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Nuṣairī or Alawī. An extreme Shīʿa sect, strongly influenced by Ismāʿīlīs and Christianity. Mainly found in N. Lebanon, Syria, and S. Turkey, they number over a million, maintaining a tribe-like lineage system. The Nuṣairī believe that ʿAlī is the supreme manifestation of God, that the Qurʾān is an initiation to devotion to ʿAlī, and that ʿAlī, Muḥammad, and Salmān al-Farsī (identified with the archangel Gabriel) are a trinity. Their tenets are mostly secret, for they practice an initiatory rite which lays importance on taʾwīl (allegorical interpretation) of Qurʾān. The Nuṣairī employ taqīya (dissimulation). Since the 1980s the Nuṣairī have become powerful in Syrian politics. Hafez Assad, a Nuṣairī, rose to become leader of Syria over a Sunnī majority.

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