Nassarians, or Nosairi
Nassarians, or Nosairi a Mohammedan sect of the Shiite party, formed in the two hundred and seventieth year of the Hegira, received its name from Nasar, in the environs of Kfifa, the birthplace of its founder. These religionists occupy a strip of Mount Lebanon, and are tributary to the Turks. They have about eight hundred villages, and the chief town is Sasita, eight leagues from Tripoli. Here their sheik resides. Their manners are rude, and corrupted by remnants of heathenish customs, which remind us of the Lingam worship. Although polygamy is not allowed, yet on certain festival days they permit the promiscuous intercourse of the sexes. They are divided, after the manner of the Hindus, into numerous castes, which oppress one another.
They profess to be worshippers of Ali, believe in the transmigration of souls, but not in a heaven or hell. They are friendly to Christians, and observe some of their festivals and ceremonies, but without understanding their meaning. A spiritual head, sheik khalil, directs their religious concerns, and travels among them as a prophet. The opinion, formerly current, that this sect were Syrian Sabians, or disciples of St. John, has been completely exploded by Niebuhr, and by the accounts of Rousseau, the French consul at Aleppo. See D'Herbelot, Bibhotheque Orientale, s.v. SEE CHRISTIANS OF ST. JOHN.