Home     |About     |Contact Us    |Site Map
Druze Participation In Ruling The Country Of Lebanon

Finally, for the American Druze to have a better understanding of their forefathers and their heritage, I have tried to put together a brief thesis about the Druze, a tenth-century offshoot of Islam, and about their culture and history.

Racial Origins from  The Druzes by Najla M. Abu Izzeddin
Arab geographers from the early Muslim centuries claim Arabs were distributed from the southern extremity of Syria to the north , from the desert boarderland to the Mediterranean, in its plains and mountains, and along its sea-coast.  A tradition persistently held by the Druzes traces their origin to Arab tribes settled in Syria, some before Islam, others coming with the Moslem conquest.The Druze community was formed from the Arab tribes who accepted the da’wa. The Tanukh, who occupy an important place in Druze history, inhabited the region between Aleppo and Hama.

The most important centers of activity at the time of the propagation of the da’wa were Wadi al-Taym, at the foot of mount Hermon, and southern Lebanon, both of which have continued to the present day to be principal concentrations of the Druze community.  The Druze community in Jabal al-Duruz, which today  is the largest concentration, migrated largely from these two centers, at a relatively recent date .Ethnically, the district of Wadi al-Taym, has been authoritatively stated to be one of the most Arab regions of Syria. When the companions of the Prophet advanced to the conquest of Syria, clans of the Tanukh went forth to their aid. In large numbers, and fully armed, they came to Beirut, raised aloft the standards of the faith, and took possessions of the Gharb country and the mountain of Beirut where they settled. The Tanukhid family the Araslans settled with their clans in the mountains behind Beirut to defend the coast and secure the inland communications. The tribal group, Ma’n  retired to the south and then settled near the Tanoukh with whom they intermarried.  Later, the Ma’n family ruled the Lebanon which attained the height of its power under Emir Fakhreddin II during the first third of the seventeenth century.

In 1987, more than half of Lebanese Druzes resided in rural areas. Druzes were found in the Shuf, Al Matn, Hasbayya, and Rashayya Regions; those who chose to live in an urban setting resided in Beirut and its suburbs in confessionaly marked neighborhoods. The Druze elite consisted of large landowning families.  Without a doubt, the Jumblat family, and, especially,  Kamal Jumblat is ranked ‘first’ among those landowning families. Kamal Jumblat was revered in Lebanon, not only by the Druze, but by all the other religious factions in Lebanon. The title of “Leader” was conferred on Kamal Jumblat until he was killed in 1977.

The Arslan Family is one of the two most important Druze families in Lebanon. The Arslan family, in the Druze community for centuries, are now in competition with the Jumblatt Family to retain that position. Druze in Lebanon have historically been divided into Yazbakis and Jumblatts, and the Arslan family heads the Yazbaki confederation. Its head is now Amir Talal Arslan, who inherited the position from his father, Majid.
L’Emir Magid Arslan was the leader of the independence of Lebanon in 1943 when the president Bechara el Khoury with fellow ministers were taken to prison to rachaya by the French. His son L'Emir Talal Arslan gained a seat in the Lebanese Parliament in the Lebanese elections in 1992.

Another land owning family in Lebanon was the Talhouk family. The Talhouks were among the ruling dynasty, clientelism, and they ruled until the early part of the twentieth century in the Gharb area. The social system in Lebanon, clientelism, is easily traced to feudal times, wherein the overlord allowed peasants and their families the use of land in exchange for unquestioned loyalty. In more recent times, this social system has been translated into a political system; the overlord has become a political leader, or zaim,*  the peasants have become his constituents, and, instead of land, favors are exchanged for electoral loyalty. And although clientelism has its roots in the rural areas, it now pervades towns and large cities down to the neighborhood level.

zaim* (pl., zuama)
Believed to be a vestige of feudal times, the zaim (Arabic for leader) is a political leader, either an officeholder or a power broker, whose followers are usually of the same religious sect. Within his district, the zaim is all powerful, and his clients promise electoral loyalty in exchange for favors.

HISTORIC PLACES in Lebanon, The Talhouk Castle, The Makarem Family Home
When I married, my husband, Dr. Sami Makarem,  he and I purchased the  historic four hundred year old Talhook castle in which we lived during the Lebanon Civil War until 1982 when it became too dangerous to live in our mountain village of Aytat because of the Israeli Invasion. My husband and I purchased the Castle together in 1971, and we spent ten years renovating it and restoring it to its original character. I spent years roaming the countryside looking for the special "piece" that was needed to bring it back to its original form. We moved into the Castle in 1981. The Castle was known as the Talhouk Castle, and it was the seat of the government for the Gharb (Western province). The Talhouks were among the ruling dynasty, clientelism, and they ruled until the early part of the twentieth century in the Gharb area. Their castle, which is a symbol of leadership and headship has all the aspects of a ‘government seat’ and has been preserved for almost four hundred years.

The Castle is listed in the Department of Antiquities in Lebanon, and with all the renovation, we, the new owners, Sami and Julie Makarem, took care to retain its historical image. I present to you a newspaper article about the Castle when we first completed the renovations and prior to the destruction of the Castle during the Lebanese Civil War. Since then, an attempt to renovate the Castle again is in the undertaking. Nassib and Samir Makarem, our twin sons, plan to make the Castle livable in Western standards, at the same time, continuing to retain its historical image.

The Talhouk Castle, was the seat of the government for the Gharb (Western province).

The Castle is listed in the Department of Antiquities in Lebanon, and can be found on the internet here.


The Talhouk Castle, The Makarem Family Home View more
Newspaper article; A Castle Kept - June 1981

Chronology of The History of Lebanon lebanon and the phoenicians Ottoman rule, 1516-1916 The maans, 1120-1697 The shihabs, 1697-1842