Druze star and Druze flag
|Hamza and Al Hakim|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Template:Country data Israel||140,000|
|Template:Country data Jordan||32,000|
|Outside the Middle East||>310,000|
|23x15px United States||43,000|
|23x15px Canada||23,000|
|Rasa'il al-hikmah (Epistles of Wisdom)|
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|The Druze Star|
The Druze (//; Arabic: درزي derzī or durzī, plural دروز durūz; Hebrew: דרוזי drūzī plural דרוזים, druzim), are an ethnoreligious esoteric group originating from the Near East who self identify as unitarians (Al-Muwaḥḥidūn/Muwahhideen).
According to the narrative of the Druze, Jethro is considered an ancestor of all Druze and revered as the spiritual founder as well as chief prophet, who lived in Midian. The Druze faith is a monotheistic and Abrahamic religion based on the teachings of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Akhenaten, Hamza, and Al Hakim. The Epistles of Wisdom is the foundational text of the Druze faith alongside supplemental texts such as the Epistles of India. The Druze faith incorporates elements of Gnosticism, Neoplatonism, Pythagoreanism, Ismailism, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and other philosophies and beliefs, creating a distinct and secretive theology known to esoterically interpret religious scriptures and to highlight the role of the mind and truthfulness. The Druze follow theopany, which is the belief that God manifests himself in a human form and in reincarnation or the transmigration of the soul. At the end of the cycle of rebirth, which is achieved through successive reincarnations, the soul is united with the Cosmic Mind (Al Aaqal Al Kulli).
Although dwarfed by other larger communities, the Druze community played an important role in shaping the history of the Levant, and continues to play a large political role there. However, as an ethnic and religious minority in every country in which they live, they have frequently experienced persecution. Druze are not considered to be Muslims and often labeled as infidels (Murtadun). Ali az-Zahir of the Fatimid Caliphate campaigned to exterminate the faith which resulted in one of the largest genocides in history with Druze communities in Antioch, Aleppo, and throughout northern Syria being ethnically cleansed. Further attempts were made by the Mamluks and Ottomans. Most recently, Druze were targeted by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in order to cleanse Syria and neighboring countries of non-Islamic influence.
The Druze faith is one of the major religious groups in the Levant, with about 1.5 million adherents and are found primarily in Syria, Lebanon and Israel, with small communities in Jordan and outside the Middle East. The oldest and most densely populated Druze communities exist in Mount Lebanon and in the south of Syria around Jabal al-Druze; literally the "Mountain of the Druzes". The Druze's social customs differ markedly from those of Muslims or Christians, and they are known to form a close-knit, cohesive community but also integrate fully in their adopted homelands.
The Druze people reside primarily in Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Jordan. The Institute of Druze Studies estimates that forty to fifty percent of Druze live in Syria, thirty to forty percent in Lebanon, six to seven percent in Israel, and one or two percent in Jordan. About two percent of the Druze population are also scattered within other countries in the Middle East.
Large communities of Druze also live outside the Middle East, in Australia, Canada, Europe, Latin America, the United States, and West Africa. They use the Arabic language and follow a social pattern very similar to those of the other peoples of the Levant (eastern Mediterranean).
The number of Druze people worldwide exceeds one million, with the vast majority residing in the Levant.
Origin of the name
The name Druze is derived from the name of Muhammad bin Ismail Nashtakin ad-Darazī (from Persian darzi, "seamster") who was an early preacher. Although the Druze consider ad-Darazī a heretic, the name has been used to identify them.
Before becoming public, the movement was secretive and held closed meetings in what was known as Sessions of Wisdom. During this stage a dispute occurred between ad-Darazi and Hamza bin Ali mainly concerning ad-Darazi's ghuluww ("exaggeration"), which refers to the belief that God was incarnated in human beings (especially 'Ali and his descendants, including Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, who was the caliph at the time) and to ad-Darazi naming himself "The Sword of the Faith", which led Hamza to write an epistle refuting the need for the sword to spread the faith and several epistles refuting the beliefs of the ghulat.
In 1016 ad-Darazi and his followers openly proclaimed their beliefs and called people to join them, causing riots in Cairo against the Unitarian movement including Hamza bin Ali and his followers. This led to the suspension of the movement for one year and the expulsion of ad-Darazi and his supporters.
Although the Druze religious books describe ad-Darazi as the "insolent one" and as the "calf" who is narrow-minded and hasty, the name "Druze" is still used for identification and for historical reasons. In 1018 ad-Darazi was assassinated for his teachings; some sources claim that he was executed by Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah.
