Salman al-Murshid

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Salman al-Murshid
سلمان المرشد
Born Sulayman Yunus
1907 (1907)
Jawbat Burghal, Latakia Governorate, Syria
Died December 16, 1946(1946-12-16) (aged 38–39)
Marjeh Square, Damascus, Syria
Occupation religious figure and political leader
Children Mujib (born 1930, assassinated 1952)
Saji (born 1931, died 1998)

Sulayman al-Murshid (1907 – 16 December 1946, ‎سليمان المرشد) was a Syrian Alawi religious figure and political leader.

Biography[edit]

Early beginnings[edit]

Sulayman al-Murshid was born as Sulayman Yunus (سليمان يونس) in the village of Jawbat Burghal, in the Latakia Governorate.

He rose to power in his teenage years. Though a "penniless shepherd" in the words of historian Philip Khoury, al-Murshid was afflicted by epilepsy, and in his trances he spoke of the apocalypse and the arrival of the Mahdi.[1] As a result, he acquired a reputation as "a prophet and miracle worker."[1]

His emerging power worried both local notable Alawite families and the French authorities, who arranged to have him and some of his followers sent to Raqqa in exile in the mid-1920s.[2] Yet when al-Murshid returned, he managed to patch up his problems with local notables, not least through strategic marriages, and at one point he was married to 13 women at one time.[2]

As he attempted to expand his power beyond the countryside, al-Murshid took other steps such as joining the Freemasons of Lattakia.[3] With a following of some 40,000 people and extensive wealth built on land holding and tax collection duties, al-Murshid found himself in a position of great power. By the 1930s, he had united the three tribes of the Amamra, Dariusa, and Mheilbe under his control.[4]

In 1937 he became a member of Parliament, and avoided the separatist approach advocated for by some among Syria's minority groups.[2] Yet once it appeared that the French would not make good on their promise to grant Syria independence in 1936, al-Murshid began to call for separatism again.[2] In 1943 he was elected again as a member of the central Syrian Parliament.

In 1944, under British instigation, al-Murshid was arrested in Beirut and kept in Damascus under house arrest for a few months.[5]

The Syrian government tried to charge him with treason and other civil charges, but they could not prove any of the charges. Hence, the Judge received a direct order from the president (Al-Quwatli) to convict Sulayman by any means, and he was executed on 16 December 1946 in Marjeh Square in Damascus.

Followers[edit]

His movement deified al-Murshid and, following his death, his sons Mujib and Saji.[6] The followers of al-Murshid later became known as Al-Murshidyah[citation needed] (المرشدية) named after his second son Mujib Al-Murshid, who was killed by Abd Elhak Shihada (Arabic: عبد الحق شحادة)[citation needed], a military police commander, (by direct order from Adib Shishakli) on 27 November 1952. Murshidians were persecuted by the Syrian authorities until President Hafez al-Assad came to power in 1970. Since then, Al-Murshidyah was practiced relatively freely like any other religion. After the 1984 confrontation between Hafez al-Assad and his younger brother Rifaat al-Assad, the Al-Murshid family was allowed to return to the Lattakia region. Murshidyya soldiers in Rifaat's Defense Companies (Saraaya al-Difa'a) had sided with the President in the confrontation.

Murshidians only exist in Syria in which they mostly spread out in Latakia Governorate, Homs Governorate, Al-Ghab Plain and Damascus. Their numbers may vary from 300 to 500 thousand people.[7] They celebrate a festival called "Joy in God" for three days, starting from 25 August of each year, this day commemorates the beginning of the new religion by Mujib al-Murshid. In these three days, people make private prayers, dress well and offer desserts as a way of celebration.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Khoury, Philip (1987). Syria and the French Mandate: the Politics of Arab Nationalism, 1920-1945. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. p. 523. 
  2. ^ a b c d Khoury, Philip (1987). Syria and the French Mandate: the Politics of Arab Nationalism, 1920-1945. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. p. 524. 
  3. ^ Yaffe, Gita (October 1993). "Suleiman al-Murshid: Beginnings of an Alawi Leader". Middle Eastern Studies. 
  4. ^ Yaffe, Gitta (October 1993). "Suleiman al-Murshid: Beginnings of an Alawi Leader". Middle East Studies. 
  5. ^ Rabinovich, Itamar (October 1979). "The Compact Minorities and the Syrian State, 1918-45". Journal of Contemporary History. 
  6. ^ http://irfancolloquia.org/83/pack_messiah
  7. ^ المرشديون السوريون يحتفلون بعيد "الفرح بالله"
  8. ^ بعد وفاة "نور المضيء المرشدي".. تعرّف إلى طقوس الطائفة المرشدية في الحزن والفرح