Al-Qbeissiya .. Another kind of feminism

Al-Qbeissiya .. Another kind of feminism
Facebook Share

"What has surprised me is the belief of the female students in the spiritual "great aunt". I still remember one of them when she told me: "The aunt can read our thoughts...", and warned me not to talk in secret about her, because she would hear what I say. The rest of the students, strangely, confirmed her words"

This quote is from an article by the writer, Lama Rajeh, on the website of Aljomhouria, she talks about her experience during Al-Qbeissiya circles. And the great aunt, according to the writer of the article is called "Al-shikha". The aunt is considered to be at the apex of the ordinal pyramid of Al-Qbeissiya circles.


Al-Qbeissiya groups grow more popular by the day as people ponder upon their real role in Syrian society, especially with the support of the Syrian regime. The regime’s head “Bashar al-Assad” himself has reportedly appeared in many of their meetings and was received with loyalty and obedience. Some exaggerate the magic of the women who can attract young girls into the group, especially belonging to educated and downgraded rich families, to the extent that it is reminiscent of ISIS’s appeal for its recruits. Some studies have attempted to monitor this phenomenon since the early nineteenth century, and even linked it to international freemasonry.


Who are the Qbeissiya? How did their movement emerge? What are their most important stations in Syria in particular, and the world at large? How could the regime use them as a winning card?




Events in the city of Hama in the 1980s. What was tragedy for many, became a window of opportunity for a few!


The massacre in Hamah ended with the elimination of the armed Islamic groups of the Muslim Brotherhood. This also acted as a catalyst for the regime to begin closely monitor Islamic groups and reshaping their map to ensure that they remain in control. The regime also began promoting various members and religious figures from their own groups, including "Al-Botti", "Keftaro'' ''Al-Qbeissiya'' among others. These groups and their prominent members were tasked with establishing new religious cases, forming entities working in the religious field, and stay absolutely away from interfering in politics except to express their support for the Syrian regime - represented by its security apparatus, intelligence agencies, and government agencies from the Ministry of Endowments and the Ministry of higher Education. The groups embraced this framework and dedicated their loyalty to the messaging of the regime.


These groups were effective on the ground in terms of their appeal to the general public and their influence on large segments of Syrian society. They evolved into the spiritual authority for the Syrian people, represented by people who often began to be considered sacred even at the expense of Qur'anic text.


A new playground for a feminist religious movement


The "Kobaisiyat" is an elitist religious Islamic feminist group, with an undeclared semi-organizational structure. The rich people of Damascus are at the core of its leadership and helped it expand rapidly during the last decade of the twentieth century till now. The group was also able to spread to other Arab, Islamic and European countries.


The group enjoyed special access because of its ties to the rich and government officials and easily attract university students. Hence it gained the interest of the security and political apparatus, and put under the microscope of the intelligence, as well as by some Jihadi Political Islamic movements.


According to many reports, the term "Al-Qbeissiya" was coined by Miss Munira Al-Qobaisi, born in Damascus in 1933. She began teaching within the Al-Muhajereen neighborhood and expanded into the practice of Islamic call and education in the early 1960s. This prompted the government to ban her from teaching in public schools, in light of the regime's bitter experience with the Muslim Brotherhood in Hamah. The suspension of Munira al-Qbeisi from educational and advocacy activities ended up significantly expanding her activities. She developed a method that is independent in structure, material and ideology, after being taught by "Keftaro", the late Syrian mufti of state, who was close to Hafez Al-Assad. As all of her undertakings were in full respect to her teacher "Keftaro", the security agencies were quite comfortable with her activities. Munira Al-Qobaisi also maintained distance from all Syrian Islamic groups and refused to engage in any confrontation with any of them, this helped her extend the reach of her activities of Munira Al-Qobaisi.


A report in Al-Hayat newspaper said Al-Qobaisi was also strongly and closely tied to the late Sheikh, "Mohammad said Ramadan Al-Bouti", and he was so encouraging to the group that he called them: "The sisters who set the example in civilization, religion, patriotism and ideals". Al-Qobaisi also maintained a relationship with Sheikh Abdul Karim Al-Rifai's group, and the "Islamic Fateh Institute" group of Al-Azhar University and its chief Sheikh Abdul Fattah Al-Bazam, one of the biggest supporters of the Syrian regime in the Syrian uprising.


Read more:


Studies on the Islamic Movement in the Syrian War


Structure, organization and hierarchy


Any political organization or social institution has a hierarchy and ranks among its members. This feminist Organization has its own hierarchical arrangements that are divided into:

  1. The board of directors:

It is the first class, the central core, and the ultimate decision-makers that run the community and its seminars. They develop plans and programs, oversee general implementation and get frequent reports on the group’s operational activities - work reports and member's assessment reports. All teachers also report to the board, and female students can only reach that stage in the group after spending a long time with the group, special recommendations, demonstrating firm commitment and absolute loyalty to the group.


