyde, Ansyreeh and Ismaeleeh, p. 134.
  • 56 Lyde, Ansyreeh and Ismaeleeh, p. 182, describes a circumcision ritual which took place on the platf (...)
  • 57 Lyde, Asian Mystery, p. 169.
  • 58 Speaking of a ziyāra which consisted of a grove of trees: “There have been accidents to confirm the (...)

20Based on modern ethnographic accounts, Lyde’s assessment of the ziyāra’s importance is not an exaggeration, and yet virtually none of the secret manuscripts preserved from the 19th century mention this practice. In Lyde’s own time, as today, the ziyāra are at the centre of a spiritual and social economy. In fact the observations Lyde recorded in this regard establish a remarkable continuity of the activities associated with ziyāra today: the ziyāra as the primary locales for general petition, but also as places of specialized healing (mentioning a ziyāra known for curing blindness, for example) ;52 the practice of incubation within ziyāra structures;53 the use of sacred cloth housed within ziyāra structures as binding materials as apotropaic adornment;54 rites performed at the ziyāra using incense;55 the role of the ziyāra in communal life, commemoration, and festivals;56 the integration and use of material taken from nature (such as trees) in the healing rites performed at ziyāra; how the locations of ziyāra were divined as such “by the descent of fire on them”.57 He also recounts the unfortunate incidents befalling those who doubt, ridicule, or otherwise disrespect the hallowed ziyāra structures or grounds.58 So many of Lyde’s observations reveal the practice of ziyāra visitation in the 19th century that is useful in comparison with current research on this fundamental, if not central, aspect of ʿAlawī religious life.

  • 59 Lyde, Ansyreeh and Ismaeleeh, p. 222.

21Despite his useful observations, Lyde has become better known for his notorious assessment likening the ʿAlawī to the pagans of St. Paul’s day: “I think it impossible for any one to understand the full force of St. Paul’s allusions to the wickedness of the unconverted heathen of this day, without having lived amongst or had some intercourse with some long neglected barbarous tribe, such as the Ansaireeh, unrestrained by civil government or by religion.”59

  • 60 Lyde, Ansyreeh and Ismaeleeh, p. 167.

22But the biblical connection Lyde was most fond of repeating was not this. Perhaps his observation of the profound meaning the ziyāra held for the ʿAlawī inspired Lyde to forge a theory of the origins of the ziyāra which had profound meaning to him. For Lyde, the ziyāra were a visible reminder that he was living on biblical land, among biblical people. Within tree groves, on mountain tops, always observant of the natural setting of ziyāra, Lyde wrote, “[t]he [zīyāra] call[s] to mind in a very striking manner, the worship of the ancient Canaanites, on every high hill and under every green tree. Many of these groves are doubtless very old, perhaps as old as the Canaanites…”.60 Lyde did not attempt any serious archaeological research, and his musings may appear to be amateurish. However, Dussaud, who became a well-known archaeologist, would later trace the religion back to similar ancient precedent, to a Phoenician origin. Theories such as these often reveal more about the perspectives of the archaeologists themselves, and there is a distinct Protestant influence in Lyde’s logic, for who the biblical precedent was primary. At the same time, the influence of Romantic archaeology at this time was conducive to this way of thinking about the past.

23Lord Byron’s 1824 death in the Greek War for Independence an emblematic example of the powerful sway Ottoman provinces held over Romantics. But Romantic notions inspired all sorts of adventurers, and it was this impulse that was one of the driving forces of European archaeology in this area. And here I am defining Romanticism as the belief in and the search for something lost. In other words, the idea that ruins contained in Ottoman territory could be evidenced by classical texts—those going back to ancient Greece certainly, but also to biblical texts as well. Certainly not all of this was fantasy, but with every genuine ancient artifact uncovered, many other ‘discoveries’ were invented through a yearning to uncover this imagined past. From this Romantic enthusiasm direct lines were forged from peoples living in the present, back to a distant and lost, in this case, biblical past.

