Religions in Lebanon: the Druzes

This article is also available in: Italiano

We conclude the series dedicated to religions with the Druzes, also called Ahl al Tawhid, or “the people of monotheism”. A cult that has always been persecuted but has managed to build its own history between Lebanon and Syria

Ahl al Tawhid, “The People of Monotheism”

The Druze cult saw its appearance in the eleventh century, thanks to the preaching of Hamza ibn ‘Ali ibn Ahmad, an Ismaili religious of Persian origin who moved to the Cairo court of the Fatimids. Here Hamza began to propose his new religious vision, based above all on the existence of a sort of “divine spirit”, which, through reincarnation of bodies and transmigration of souls, would lead to “holiness” many different figures. Pythagoras, Aristotle and Plato, for example, are considered real teachers of the faith, in whom this spirit has penetrated with great force.

Walid Jumblatt, current representative of the Druze community

The preaching initially welcomed consensus at the Fatimid court, also because the Caliph Al Hakim himself was considered the embodiment of this spirit. Due to ad-Darazi, one of Hamza ibn ‘Ali’s disciples, from whom they inherited the name of Druze, the order began to be frowned upon even by the ruler himself and, with his son, Ali az-Zahir, will risk even extinction. From that moment on, the Druze will be forced into hiding, hiding their identity and ending all proselytism forever. The fear was in fact that someone could reveal some practices of the order, handing it de facto to enemy hands. This, however, greatly weakened the cult that will resume forcefully only with the Crusades.

From the Crusades to today

The Druzes became a major disturbing force for European warriors, which earned them much credit in the Muslim world. Living in the Chouf region, in fact, they could act very easily around Beirut and on the Lebanese coasts, a fundamental aid in slowing down the Christian armies. Precisely for this reason, Nur ad-Din will entrust him with the government of the province, finally allowing him to be recognized as a community. With Mamluks and Ottomans things did not go so well and there were countless persecutions that hit this cult.

Religious distribution in Lebanon

The Druzes, however, will resist over time, confirming themselves as a true and solid reality in the region, animating numerous revolts and forcing the Ottomans to continue peace negotiations. In the Lebanese Civil War they will take sides against the Maronites, supporting the Muslim and Palestinian cause. They hold the position of Chief of the Army, representing about 5% of the Lebanese population.

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