Druze Profile: Perceptions and Prospects: Druze Value System
Part one: Introduction
Despite a person's Druze heritage, he or she still asks the questions: Who are the Druzes; where are they located; what are the differences from other religions; what is the difference between Druze and Islam; what is the doctrine of the Druze Faith, and still possibly, many more questions. Vast details have been assembled during the past century by Western scholarship, as well as, in many other parts of the world; yet, these questions remain to some extent, unanswered, and a gnawing quest for satisfaction persists. Yet, another question, and this question regards a Druze person's values, is possibly as critical as those above. This paper will concentrate on the question, "What is the impact of Druze values on the Druze community settled abroad: keeping in view the changing time, technology, ideology, and various social systems."
Origin of the Druze Faith
To begin this exegesis, there must be a definition as to what the Druze values are, and before one can begin to define the Druze values, there must be a brief description of the origin of the Druze Faith. The sixth Fatimid Caliph Imam, Al Hakim bi Amrillah, split from the Fatimid Caliphate creating the Druze Faith A.H.408 [A.D.1017] ending the Fatimid Caliphate. The reason for the split was the prevailing intellectual atmosphere resulting from the philosophical and theosophical schools that had emerged in Islam. Thus, the Druze Faith!
Therefore, the question, “What is the impact of change in values on the Druze community which settled abroad ?” keeping in view the changing time, technology, ideology, and various social systems should be answered by first examining those values that were proclaimed during the al-da'wa.
First, their very faith, Tawhid, was a change from mosque attendance, ritual prayers, Ramadan fast observance, and other religious obligations, and Sunna *.(1) Al Hakim bi-Amrillah condemned the conduct of those to whom religion was the outward performance of ritual.
Al Hakim bi Amrillah was an extraordinary figure. His looks were impressive and his voice commanding. He was an idealist and a reformer who aimed at all-embracing reforms: religious, moral, and social. (2) His message was that batin and zahir, inner truth and outward form, are inseparable. Like body and soul, neither can stand without the other. (3) Hakim bids the muwahhidun to take the hikma and its light from any lamp or candle they chose. The various paths, means, and lights are one path and light from the sun of the One Truth and of the One Real, the Single and Eternal (4) Thus, the Druzes, along with their faith, which they carried with pride, were instructed to have and uphold, the highest of social values.
Second, the religious organization, a pillar of the Fatimid caliphate, was strengthened and expanded during the reign of Al Hakim bi Amrillah. Religion is the primary bond among the Druzes. The Druze religion has remained intact since the new doctrine was formulated in 408 A.H. by Imam Hamza ibn 'Ali. (5)
Third, through the religion of Tawhid Faith, the Druzes have remained united since its inception, and their solidarity has deep roots. This can be attributed to a number of considerations, but the most important among them is the Druze Faith. Other factors are social and geographical. The Druze values, though remaining extremely strong among the majority of the Druzes, have undergone changes during the nearly one thousand years since the Faith's beginning, especially, among those who have emigrated to other lands.
One of the first Druze values to undergo a change was the geographical aspect. The Druzes' independence and attachment to the land are uppermost in the Druze value system. The Druzes have been their own masters, and emirs from among themselves have always ruled them. They have always been in full possession of their land; thus, they have been able to practice freely their beliefs, laws, and customs.(6) In fact, the old-established tradition of Druze independence could be seen in 1516 when the Sultan Salim appointed Druze emirs over Druze country, i.e., the Shouf and the Gharb. Though still a largely rural people, the Druze are far from exclusively so. Many of the younger members of the community have left their villages for larger urban environments, both in the Middle East and abroad, to further their education and establish businesses. Long gone are the days when Phillip Hitti, Chairman of Middle East Studies at Princeton University, could assert that "in the lists of the leading merchants of Aleppo, Damascus, Beirut, and Sidon, one would search in vain for a Druze name." The Druze are today found at the highest levels of Lebanese and Syrian commerce, including banking, trade, small businesses, and transportation services. (7)
It is interesting to note that during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Druzes were divided into two feuding clans - Qaysis and Yamanis. Their division and their feuds were a legacy of the two early Arabian parties: the Qaysites, emigrants from north Arabia, and the Yamanites, earlier emigrants from southern Arabia. Among the Druzes, the Qaysis and Yamanis clans perpetuated themselves later into Yazbakis (Yamanis) and Jumblattis (Qaysis), and the Druzes are still so divided. The rift between the clans was utilized to 'divide and rule.' It was encouraged and spurred on first by the Turks, then by the French, and finally by various successive Lebanese governments which have ruled since independence in 1943. (8)
The strong bond among the Druzes has deep roots, and this bond has continually been tested since the Faith began. Despite internal political differences, however, the Druzes will quickly close ranks and emerge as a formidable fighting force to confront anyone who attempts to threaten their survival, land rights, or well-being as a community. (9) Independence and attachment to the land are a basic to the Druze way of life. In their major centers of concentration, the Druzes have been their own masters, ruled by emirs from among themselves, in full possession of their land, and practicing freely their beliefs, laws, and customs.(10) The Druzes have fought persistently to defend and preserve their independence.
* As you read the Perceptions and
Prospects, Druze Value System, you will see "End Notes' throughout which you can easily refer to by going to the "Reference List" page.
Part two: Social Values
Part three: Commitment And Dedication
Part four: American Druze Institutions
Part five: American Druze Publications
Part six: American Druze Cultural Centers
Part seven: World Druze Societies
Annual Druze Conventions
A note about Julia Makarem