24Lyde’s romantic theorizing about the Canaanite origins of the ʿAlawī aside, his focus on their everyday life would force him outside of his cultural arrogance by the simplicity of human observation. As mentioned earlier, Lyde was not a scholar, so in many ways, his sojourn in the ‘Ǧabal al-Nuṣayrī’ was an odd fit, and beyond his capacity to make fit into his rigid world-view. Nevertheless, Lyde’s sometimes tactless, sometimes insightful observations of ʿAlawī religious life are the most substantial observations of this type that we have from this period before these communities of the ‘Ǧabal al- Nuṣayrī’ became the objects of haphazard Ottoman ‘Sunnitization’ policy. While Lyde’s accounts can dismissed due to his lack of academic credentials, or his frequent display of cultural arrogance, or both, they deserve some reconsideration.

Conclusion

25In conclusion, heterodox groups such as the Qizilbāš-Alevi, the Šabak, and the ʿAlawī-Nuṣayrī, duodécimain groups all of them, presented a special case for Christian missionaries in the 19th-century Ottoman Empire—where they belonged to was an open question, and no doubt a political opportunity. Lammens searched for evidence of a Christian past among the ʿAlawī, which his Catholic perspective incarnated through theology and liturgy. Using archaeology, he accounted for this past scientifically, for that time at least. Compared to Lammens, it would appear these obvious Christian parallels were unimportant to Lyde. And although Lyde was eager to dismiss any connections to Christianity, he did see the ʿAlawī through a Christian lens, as a lost biblical people. Influenced by Romantic archaeology, Lyde further speculated that their mountain ziyāra constituted the physical evidence of these Canaanite origins. The particularities of Lyde’s biblical parallels underlie his strong Protestant missionary ethos, with the ʿAlawī cast as Canaanites, the pagan indigenous of the Promised Land, and the Protestant missionaries he represented, cast as God’s Chosen.

  • 61 Smith, “Comparative Religion”.

26Christians, as Christians, have played a significant role in the early academic articulation of Šīʿī religiosity on the peripheries, and this can be seen with missionary writers, both Protestant and Catholic living and traveling in the Nuṣayrī mountains of northern Syria in the late Ottoman period. Another missionary and scholar, Wilfred Cantwell Smith (1916‒2000), wrote that “the study of a religion is a study of persons”,61 and we are well advised to include in Smith’s dictum the persons conducting the studies as well.

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Bibliographie

Primary Sources

Finn, James & Finn, Elizabeth A. McCaul (eds.), Stirring Times, Or, Records From Jerusalem Consular Chronicles of 1853 to 1856, 2 vols., London, C.K. Paul, 1878.

Lyde, Samuel, The Ansyreeh and Ismaeleeh: A Visit to the Secret Sects of Northern Syria; with a View to the Establishment of Schools, London, Hurst & Blackett, 1853.

Lyde, Samuel, The Asian Mystery Illustrated in the History, Religion, and Present State of the Ansaireeh or Nusairis of Syria, London, Longman et al., 1860.

Secondary Sources

Alkan, Necati, “Fighting for the Nuṣayri Soul: State, Protestant Missionaries and the ʿAlawīs in the Late Ottoman Empire”, Die Welt des Islams 52, 2012, p. 23‒50.

Bar-Asher, Meir M. & Kofsky, Aryeh, The Nuayrī-ʿAlawī Religion: An Enquiry into its Theology and Liturgy, Leiden, Brill, 2002.

Bar-El, Yair, Durst, Rimona, Katz, Gregory, Zislin, Josef, Strauss, Ziva & Knobler, Haim Y., “Jerusalem Syndrome”, The British Journal of Psychiatry 176, 2000, p. 86‒90.

Catafago, Joseph, “Die drei Messen der Nussairier”, Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 2, 1848, p. 388‒394.

Deveney, John P., Paschal Beverly Randolph: A Nineteenth-Century Black American Spiritualist, Rosicrucian, and Sex Magician, Albany, NY, State University of New York Press, 1997.

Dussaud, René, Histoire et religion des Nosairîs, Paris, É. Bouillon, 1900.

Friedman, Yaron, “Ibn Taymiya’s Fatāwā against the Nuṣayrī-ʿAlawī Sect”, Der Islam 82, 2005, p. 349‒363.

Friedman, Yaron, The Nuayrī-ʿAlawīs: An Introduction to the Religion, History, and Identity of the Leading Minority in Syria, Leiden, Brill, 2009.

