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The Druze Faith
April 2013 version
Few people know about the Druze, a mysterious, 1,000 year old religion in Lebanon. Also called the Druse, Duruz, Duroz, and the Tawhid faith, there are about 750,000-800,000 of them today, primarily in Syria, Lebanon, and Israel. The Druze call themselves Muwahhidun (Unitarians). Though they believe Mohammed was from God, cannot be considered as Muslims any more than they can be Jews or Christians. To understand their origin, we have to go back in time to the time of the Egyptian Fatimid caliphs.
The Fatimid Dynasty of Caliphs
After the first few caliphs (called the Umayyad Dynasty), the corrupt ‘Abbasids had pretty much proven to the Muslim world that power corrupts. Some might think that perhaps the Caliphate should have gone to Mohammed’s descendants after all. The Abbasids were succeeded by the Fatimids, who ruled from North Africa and later centered in Egypt. Their name was because the rulers were descended from Fatima, the daughter of Mohammed’s and his first wife Khadija. Though ‘Abd al-Rahman offered 100 camels laden with clothing and 10,000 dinars to marry Fatima, and ‘Uthman offered the same, Mohammed married her off to a poor man, ‘Ali bin Abi/Abu Talib. Pious Shi’ite Muslims believed many legends about Fatima. According to these, when Khadija was pregnant, the Quraysh would not help, so four women from Heaven came down to help: Sara wife of Abraham, Asiya, Mary, and Safira alleged wife of Moses. Fatima allegedly never menstruated, she gave birth through her left thigh, while Mary gave birth to Jesus through her right thigh. Fatima became a houri of Heaven. All the Muslims in Heaven will have as many houris as wives as they wish, except that ‘Ali would have no other wife than Fatima. Some see a similarity between the veneration of Fatima and the Roman Catholic veneration of the Virgin Mary. Fatima was been called "the mother of her father" by 12’er Shi’ites, (Encyclopedia of Islam vol.2 p.845-846), perhaps as a prophecy that the twelfth imam would be named Mohammed.
Fatima will be the first to enter Paradise after Mohammed in the resurrection. The Sunni hadith Bukhari vol.4 book 56 ch.24 no.819-820 p.527 also says this. Gabriel will lead her camel to Allah’s throne. There she will get down and ask Allah to give justice to those guilty of the deaths of here sons Hasan and Husayn/Husain. Fatima will get all of her followers into Paradise, and just as Catholics pray to Mary, some Isma’ilis offer prayer to Fatima.
As a side note, there is also an apparition called "Our Lady of Fatima" in the Catholic religion, but that is totally unrelated.
Here are all the Fatimid Caliphs
1. Al-Mahdi ‘Obaidallah/’Ubaydullah caliph 297 A.H./909 A.D. -322 A.H./ 3/4/933/934. He conquered ‘Abbasid Egypt on the second try 919-920 A.D.. He claimed to be the Mahdi.
2. Al-Ka’im biamr Allah (Abu’l-Kasim), died 334 A.H. 5/18/945
3. Mansur (Abu Tahir Isma’il), died 3/19/952.
4. Mu’izz lidin Allah (Abu Tamim Ma’ad), 952-976. 22 years old when began to reign
5. al-’Aziz caliph 976-996 A.D., conquered Syria
6. Al-Hakim bi’amr Illahi, 996 - 1021 A.D.
7. al-Zahir, caliph from 1021-1036 A.D.
8. al-Mustansir, 1036-1094 A.D., weak reign.
9. al-Musta’li, caliph from 1094-1101 A.D.
10. al-Amr 1101-1130 A.D.
11. al-Hafiz 1130-1140 A.D.
12. al-Zafr 1149-1154 A.D.
13. al-Fa’iz 1154-1160 A.D.
14. Al-’Adid last Fatimid caliph 1160-1171 A.D., deposed by Saladin and the ‘Abbasid army.
Al-Hakim bin-Amr Allah was born in 985 A.D., became the sixth Fatimid caliph when he was 11 (996 A.D.). al-Hakim was infamous for his cruelty liberalness, tyranny, and mysterious disappearance while walking alone in February, 1021 A.D. He was a chief persecutor of Christians and Jews, yet his mother was a Christian from Russia. Many consider him a mad Isma’ili Shi’ite. On the other hand, he is looked up to by others.
Someone once said that every bad thing has a good rationalization. According to The Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge p.277-278, it was believed that "His actions, thought they may have appeared at times to be cruel, were beyond comprehension and their creative symbolism was known only to Hamza as imam."
