The True Jesus Church was founded in 1917 by a Chinese silk merchant named Wei Enbo. Later taking the Christian name Baoluo (Paul), Wei claimed to have received a vision in which Jesus personally baptized him, and called on him to restore Christianity to its original purity. This report is an account of the historical context of this unique branch of Christianity, and the experiences of its members in Taiwan today.
The Murshidiyya is a Syrian religious community whose members are mainly distributed between Western Syria and Damascus. This new religious movement emerged in the 1920s around the figure of Salman al-Murshid, a political leader, member of the parliament and religious preacher whose career ended in 1946 when he was executed in Damascus. The Murshidis started as a split-off group from the Alawi sect before eventually developing into an independent religious community.
The ten-year conflict in Syria has impacted every aspect of society. This includes new incentives in both the marriage economy and the sex market: some rural areas have seen a substantial increase in polygamous marriages, while some cities have witnessed the development of a religiously sanctioned sex-for-money trade.
This report investigates how Salafist groups conduct and manage the illegal trafficking of antiquities in south-west and north-west Syria, with a particular focus on Idleb Governorate. It provides details on the interactions among the actors involved (diggers, traders, armed groups and smugglers) and analyses the various kinds of interactions between religious beliefs and norms, on the one hand, and the illegal trade in cultural assets, on the other.
Caught in the crossfire of ambitious geopolitical players, Al-Azhar struggles to chart a course that will guarantee it a measure of independence while retaining its position as the guardian of Islamic tradition. So far, Al-Azhar has been able to fend off attempts by Mr. Al-Sisi to assert control but has been less successful in curtailing the influence of Gulf states like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that increasingly are pursuing separate agendas.
Although a theoretically ever-expanding Caliphate does not recognize international borders or traditional states, its leadership nonetheless strived to reproduce all the traditional signs of sovereignty. Last but not least, they created a new currency. Minting of dinars and dirhams was the final component in solidifying the physical reality of the group’s millenarian utopia.
In this interview, Hong Kong scholar Edward Irons explains the historical roots of the proscription of certain groups as xie jiao (heterodox teachings) in China, and how being on the list of the xie jiao means being a main target for persecution.