Druses, Or Druzes, a race and religious sect of Syria, chiefly in the southern ranges of Lebanon and Anti-Libanus. Their name is derived from Derazi or Durzi, who, according to the Arabic historian Makrizi, appeared in Cairo A. D. 1019, as a missionary of the Batenian sect, an offshoot from the Moslem stock. The Druses regard him as a heretical pupil of Hamza, the Messiah of their system, and look upon the title which has been fastened upon them as a stigma, the only name they acknowledge being that of Muahids or Unitarians. The proper era of the Druses begins in 1020, when Hamza, a wandering fanatic, persuaded Hakem, the Fatimite caliph of Egypt, to declare himself a manifestation of God. The caliph was assassinated the next year, and Hamza, retiring into Syria, continued to propagate the new faith among the mountain tribes. He and one of his followers, Moktana Boha ed-Din, committed their doctrines to writing, and enjoined the strictest secrecy as to their nature. No member of another sect and no uninitiated Druse was to be permitted to see the sacred writings, and no revelation is to be made until the second advent of the lord Hakem and Hamza his minister.
The imperial library of Paris contains five volumes of the sacred writings, the Vatican contains one, the imperial library at Vienna one, the library of the Leyden university two, and the Bodleian library at Oxford four. There are also several less important MSS. in the hands of private individuals; some are owned by the American missionaries in Syria. The first three volumes in the Paris library were brought from Syria in 1700 by the physician Nasr-Allah, and presented to Louis XIV. The fourth volume was procured from the private library of M. Piques, who died in Paris in 1699. These volumes contain the exposition of the doctrines of the sect by Hamza and Boha ed-Din; they were translated into French by Petis de la Croix in 1701. The Vienna, Vatican, and Leyden MSS., with two of the Bodleian, are duplicates of parts of the Paris MSS. Two of the Bodleian MSS. are supplementary, and contain matter not found in the writings of Hamza. From a careful study of these sources, Sylvestre de Sacy (Expose de la religion des Druzes, 2 vols., Paris, 1838) systematized the Druse theology. It is principally drawn from the Batenian and Ismaelite heresies, which arose within the Shiite division of Islam, in the 3d century of the Hegira, and were brought to Egypt by the invasion of the Fatimite caliphs.
Traces of Gnosticism and of the Magian system of Persia are also found in the Druse writings. The characteristic dogma of the sect is the unity of God. His attributes are created and subordinate beings. He is incomprehensible, supreme, invisible, pure, the essence of true life. He can be known to his accepted children only through human manifestations. The ten Druse forms under which God has ap-appeared are Ali, in India; Albar, in Persia; Alya, in Yemen; Moil and Kaim, in eastern Africa; Moes and Hadi, in Asia; Albu Zachariah, Mansour, and finally Hakem, in Egypt. The names are sometimes varied, but all the authorities hold that Hakem was the tenth and last earthly manifestation of God, and that no other is to be expected. He left the care of the faithful to five principal ministers, who are to direct them till the return of their divine lord. The chief of these is Hamza. His spiritual title is the "Universal Intelligence." This Intelligence, the first born of Deity, was incarnated in the person of Hamza, at the same time that Deity himself was incarnated in the person of Hakem. To him was committed the task of creation. From him comes all wisdom, all truth. He is the medium by which the Lord communicates with the lower ministers, and through them with the human family.
He dispenses power, and adjusts duties in the world; and he in the last day shall be the judge and the avenger. Boha ed-Din calls him Messiah. Next to Hamza is Ismail, the " Universal Soul." His origin was the rebellion of the " Rival," which made it necessary that the Intelligence should have a supporter in the world. His office is to inspire and sanctify souls. Next to Ismail is Mohammed, the "Word," born of the union of Intelligence with Soul. He has charge of Unitarian missions, and is the spiritual cadi, the chief bishop of the sect. The functions of the fourth minister, Selama, the "Preceding," seem to have been much the same with those of the fifth minister, Moktana Boha ed-Din, the "Following;" for Selama is called the "right wing," Boha ed-Din the "left wing." Both these ministers were called three years after Hakem's disappearance. They were probably intrusted with the charge of all knowledge and teaching except that of the Unitarian religion, which must come from the higher ministers. Boha ed-Din had the special duty of organizing the Unitarian sect; he knew the retreat of Hamza, consulted with him, and from time to time produced his commands and directions.