  1. The mistresses (the teachers):

They are the operational arm of plans and programs and are responsible for recruiting girls, reaching target audiences. The mistresses have their own ranking system symbolized by the colors of their Hijab which changes from sky blue to dark blue as they progress through the ranks.


  1. The students:

They are the base, and target audience of the group’s messaging and programming. They are divided into different circles, with each circle following a “Miss”, in what appears to be organizational cells, that meet periodically. They are provided with a curriculum designed by the Board of Directors, called "Hajjat". The students move upward from one Miss to another (to a new circle), after certain conditions are met and certain methods are passed.


Religious vision of the organization: How did the group achieve its place within all other organizations?


Al-Qbeissiya group is focused on spiritual recommendation and self-reform, by focusing on purely theistic matters. This model is reflected in their own behavioral norms, like parenting the kids to memorize the Quran, and mandating its associates to memorize thousands of Dhikr, in the morning and in the evening. Female students are discouraged from listening to music and attending non-religious weddings and other gatherings with the youth at the university and elsewhere through intimidation and fear. Any behavioral violations are treated as big mistakes - the more the student is subordinate, the closer she is considered to be to God. Being close to the miss is synonymous with being close to God, and the mistresses hold a significant influence over their students going as far as choosing their husbands for them.


The group is eager to expand its general base of female students and makes great efforts to do so. Therefore, the activity of mistresses is modeled to attract more and more followers, and to encourage female students to recruit their friends from outside the organization. Students that bring in new members are rewarded generously.


The Hijab is considered a main pillar that the group seeks to spread among all ages' groups. It holds special gatherings for girls to wear the Hijab, and encourages other women to also embrace the Hijab, indoctrinating and mentally distorting girls’ view and encouraging them to ostracize those that do not wear Hijab and consider even the otherwise religious girls as having weak faith. 


A paradise of the taken will .. The hell of dependency


Al-Qbeissiya has a Sufi background and is based on the imposition of absolute spiritual authority of the mistresses on female students, similar to that of men who follow sheikhs. This absolute authority is legitimized by the mistresses claiming to possess religious, authoritarian and priestly superiority, it enables them to intervene in the most specific details of female students' lives, especially the close ones who have declared loyalty and obedience. Female students are therefore required to inform and consult with the mistresses in all their personal matters including how to maintain their personal appearance, the selection of university specialization to study, and other deeply personal, domestic issues and marriage of the unmarried women. The students are psychologically manipulated and brainwashed into thinking that if they take any decisions without consulting the mistresses, they would dismay of the Creator. This also led many girls to leave the group after a few months from registering.


The mistresses are considered to possess absolute religious authority – the higher a mistress’s rank, the higher her religious status, prestige and sanctity in students' mind. Mistresses of all ranks speak with an echo of the God voice, their satisfaction and indignation are God’s satisfaction and indignation: "The Mistress satisfied with God's satisfaction, and he angered her from his anger.” A mistress’s wrath is God’s wrath. This philosophy negatively affects the students’ psychology and they are afraid to incur any disfavor with the mistresses, in case they so, they weep and beg forgiveness, living in a state of hell. It often pushes them into depression – they are ready to do anything to satisfy their mistresses, and are blamed and mocked by others in case they fail to do so for reasons unknown.


As the mistresses make themselves divine mediators, the girls make confessions of their deepest and darkest sins to the mistresses, similar to the practice of confession in Catholicism. This exalted status of the mistresses often terrifies the students – they tremble in the presence of the senior mistresses.


In a statement to “Suwar” magazine by Jasmine D, a former member of the group said, "the students loved their mistresses to the point of madness, and one mistress could break the heart of any girl like a man could break his lover’s heart, to the point, a mention of one mistress is accompanied by crying and weeping, her passing by is accompanied by fear, love, tension and waiting for words of acknowledgement, the girls would have troubles sleeping if the mistress isn’t pleased. This twists their entire personality and female students are unable to have normal relationship with young men. Every female has an emotional glow that needs to shine and that the relationship between the student and her mistress would control this passion, and it's better than some guy comes and defiled her honor if she gets close to him.”


This bizarre emotional control (by the mistresses) of all students creates an unhealthy climate of competition among female students as they fight amongst each other for the love of their mistress. It also emotionally detaches the girls from everything else surrounding them including other relationships and institutions – their mistresses become the centers of their universe, which their entire life orbits around. This threatens to indoctrinate entire generations with sociopathy and fear of religious authorities endorsed by political authority. The group is politically sponsored for the sake of obtaining corresponding support from its members, which we shall talk about later.







Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry
Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry

Follow Us on Facebook
© 2019 Suwar Magazine. All Rights Reserved. Powered by Boulevard