The Druze also known as Druse, Arabic singular Darazi, plural Duruz, is a small religious group in the middle East of Asia and is characterized by a diverse system of doctrine as well as by a loyalty and cohesion among its members that have allowed for many centuries to preserve their distinctive faith and close-knit identity. There are over one million Druze currently and mostly live in Israel, Syria, and Lebanon. Druze call themselves as Unitarians (muwaḥḥidūn) (Aboultaif, 2015).
The Druze religion originated in Egypt as a sprig of Ismaʿīlī Shīʿism when during the rule of eccentric al-Ḥākim bi-Amr Allāh the sixth Fāṭimid caliph (996-1021), a group of Ismaʿīlī theologians started an organizational movement that proclaimed al-Ḥākim a celestial figure. Even though this idea was mainly promoted by al-Ḥākim himself, the Fāṭimid religious group condemned it as heresy and held that al-Ḥākim, as well as his precursors, were heavenly appointed but not themselves divine (Aboultaif, 2015).
During the year 1017, Druze believers started to publicly preach this their newly found religion, a move that triggered demonstration and riots in the city of Cairo. Besides, there was a power struggle within this new movement as the main champion of Ḥākim’s divinity, Ḥamzah ibn ʿAlī ibn Aḥmad al-Zūzanī began competing for power as well as followers with Muḥammad al-Darāzī. Ḥamzah, a former disciple of Ḥākim who appeared to have been favored by al-Ḥākim. Al-Darāzī was declared renegade in the movement and later disappeared. It was alleged that al-Ḥākim ordered his killing. Regardless of his death, the outsiders carried on attaching al-Darāzī’s name to the movement as al-Durūz and al-Darāziyyah (Aboultaif, 2015).
In 1021, Al-Ḥākim disappeared under mysterious circumstances, and the sect suffered a series of persecution under al-Zāḥir. Ḥamzah flew to an unknown place in fear of being killed, leaving the religion under al-Muqtanā Bahāʾ al-Dīn (al-Samūqī), who communicated continuously with al-Zāḥir for an extended period. The Druze religion vanished gradually in Egypt, however, it survived in isolated regions such as Lebanon, Syria, and Israel where the missionaries had established a strong group of believers. Al-Muqtanā pulled out from public life around 1037; however, he carried on to write articles and pastoral letters that explained the Druze doctrine, a role he played until his demise in 1043. During this juncture, proselytism terminated, and the Druze stopped to allow outsiders to be converted to their faith (Aboultaif, 2015).
Up to date, Druze faith inhibits new conversions either to their or away from their religions. Druze never marry from outside their religion and is something forbidden. Most of the Religious practices of this sect are only exposed to the few elites described as ʿuqqāl (“knowers”) and the general communicated are kept in the dark only have limited knowledge about the doctrines of the faith. These elites are the only people allowed to participate in Druze religious services fully and can access the secret teachings of their faith and scriptures, Al-Ḥikmah al-Sharīfah.
Even though the Druze community is small in size, its presence has been intensely felt in the history of the Middle. During the crusades, Duze militaries helped the Ayyūbid and later Mamlūk troops by resisting the advances of crusaders at the coast of Lebanese. The Druze enjoyed significant independence and autonomy under the Ottoman rule and in most cases revolted against it, protected from the direct rule and control of Ottoman by the mountainous terrain of their villages. Between 16th and 19th centuries, the political life of Druze community was dominated by powerful feudal lords with the most renowned ruler being Fakhr al-Dīn II of the house of Maʿn, who ruled in the 17th century. Fakhr al-Dīn II allied with the Maronite Christians residing in the Lebanon Mountains and challenged the authority of Ottoman by affiliating with Tuscany.
The Druze Living in Lebanon
A sizable number of Druze currently live in Lebanon, and this figure is about 450,000. The Druze community lives along the edges of the Lebanon Mountains to the west and in the southern part of Lebanon. The community has amassed a significant political influence in this country since independence. Kamal Jumblatt, a protuberant Druze leader, enjoyed a global and country support through his Charisma. His resistance to Camille Chamoun such as initiating the rebellion against him in the year 1958 also contributed to his widespread respect and honor among Arab nationalists. Kamal served in a number of cabinet posts throughout his political career. He became the interior ministers due to connection with many communities within Lebanon placed Him in a better position to more effectively handle the country’s internal affairs. Walid Jubmblatt’s son, succeeded him following his assassination in 1977 as a leader of Druze community. Just like his dad, Walid appointed in the Kingmaker position in Lebanon. His resistance to Syrian interference in Lebanon earned him a pro-western. However, in 2011 he backed the pro-Syrian Hezbollah during the political crisis in Lebanon. This proved his commitment to Arab unity over pro-Syrian or pro-Western orientations.