Gatier, Pierre-Louis, “Henri Lammens, Voyageur en Antiochène”, Tempora. Annales d’histoire et d’archéologie 19, 2011, p. 303‒347.

Hasluck, Frederick W., Christianity and Islam under the Sultans, 2 vols., Margaret M. Hasluck (ed.), Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1929.

Kieser, Hans-Lukas, “Muslim Heterodoxy and Protestant Utopia: The Interactions between Alevis and Missionaries in Ottoman Anatolia”, Die Welt des Islams 41, 2001, p. 89‒111.

Krieger, Bella Tendler, “New Evidence for the Survival of Sexually Libertine Rites among some Nuṣayrī‒ʿAlawīs of the Nineteenth Century”, in Asad Q. Ahmed et al. (eds.), Islamic Cultures, Islamic Contexts: Essays in Honor of Patricia Crone, (Islamic History and Civilization, 114), Leiden, Brill, 2014, p. 565‒596.

Krieger, Bella Tendler, “The Rediscovery of Samuel Lyde’s Lost Nuṣayrī Kitāb al‒Mashyakha (Manual for Shaykhs) ”, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 24, 2014, p. 1‒16.

Lammens, Henri, “Au pays des Nosairis”, Revue de l’Orient chrétien 4, 1899, p. 570‒590 (Part I); 5, 1900, p. 99‒117, 303‒318, and 423‒444 (Part II).

Lammens, Henri, “Les Noṣairis. Notes sur leur histoire et leur religion”, Études 80, 1899, p. 461‒493.

Lammens, Henri, “Le pays des Noṣairis. Itinéraire et notes archéologiques”, Le Musée Belge 4, 1900, p. 278‒310.

Lammens, Henri, “Les Noṣairīs furent-ils chrétiens ? À propos d’un livre récent”, Revue de l’Orient chrétien 6, 1901, p. 33‒50.

Lammens, Henri, ima et les filles de Mahomet. Notes critiques pour l’étude de la Sīra, Romae, Sumptibus Pontificii Instituti Biblici, 1912.

Lammens, Henri, “Une visite au śaiḫ suprême des Noṣairīs Ḥaidarīs”, Journal Asiatique 5 (11e série), 1915, p. 139‒159.

Massignon, Louis, art. “Nuṣairī”, The Encyclopaedia of Islam. First Edition, vol. 3 (1935), p. 963‒967.

Massignon, Louis, “Esquisse d’une bibliographie Nusayrie”, in Mélanges syriens offerts à Monsieur René Dussaud, 2 vols., Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres (ed.), (Bibliothèque archéologique et historique, 30), Paris, P. Geuthner, 1939, vol. 2, p. 913‒922.

Moosa, Matti, Extremist Shiites: The Ghulat Sects, Syracuse, Syracuse University Press, 1988.

[Mouterde, René,] “In Memoriam: Le père Henri Lammens, S.J. (1862-1937). Notice et bibliographie”, Mélanges de l’Université Saint‒Joseph 21, 1937, p. 335‒358.

Prager, Laila, “Alawi Ziyāra Tradition and its Interreligious Dimensions: Sacred Places and their Contested Meanings among Christians, Alawi and Sunni Muslims in Contemporary Hatay (Turkey)”, The Muslim World 103, 2013, p. 41‒61.

Procházka-Eisl, Gisela & Procházka, Stephan, The Plain of Saints and Prophets: The Nusayri-Alawi Community of Cilicia (Southern Turkey) and its Sacred Places, Wiesbaden, Harrassowitz, 2010.

Randolph, Paschal B., The Ansairetic Mystery: A New Revelation Concerning Sex! Toledo, OH, Liberal Printing House, n.d. [ca. 1873] (reprint in John P. Deveney, Paschal Beverly Randolph: A Nineteenth-Century Black American Spiritualist, Rosicrucian, and Sex Magician, Albany, NY, State University of New York Press, 1997, Appendix A).

Salibi, Kamal, “Islam and Syria in the Writings of Henri Lammens”, in Bernard Lewis & Peter M. Holt (eds.), Historians of the Middle East, London, Oxford University Press, 1962, p. 330‒342.

Smith, Wilfred Cantwell, “Comparative Religion: Whither, and Why?”, in Mircea Eliade & Joseph M. Kitagawa (eds.), The History of Religions: Essays in Methodology, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1959, p. 31‒58.