Below these five superior ministers are three styled the "Application," the "Opening," and the "Phantom;" these ministers have each his earthly figure; they are the three feet of the candlestick which holds the candle of five elements. Beneath these are three still lower classes, called Dars, Madhums, and Mokassers, who hold their dignity only by virtue of their character and abilities; they have commission to destroy false doctrine and to communicate the truth. - The Druses hold that the most precious of substances were used for the composition of man's body, and that the world at the beginning had its perfect form. Men were made male and female, young and old, in a fixed number, and no more souls have since been created. The minister of sin, the Rival, stands between the Intelligence and the Soul, and his work of temptation is hindered by the counter work of both these celestial powers. The Druse reproduction of the story of paradise makes Enoch and Seth to be the rebellious pair whose sin entailed woe upon the race. Sin broke the unity of mankind, which the Druse religion aims to restore. The mediator is Hamza. The change which he works is not in the mind of God, but in the condition and spirit of men. He baffles Satan and remits sin, but does not strictly make an atonement.
Transmigration of souls is maintained, but not through the bodies of the lower animals, as in the Indian and Pythagorean systems. In passing from body to body, good men become continually better, bad men continually worse, though it is possible for them to change and become better. Ismail Temeami, the Soul, was formerly John the Baptist, and still earlier Elijah, while the soul of Hamza was once in the body of Jesus. The souls of men until the resurrection keep the embodied form, except a few whose superior excellence permits them to exist as pure spirit. At the resurrection the bodies of the faithful will be absorbed into God's own being, and transformed into spirit; all else will be destroyed. Moral teaching is summed up in seven commandments : 1, "truth in words," meaning in practice only truth to the religion and to the initiated; it is lawful to act and to speak falsehood to men of another creed, and in defence of the Unitarian faith; 2, mutual help, watchfulness, and protection; 3, to renounce all other religions; 4, to be separate from infidels of every kind, not externally, but only in heart; 5, 6, and 7, the believer must "recognize God's eternal unity," be "satisfied with God's acts," and "be resigned to God's will." Under these seven commandments numerous minor moral precepts are given, and special crimes are prohibited.
Chastity, honesty, meekness, and mercy are Druse virtues; murder, theft, covetousness, cruelty, are sins. It is the opinion of intelligent writers, who have lived with them, that the average morality of the Druses is as high as that of any other eastern religious sect. - Of the character of the Druse worship there is but little precise information in their writings. That they have no prayer or preaching to which unbelievers can listen has given rise to the report that they are without a religion. They are divided into two classes, the ukkal and juhal, the initiated and uninitiated. The former constitute the clergy, doctors, and elders, and their chief is required to observe celibacy. They superintend the ordinances of worship and instruct the children in the elements of religion. At their meetings in the hulwehs (meeting houses), generally on an elevation and at a distance from the villages, they invariably place a sentry to warn them of the approach of strangers. If Moslems be present, they will produce the Koran; if Christians, the Bible; and their own religious books after the infidels are gone. Women are admitted into the order if they possess the requisite intelligence. The ukkals are extremely simple in their dress, wearing no silk or gold.
They will not touch any money or food in any other Druse's house, from fear of its having come into his possession by unfair means. They are not salaried, but subsist by their own labor. The revenue of the estates belonging to the hulwehs is devoted to charity. The ukkals are bound to peace, although some of them will fight in war. They are generally the arbitrators in disputes, and after death the saints of their people. Their proportion to the Druse population is about one to five. The juhals constitute the mass of the Druses, and are instructed only in the elements of the faith. The form of government among the Druses is half feudal, half patriarchal. They are divided into three classes or ranks, the emirs (princes), the sheiks (chiefs), and the zlaam (people). The emir appoints the cadis (judges), and has exclusive power over life and death; he collects the tribute, of which he pays a stated sum to the Porte, and keeps the surplus as his own. The emir's family never intermarry with the people. The sheiks direct almost despotically the government of the tribes within their jurisdiction. Some of them live in comparative state, but often their fare and habits are those of the common people, and they labor with the rest.
They are often at strife with each other, but in foreign wars all the tribes unite under the leadership of the emir. It is a league of mountain barons, supporting a king elected without suffrage and governing without statute. The villages are usually placed near the entrance of passes, where they can be defended easily. The houses rise in terraces, till in some instances they reach the top of the mountain. The habits of the people are simple and primitive. Most of them till the soil; a few are artisans; the spinning and weaving are done by women in their houses, and the children of both sexes are kept at school. The method of fighting is not in masses so much as by ambush and in small bands. The Druses, if not the most numerous, are acknowledged to be the most warlike and courageous people inhabiting the Lebanon. Their code of martial honor is very precise; deceit between comrades is lasting shame, and cowardice is never forgotten. The relation of the sexes is far more honorable than among the Turks or Arabs. There is but one wife in the house, and her rights are admitted and protected; she can own personal property, retain the half of her dowry money after divorce, and is not compelled to marry against her inclinations. - The number of Druses in the whole of Syria, from the plain east of Damascus to the western coast, is reckoned to be about 70,000. Some of these dwell in scattered families in the larger towns, and in the villages of the Ma-ronites. In the towns at the foot of Mount Hermon they make a considerable part of the population and have great influence.