The Druze in Syria
Druze community living in Syria is about 800,000. These people came from Lebanon in the 18th century. The settled in Al-Suwaydāʾ, Jabal al-Durūz (the Druze Mountains). Majority of Druze live in this area up to date. In the year 1925 Sulṭān al-Aṭrash, Druze leader led a rebellion against French rule. Following the local success, other Syrian nationalists joined the Druze community in the rebellion and the revolt spread in the entire region and even extended to Damascus before being repressed in the year 1927. Majority of Syrians remember the uprising as the country’s first nationalist rebellion.
Druze in Israel
There are over 120, 000 Druze people in Israel. They mainly live in the Golan Heights and Galilee and are categorized as a distinct religious sect with their unique courts as well as jurisdiction in relation to marriage, adoption and divorce issues. The Druze religion in Israel has its origin in Islam. Even though a section of its members in this country perceive themselves as Muslims. They have been classified as a separate religious sect. The Druze religion was established during the 10th and 11th centuries in during Fatimid Caliphate rule in Egypt. The religion combines the doctrines of Islam with Hindus and Greeks philosophies (Ḥalabī, 2015). Now Druze inhibit any form of conversion (Ḥalabī, 2015). Tfirmlyngly believed any person who wanted do join their faith had an opportunity to so during the first generation following its formation and every of its member existsxist today are reincarnated from the last generation. Hence, they claim that the current people the had opportunity to join many centuries ago and the religion dohave has been closed for any fresh converts since 1050. Proselytizing is prohibited under Druze doctrine (Ḥalabī, 2015).
The Druze religion is profoundly monothistic, ana d has connection to the three main religions of the world, Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. Their prophets include Mohammed, Jesus, John the Baptist, and Moses (Ḥalabī, 2015). Their most respected religious figure is Moses’ father in law, Jethro. A in fact erected at a site in which the Druze believe was the actual burial site of Jethro located at the Horns of Hittto theto the Kinneret. This site is a gathering place for Druze people who meet over here in April every year to an discuss issue regarding their faith and community (Ḥalabī, 2015).
Despite limited holy shaves that has been made official gatherings for the Druze faithful, generally Druze religion reject the concepts of rituals and ceremonies. The religon has not official or common prayer book or liturgy, no fast days or holy days, as well as pilgrimages. They acknowledge the “The Seven Precepts,” which according to them is an integral component of the Islam pillars (Ḥalabī, 2015). The precepts, which form the basis of the Druze religion, include belief in one Almighty God, honesty in speech, protections of their people, and strongly believe on daily prayers to make them closer to their God. The religibelievesngly believe that various practices and rituals adopted by Islam, Christians, and Judaism these beliefsese believes from the actual, true faith (Melton & Baumann, 2010).
There are two groups of Druze: al-Uqqal (“the knowledgeable”) and al-Juhhal (“the ignorant”). The majority of Druze are al-Juhhal, are illiterate, and are about 80% while only 20% are knowledgeable onesisl-Juhhal are barred from accessing the holy writings of their faith, and are not allowed to attend any religious meeting and gathering and are not supposed to follow the al-Uqqal ascetic rulings (Aboultaif, 2015). On the contrary, the al-Uqqal, which comprises both women and men,, are learned aa nd they are minority. Women and men adopt a strict code of dressing, and the spiritual leaders of Druze onlme from the 5% of the al-Uqqal and who are most influential (Tarabey, 2013). The doctrine ofprohibitsith prohibit polygamy, consumption of pork, tobacco, alcohol, and other illicit drugs. Druze faithphasizes on the equality between women and men, in religious life and marriages (Tarabey, 2013). Women are often encouraged to take part in daily prayers, can actively participate in religious ceremonies, and can initiate a divorce if they are not satisfied or comfortable in their marriage (Aboultaif, 2015).