Springett, Bernard H., Secret Sects of Syria and the Lebanon: A Consideration of Their Origin, Creeds and Religious Ceremonies, and their Connection with and Influence upon Modern Freemasonry, London, G. Allen & Unwin, 1922.

Talhamy, Yvette, “American Protestant Missionary Activity among the Nusayris (Alawis) in Syria in the Nineteenth Century”, Middle Eastern Studies 47, 2011, p. 215‒236.

Tibawi, Abdul Latif, British Interests in Palestine, 1800‒1901: A Study of Religious and Educational Enterprise, London, Oxford University Press, 1961.

Winter, Stefan, A History of the ʿAlawis: From Medieval Aleppo to the Turkish Republic, Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, 2016.

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Notes

1 “Les interactions entre šīʿites imāmites (duodécimains) et chrétiens : histoire, théologie, littérature”, held at the Institut Catholique de Paris, 10‒13 April, 2018.

2 Throughout this essay, simply the term ʿAlawī will be used when possible. The sect was originally named for Muḥammad b. Nuṣayr (d. 218/833), a disciple of the tenth and eleventh imāms, and a figure of early esoteric Šīʿism. The term Nuṣayrī is usually applied to the sect in the context of their teaching as it has been preserved in elite manuscripts. While the term ʿAlawī is thought to have been a 20th-century designation for the group, N. Alkan traces the term ʿAlawī as a self-designator back further to the 19th century. See Alkan, “Fighting for the Nuṣayri Soul”, p. 49.

3 The Nuṣayrī religion is given extensive treatment in Moosa, Extremist Shiites, p. 255‒418.

4 Lyde’s initial study is an overview of the area, written after his initial mission journey: Ansyreeh and Ismaeleeh. The second book, which is the more extended treatment of the religion, was as a result of his missionary residency in the ʿAlawī village of Bḥamrā outside of Latakia: Asian Mystery.

5 The following studies exemplify this approach: Bar-Asher & Kofsky, Nuṣayrī-ʿAlawī Religion; Friedman, Nuṣayrī-ʿAlawīs.

6 See for example, Procházka-Eisl & Procházka, Plain of Saints.

7 See Winter, A History of the ʿAlawis.

8 In common usage, the term ziyāra (visitation) is most associated with a sacred building or shrine. However, a ziyāra is actually deemed sacred vicinity before any man-made structures are built to commemorate sanctity. Local usage may be confusing, because the term ziyāra is used for both phenomena, for example: once a geographical place is discerned to be a ziyāra, then a ziyāra (shrine) is constructed to commemorate it as such.

9 The village is Ǧīlliyya (now Cilli) outside of Samandağ, Turkey. See Lammens, “Une visite au śaiḫ suprême”.

10 For an early critique of Lammens’ orientalist views, see Salibi, “Islam and Syria”, p. 330.

11 This contradiction is also noted in Gatier, “Henri Lammens”, p. 308. Lammens’ romantic portrait of the ʿAlawī is seen clearly in Lammens, “Au pays des Nosairis”, p. 570‒590.

12 Lammens’ negative views on early Šīʿī figures are most cited from his 1912 monograph, Fāṭima et les filles de Mahomet.

13 For a detailed obituary and full bibliography, see [Mouterde,] “In Memoriam”.

14 See, especially, Lammens, “Le pays des Noṣairis”.

15 Lammens, “Les Noṣairis. Notes”, p. 477.

16 On his initial manuscript sources, see Lammens, “Les Noṣairis. Notes”, p. 461‒462. The first notable publication of Nuṣayrī manuscripts was undertaken by a translator for the Prussian Consulate in Syria. See Catafago, “Die drei Messen”. By the time of Dussaud’s seminal 1900 publication, the number of similar manuscripts in academic circulation had grown.

17 Lammens devoted little space to ethical teaching, however: “As for their morality, but a few lines will suffice”, “Les Noṣairis. Notes”, p. 482.

18 Lammens, “Les Noṣairis. Notes”, p. 482‒483.

19 Maʿnā is identified as ʿAlī, the archetypical divinity; ism (lit.: name) that is, Muḥammad, is the external manifestation of the divinity; and bāb (lit.: gateway), is identified as Salmān al-Fārisī, or the interpreter of the divinity. In Lammens’ words, the bāb is the “Paraclet noṣairi”: see Lammens, “Les Noṣairis. Notes”, p. 482.