Some authorities see in the name "Druze" a descriptive epithet, derived from Arabic dāresah ("those who study"). Others have speculated that the word comes from the Persian word Darazo (درز "bliss") or from Shaykh Hussayn ad-Darazī, who was one of the early converts to the faith. In the early stages of the movement, the word "Druze" is rarely mentioned by historians, and in Druze religious texts only the word Muwaḥḥidūn ("Unitarian") appears. The only early Arab historian who mentions the Druze is the eleventh century Christian scholar Yahya of Antioch, who clearly refers to the heretical group created by ad-Darazī rather than the followers of Hamza ibn 'Alī. As for Western sources, Benjamin of Tudela, the Jewish traveler who passed through Lebanon in or around 1165, was one of the first European writers to refer to the Druzes by name. The word Dogziyin ("Druzes") occurs in an early Hebrew edition of his travels, but it is clear that this is a scribal error. Be that as it may, he described the Druze as "mountain dwellers, monotheists, who believe in 'soul eternity' and reincarnation." He also stated that "they loved the Jews."
The Druze faith began as a movement in Ismailism that was heavily influenced by Greek philosophy and Gnosticism and opposed certain religious and philosophical ideologies that were present during that epoch.
The faith was preached by Hamza ibn 'Alī ibn Ahmad, an Ismaili mystic and scholar. He came to Egypt in 1014 and assembled a group of scholars and leaders from across the world to establish the Unitarian movement. The order's meetings were held in the Raydan Mosque, near the Al-Hakim Mosque.
In 1017, Hamza officially revealed the Druze faith and began to preach the Unitarian doctrine. Hamza gained the support of the Fātimid caliph al-Hakim, who issued a decree promoting religious freedom prior to the declaration of the divine call.
Remove ye the causes of fear and estrangement from yourselves. Do away with the corruption of delusion and conformity. Be ye certain that the Prince of Believers hath given unto you free will, and hath spared you the trouble of disguising and concealing your true beliefs, so that when ye work ye may keep your deeds pure for God. He hath done thus so that when you relinquish your previous beliefs and doctrines ye shall not indeed lean on such causes of impediments and pretensions. By conveying to you the reality of his intention, the Prince of Believers hath spared you any excuse for doing so. He hath urged you to declare your belief openly. Ye are now safe from any hand which may bring harm unto you. Ye now may find rest in his assurance ye shall not be wronged. Let those who are present convey this message unto the absent so that it may be known by both the distinguished and the common people. It shall thus become a rule to mankind; and Divine Wisdom shall prevail for all the days to come.
Al-Hakim became a central figure in the Druze faith even though his own religious position was disputed among scholars. John Esposito states that al-Hakim believed that "he was not only the divinely appointed religio-political leader but also the cosmic intellect linking God with creation", while others like Nissim Dana and Mordechai Nisan state that he is perceived as the manifestation and the reincarnation of God or presumably the image of God.[page needed]
Some Druze and non-Druze scholars like Samy Swayd and Sami Makarem state that this confusion is due to confusion about the role of the early preacher ad-Darazi, whose teachings the Druze rejected as heretical. These sources assert that al-Hakim rejected ad-Darazi's claims of divinity,[page needed] and ordered the elimination of his movement while supporting that of Hamza ibn Ali.
Al-Hakim disappeared one night while out on his evening ride – presumably assassinated, perhaps at the behest of his formidable elder sister Sitt al-Mulk. The Druze believe he went into Occultation with Hamza ibn Ali and three other prominent preachers, leaving the care of the "Unitarian missionary movement" to a new leader, Al-Muqtana Baha'uddin (also spelled Baha' ad-Din).
Closing of the faith
Al-Hakim was replaced by his underage son, 'Alī az-Zahir. The Unitarian Druze movement, which existed in the Fatimid Caliphate, acknowledged az-Zahir as the caliph, but followed Hamzah as its Imam. The young caliph's regent, Sitt al-Mulk, ordered the army to destroy the movement in 1021. At the same time, Bahā'a ad-Dīn as-Samuki was assigned the leadership of the Unitarian Movement by Hamza Bin Ali.