The Druses of the Anti-Libanus are more warlike and restless than their brethren beyond the Litany (Leontes). But the proper home of the Druse people is in the Lebanon mountains, from the latitude of Beyrout to that of Tyre. The principal towns are Deir el-Kamr, once the capital; Shweifat, near Beyrout; Heittat and Allaye; Abeigh, where the American Protestants have a mission; Baklin, Mukhtara, Ba-ruk, and Ainshalti, where also there is a missionary station. - The Druses first appear in history under their founder, Hakem (996-1021). They lived under the government of sheiks who acknowledged no superior, and made frequent raids into the neighboring countries. They were engaged in almost perpetual conflict, now with the Franks as allies of the Damascus sultan, now with the sultan himself for their own independence. In 1588 Amurath III. sent an expedition against them, under Ibrahim Pasha, who subdued them, and one of them was appointed emir, with viceregal powers, and tributary to the sultan. These emirs gradually became more formidable, till in the beginning of the 17th century the power and ambitious policy of the emir Fakhr ed-Din roused the Porte to action.
Fakhr ed-Din fled to Italy with a large retinue, and resigned the authority to his son Ali. A palace at Pisa was appropriated to his use, and he resided there five years, at the expiration of which he was reinstated in authority over his tribe. He extended his jurisdiction until he became the virtual ruler of nearly the whole of Syria, but was finally subdued by the armies of the sultan, made prisoner and sent to Constantinople, where he was put to death, April 13, 1635. The districts of the mountain were finally parcelled to the various sheiks, as tributaries of the pasha. About 1771 these tribes made common cause against the Arab Metualis, whose rebellion against the Turks threatened to dislodge all the tributaries of the Ottoman power. In 1811 Topal Ali, then governor of a district on the banks of the Orontes, between Latakieh and Aleppo, penetrated the mountain recesses and expelled all the Druses dwelling there; 1,500 families, the survivors, fled to the Lebanon, where they were warmly received, especially as 600 families of the latter had just emigrated into the Hauran, bordering on the Syrian desert. Invaded by the Russians, the Egyptians, and by the formidable Daher, pasha of Acre, they were driven from their homes, plundered, and dispersed.
Under the bloody pasha Jezzar, though the Druses suffered, yet on the whole their relative power was increased. The emir Beshir She-haab, though a Christian by profession, belongs to the history of the Druses more than to that of the Christians in the Lebanon. His capital was in the heart of their mountains, and his policy was influenced by their dictation. Their most powerful sheik, Beshir Jumblat, was his ally, adviser, and almost his rival. The alliance between these two powerful chiefs was broken about the close of 1824, when the extortions of the emir drove the Druses into revolt, and sent Jumblat into voluntary exile. The sheiks of the various tribes rallied to avenge his cause, but were defeated. Ibrahim Pasha, son of Mehemet Ali of Egypt, attempted to invade them in their fastnesses, without success; hundreds of his soldiers fell in trying to force one of the passes. The Druses bore a part in the strife which resulted in the restoration of Syria to the Turkish sultan. In 1842 they were again in insurrection against the Turks; and more recently they have waged a harassing warfare against their rivals the Maronites. In1860 (May-July) a great massacre of the Christians by the Druses, seconded by the Turks, took place.
Zahleh, the stronghold of the Christians, was taken by stratagem, and the inhabitants were slaughtered; 8,000 men are said to have fallen. At Deir el-Kamr the Turkish governor, who had promised to defend the Christians on condition of their surrendering, betrayed them to the Druses, who slew them to a man. Then followed the massacre of Christians by the Moslems at Damascus, Sidon, etc. Here the European powers interfered. A French army landed at Beyrout, an English fleet followed, and commissioners were sent to investigate these affairs. The ringleaders were executed, and a Christian governor was appointed in the Lebanon. - The fullest account of the Druses in English is contained in Col. Churchill's "Mount Lebanon " (4 vols. 8vo, London, 1855-62). See also "Druses of the Lebanon," by the earl of Caernarvon (London, 1860), and Thiogonie des Druses, translated from the Arabic by II. Guys (Paris, 1863).
Druse Mnn and Woman.