20 Often translated as “mass”, the term quddās, comes from the root q-d-s, the term quddās does indeed denote the sacrament of the Eucharist in Eastern (Arabic-speaking) churches. However, “ritual” is a better translation for quddās in this context. Moosa, Extremist Shiites, p. 398, in accordance with Nuṣayrī manuscripts, confines the term quddās to the “consecration of wine” segment within the larger ritual.

21 Lammens, “Les Noṣairis. Notes”, p. 488.

22 Lammens, “Les Noṣairis. Notes”, p. 491.

23 G. Procházka-Eisl & St. Procházka also note what could be a possible disappearance of feasts shared by Christian in their fieldwork; see their Plain of Saints, p. 100‒102. For a survey of the ʿAlawī calendar of feasts based on manuscript sources, see Friedman, Nuṣayrī-ʿAlawīs, p. 152‒173. For a recent study of inter-religious interactions, see Prager, “Alawi Ziyāra Tradition”.

24 Lammens, “Les Noṣairis. Notes”, p. 492.

25 Gatier, “Henri Lammens”, p. 309.

26 In the study of Bar-Asher & Kofsky, Nuṣayrī-ʿAlawī Religion, p. 73‒74, the Christian element of ʿAlawī syncretic belief is emphasized.

27 His archaeological survey of ʿAlawī villages is the subject of Lammens, “Au pays des Nosairis”.

28 Dussaud, Histoire et religion.

29 Lammens, “Les Noṣairīs furent-ils chrétiens ?” In this article, he criticizes Dussaud’s monograph by integrating archaeology into his own Christian-origins thesis.

30 Lammens, “Les Noṣairis. Notes”, p. 491.

31 Lammens, “Les Noṣairis. Notes”, p. 492.

32 “Where the population is of mixed religion, all sects tend to frequent a shrine that has acquired fame by its healing miracles”, Hasluck, Christianity and Islam, vol. 2, p. 692.

33 Massignon, “Esquisse”, p. 914; Massignon, “Nuṣairī”.

34 Massignon, “Esquisse”, p. 914.

35 Considered lost until the manuscript’s recent rediscovery in a Cambridge library. See Krieger, “Rediscovery”.

36 According to B.T. Krieger, with publication of formerly guarded Nuṣayrī manuscripts by the Lebanese press Dār li-Aǧl al-Maʿrifa, “our understanding of this [ʿAlawī-Nuṣayrī] faith can increase exponentially”, Krieger, “Rediscovery”, p. 13. Published under a pseudonym, the editors and publishers of the press are associated with publications exhibiting “great hostility” towards the Nuṣayrī, according to Friedman, Nuṣayrī-ʿAlawīs, p. 2‒3. Nevertheless, Y. Friedman and others maintain the authenticity of the primary sources published by the press, and therefore employ them.

37 See Friedman, “Ibn Taymiya’s Fatawa”.

38 Two recent articles on this subject include: Alkan, “Fighting for the Nuṣayri Soul”; Talhamy, “American Protestant Missionary Activity”. See also Kieser, “Muslim Heterodoxy”. Although H.-L. Kieser’s study is about the Qizilbāš-Alevi religion of Kurdish and Turkish-speaking Anatolia, his investigation into the eschatological motivations of American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) as well as missionaries’ contribution to the scholarship of Alevism apply to the ʿAlawī-Nuṣayrī case as well. For a comparison of ʿAlī-centred heterodox groups which employ many missionary sources, see Moosa, Extremist Shiites.

39 Lyde, Ansyreeh and Ismaeleeh, p. iv.

40 Lyde, Ansyreeh and Ismaeleeh, p. v.

41 Randolph, Ansairetic Mystery. Randolph’s biographer finds Lyde’s published works on the Nuṣayrī “uninspired”, stating they are “notable only for their charitable defense of Nusa’iri from the charges of ‘licentiousness, obscenity and incest’”, Deveney, Paschal Beverly Randolph, p. 486. Ironically, it is exactly those charges of a sexual nature that likely attracted Deveney’s subject to the sect.