For the next seven years, the Druze faced extreme persecution by the new caliph, al-Zahir, who wanted to eradicate the faith. This was the result of a power struggle inside of the Fatimid empire in which the Druze were viewed with suspicion because of their refusal to recognize the new caliph, Ali az-Zahir, as their Imam. Many spies, mainly the followers of Ad-Darazi, joined the Unitarian movement in order to infiltrate the Druze community. The spies set about agitating trouble and soiling the reputation of the Druze. This resulted in friction with the new caliph who clashed militarily with the Druze community. The clashes ranged from Antioch to Alexandria, where tens of thousands of Druze were slaughtered by the Fatimid army. The largest massacre was at Antioch, where 5,000 Druze religious leaders were killed, followed by that of Aleppo. As a result, the faith went underground in hope of survival, as those captured were either forced to renounce their faith or be killed. Druze survivors "were found principally in southern Lebanon and Syria." In 1038, two years after the death of al-Zahir, the Druze movement was able to resume because the new leadership that replaced him had friendly political ties with at least one prominent Druze leader.
During the Crusades
It was during the period of Crusader rule in Syria (1099–1291) that the Druze first emerged into the full light of history in the Gharb region of the Chouf Mountains. As powerful warriors serving the Muslim rulers of Damascus against the Crusades, the Druze were given the task of keeping watch over the crusaders in the seaport of Beirut, with the aim of preventing them from making any encroachments inland. Subsequently, the Druze chiefs of the Gharb placed their considerable military experience at the disposal of the Mamluk rulers of Egypt (1250–1516); first, to assist them in putting an end to what remained of Crusader rule in coastal Syria, and later to help them safeguard the Syrian coast against Crusader retaliation by sea.
In the early period of the Crusader era, the Druze feudal power was in the hands of two families, the Tanukhs and the Arslans. From their fortresses in the Gharb area (now in Aley District) of southern Mount Lebanon Governorate, the Tanukhs led their incursions into the Phoenician coast and finally succeeded in holding Beirut and the marine plain against the Franks. Because of their fierce battles with the Crusaders, the Druzes earned the respect of the Sunni Muslim caliphs and thus gained important political powers. After the middle of the twelfth century, the Ma'an family superseded the Tanukhs in Druze leadership. The origin of the family goes back to a Prince Ma'an who made his appearance in the Lebanon in the days of the 'Abbasid caliph al-Mustarshid (1118–35 AD). The Ma'ans chose for their abode the Chouf District in south-western Lebanon (southern Mount Lebanon Governorate), overlooking the maritime plain between Beirut and Sidon, and made their headquarters in Baaqlin, which is still a leading Druze village. They were invested with feudal authority by Sultan Nur ad-Din and furnished respectable contingents to the Muslim ranks in their struggle against the Crusaders.[page needed]
Persecution during the Mamluk and Ottoman period
Having cleared Syria of the Franks, the Mamluk sultans of Egypt turned their attention to the schismatic Muslims of Syria. In 1305, after the issuing of a fatwa by the scholar Ibn Taymiyyah calling for jihad against all non-Sunni Muslims like the Druze, Alawites, Ismaili, and Twelver Shia Muslims, al-Malik al-Nasir inflicted a disastrous defeat on the Druze at Keserwan and forced outward compliance on their part to orthodox Sunni Islam. Later, under the Ottoman, they were severely attacked at Saoufar in 1585 after the Ottomans claimed that they assaulted their caravans near Tripoli.[page needed] As a result of the Ottoman experience with the rebellious Druze, the word Durzi in Turkish came, and continues, to mean someone who is the ultimate thug.
Consequently, the 16th and 17th centuries were to witness a succession of armed Druze rebellions against the Ottomans, countered by repeated Ottoman punitive expeditions against the Chouf, in which the Druze population of the area was severely depleted and many villages destroyed. These military measures, severe as they were, did not succeed in reducing the local Druze to the required degree of subordination. This led the Ottoman government to agree to an arrangement whereby the different nahiyes (districts) of the Chouf would be granted in iltizam ("fiscal concession") to one of the region's amirs, or leading chiefs, leaving the maintenance of law and order and the collection of its taxes in the area in the hands of the appointed amir. This arrangement was to provide the cornerstone for the privileged status which ultimately came to be enjoyed by the whole of Mount Lebanon, Druze and Christian areas alike.
