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The Rediscovery of Samuel Lyde's Lost Nuṣayrī Kitāb al-Mashyakha (Manual for Shaykhs)


The K. al-Mashyakha is a manual for Nuṣayrī shaykhs. Its significance as a window into the otherwise secret world of Nuṣayrī ritual was augmented by the role it played in the formation of Nuṣayrī studies: in 1860, it served as the basis for the first monograph on the Nuṣayrī religion, Samuel Lyde's posthumously published Asian Mystery. However, for over 150 years, the K. al-Mashyakha has been missing. This article announces its rediscovery in two identical manuscripts and identifies two additional works based on this text, the well-known Nuṣayrī catechism, K. Taʿlīm diyānat al-nuṣayriyya, and the recently published K. al-Mashyakha issued by the Lebanese press, Dār li-ajl al-maʿrifa. In solving the mystery of its disappearance and rediscovery in two copies, this article provides new insight into the nineteenth-century Nuṣayrī world from which the K. al-Mashyakha emerged, as well as that of the European orientalists who pioneered this field.

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Necati Alkan , “Fighting for the Nuṣayrī Soul: State, Protestant Missionaries and the ʿalawīs in the Late Ottoman Empire.” Die Welt des Islams 52 (2012), pp. 2350.

Yaron Friedman , The Nuṣayrī-ʿAlawīs: An Introduction to the Religion, History, and Identity of the Leading Minority in Syria (Leiden, 2010).

Yvette Talhamy , “American Protestant Missionary Activity among the Nusayris (Alawis) in Syria in the Nineteenth Century.” Middle East Studies 47, no. 2 (2011), pp. 215236.

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Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society
  • ISSN: 1356-1863
  • EISSN: 1474-0591
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-the-royal-asiatic-society
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