The famous mathematician Alhazen (died 1038) claimed he could invent a machine to regulate the flooding of the Nile River. Hakim (died 1021) invited him to Egypt to do so. When Alhazen arrived, and saw that was impossible, he pretended to be mad until Hakim died.
A Timeline of Hakim’s Persecution
1003 Demolished a church and built the Rashid, a mosque, on the site
1004 Forced Christians and Jews to wear black belts and turbans
1005 al-Hakim was a Shi’ite, and he pronounced curses against the first caliphs and companions of the prophet, and forced these to be inscribed on mosques.
1007 He repealed having these inscribed on mosques. He first forbid and then relaxed laws against wine, brothels, slave singing girls, musical instruments, singers, musicians.
He forbade women to go outside. Al-Hakim forbade shoemakers to make shoes for women. (They should not need to go outside anyway.)
At some point, al-Hakim encouraged supporters, including worshipping him as visible God. The Druze faith is named after one of these supporters, Ismail al-Darazi / ad-Darazi. Later Druze theology says there were ten incarnations of God, and al-Hakim was the last one, according to The Encyclopedia of Missions vol.1 p.341 (Funk and Wagnalls 1891).
He forbade a particular vegetable, because he believed Abu Bakr, A’isha, and Mu’awiya like it.
He forbade eating shell fish and fish without scales. He prohibited games of chess (as Sahih Muslim teaches), and he ordered all dogs killed.
Al-Hakim burned the entire Jewish quarter in Cairo.
He burned the town of al-Fustat after the people had circulated a statement saying he had abandoned Islam by proclaiming that he was divine. Al-Hakim allegedly amused himself by watching it burn.
1007 Prohibited the Palm Sunday procession in Jerusalem
1008 Confiscated the property of the churches and Monasteries in Egypt
1009 Forced Christians and Jews to wear crosses and bells. Destroyed two churches in Cairo, one in Damascus, and desecrated their graveyards. Tortured Christian officials.
1009/1010 Destroyed the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem (Future Crusaders would remember that). He prohibited the Epiphany celebration in Cairo and destroyed Christian monasteries.
1010 Forbade Christians to use wine in the Lord’s Supper.
1011-1012 al-Hakim passed a butcher shop, grabbed a meat cleaver, and killed one of the assistants.
1011-1012 Prohibited the display of crosses.
1012-1013 Christians cannot ride on horseback. He destroyed churches and convents, sparing only the monastery at Sinai.
1012-1013 Forced subjects to bow to him and call him our Lord
1013 Some Christians who had allegedly converted to Islam were still celebrating the Lord’s Supper in their house. He learned of it but allowed it. He had edicts in favor of Christians, and rebuilt a monastery, restored many churches and their possessions. He allowed some Christian converts to Islam to return back to Christianity.
Al-Hakim also forbade some Muslim prayers too. He forbad women to weep at funerals, as Mohammed had commanded them not to weep.
1021 al-Hakim went walking on a hill one night in February, 1021, and disappeared without a trace. Hamza said that he would come again. (This is similar to the belief in the reappearance of the 12th imam.)
The Perennial Dictionary of World Religions p.230 says that al-Hakim wanting to be worshipped at God was a key factor in weakening the Fatimid Dynasty.
Hamza, al-Muqtana, and the Druze Scriptures
Since that time, the Druze have worshipped al-Hakim as visible God. Al-Hakim’s vizier, Hamza bin ‘Ali ibn Ahmad, a Persian mystic, helped ensure the al-Hakim was worshipped as the ultimate One who created the first cosmic principle. In Druze thought Hamza is the first of the creatures of God. The Druze calendar begins 1016/1017 A.D. (A.H.408), when Hamza publicly declared that al-Hakim was visible God at the mosque in Cairo.
The Druze scripture, called Rasahl/Rasa’il al-Hikma ("Letters of Wisdom"), was primarily written down by al-Muqtana (the cosmic immanence). It also has other epistles by al-Hakim, Hamza, and others.
Since al-Muqtana disappeared, the Druze have not been a "proselytizing religion."
In the Druze Catechism, question 44 says the ‘Alawites split from the Druze because they did not worship al-Hakim and worshipped ‘Ali instead.
Hamza’s Seven Pillars of the Druze Faith
1. (Truth in words) Speak the truth to other Druze. However, lying to unbelievers to defend yourself or the community is OK. They think it fine to appear to be Muslims to Muslims, or appear as Christians to Christians, and to say false things about what they believe.