Main article: Maan family
With the advent of the Ottoman Turks and the conquest of Syria by Sultan Selim I in 1516, the Ma'ans were acknowledged by the new rulers as the feudal lords of southern Lebanon. Druze villages spread and prospered in that region, which under Ma'an leadership so flourished that it acquired the generic term of Jabal Bayt-Ma'an (the mountain of the Ma'an family) or Jabal al-Druze. The latter title has since been usurped by the Hawran region, which since the middle of the 19th century has proven a haven of refuge to Druze emigrants from Lebanon and has become the headquarters of Druze power.[page needed]
Under Fakhr-al-Dīn II (Fakhreddin II), the Druze dominion increased until it included almost all Syria, extending from the edge of the Antioch plain in the north to Safad in the south, with a part of the Syrian desert dominated by Fakhr-al-Din's castle at Tadmur (Palmyra), the ancient capital of Zenobia. The ruins of this castle still stand on a steep hill overlooking the town. Fakhr-al-Din became too strong for his Turkish sovereign in Constantinople. He went so far in 1608 as to sign a commercial treaty with Duke Ferdinand I of Tuscany containing secret military clauses. The Sultan then sent a force against him, and he was compelled to flee the land and seek refuge in the courts of Tuscany and Naples in 1613 and 1615 respectively.
In 1618 political changes in the Ottoman sultanate had resulted in the removal of many enemies of Fakhr-al-Din from power, signaling the prince's triumphant return to Lebanon soon afterwards. Through a clever policy of bribery and warfare, he extended his domains to cover all of modern Lebanon, some of Syria and northern Galilee.
In 1632 Küçük Ahmet Pasha was named Lord of Damascus. Küçük Ahmet Pasha was a rival of Fakhr-al-Din and a friend of the sultan Murad IV, who ordered the pasha and the sultanate's navy to attack Lebanon and depose Fakhr-al-Din.
This time the prince decided to remain in Lebanon and resist the offensive, but the death of his son Ali in Wadi al-Taym was the beginning of his defeat. He later took refuge in Jezzine's grotto, closely followed by Küçük Ahmet Pasha who eventually caught up with him and his family.
Fakhr-al-Din was captured, taken to Istanbul, and imprisoned with two of his sons in the infamous Yedi Kule prison. The Sultan had Fakhr-al-Din and his sons killed on 13 April 1635 in Istanbul, bringing an end to an era in the history of Lebanon, which would not regain its current boundaries until it was proclaimed a mandate state and republic in 1920. One version recounts that the younger son was spared, raised in the harem and went on to become Ottoman Ambassador to India.
Fakhr-al-Din II was the first ruler in modern Lebanon to open the doors of his country to foreign Western influences. Under his auspices the French established a khān (hostel) in Sidon, the Florentines a consulate, and Christian missionaries were admitted into the country. Beirut and Sidon, which Fakhr-al-Din II beautified, still bear traces of his benign rule. See the new biography of this Prince, based on original sources, by TJ Gorton: Renaissance Emir: a Druze Warlord at the Court of the Medici (London, Quartet Books, 2013), for an updated view of his life.
Fakhr ad Din II was succeeded in 1635 by his nephew Ahmed Ma'an, who ruled through his death in 1658. (Fakhr ad Din's only surviving son, Husayn, lived the rest of his life as a court official in Constantinople.) Emir Mulhim exercised Iltizam taxation rights in the Shuf, Gharb, Jurd, Matn, and Kisrawan districts of Lebanon. Mulhim's forces battled and defeated those of Mustafa Pasha, Beylerbey of Damascus, in 1642, but he is reported by historians to have been otherwise loyal to Ottoman rule.
Following Mulhim's death, his sons Ahmad and Korkmaz entered into a power struggle with other Ottoman-backed Druze leaders. In 1660, the Ottoman Empire moved to reorganize the region, placing the sanjaks (districts) of Sidon-Beirut and Safed in a newly formed province of Sidon, a move seen by local Druze as an attempt to assert control. Contemporary historian Istifan al-Duwayhi reports that Korkmaz was killed in act of treachery by the Beylerbey of Damascus in 1662. Ahmad however emerged victorious in the power struggle among the Druze in 1667, but the Maʿnīs lost control of Safad and retreated to controlling the iltizam of the Shuf mountains and Kisrawan. Ahmad continued as local ruler through his death from natural causes, without heir, in 1697.
During the Ottoman-Habsburg war of 1683 to 1699, Ahmad Ma'n collaborated in a rebellion against the Ottomans which extended beyond his death. Iltizam rights in Shuf and Kisrawan passed to the rising Shihab family through female-line inheritance.
Main article: Shihab family
As early as the days of Saladin, and while the Ma'ans were still in complete control over southern Lebanon, the Shihab tribe, originally Hijaz Arabs but later settled in Ḥawran, advanced from Ḥawran, in 1172, and settled in Wadi al-Taym at the foot of mount Hermon. They soon made an alliance with the Ma'ans and were acknowledged as the Druze chiefs in Wadi al-Taym. At the end of the 17th century (1697) the Shihabs succeeded the Ma'ans in the feudal leadership of Druze southern Lebanon, although they reportedly professed Sunni Islam, they showed sympathy with Druzism, the religion of the majority of their subjects.
