Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

The Plain of Saints and Prophets: The Nusayri-Alawi Community of Cilicia (Southern Turkey) and Its Sacred Places

Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

The Plain of Saints and Prophets: The Nusayri-Alawi Community of Cilicia (Southern Turkey) and Its Sacred Places

Article excerpt

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. Wiesbaden, Ger.: Harrasowitz-Verlag, 2010. 404 pp. $102.

Studies on Alawites (traditionally called Nusayris) have generally focused on the community located inside Syria with scant attention paid to their co-religionists in Cilicia in southern Turkey. This book provides an in-depth study of the Cilician community, which is distinct from the much larger Alevi community despite confusion in some media reports. It is highly recommended and accessible reading for anyone with an interest in the Alawites.

The coauthors, both of the University of Vienna, first offer a brief overview of terminology and Alawite identity, then provide a geographical overview of Cilicia, followed by a general survey of Alawites in Turkey. They touch on aspects such as population sites, Sunni Turkish perceptions of the community, not only in media but also academia, and a brief examination of the Alawite religion, including doctrines such as transmigration of the soul.

The focus of the book is an examination of various Alawite "sacred places," shrines, and sanctuaries of persons venerated by the Cilician Alawites, including the biblical prophet Jonah, some of Muhammad's descendants and companions, and sundry sheikhs - both historical and legendary. …

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