2. (Watchfulness) Defend each other (including by force) and help and aid one another
3. Absolute renunciation all former religion, including non-Druze Islam.
4. Dissociate completely from unbelievers.
5. Recognize al-Hakim as the One visible God. (Includes recognizing other previous manifestations of God too)
6. Complete resignation, content with what God does
7. Complete obedience, submitting to the orders of God, or his agents, until al-Hakim’s return.
Other Druze Beliefs
Al-Hakim is the central focus of the Druze faith. He is call al-wahda, the manifestation of the divine unity. Like some Isma’ilis, the Druze believe there have been many (perhaps 70) incarnations of God. The True Jesus was an incarnation of Cosmic Intelligence, but not Mohammed. al-Hakim was the final incarnation of God.
Cosmic Roles: Like Isma’ilis, they believe in five cosmic principles (hudud). The Druze believe there are five humans who assumed these roles.
‘Akl (true Adam / cosmic intelligence) was assumed by Hamza ibn Ali
Nafs al-Kulliyya (universal soul / cosmic self) assumed by Isma’il ibn Muhammad al-Tamimi.
Kalima (the word / cosmic utterances) assumed by Muhammad ibn Wahb al-Qurashi
Sabiq (right wing / preceder / cosmic precendent) assumed by Salam ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab
Tali (left wing / follower / cosmic imminence) assumed by Baha’ al-Din al-Muqtana.
In addition there were dais (missionaries), ma’dhuns (preachers), mukasirs (persuaders), and the rest of the true believers.
There were also five false cosmic principles, created by al-Hakim for the evil side of the universe. Al-Hakim will abandon these in the last days though.
Muslim Festivals: They celebrate most Muslim festivals, but they do not observe Ramadan for go on the Hajj Pilgrimage to Mecca.
The material world is a "mirror" or emanation of the Divine Intelligence.
All previous religions are not wrong, they are just "types" of the true religion and are to be interpreted allegorically. Both the Gospel and the Qur’an were inspired by God, but they are not followed anymore. Druze
Marriage: They also believe that husbands and wives should be equal in marriage.
The Khidr/Khider (Green One). Like the Sufis they emphasize al-Khidr. They have a supposed shrine of the Khidr. Al-Khidr was mentioned in Bukhari vol.1 book 3 ch.44 no.124 p.90-93 as someone Moses visited who knew things about God that Moses did not. A Druze told me they believe he is John the Baptist (Nafs al-Kulliyya, the Universal Soul).
Jesus and the Holy Spirit are the same identity, according to
http://ismaili.net/~heritage/mirrors/7_other_drouz/drouz.html. It also says the Druze claim descent from the lost tribes of Israel. It also says the Druze consider Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle as prophets too.
Reincarnation: They believe people are reincarnated until they reach perfection and ascend to the stars. This has some similarity to ‘Alawite teaching. Unlike Hinduism, the Druze believe human males are only reincarnated as human males, and similar for females.
China they believe has another secret Druze community.
End times: When persecution of the Druze reaches its peak, al-Hakim will return along with Hamza and al-Muqtana, who disappeared in 1033 A.D. al-Hakim will conquer the world, and the secret Druze community allegedly in China today will rejoin those in Syria. They will conquer Mecca, then Jerusalem, and all of the world will accept the Druze faith.
Practices: They believe both men and women should participate in daily prayers. (Sunni Islam hadiths say women should abstain when they have their period.). The Druze abstain from stimulants, tobacco, and wine. They believe stealing and revenge are wrong.
Dissimulation: Like the Ghulat sects in the Muslim world, they believe in lying about being a Druze when they need to do so for safety. In addition, they are permitted to outwardly conform to the prevailing religion, and practice their own secretly. Thus Druzes in other lands might call themselves a Syrian Christian or a Sunni Muslim.
Religious services are on Thursday evenings, the start of their day of rest (The Perennial Dictionary of World Religions p.230, Encyclopaedia Britannica p.684).
Initiates/Non-initiates: Since the 15th century, the Druze, like the ‘Alawites, have an inner group of initiates (‘Uqqal/’Aql meaning intelligence/sages) and the majority of the rest of the believers (Juhhal/Jahil meaning ignorant ones). The Jahil supply the material needs of the initiates. The Encyclopaedia Britannica estimates that about 15% are the initiates.
Men initiates usually wear a black robe underneath a white girdle. For a hat they have a red fez with a white roll around it.
Women must wear veils, usually black with red slippers. In fact, many Druze women will not be unveiled even in the presence of non-Druze women. Polygamy is not allowed, and women as well as men can initiate divorce. They join with men in religious ceremonies, though separated by a semi-transparent black veil. Women used to not be able to wear silk, brocade, gold, or silver, but they typically do so now.
Laws: In general the Druze often follow the Hanafite Muslim legal system. The Hanafites are the most popular Sunni school.
