Druze


Druze
Druzean, Druzian, adj.
/droohz/, n.
Islam. a member of an independent religious sect living chiefly in Syria, Lebanon, and Israel, established in the 11th century as a branch of Isma'ili Shi'ism and containing elements of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, and believing in the transmigration of souls and the ultimate perfection of humankind. Also, Druse.
[1595-1605; < Ar duruz, pl. of DURZI a Druze, deriv. of the name of one of the sect founders, Muhammad ibn Isma'il al-Darazi]

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Relatively small Middle Eastern religious sect.

It originated in Egypt in 1017 and is named for one of its founders, Muḥammad al-Darazī (d. 1019/20). Strictly monotheistic and based in Islam, particularly Ismāʽīlī Islam, Druze beliefs include an eclectic mixture of elements from Gnosticism, Neoplatonism, Judaism, and Iranian religion. The Druze believe in the divinity of al-Ḥākim bi-Amr Allāh (985–1021?), sixth caliph of the Fātimid dynasty of Egypt, and expect him to return someday to inaugurate a golden age. The Druze are divided hierachically into two orders
the sages, who are fully initiated in the beliefs of the religion, and the ignorant, who constitute the uninitiated lay majority. They permit no converts, either to or from their religion, and no intermarriage. Their religious system is kept secret from the outside world, and they are permitted to deny their faith if their life is in danger. In the early 21st century they numbered about one million, mostly in Syria and Lebanon.

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also spelled  Druse , Arabic plural  Durūz , singular  Darazi 

      relatively small Middle Eastern religious sect characterized by an eclectic system of doctrines and by a cohesion and loyalty among its members (at times politically significant) that have enabled them to maintain through almost a thousand years of turbulent history their close-knit identity and distinctive faith. They numbered more than 250,000 in the late 20th century and lived mostly in Lebanon, with smaller communities in Israel and Syria. They call themselves muwaḥḥidūn (“monotheists”).

      The Druze permit no conversion, either away from or to their religion, and no intermarriage. In these circumstances the survival of their religion and community across almost a millennium is the more remarkable in that their religious system is kept secret not only from the outside world but in part even from their own number; only an elite of initiates, known as uqqālʿ (“knowers”), participate fully in their religious services and have access to the secret teachings of the ikmah, the Druze religious doctrine. In times of persecution, a Druze is allowed to deny his faith outwardly if his life is in danger. This concession, or taqīyah (taqiya), is allowed according to at-Taʿlīm (“Instruction”), the anonymously written “catechism” of Druze faith.

      It is not known to what extent this people was self-conscious and distinct before adopting their present religion. Druze religious beliefs developed out of Ismaʿīlite teachings. Various Jewish, Christian, Gnostic, Neoplatonic, and Iranian elements, however, are combined under a doctrine of strict monotheism. Propagation of the tenets of the new religion began in Cairo in AD 1017, led by Ḥamzah ibn ʿAlī; (Ḥamzah ibn ʿAlī) it is from the name of Ḥamzah's subordinate, Muḥammad ad-Darazī, that the group derives its name. The eclectic belief system was organized into a doctrine of the soteriological divinity of al-Ḥākim bī-Amr (Ḥākim, al-) Allāh (“Ruler by the Command of Allāh”), the sixth caliph (996–1021) of the Fāṭimid dynasty of Egypt, whom they call al-Ḥākim bī Amrih (“Ruler by His Own Command”). It is believed by the Druze that al-Ḥākim did not die but vanished and will one day return in triumph to inaugurate a golden age. There is some suggestion that a number of people in widely scattered areas accepted this system, but only the Druze have survived. It is known certainly that a great many groups in the Middle East at that time, most of whom came under the various headings of the heretical Shīʿite Muslim sects and movements, accepted similar notions and joined similar causes.

      Although the Druze cloak their religion in secrecy, the source materials for outsiders' knowledge of Druze history and religion are not as scarce as might be expected. Muslim and Christian accounts of historical events, as well as comments on and assessments of the Druze religion and customs, should be treated with reserve and caution because of their polemical character. Jewish sources contemporary with the first half of the reign of al-Ḥākim present him in a favourable light.

      The Druze people have figured prominently at various periods in Middle Eastern history: in the Arab stand against the Crusades; in the century following the Ottoman conquest (from 1516), prospering as powerful vassals (until their Lebanese leader and early westernizer Fakhr ad-Dīn of the house of Maʿn was driven out, to take asylum at the courts of Tuscany and Naples); in the 19th century, dominating the Lebanese aristocracy under the ruling Shihāb family (who were Sunnite Muslims); and in the 20th century, in many of the vicissitudes of Arab and Lebanese development.

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Universalium. 2010.

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