The Shihab leadership continued until the middle of the 19th century and culminated in the illustrious governorship of Amir Bashir Shihab II (1788–1840) who, after Fakhr-al-Din, was the most powerful feudal lord Lebanon produced. Though governor of the Druze Mountain, Bashir was a crypto-Christian, and it was he whose aid Napoleon solicited in 1799 during his campaign against Syria.
Having consolidated his conquests in Syria (1831–1838), Ibrahim Pasha, son of the viceroy of Egypt, Muhammad Ali Pasha, made the fatal mistake of trying to disarm the Christians and Druzes of the Lebanon and to draft the latter into his army. This was contrary to the principles of the life of independence which these mountaineers had always lived, and resulted in a general uprising against Egyptian rule. The uprising was encouraged, for political reasons, by the British. The Druzes of Wadi al-Taym and Ḥawran, under the leadership of Shibli al-Aryan, distinguished themselves in their stubborn resistance at their inaccessible headquarters, al-Laja, lying southeast of Damascus.[page needed]
Qaysites and the Yemenites
Main article: Battle of Ain Darra
The conquest of Syria by the Muslim Arabs in the middle of the seventh century introduced into the land two political factions later called the Qaysites and the Yemenites. The Qaysite party represented the Bedouin Arabs who were regarded as inferior by the Yemenites who were earlier and more cultured emigrants into Syria from southern Arabia. Druzes and Christians grouped in political rather than religious parties so the party lines in Lebanon obliterated racial and religious lines and the people grouped themselves regardless of their religious affiliations, into one or the other of these two parties. The sanguinary feuds between these two factions depleted, in course of time, the manhood of the Lebanon and ended in the decisive battle of Ain Dara in 1711, which resulted in the utter defeat of the Yemenite party. Many Yemenite Druzes thereupon immigrated to the Hawran region and thus laid the foundation of Druze power there.[page needed]
Civil War of 1860
Main article: 1860 Lebanon conflict
The Druzes and their Christian Maronite neighbors, who had thus far lived as religious communities on friendly terms, entered a period of social disturbance in the year 1840, which culminated in the civil war of 1860.[page needed]
After the Shehab dynasty converted to Christianity, the Druze community and feudal leaders came under attack from the regime with the collaboration of the Catholic Church, and the Druze lost most of their political and feudal powers. Also, the Druze formed an alliance with Britain and allowed Protestant missionaries to enter Mount Lebanon, creating tension between them and the Catholic Maronites, who were supported by the Croats.
The Maronite-Druze conflict in 1840–60 was an outgrowth of the Maronite Christian independence movement, directed against the Druze, Druze feudalism, and the Ottoman-Turks. The civil war was not therefore a religious war, except in Damascus, where it spread and where the vastly non-Druze population was anti-Christian. The movement culminated with the 1859–60 massacre and defeat of the Christians by the Druzes. The civil war of 1860 cost the Christians some ten thousand lives in Damascus, Zahlé, Deir al-Qamar, Hasbaya, and other towns of Lebanon.
The European powers then determined to intervene, and authorized the landing in Beirut of a body of French troops under General Beaufort d'Hautpoul, whose inscription can still be seen on the historic rock at the mouth of Nahr al-Kalb. French intervention on behalf of the Maronites did not help the Maronite national movement, since France was restricted in 1860 by Britain, which did not want the Ottoman Empire dismembered. But European intervention pressured the Turks to treat the Maronites more justly. Following the recommendations of the powers, the Ottoman Porte granted Lebanon local autonomy, guaranteed by the powers, under a Christian governor. This autonomy was maintained until World War I.[page needed][page needed]
Rebellion in Hauran
Main article: Hauran Druze Rebellion
The Hauran rebellion was a violent Druze uprising against Ottoman authority in the Syrian province, which erupted in May 1909. The rebellion was led by al-Atrash family, originated in local disputes and Druze unwillingness to pay taxes and conscript into the Ottoman Army. The rebellion ended in brutal suppression of the Druze by General Sami Pasha al-Farouqi, significant depopulation of the Hauran region and execution of the Druze leaders in 1910. In the outcome of the revolt, 2,000 Druze were killed, a similar number wounded and hundreds of Druze fighters imprisoned. Al-Farouqi also disarmed the population, extracted significant taxes and launched a census of the region.
