The Druze is the second religion that I encountered that I had no idea existed on my trip to Israel. I connected immediately with the Bahai Faith but the Druze religion has a few aspects that I found complex and rather unusual. We were able to spend an evening in a typical Druze village and restaurant that I will talk about in another post. While in the village I was able to walk around a bit and take pictures with some of the people which looked very unique.
The Druze are very humble. They don’t have elaborate and decorative churches like most other religions in the world. While I was only able to visit one Druze village, the tour guide that was showing us around specifically stated that they are a humble people. Families usually live in a small compound with a few houses in a square formation with a water well in the middle. The Druze in Israel mainly in the North, the village that we visited was roughly an hour out of Haifa.
The Druze are named after a man named Anushtakīn ad-Darazī who was an early preacher of the faith. He was later announced to be a Heretic but they still call themselves Druze since he is known to be one of the first people to preach the faith. The faith branched out from a version of Islam in order to be more liberal after being influenced by Greek Philisophy.
Druze was officially revealed to the world in 1017
Along with the people of the Bahai Faith, they were slaughtered in thousands as new leaders of the faith rose and fell. Eventually after 1026, the Druze were left alone and after rebuilding significant communities they closed the faith.
The religion no longer accepts new pledges and conversion is strictly prohibited.
During the crusader period is Syria is when the religion started showing up in the history books. There was a height of the Druze since they lended their extensive military experience to those in power.
What comes up must come down and there were many periods after that where there was conflict with the Druze and the powers of that time. The Druze today still live in significant numbers in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, and about 20,000 live in the United States.
There are a few beefs that I have with the Druze. First, is the issue of conversion and pledging to the faith. No one is required to be religious, everyone is free to choose not to be religious and not perform their duties. You are not allowed to believe in any other religions either. How does that make sense?
You don’t have to believe in the Druze religion but you can’t believe in any other religions either
There are different “classifications’ in the Druze religion as well, ignorant (juhhal) and religiously trained men (uqqal). About one out of fifty are considered elite or reach as high as prefection (ajawid). Most of the juhhal don’t know many of the religions theology while the uqqal basically take care of the religion.
The theology of the faith is called Hikma and the main premise is that God reincarnated himself to a man named al-Hakim that disappeared in 1021. Muslims believe he died, the Druze believe that he is waiting to reappear in a new world order to bring a new golden age followers of their religion. The center of the Druze faith is a region called Jabalu d-Duruz in Syria.
One of the very unique things about the Druze is they always blend into their surroundings in order to protect their religion. You may see a Druze praying at a Muslim Mosque or even a Christian Church. I was only able to see Israeli Druze which were wearing a form of Kippah that Jews wear. If you Google Lebanon Druze or Syria Druze you will find the head attire to be more Arab. Very interesting how a religion will adapt to its surroundings to survive.
One very cool thing about the Druze is how they dress. Men are shaven bald and have a 1920’s style mustache that is never shaven or trimmed. Women wear the Arab Hijab (clothe around head) but do have equal rights such as learning and going to school.