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The Dewey editorial team is seeking advice about a new subdivision or subdivisions of 297.82 Shiites for the groups represented by the LCSH Nosairians. The new number(s) would be the comprehensive religion number(s) for the groups, with the possibility to add notation to specify place, time, etc. Notation from the new numbers could also be used for number building in other contexts, e.g., to build numbers for sociology or anthropology of these groups.
After much back and forth discussion, here is what we are currently considering (see attached file for version with diacritics):
297.825 Alawites and Alevis
297.825 1 Alawites
Variant names: Alawis, Nusayris
297.825 2 Alevis
Class here Alevi-Bektashi sect (Alevi sect influenced by Bektashi
Class Bektashi Sufi order in 297.48
We welcome comments and suggestions.
Here are summaries of the discussion and considerations to date. First, some of the initial advice that we received:
Ahmad Taleb (Lebanese American University) wrote:
The sect of Alawites or Nosairians is a Shiite sect and should be
classed under 297.82, e.g., 297.825, etc.
Patricia Bellec (Bibliothèque nationale de France [BnF]) wrote:
In response to Ahmad Taleb from Lebanese American University,
we share his advice especially about . . . Alawites as a shiite’s sect
to be created in 297.82.
In a note to the Decimal classification Editorial Policy Committee, we wrote:
The Arabic translation team also recommended giving a number for “Nosairians (Alawites or Alevis).” There is literary warrant. We tried earlier to provide for this topic, but stopped because we found confusing and contradictory information about the various groups to which the LCSH Nosairians has been applied and did not have time to sort it out. . . .
The key question is this: should there be one new number, to be used for both Alawites and Alevis, or should there be two new numbers, one for Alawites and one for Alevis?
The LCSH Nosairians has been used for both groups:
The Deutsche Nationalbibliothek, however, has two different headings:
The Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) also has two different headings:
In the responses that we received, some cited sources making clear that Alawites /Alawi and Nosairians/ Nusayriyah are the same group and should have the same DDC number. Some concluded that only one new number would be needed. Patricia Bellec (BnF) responded:
Our question now is:
Are Alevis different from Alawis Nusayris?
Yes, that 's why we propose two numbers.
The clearest explanation of the terminology and the distinction between the two groups that we could find is in The Plain of Saints and Prophets: The Nusayri-Alawi Community of Cilicia (Southern Turkey) and its Sacred Places by Gisela Procházka-Eisl and Stephan Procházka. The first link is for the WorldCat record, the second for the Google preview
The Google preview includes the key parts—first a brief statement in the preface (“Although it is not accepted by all members of the group, we decided to include the term Nusayri-Alawi in our book’s title, since Alawi alone might cause confusion with the much better known and much larger Alevi community in Turkey” [pages 15-16]) followed by further discussion of terminology and identity in the first section of the introduction (especially pages 19-21). Here is a brief quotation from page 20 (see the text for footnotes and more details):
In Turkey, the term “Alevi” is ambiguous but mainly used for the several million Turkish and Kurdish speaking Anatolian Alevis, whose main branch is called Bektaşi Alevi after Hacı Bektaş Veli, the eponymous founder of the famous Bektashiyya Dervish order. Although the Arab Alawis of Cilicia are basically friendly toward the Anatolian Alevis, they often emphasize the difference between the two groups by calling themselves Arap Alevileri (singular Arap Alevisi), i.e. “Arab Alawi”.
During the recent conference of the Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA), I listened to a discussion about the Alawi (Nusayri) in Syria and heard people freely using Alawi and Alawite interchangeably. Afterwards I asked one of the panel speakers whether Alawi or Alawite was more acceptable as an umbrella term for the group over its long history, and was told that either was fine, that Alawite was just the Anglicized form—but, he volunteered, “not Alevi—that’s different.”
Works that focus on the Alevi community in Turkey—or in Europe—often say nothing or almost nothing about the Alawi community; they more commonly emphasize Alevi vs. Sunni differences. Examples are the following:
Turkey's Alevi enigma: a comprehensive overview
The Alevis in Turkey: the emergence of a secular Islamic tradition
Struggling for recognition: the Alevi Movement in Germany and in transnational space
Web site for La Fédération de l’ Union des Alévis en France:
John Shindeldecker’s Turkish Alevis Today (found at http://www.alevibektasi.org/xalevis1.htm)
Almost every single guidebook or encyclopedia I have ever read describes Turkey as 99% Sunni Muslim. But the world is slowly learning of the existence of a large group in Turkey called Anatolian Alevis (Anatolia is a name for the part of Turkey which lies in Asia). The name Alevi sometimes appears in English as Alawi, Alawite, Alouite, or Alevi-Bektashi. Alevi faith and culture is called Alevism (Alevilik).
Later Shindeldecker says in section II. Alevi Population Size and Distribution:
Though the subject of this handbook is Anatolian Alevis, the reader should be familiar with the names of similar groups in neighboring countries. In Syria, Iraq, and the Turkish provinces bordering those countries, Arabic-speaking groups with beliefs and practices resembling those of Turkish-speaking Alevis are called Nusayri, Alawite, or Alouite. Smaller sects in Iraq and Iran are called Ahl-i Haqq (Ali Ilahis) and Shabak. Some scholars group many of these sects into a broad category called the Ghulat. Today’s Anatolian Alevis do not often associate themselves with these groups in Iran, Iraq or Syria. However, Turkish Alevis are quick to point out their similarities with certain Turkic-speaking groups in Central Asia and with the Bektashis of the Balkans.
When we wrote that we had tentatively decided to propose two new DDC numbers, one for Alawis (Alawites), one for Alevis, we received this response from Ahmad Taleb:
Since you have a tendency to use 2 class nos. for Alawites and Alevis, I suggest then to assign the following changes:
297.825 Alawites & Alevis
Alawites is the preferred term instead of Alawis in many reference sources.
Patricia Bellec wrote:
My previous stand was 297.824 Alawites Nusayris / 297.825 Alevis Bektachi . . .
Ahmad Taleb' s proposal is better and more flexible conceptually and in using.
We too think Ahmed Taleb’s suggestion is a good one. Alawites and Alevis are similar in ways that invite comparison, and his approach provides well for both comparative studies and for works that focus only on one group.
With respect to whether Alawites or Alawis should be the preferred term, we find that the reference sources are mixed. For example, Encyclopædia Britannica Online prefers ‘Alawite. (“‘Alawite." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2011. Web. 05 Dec. 2011. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/12399/Alawite>.) Brill Online Encycopaedia of Islam,THREE, prefers Alawis (Mervin, Sabrina. "‘Alawīs, contemporary developments." Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE. Edited by: Gudrun Krämer; Denis Matringe; John Nawas; Everett Rowson. Brill, 2011. Brill Online. Library of Congress. 05 December 2011 [subscription required] <http://www.brillonline.nl/subscriber/entry?entry=ei3_COM-22953>). Since the Anglicized form Alawites may be more familiar from popular sources like newspapers, we have tentatively decided to use that for the caption but give also variant names in the schedule (and index more variants).
Assistant Editor, DDC
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