In Lebanon, Syria, and Israel, the Druze have official recognition as a separate religious community with its own religious court system. Druze are known for their loyalty to the countries they reside in,[dubious ][dead link][unreliable source?] though they have a strong community feeling, in which they identify themselves as related even across borders of countries.
Despite their practice of blending with dominant groups to avoid persecution, and because the Druze religion does not endorse separatist sentiments but urges blending with the communities they reside in, the Druze have had a history of resistance to occupying powers, and they have at times enjoyed more freedom than most other groups living in the Levant.
In Syria, most Druze live in the Jebel al-Druze, a rugged and mountainous region in the southwest of the country, which is more than 90 percent Druze inhabited; some 120 villages are exclusively so.[page needed] Other notable communities live in the Harim Mountains, the Damascus suburb of Jaramana, and on the southeast slopes of Mount Hermon. A large Syrian Druze community historically lived in the Golan Heights, but following wars with Israel in 1967 and 1973, many of these Druze fled to other parts of Syria; most of those who remained live in a handful of villages in the disputed zone, while only a few live in the narrow remnant of Quneitra Governorate that is still under effective Syrian control.
The Druze always played a far more important role in Syrian politics than its comparatively small population would suggest. With a community of little more than 100,000 in 1949, or roughly three percent of the Syrian population, the Druze of Syria's southwestern mountains constituted a potent force in Syrian politics and played a leading role in the nationalist struggle against the French. Under the military leadership of Sultan Pasha al-Atrash, the Druze provided much of the military force behind the Syrian Revolution of 1925–27. In 1945, Amir Hasan al-Atrash, the paramount political leader of the Jebel al-Druze, led the Druze military units in a successful revolt against the French, making the Jebel al-Druze the first and only region in Syria to liberate itself from French rule without British assistance. At independence the Druze, made confident by their successes, expected that Damascus would reward them for their many sacrifices on the battlefield. They demanded to keep their autonomous administration and many political privileges accorded them by the French and sought generous economic assistance from the newly independent government.[page needed]
Well-led by the Atrash household and jealous of their reputation as Arab nationalists and proud warriors, the Druze leaders refused to be beaten into submission by Damascus or cowed by threats. When a local paper in 1945 reported that President Shukri al-Quwatli (1943–49) had called the Druzes a "dangerous minority", Sultan Pasha al-Atrash flew into a rage and demanded a public retraction. If it were not forthcoming, he announced, the Druzes would indeed become "dangerous" and a force of 4,000 Druze warriors would "occupy the city of Damascus." Quwwatli could not dismiss Sultan Pasha's threat. The military balance of power in Syria was tilted in favor of the Druzes, at least until the military build up during the 1948 War in Palestine. One advisor to the Syrian Defense Department warned in 1946 that the Syrian army was "useless", and that the Druzes could "take Damascus and capture the present leaders in a breeze."[page needed]
During the four years of Adib Shishakli's rule in Syria (December 1949 to February 1954) (on 25 August 1952: Adib al-Shishakli created the Arab Liberation Movement (ALM), a progressive party with pan-Arabist and socialist views), the Druze community was subjected to a heavy attack by the Syrian government. Shishakli believed that among his many opponents in Syria, the Druzes were the most potentially dangerous, and he was determined to crush them. He frequently proclaimed: "My enemies are like a serpent: the head is the Jebel al-Druze, the stomach Homs, and the tail Aleppo. If I crush the head the serpent will die." Shishakli dispatched 10,000 regular troops to occupy the Jebel al-Druze. Several towns were bombarded with heavy weapons, killing scores of civilians and destroying many houses. According to Druze accounts, Shishakli encouraged neighboring bedouin tribes to plunder the defenseless population and allowed his own troops to run amok.[page needed]
Shishakli launched a brutal campaign to defame the Druzes for their religion and politics. He accused the entire community of treason, at times claiming they were agents of the British and Hashimites, at others that they were fighting for Israel against the Arabs. He even produced a cache of Israeli weapons allegedly discovered in the Jabal. Even more painful for the Druze community was his publication of "falsified Druze religious texts" and false testimonials ascribed to leading Druze sheikhs designed to stir up sectarian hatred. This propaganda also was broadcast in the Arab world, mainly Egypt. Shishakli was assassinated in Brazil on 27 September 1964 by a Druze seeking revenge for Shishakli's bombardment of the Jebel al-Druze.[page needed]
He forcibly integrated minorities into the national Syrian social structure, his "Syrianization" of Alawite and Druze territories had to be accomplished in part using violence, he declared: "My enemies are like serpent. The head is the Jabal Druze, if I crush the head the serpent will die" (Seale 1963:132). To this end, al-Shishakli encouraged the stigmatization of minorities. He saw minority demands as tantamount to treason. His increasingly chauvinistic notions of Arab nationalism were predicated on the denial that "minorities" existed in Syria.[page needed]
After the Shishakli's military campaign, the Druze community lost a lot of its political influence, but many Druze military officers played an important role when it comes to the Ba'ath government currently ruling Syria.[page needed]
In 1967, a community of Druze in the Golan Heights came under Israeli control, today about 20,000 strong.