Old Druze vs. New Druze Beliefs: The Encyclopedia of Islam (E.J. Brill 1965) vol.2 p.633 says that during the long period of Druze history much of the extensive hierarchism disappeared, and a new system of Gnostic cosmology and cyclical sacred history predominated by the time of ‘Abd Allah al-Tanukhi (died 885 A.H. 1480 A.D.). The division of Druze into the sages and ignorant ones was by this time.
Wrong information: Since people knew little about the Druze, a number of false things have been said about them.
It was alleged they descended from a Crusader named the Count of Dreux.
They allegedly worshipped a figure of a calf. The Encyclopaedia Britannica (1972) volume 7 p.711 says, "perhaps a calf figure which connection is remote and its role is obscure." However, it adds that some Druze vehemently deny its existence.
The Druze allegedly had immoral images, similar to some sects of Hinduism, but that is wrong, too.
Subsequent Druze History
1300 A.D. Maliku ‘l-Ashraf, the Mameluke Sultan of Egypt, defeated the Druze and forced them to conform to Sunni Islam, at least outwardly.
1516 A.D. The Maan family of the Druze supported the Turk Selim the Grim in his fight against the Mamelukes.
At their peak under Fakru’d-din Maan II, the Druze controlled Antioch, Palmyra, Beirut, Sidon, Latakia, and Tripoli under the Turks. He unsuccessfully rebelled from the Turks twice.
They had many civil wars; in 1711 the Shehab Druze defeated the Turks and other Druze at Ein/Ain Dara.
There was frequent civil war in Lebanon. The Druze massacred Christians in 1840, at Hasbeya, and 4/30/1845. The Druze and Muslims combined to slaughter 2,500 Maronites in Damascus on 7/9/1860. The French occupied Lebanon after that. The Druze fought the Egyptians in 1930, the Turks in 1852, and were defeated by the Turks in 1896. The Turshun Druze tried to revolt from the Turks in 1906.
During World War I they assisted Lawrence and the British against the Turks. After the French did not listen to their needs, The Druze rebelled from the French in 7/25/1925, finally being completely defeated in 1927. See The First Encyclopedia of Islam vol.2 (E.J. Brill) p.1075-1076 for more info.
Similarities, Yet Profound Differences
The Druze are interesting in that they respect Mohammed as a prophet, and believe the Qur’an was sent by God, yet their beliefs are so different from what is taught in the Qur’an. They believe their beliefs supersede the "truth" God gave in the Qur’an.
Like Muslims the Druze respect Jesus as a prophet, and believe the Bible was given by God, yet the beliefs of both Druze and Muslims are so different from what is taught in the Bible. In a few respects the Druze are closer to the Bible than Muslims; they belief that Jesus is a manifestation of God. However, in other respects Muslims are closer, such as not worshipping al-Hakim, no other manifestations of God, and no reincarnation. Both Druze and Muslims believe their founders and their scriptures supersede the truth of the Bible. Apparently the fact that their "truth" contradicts the fundamental message of the New Testament does not concern them.
Does the Truth Matter?
The Druze are remarkable for holding to their tradition for almost a thousand years, in the face of war and persecution. The spirit behind al-Hakim should be very proud. If you think of loyalty as always a good virtue, then the Druze, ‘Alawites in the world of Islam, the Thuggees and Khonds in the world of Hinduism, and the people who perished in Jim Jones’s People’s Temple in the world of Christianity, are all the most virtuous of people.
No, Misplaced loyalty is not a virtue. Misplaced loyalty is in fact disloyalty and treason to where your loyalty should lie.
Bible Verses Relating to the Druze
"I the LORD do not change." (Malachi 3:6a)
"Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever." Hebrews 13:8
"I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough." (2 Corinthians 11:3-4 NIV)
"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!" (Galatians 1:8-9 NIV)
The Druze of North America have an English site at
Encyclopaedia Britannica. (1958) volume 7.
Encyclopaedia Britannica (1972) volume 7 p.711.
The Encyclopedia of Islam has numerous articles relating to the Druze. There are multiple editions of the Encyclopedia of Islam though, all published by E.J. Brill.
First Encyclopedia of Islam
Encyclopedia of Islam editors B. Lewis Ch. Pellat, and J. Schacht. (1965)
Encyclopedia of Islam New Edition. (1995)
Douglass, J.D. (general editor) Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge 2nd edition. Baker Book House. 1991.
Crim, Keith, Roger A. Bullard and Larry D. Shinn (editors) The Perennial Dictionary of World Religions. Harper & Row. 1981. (830 pages)