In 1970 when Hafez al-Assad took over in a coup, he couldn’t get the post of President because the Syrian constitution demanded that the President be a Muslim. Thus Hafez forged ties with Shia scholars in Lebanon, who passed a fatwa to declare alawites as an offshoot of Shia Islam. This of course then enabled Hafez to become President. Of course this was the hightide of Arab nationalism, and thus no special attention was given to this apart from perked brows from the conservative Sunni population.
Alawites are non-Muslim, always have been, always will be.
Alawites themselves have little to do with Shiism, apart from the veneration of Ali which they take to a whole new level, putting him in a holy trinity-like structure with God, hence the common usage of Nusayri by people in Syria, which is very similar to the word Nusaraa, for Christians.
Lets not forget the political reasons for this fatwa. The acceptance of Syria, especially after Khomeini in Iran came to power was mainly for geo-strategic reasons, as Mustafa Chamra, a close advisor of Khomeini put to him. A strong relationship with Syria meant using it as a conduit for funds and weapons to Hizbullat in Lebanon, but also to indoctrinated Syrian Alawis -those few who chose- into the Shia faith.
And before people attack me with the usual excuse, “Oh what if they consider themselves Muslim? You have no right to judge!!!”
They really don’t. In fact, they don’t pray, fast, they drink and have relationships outside of wedlock and this is an established way of life. It’s not as if some Muslims would do some of these things, but it is heavily frowned upon by the conservative Sunni society.
In fact we have fatwas ourselves throughout the years, the most prominent being among the fatwa of Imam ibn Taymiyyah rahimahullah, which will be shown at the bottom of this post.
Many people will say he was an “extremist cleric”, but he was the foremost among Muslim scholars and was also a practitioner of tawassuf, (known as sufism today).
“…Is it permissible for a Muslim (man or woman) to marry them (Nusayris)? Is it permissible to eat the meat of cattle they slaughter? What is the ruling on eating the cheese made from the rennet of their sacrificed animals? What is the ruling on using their dishes and clothes? Is it permissible to bury them with Muslims? Is it permissible to employ them in Muslim ports and handing the ports over to them? Or is it obligatory upon the ruler to cut them off and employ others from among qualified Muslim men; and is there a sin in delaying their explusion?”
All Praise is for Allah, Lord of all worlds. These people named “Al-Nusayriyyah”, and other groups from among the Qaraamitah and Baatiniyyah, are greater disbelievers than the Jews and Christians. Nay, they are greater disbelievers than most of the mushrikeen (polytheists from other than Ahl ul-Kitab), and their harm to the Ummah of Muhammad, sallallahu alaihi wa sallam, is greater than the harm of the disbelievers who are in war with Muslims, such as at-Tatar, disbelieving Europeans and others.
For they present themselves in front of ignorant Muslims as supporters and advocates of Ahl ul Bayt, while in reality they do not believe in Allah, or the Messenger, or the Book, or [Allah’s] orders, or prohibitions, or reward, or punishment, or Paradise, or Fire, or in one of the Messengers before Muhammad, sallallahu `alaihi wa sallam, or in a religion from among previous religions. Rather, they take the words of Allah and His Messenger, known to the scholars of Muslims, and they interpret them based on their fabrications, claiming that their interpretations are “hidden knowledge (“ilm `ul-baatin”), such as what the questioner mentioned and more. They have no limit in their unbelief with regards to Allah’s Names, His verses, and their distortion of the Speech of Allah, the Most High, and His Messenger from their proper places [usages]. Their aim is repudiation of Islamic Beliefs and Laws in every possible way, trying to make it appear that these matters have realities that they know, like those mentioned by the questioner and others, such as that “five prayers” means knowledge of their secrets, “obligatory fast” hiding of their secrets, and “pilgrimage to Bayt al-`Atiq” visit to their shaikhs, and that the two hands of Abu Lahab represent Abu Bakr and Umar, and that “the great news and the manifest imam” (an naba’ul `adheem wal imaamul mubin) is `Ali ibn Abi Talib.
There are well known incidents and books they have written with regards to their enmity to Islam and its people. When they have an opportunity, they spill the blood of Muslims, such as when they once killed pilgrims and threw them into the well of Zamzam. Once they took the black stone and it stayed with them for a period of time, and they have killed so many Muslim scholars and elders that only Allah knows their number. They wrote many books, such as what the questioner mentioned, and others.
Muslim scholars have written books, unveiling their secrets, exposing their veils, explaining what they are upon from disbelief, infidelity and atheism, by which they are greater disbelievers than the Jews, Christians, and Indian idol-worshipping Brahmans.
What the questioner mentioned as their description is a little from a great deal that is known to the scholars regarding their characteristics. It is known to us that the coast of Sham was only taken over by the Christians from their (Nusayri) side. And also that they are always on the side of every enemy against Muslims, so [you find that] they are with Christians against Muslims.
From the greatest afflictions that have befallen them are Muslims’ opening conquest of the coast (of Sham) and defeat of the Christians. Nay, one of the greatest afflictions that has befallen them is Muslims’ victory over Tatar, and from the greatest holidays for them is the Christians conquest – and refuge is sought with Allah the Most High – of Muslim ports.
They don’t admit that this world has a Creator that created it, or that He has a religion that he orders with, or that He has a place with which He will reward people for their deeds, other than this place (in this world).
[Majmoo` al-Faatwaa 35/145]