The first Druze people started present-day present day northern Israel and Lebanon centuries ago. The largest Druze community living in Galilee are known as Daliyat el-Carmel, located in the Carmel Mountains. The Druze people tactically stayed away from the Israeli-Arab conflict during the British mandate. during the 1948, independence war in Israel, the Druze people fought alongside the Israelites. The Druze minority living within Golan Heights remonstrated when the Israelites commandeered the land from Syria after the Six-Day Araa b war. Only few of these groups have accepted full citizenship of Israel. The major, on the contrary,the contrary have fully accepted full citizenships of Israel. Most of Druze have been employed in the Israeli Army, social work sectors, and some hold high positions in the military (Aboultaif, 2015).
The Druze religion is anchored on the unity of life as well as belongs to a mysterious tradition usually misunderstood in an instable area where main stream relbeen triggeredn triggered to wage wars. Druze in their faith lack personal deitfirmlyer, strongly believe that the celestial incarnates itself in people. Druze call themselves Muwahhid, Muwahhidun (plural) reflecting their core belief in a numinous union ((tawhid) with the One (Aboultaif, 2015).
Just like other religious minorities the residing in Middle East such as Mandaean, Yazedi, the Druzhasmmunity have been provoked to take political stances in the historical wars and conflicts involving an intricate cast of countries and groups with assorted motivations. Majority of Druze as seen above live in Syria but because of constant violence experienced in Syria since the year 2011, a notable number of this community have migrated to Australia, Europe, and North America (Armanet, 2017).
The Druze community is thus tasked to assist their members to learn and practice their religion accordingly. In the 21st century social and political climate, a notable number of Sheiks revealinged to reveal thecriticalcets and key features of the religion and its teachings to offer people the opportunity to better understand as well as appreciate Druze religion (Tarabey, 2013). The Druze religion cannot afford fumarginalized especially especially by the constant violent conflicts they find themselves into (Melton & Baumann, 2010). They are determined to maintain their sacred connection and bopeople evenpeople evbeing disseminateddisseminated by uncontrolled events and more so war to different parts of the world. Organizatithe ons such as Druze Heritage Foundation, have played a key role in disclosing and sharing the secret of Druze that has been concealed for centuries (Armanet, 2017).
According to this community, the juhhal are people who have not been initiated to the cabalistic teachings and doctrines of the religions that is the lay individuals who only follow basics religious practices as well as live as they wish without being guided by the Druze doctrine, provided they take part in defending the community as well as marry within the Sheiksty. Sheikhs or uqqul are the initiates women and men who have devoted themselves to a life of self-denial and contemplation (ArmaThe ˤuqqāl
The ˤuqqāl are alsointolassified in two distinct groups: Ajawīd which constitutes about 10% and the termRighteoushe ri. (Aboultaif, They are the leaders and icspirituale spoiritual life. The sanctioned hDruze communitye communiwith the exception ofexception of the Shaykh al-ˤAql, whose plays both a social and political role rather than religious (Armanet, 2017).
According to, Druze fai, as well as the last stage of Islam,age of Islam is most important that’s is al-haqiqa, ‘self-realization,’ being in unity with on God and one Spirit (Armanet, 2017). The initiaal-shari‘a allowsri‘a allows the believers tothemselves asemselves at basicathat leads that leads to second stage, al-tariqa which is the purificationthe masterythe masself tothe self to ta ake part in gift of being divine. (Armanet, 2017). The final stage of tawhid or al-haqiqa (oneness with the One) is attained by passing through the mystic preparedness state instilled in the two previous stages. The Initiated Druze usually identifies oneself with each existing being and subsequently with the One (Armanet, 2017).
Aboultaif, E. (2015). Druze Politics in Israel: Challenging the Myth of “Druze-Zion.”t Covenant”. Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, 35(4), pp.533-555.
Armanet, É. (2017). ‘Allah has spoken to us: we must keep silent.’ In the folds of secrecy, the Holy Book of the Druze. Religion, 48(2), pp.183-197.
Halabi, A. (2015). The Druze: A New Cultural and Historical Appreciation. Reading: Ithaca Press.
Melton, J. G., & Baumann, M. (2010). Religions of the world: A comprehensive encyclopedia of beliefs and practices.
Tarabey, L. (2013). Family law in Lebanon: Marriage and divorce amongLondon;ze. London NY:w York, NY : I.B. Tauris,