Thursday, April 26, 2007

Why Kurdish Alawite do not eat rabbits?

As I have written earlier I was brought up in Kurdish Alawite tradition. Alawite belief system is one of the beliefs in Kurdistan or Turkey that is not known to the Islamic community in Turkey. Thus people do not know about the Alawite beliefs at all. It is only recently that the people openly declare that they are Alawites. They have semi-organized institutions which do not have strict control over the Alawites. However, the Alawites have built “Gathering Houses” in the metropolitan areas of Turkey, such as Istanbul, Izmir and Ankara.

Alawites have very different traditions that seem to be awkward in the dominant Islamic culture in Kurdistan. During my childhood I was constantly hearing that Alawites did not eat rabbits. The Sunni Kurds would go hunting rabbits in our villages because there were a great deal of rabbits in the Alawite areas. The Sunni Kurds would make fun of us as “Non rabbit eaters.” I did not know why we would not eat rabbits and the reasons why we would not eat rabbits were not satisfying at all. One of the reasons we would not eat rabbits was that “rabbits had long ears like donkeys.” Or “they would not digest their food” etc.

However, when one reads Leviticus 11, then one can see the real reason why Alawites do not eat rabbits: “The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying to them: Speak to the Israelites people thus: These are the creatures that you may eat from all the land animals: any animal that has true hoofs, with clefts through the hoods, and that chews the cud—such you may eat. ….the hare –although it chews the cud, it has no true hoofs: it is unclean for you.

I am of the opinion that this passage makes it clear why we Alawite do not eat rabbits. The degree of Jewish religion on Alawites has not been determined and it needs to be researched. Only then we would know how much we got from the Jewish beliefs and tradition.

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