42 Deveney, Paschal Beverly Randolph, p. 66. In a similar speculative vein, B.H. Springett’s 1921 book examines the Nuṣayrī and similar sects in order to establish the origins of Masonry. His section on the Nuṣayrī is in part based on Lyde’s Asian Mystery. See Springett, Secret Sects of Syria.

43 Including wife-sharing, incest, and “orgiastic night”. For a revisionary treatment of antinomian practice, see Krieger, “New Evidence”.

44 Deveney, Paschal Beverly Randolph, p. 216. Lyde actually takes pains to deny the various charges at length in Lyde, Asian Mystery, p. 102‒109.

45 A complete, if biased account of the incident that sparked the riot as well as the trial is in Finn & Finn, Stirring Times, vol. 2, p. 427‒438. On Lyde’s mental health issues, see Tibawi, British Interests in Palestine, p. 166.

46 Defined as a “psychotic decompensation” that afflicts foreign visitors to Jerusalem, see Bar-El et al., “Jerusalem Syndrome”.

47 Inspired by the Second Awakening (1800‒1830) the ABCFM was established to govern foreign American missions, and began sending members to Ottoman provinces in 1819. See Alkan, “Fighting for the Nuṣayri Soul”. On foreign missionaries’ views of the Nuṣayrīs as “Lost Christians”, see Moosa, Extremist Shiites, p. 405.

48 Lyde, Asian Mystery, p. 118.

49 Krieger, “Rediscovery”.

50 Lyde, Asian Mystery, p. 166.

51 Lyde, Asian Mystery, p. 167.

52 “To the east of my village, about a mile distant, under a magnificent deciduous oak, is another famous tomb, reputed to belong to a certain Sheikh Bedr (full moon) il Halabee (from Aleppo), and to have the power of curing bad eyes, and of restoring sight to the blind. Often have people come to me for the cure of ophthalmia, who have borne marks of having previously visited the tomb,—a forehead smeared with earth from it, and leaves of the oak in their head-dress”, Lyde, Asian Mystery, p. 168.

53 Lyde, Ansyreeh and Ismaeleeh, describes a multi-tiered approach to healing: “Ali’s mother, poor thing, when I was in the village was very ill. She sought the benefit of my prayers, and one night one of the Sheikhs came to read some prayers over her, and invoked all the prophets in her behalf. Once she was taken to a tomb in the vicinity, and passed the night there, in the hope that this would have the miraculous effect of curing her”, p. 130.

54 “Inside the sepulcher, over the grave, is a kind of ark of wood, and on it a piece of green calico. Strips of this are given to visitors, and worn round their necks as amulets”, Lyde, Asian Mystery, p. 170.

55 Lyde, Ansyreeh and Ismaeleeh, p. 134.

56 Lyde, Ansyreeh and Ismaeleeh, p. 182, describes a circumcision ritual which took place on the platform of one of the “whitewashed tombs crowning the surrounding hills”.

57 Lyde, Asian Mystery, p. 169.

58 Speaking of a ziyāra which consisted of a grove of trees: “There have been accidents to confirm the people in their belief in the sanctity of the Banwaseyeh grove. A few years ago a camp was pitched near, and a soldier, having been sacrilegious enough to ascend into one of the trees, fell, and was killed. […] I myself know of a poor little fellow who got up into one of the trees to gather carobs, and, in doing so, lacerated his thigh so much that he died of lock-jaw a fortnight later”, Lyde, Ansyreeh and Ismaeleeh, p. 169.

59 Lyde, Ansyreeh and Ismaeleeh, p. 222.

60 Lyde, Ansyreeh and Ismaeleeh, p. 167.

61 Smith, “Comparative Religion”.

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Amelia Gallagher, « The Making of ʿAlawī Šīʿism in the Writings of Samuel Lyde (1825‒1860) »MIDÉO, 35 | 2020, 175-196.

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Amelia Gallagher, « The Making of ʿAlawī Šīʿism in the Writings of Samuel Lyde (1825‒1860) »MIDÉO [En ligne], 35 | 2020, mis en ligne le 29 octobre 2020, consulté le 02 juillet 2022. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/mideo/5296

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Amelia Gallagher

Niagara University

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Institut Dominicain d'Études Orientales

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