Druze duruzî (singular) durûz (plural) [Play sound] Religion and group of people with somewhere between 350

,000 (estimate of Western scholars) and 900,000 (figures as presented by the Druze) members, living in Lebanon, Syria, Israel, and Jordan, often in mountainous regions. There are also important Druze communities abroad, living in Europe and USA. While the Druze are not regarded as Muslims by other Muslims, they regard themselves as Muslims as well as carriers of the core of this religion. The origin of Druze is to a large extent from a group of Shi'is, the Isma'ilis, but they have diverged much, and the Koran does not seem to be a part of their religion. The Druze call themselves muwahhidun, 'monotheists'. THEOLOGY The theology of Druze religion is called hikma and its main theme is that God incarnated himself in the Fatimid caliph al-Hakim, who disappeared in 1021. While most Muslims believe he died in 1021, the Druze disagree and believe that al-Hakim is awaiting to return to the world in order to bring a new golden age to true believers. Druze believe in one God and claim that the qualities of God cannot be understood or defined by humans. AlHakim is worshiped in Druze religion, he is called 'Our Lord' and his cruelties and eccentricities are all interpreted symbolically. But while God incarnated himself in al-Hakim in his unity, other aspects of God can be incarnated in other human beings. These aspects are represented with 5 superior ministers. Under the ministers one finds three other groups: functionaries, preachers, and heads of communities. The knowledge of this hierarchal system is the highest knowledge in the Druze religion. Frequently we hear from sources about a calf in Druze religion. It is believed that the calf is a central symbol which represents the negative forces in the world. The moral system of Druze religion consists of seven principles: love of truth take care of one another renounce all other religions avoid the demon (the calf?) and all wrongdoers accept divine unity in humanity accept all of al-Hakim's acts act in total accordance to al-Hakim's will Central in the the Druze world system is the belief in reincarnation, where all souls are reborn as humans, good as well as bad. Good people have a more fortunate rebirth than bad people. Behind this system is the belief that man cannot reach perfection and unite with God. Hell and heaven in this world view differ from most other Middle Eastern religions, and bear clear resemblances with Gnostic philosophy and religion, as heaven is only spiritual, where man stops being man and is saved from more rebirths. Hell is just as spiritual and is the distance from, and the longing to, unity with God which goes on in life time after life time for the bad. MEANING OF THE DRUZE STAR The Druze star symbolizes the five wise superior ministers, each with his quality. Green is for "the mind", 'al-'akl, which is necessary for understanding the truth. Red is for "the soul", 'an-nafs. Yellow is for "the word", 'al-kalima, which is the purest form of expression of the truth. Blue, 'as-sabik is for the mental power of the will. White, 'al-tali, is the realization of Blue, where its power has been materialized in the world of matter.

ORGANIZATION OF THE DRUZE COMMUNITY The hikma is only known to an elite of religiously trained men, the uqqal. Most Druze know only parts of their religion's theology, and they are referred to as juhhal, 'ignorants'. One out of 50 members of the uqqal, reach as high as perfection, and are called 'ajawid, 'noble', and work as the real leaders of the Druze religion. The uqqal take care of the religion for the juhhal, and they alone attend the religious meetings taking place at the night between Thursday and Friday, in ordinary buildings in the outskirts of Druze villages. For the Druze, the centre of religious activities is located to the mountainous region called Jabalu d-Duruz in Syria. The juhhal perform few of the typical Muslim rituals, prayer is not performed in mosques, fast is not performed during the Muslim month of Ramadan, and there are no obligations of performing the hajj, Muslim pilgrimage. LIFE STYLES The Druze follow a life style of isolation where no conversion is allowed, neither out of, or into, the religion. When Druze live among people of other religions, they try to blend in, in order to protect their religion and their own safety. They can pray as Muslims, or as Christians, depending on where they are. This system is apparently changing in modern times, where more security has allowed Druze to be more open about their religious belonging. Druze have earlier been reported to practice polygamy. But there is no evidence of such a practice among Druze today. Druze abstain from wine and tobacco. There are clear prohibitions against any practice that could involve profanity of the religion. Druze have a strong community feeling, where they identify themselves as related even across borders of countries. There are sources suggesting that the Druze was a people of their own even before conversion to the faith alHakim. Unsubstantiated theories point in direction of the Druze being descendants of Persian colonists, while another theory says they are descendants of Christians from the time of the crusades. The latter is not very likely, due to the fact that the first crusade came about 80 years after al-Hakim's disappearance. Despite their practice of blending with dominant groups in order to avoid persecution, the Druze have had a history of brave resistance to occupying powers, and they have at times enjoyed more freedom than most other groups living in the Levant. HISTORY 1017: The religion is established in Cairo. The religious orientation gets its name from one of the earliest followers of Caliph al-Hakim, Muhammadu d-Darazi. It is believed that it spread to many regions in the Middle East and North Africa, but that it is only the Druze that kept it up. 1516: The Druze comes under Turkish pressure as the Levant is conquered by the Ottomans. The Druze offers strong opposition, and keep a higher level of independence than their neighbours. 1918: Druze participates in the army of Faisal, thereby breaking a principle of non-participation outside their own community. 1921 March 4: The Druze are granted autonomy in the region of Jabalu d-Duruz, from the League of Nations. 1925: The Druze revolt, where Druze leaders protests against the liberalization of the society as promoted by French governor of Jabalu d-Duruz. The revolt ends with the arrest of the Druze leaders, and their being exiled to Palmyra. 1927: The Druze revolt is over, and the French starts a politics that is intended to keep the Druze away from Arab nationalism, and hence dependent upon the safety offered by the French. By: Tore Kjeilen

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