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Druze

The Druze are a small religious community, with members in Syria, Lebanon, and Israel. They use the Arabic language and follow a social pattern very similar to the Arabs of the region, but consider themselves neither Arabs nor Muslims. They do not intermarry with Muslims or Jews. Some 300,000 Druze live in the Middle East today. The religion developed out of Ismaili Islam, a religio-political movement based in the Fatimid Caliphate, in the 10th century.

In the State of Israel the Druze have official recognition as a separate religious community with its own religious court system. They serve in the Israeli army and vote in Israeli elections. Hovever, the Druze living in the Golan Heights consider themselves Syrian and refuse to collaborate with the Israeli state.

The Lebanese Druze formed the Progressive Socialist Party and an army during the War of Lebanon[?]. They were based in the Jebel Darazi[?] ("Druze mountains") area. Their leader was Walid Jumblatt[?] and his family.

The Druze religion is a mystery religion, which does not allow its teachings to be revealed to outsiders. They are publicly open about very few details of their faith. One of their beliefs is monotheism, like Judaism and Islam. Their theology has a Neo-platonic view about how God interacts with the world through emanations (in a way similar to that in Kabbalah) and also is similar to some gnostic sects.

They appear to believe that God may be able to become incarnate in a human. They have very few religious ceremonies or prayer books. The three principles of the Druze faith are: guarding one's tongue, protecting one's brother, and belief in one God. Another well-known feature of the Druze religion is a fervent belief in reincarnation for all deserving members of the community.

Druze believe in seven prophets: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, and Muhammad ibn Ismail ad-Darazi. They also have a special affinity with Shueib, or Jethro[?], the father-in-law of Moses. Individual prayer, as in Islam, does not exist. Smoking, alcohol, and the eating of pork are banned.

The only way to become a Druze is being born one. They don't accept converts. They don't admit conversion to another religion, though disguising one's own Druzeness and simulating conversions is allowed to avoid persecution.


From the Library of Congress Country Studies at http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/sytoc (click on 'Druzes' for this text).

as this is on a US government website and there is no copyright notice to the contrary, I assume this is in the public domain?

Syria

Druzes

In 1987 the Druze community, at 3 percent of the population the country's third largest religious minority, continued to be the overwhelming majority in the Jabal al Arab, a rugged and mountainous region in southwestern Syria.

The Druze religion is a tenth-century offshoot of Islam, but Muslims view the Druze as heretical for accepting the divinity of Hakim, the third Fatimid caliph of Egypt. The group takes its names from Muhammad Bin Ismail ad Darazi, an Iranian mystic. Druzes regard Jethro, father-in-law of Moses, as their chief prophet and make annual pilgrimages to his tomb in lower Galilee. They also revere Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad, the three major important prophets of Islam.

The Druze have always kept their doctrines and rituals a secret to avoid persecution. Only those who demonstrate extreme piety and devotion and the correct demeanor are initiated into the mysteries. The initiated (uqqal; sing., aqil) are a very small minority and may include women. Most Druzes are juhhal, ignorant ones. Apparently the religion is complex, involving neo-Platonic thought, Sufi mysticism, and Iranian religious traditions.

Endogamy and monogamy are the rule among the Druzes. Until recently, most girls were married between the ages of 12 and 15, and most men at the age of 16 or 17. Women are veiled in public, but, in contrast to Muslim Arab custom, they can and do participate in the councils of elders.

Data as of April 1987



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