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 (ä′lə-wīt′) also A·la·wi (ä′lä-wē′)
n. pl. A·la·wites also A·la·wis or Alawi
A member of a branch of Shiism practiced especially in northwest Syria and adjacent parts of Turkey and Lebanon.

[Arabic 'alawī, follower of Ali, Alawite (from 'Alī, Ali ibn Abi Talib + -awī, variant of , adj. suff.) + -ite.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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This means that Alawism is never mentioned in schools in Syria."
The Alevi faith, closely related to Sufism and Anatolian folk culture, is the specifically Turkish version of Alawism, also prominent in Syria, and its adoration of Ali makes it heretical in the eyes of the Sunnis.
-- French colonial administrators tried to classify Syrian Alawism as a separate religion despite resistance from Alawi leaders who were more interested in identifying with Islam.
"Alawite clerics and many secular historians stress that Alawism is a branch of Shiism and that Alawites respect the Islamic sharia (religious law) and implement its clauses as interpreted by Shiism's sixth imam, Jaafar Sadek," who is Shiism's most influential religious interpreter, it added.
Alawism has not made up its mind as to whether it is closer to Shiism or Sunnism.