Main article: Druze in Lebanon
The Druze community in Lebanon played an important role in the formation of the modern state of Lebanon, and even though they are a minority they play an important role in the Lebanese political scene. Before and during the Lebanese Civil War (1975–90), the Druze were in favor of Pan-Arabism and Palestinian resistance represented by the PLO. Most of the community supported the Progressive Socialist Party formed by their leader Kamal Jumblatt and they fought alongside other leftist and Palestinian parties against the Lebanese Front that was mainly constituted of Christians. After the assassination of Kamal Jumblatt on 16 March 1977, his son Walid Jumblatt took the leadership of the party and played an important role in preserving his father's legacy after winning the Mountain War and sustained the existence of the Druze community during the sectarian bloodshed that lasted until 1990.
In August 2001, Maronite Catholic Patriarch Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir toured the predominantly Druze Chouf region of Mount Lebanon and visited Mukhtara, the ancestral stronghold of Druze leader Walid Jumblatt. The tumultuous reception that Sfeir received not only signified a historic reconciliation between Maronites and Druze, who fought a bloody war in 1983–84, but underscored the fact that the banner of Lebanese sovereignty had broad multi-confessional appeal and was a cornerstone for the Cedar Revolution in 2005. Jumblatt's post-2005 position diverged sharply from the tradition of his family. He also accused Damascus of being behind the 1977 assassination of his father, Kamal Jumblatt, expressing for the first time what many knew he privately suspected. The BBC describes Jumblatt as "the smartest leader of Lebanon's most powerful Druze clan and heir to a leftist political dynasty". The second largest political party supported by Druze is the Lebanese Democratic Party led by Prince Talal Arslan, the son of Lebanese independence hero Emir Majid Arslan.
Main article: Israeli Druze
The Druze form a religious minority in Israel of more than 100,000, mostly residing in the north of the country. In 2004, there were 102,000 Druze living in the country. In 2010, the population of Israeli Druze citizens grew to over 125,000. At the end of 2014 there were 140,000.
In 1957, the Israeli government designated the Druze a distinct ethnic community at the request of its communal leaders. The Druze are Arabic-speaking citizens of Israel and serve in the Israel Defense Forces just as most citizens do in Israel. Members of the community have attained top positions in Israeli politics and public service. The number of Druze parliament members usually exceeds their proportion in the Israeli population, and they are integrated within several political parties.
The Druze conception of the deity is declared by them to be one of strict and uncompromising unity. The main Druze doctrine states that God is both transcendent and immanent, in which he is above all attributes but at the same time he is present.
In their desire to maintain a rigid confession of unity, they stripped from God all attributes (tanzīh). In God, there are no attributes distinct from his essence. He is wise, mighty, and just, not by wisdom, might and justice, but by his own essence. God is "the whole of existence", rather than "above existence" or on his throne, which would make him "limited". There is neither "how", "when", nor "where" about him; he is incomprehensible.[page needed]
In this dogma, they are similar to the semi-philosophical, semi-religious body which flourished under Al-Ma'mun and was known by the name of Mu'tazila and the fraternal order of the Brethren of Purity (Ikhwan al-Ṣafa).[page needed]
Unlike the Mu'tazila, however, and similar to some branches of Sufism, the Druze believe in the concept of Tajalli (meaning "theophany").[page needed] Tajalli is often misunderstood by scholars and writers and is usually confused with the concept of incarnation.
[Incarnation] is the core spiritual beliefs in the Druze and some other intellectual and spiritual traditions...In a mystical sense, it refers to the light of God experienced by certain mystics who have reached a high level of purity in their spiritual journey. Thus, God is perceived as the Lahut [the divine] who manifests His Light in the Station (Maqaam) of the Nasut [material realm] without the Nasut becoming Lahut. This is like one's image in the mirror: one is in the mirror but does not become the mirror. The Druze manuscripts are emphatic and warn against the belief that the Nasut is God...Neglecting this warning, individual seekers, scholars, and other spectators have considered al-Hakim and other figures divine.
