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Religions of the world

The Druze (a.k.a. Druse, Muwahhid, Mowahhidoon, Mo'wa'he'doon, Taw'heed Faith)

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Background:

The Druze refer to themselves as Ahl al-Tawhīd or "Al-muwahhidūn" which means "The People of Monotheism." However, the rest of the world tends to refer to them as "Druze" or "Druse", a name which some believe was derived from an early preacher Muhammad al-Darazi.

The Druze are a fiercely independent religious group mainly concentrated in Lebanon around the base of Mount Hermon, and in the mountains behind Beirut and Sidon. Other Druze are located just inside the Northern border of Israel, in Jordan, on the Golan Heights in Syria, in Turkey and in smaller numbers throughout North American and Europe.

Estimates of their total numbers range from a half million to one million. One source states that the approximate population of Druze in 1987 was:

bulletLebanon: 325,000.
bulletSyria: 245,000.
bulletJordan: 10,000.
bulletIsrael: 65,000.
bulletOther Arab Countries: about 40,000.
bulletIsrael: 104,000 7
bulletElsewhere: about 70,000.
bulletTotal: about 755,000.

According to Wikipedia:

"The religion developed out of Ismaili Islam, a philosophical movement based in the Fatimid Caliphate, in the 10th century, a time of particular cultural wealth. The religion did not attempt to reform mainstream Islam but to create a whole new religious body influenced by Greek philosophy, Gnosticism and Christianity, among others. The main actors were Tariq al-Hakīm (meaning Ruler), also known as al-Hakīm bi-Amr Allah or Ruler in the Name of God, and Hamza ibn-'Ali ibn-Ahmad, the main architect of the movement. It was Hamza who first publicly proclaimed that Hakīm was the Ruler in the Name of God. Hakīm was opposed by mainstream Muslims for what was considered apostasy....The Druze believe that Hakīm disappeared and will return in the end of days.

Because the Druze considered Tariq al-Hakīm to be the incarnation of God, they were persecuted by mainstream Muslims, especially after Hakīm's death in 1021. The Druze took up  taqiyya ("dissimulation"), a practice whereby they conceal their true beliefs and outwardly accept the religious beliefs of those amongst whom they live, even as they secretly retained their true convictions. 1

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Beliefs:

bulletThe Druze regard themselves to be part of Islam. They hold the Qur'an to be sacred, but look upon it as an outer shell, holding an "inner, esoteric meaning." Their religious texts are known collectively as "Kitab Al Hikma" (The Book Of Wisdom). It is a collection of books, of which the first six are most commonly used.
bulletThey are firmly monotheistic, believing in a single God. God has no partner or son; he is not part of a Trinity. God created the universe from nothing, and is omnipotent and omniscient.
bulletThey recognize seven major prophets, including Adam, Abraham, Jesus and Muhammad. They reject the concept of the virgin birth, and believe that Jesus was the son of Joseph. Each major prophets had seven minor prophets; each of the latter had twelve disciples, including Daniel, Plato and other individuals from Biblical and Greek history. Prophets are not worshipped, although their names may be called out for help in times of trouble. The prophets are considered special people who are free of mistakes and of sin.
bulletIn common with the followers of many far Eastern religions, they believe that, at death, one's soul is instantaneously reincarnated by being reborn into another human body. They believe that all souls were created at one time; the total number of souls has neither increased nor decreased since. During many lifetimes, a soul will experience the full range of "health and illness, fortunes and misfortunes, riches and poverty." Each soul has the opportunity to "...progress upward until it reaches purity." 4 Through successive reincarnations, the soul may eventually unite with the Cosmic Mind "al- aaqal al kulli."
bulletTheir conception of Heaven and Hell is spiritual in nature. "Heaven is the ultimate happiness that the soul encounters when it unites and meets its creator...Hell is...the bitter feeling of being deprived endlessly of the glorious presence of the Mighty." 2
bulletEveryone has an equal tendency to do good and evil and is free to choose between doing right or wrong. 4
bulletThe following seven commandments are characterized in the daily life of Muwahhid:
  1. A truthful tongue, the first and greatest of virtues.
  2. Cultivation and protection of the brethren.
  3. Excision of fallacies and falsehoods.
  4. Rejection of the villain and aggressor.
  5. Adoration of the Lord in every era and at all times.
  6. Cheerful acceptance of whatever comes from Him.
  7. Spontaneous submission to His Will. 3
bulletThey often refer to themselves as Unitarians -- believers in a single deity who reject polytheism, and Atheism. They also reject various concepts of the Trinity which are promoted by Christianity and other religions. This was the original meaning of the word "Unitarian," and is sometimes confused with the beliefs of Unitarian Universalists. The latter is a religiously liberal faith group open to persons of all belief systems.

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Practices:

bulletMost members are Jahill (singular) and Juhhall (plural). They do not normally have access to religious texts. They attend only the first part of their religious meetings.
bulletAbout one in five members are called Uqqal (knowledgeable initiates).
bulletDruze are expected to marry only within the faith. Husband and wife are to consider themselves as equals.
bulletPolygyny and slavery have always been forbidden.
bulletThe Druze do not follow the Five Pillars of Islam (recitation of the creed, reciting prayers five times a day, donating to charity, fasting during the month of Ramadan and making a pilgrimage to Mecca.) Thus, most Muslims do not consider them to be part of Islam.
bulletTheir religious meetings are held on Thursdays.

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Druze in the West:

bulletThe American Druze Society (ADS) was founded in the late 1940s. As of early 2006, they have three cultural centers in the U.S. in California, Michigan and Virginia, in addition to local chapters elsewhere. 6
bulletThe European Druze Society (EDS) was founded in Munich, Germany. They have established representatives in various Druze communities throughout the European Community (EU). 6

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References

  1. "Druze" Wikipedia, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
  2. K.L. Crose, "The Mysterious Druse, Christianity Today, 1990-NOV-5, P. 53.
  3. Kabalan El-Ahmadieh, "The Importance of Understanding and Practicing the Tawheed Faith in Our Personal and Professional Lives," Our Heritage Magazine: 2004-JAN-MAR, at: http://www.druze.com/ his is a PDF file. You may require software to read it. Software can be obtained free from: 
  4. Moustafa Moukarim, "About faith of the Mo'wa'he'doon Druze," (1995) at: http://www.geocities.com/
  5. Moustafa Moukarim, "Druze past and present," (1987) at: http://www.geocities.com/
  6. "The American Druze Society," at: http://www.druze.com/
  7. Dr. Naim Aridi, "The Druze in Israel," Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2002-DEC-23, at: http://www.israel-mfa.gov.il

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Copyright © 1998 to 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2007-AUG-29
Author: B.A. Robinson

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