Jase: A Story of a Syrian Tribe (Part I: Introduction)

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Syria has always been diverse and Syria as a whole is defined by every single Syrian and by every religion, ideology and social structure that exists in its land. As being a member of a tribe, and as I see our heritage being diminished under this tragic situation in Syria, I want to share with you the story of a Syrian tribe. Many of my Syrian fellows at IIT didn’t know a lot about the tribes in Syria, because of the smallness of the tribes. My friends were surprised when I was narrating stories about my culture, my people and the fact of that my family is made of 3000 people. Actually my family is bigger than this; my family is Syria.

Although I have been living in Aleppo, where the community is more likely to be a city one and based on urban rules, my family originally came from a Tribe called Jase. To some extent, my family lived by the tribal principles. My grandfather told me about everything I needed to know to write this introduction on the tribal system in Syria in general and about my tribe in specific. I also did some Internet based research to gather more knowledge about this article.

In Syria, tribes represent about 5% of the population and are basically located in the east part of Syria. In general, Arabic tribes immigrated to Syria from the Arabic Peninsula during the Islamic conquests in the 8th century. Nowadays the majority merged in the urban community instead of living in the tribal system.

Jase is a big tribe from which my extended family descended, but in Syria we are a relatively small sub-tribe, living in the city of Ar-Raqqah. Jase is the name of our ancestor, who was born around 200 B.C. and is the 17th grandson in Abraham’sstrain. Now the Jase tribe is split into three groups. The biggest one is in Iraq (about 50,000 people). The other two are in Turkey (about 10,000 people) and Syria (My tribe: 3,000 people). Comparing to other tribes, the population of Jase should be in the hundreds of thousands now, but many of the Jase people have joined other tribes because of the frequent displacement and the numerous wars in the area.

What makes the tribes in Syria unique is their special system. This system depends on the allegiance to the tribe. The tribal rules are different from those that are used by the government. If I want to give an example, then that would be the Amish community in the US. Being a member of a tribe has both advantages and disadvantages. I am willing to go deeper in this topic in following series of blogs to talk about the Jase’s religion, education, economy, culture, legislation, history and most importantly being part of the Syrian Mosaic. Stay tuned.

Thank you on behalf of all Jase people,

Alaa Alaliwi

IIT Armour College of Engineering | Expected graduation, May 2015

Alaa can be reached at    aalaliwi@hawk.iit.edu

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