Druze Sacred texts include the Kitab Al Hikma (Epistles of Wisdom). Other ancient Druze writings include the Rasa'il al-Hind (Epistles of India) and the previously lost (or hidden) manuscripts such as al-Munfarid bi-Dhatihi and al-Sharia al-Ruhaniyya as well as others including didactic and polemic treatises.
See also: Reincarnation § Druze
Reincarnation is a paramount principles in the Druze faith. Reincarnations occur instantly at one's death because there is an eternal duality of the body and the soul and it is impossible for the soul to exist without the body. A human soul will only transfer to a human body in contrast to the Hindu and Buddhist belief system where souls can transfer to any living creature. Furthermore, a male Druze can only be reincarnated as another male Druze and a female Druze can only be reincarnated as another female Druze. A Druze cannot be reincarnated in the body of a non-Druze. Additionally, souls cannot be divided and the number of souls existing in the universe is finite. The cycle of rebirth is continuous and the only way to escape is through successive reincarnations. When this occurs, the soul is united with the Cosmic Mind and achieves the ultimate happiness.
Pact of Time Custodian
The Pact of Time Custodian (Mithaq Walley El-Zaman) is considered the entrance to the Druze religion, and they believe that all Druze in their past lives have signed this Charter, and Druze believe that this Charter embodies with human souls after death.
The Druze also use a similar formula, called al-'ahd, when one is initiated into the ʻUqqāl.
The Druze believe that many teachings given by prophets, religious leaders and holy books have esoteric meanings preserved for those of intellect, in which some teachings are symbolic and allegorical in nature, and divide the understanding of holy books and teachings into three layers.
These layers, according to the Druze, are as follows:
Druze do not believe that the esoteric meaning abrogates or necessarily abolishes the exoteric one. Hamza bin Ali refutes such claims by stating that if the esoteric interpretation of taharah (purity) is purity of the heart and soul, it doesn't mean that a person can discard his physical purity, as salat (prayer) is useless if a person is untruthful in his speech and that the esoteric and exoteric meanings complement each other.
The Druze follow seven moral precepts or duties that are considered the core of the faith. The Seven Druze precepts are:
Complicating their identity is the custom of taqiyya—concealing or disguising their beliefs when necessary—that they adopted from Ismailism and the esoteric nature of the faith, in which many teachings are kept secretive. Some claim to be Muslim in order to avoid persecution, some do not. Druze in different states can have radically different lifestyles.
The Druze forbid divorce; circumcision is not necessary; those who purify and perfect their soul ascend to the stars upon death; when al-Hakim returns, all faithful Druze will join him in his march from China and on to conquer the world; apostasy is forbidden; religious services usually take place on Thursday evenings; they follow Sunni Hanafi law on issues which their own faith has no particular ruling; other influential figures of the religion include Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Alexander the Great and Akhenaten.
The Druze strictly avoid iconography but use five colors (“Five Limits” خمس حدود khams ḥudūd) as a religious symbol: green, red, yellow, blue, and white. Each color pertains to a metaphysical power called ḥaad, literally ‘a limit’, as in the boundaries that separate humans from animals, [clarification needed] or the powers that makes the animal body human. Each ḥaad is color-coded in the following manner:
The mind generates qualia and gives consciousness. The soul embodies the mind and is responsible for transmigration and the character of oneself. The word which is the atom of language communicates qualia between humans and represent the platonic forms in the sensible world. The Sabq and Tali is the ability to perceive and learn from the past and plan for the future and predict it.
The colors can be arranged in vertically descending stripes (as a flag) or a five-pointed star. The stripes are a diagrammatic cut of the spheres in neoplatonic philosophy, while the five-pointed star embodies the golden ratio, phi, as a symbol of temperance and a life of moderation.
Prayer houses and holy places
Holy places of the Druze are archaeological sites important to the community and associated with religious holidays - the most notable example being Nabi Shu'ayb, dedicated to Jethro, who is a central figure of the Druze religion. Druze make pilgrimages to this site on the holiday of Ziyarat al-Nabi Shu'ayb.
One of the most important features of the Druze village having a central role in social life is the khalwat—a house of prayer, retreat and religious unity. The khalwat may be known as majlis in local languages.
The second type of religious shrine is one associated with the anniversary of a historic event or death of a prophet. If it is a mausoleum the Druze call it mazar and if it is a shrine they call it maqam. The holy places become more important to the community in times of adversity and calamity. The holy places and shrines of the Druze are scattered in various villages, in places where they are protected and cared for. They are found in Syria, Lebanon and Israel.
ʻUqqāl and Juhhāl