http://SupremeMasterTV.com – Al-Muwahhidūn al Dururz: A Religion of Peace. Episode: 1788, Air Date: 7 August 2011.
The Druze religion is one which unifies all religions in the world. They call themselves “muwahhidun.” The muwahhidun are united. The essence of all religions is in the Druze religion.
Welcome, peaceful viewers, to A Journey through Aesthetic Realms on Supreme Master Television. On this edition, we travel to the lands of Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, and Israel to meet devout practitioners of the al-Muwahhidūn al Dururz faith. The origin of the religion, which has been in existence for over a thousand years, can be traced back to Egypt.
In the early 1900s, Mr. Philip K. Hitti wrote “The Origins of the Druze People and Religion,” introducing al-Muwahhidūn al Dururz to the English-speaking world for the first time. Today we have the honor of speaking with Dr. Kais Firro, Professor in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Haifa in Israel, who shares his wealth of information about the history and belief system of the people of the al-Muwahhidūn al Dururz faith.
The Druze was founded at the beginning of the 11th century, between 1017-1043. That means from this span of time, the Druze propagated their doctrine among the Ismailis who are Islam Shiites, and most of the adherents of this new religion were Ismailis, before they became the Druze. And the name “Druze” is not Druze; it’s from the outsiders.
The Druze called themselves “muwahhidun,” that means Unitarians or Monotheists. And they propagated this religion in greater Syria, in the mountains of Lebanon, and the area of Hermon, and the Galilee, and in the area of Damascus, and the area of Beirut, and in the north of Syria, of today.
The muwahhidun respect all religions of the world, including the ancient prophets and sages, and influential people such as Egyptian Akhenaton, the Greek philosophers Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, and Alexander the Great. Believed to be a development of the religious group Ismailiyyah (or Ismailism) – a major branch of the Shi'ah of Islam – al-Muwahhidūn al Dururz incorporated elements of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Sufism as part of the religion’s belief system.
The Druze doctrine is an offshoot of the Ismaili doctrine. What means “Ismailis”? The Ismailis were influenced by philosophy, notably the Greek philosophy, New Platonic philosophy, and from Asian philosophies – from India and others’ philosophies – and they also were Muslims, and therefore, they believed in the Qur’an. The Druze took this inheritance, this tradition, from the Ismailis and developed their belief, and they became independent from the Ismailis during this period of 1017 to 1043.
Being influenced by Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism, and Sufism, the religious creed of the muwahhidun in the 11th century was considered very liberal in its time.
The Druze believe in one God, but there are two forms: one form called the “human form,” and the second is the essence of divinity. Some researchers said this is “theophany.” “Theophany” – that means God manifests Himself in a human body. But the Druze stressed in their epistles, the “Epistles of Wisdom” – this is the Druze canon – that man cannot conceive God, because we are limited in our comprehension, we are limited in our mind to understand God.
Therefore, God is eternal, without beginning, without end, without spirit, without body: we cannot give Him a name, or even we cannot attribute to Him anything. Therefore, if we want to define God, we cannot define it by our words. Therefore, in order to be close to humankind, God manifests Himself in the human form. This is one of the beliefs of the Druze.
The second belief is very important, that the revelation of the religion, like Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, can be understood literally, not by esoteric interpretation. The Druze makes esoteric interpretation to this text, notably the Qur’an. They believe in the Qur’an, but they have their interpretation which is different from other religions in the Middle East. Therefore, they use philosophy to understand the text, and use New Platonic philosophy and so-called Gnostic tradition to understand the text. The third principle is the transmigration of soul. The Druze believe in the transmigration of soul. That means there is no death per se. There’s no death, the soul exists all the time, but it takes a new form of the human body.
This transmigration of the soul is very important, because at the end of the so-called human era, when the people reach the last judgment, God will assess and reassess the soul by all the transmigrations of the soul. That means sometimes the man or the woman would be rich, sometimes poor, sometimes ill, sometimes with health, and, therefore, there are many experiences. And then in the last judgment, God punishes the people who should be punished and rewards the people who should be rewarded.
The muwahhidun also have a strict code of ethics that has been transmitted over 10 centuries from the uqqal (enlightened ones) to the juhhal (unenlightened ones).
They must not do indecent acts, they must not kill, they must not eat pork. They are forbidden to drink alcohol beverages, no smoking.
In the Druze community, the many laws that are written prohibit indecent acts, to be a pure heart, pray to one God.
The Druze believe in Seven Principles of Unitarianism. The first is the truth is foremost – to say the truth every time; this is one principle. The second principle is called the mutual aid, to aid the group in every disaster. Therefore, the Druze have a very good solidarity because they have a commandment about this mutuality to aid your friend, your Druze friend, every time. And other commandments that deal with the belief in God, to follow the unitarianism of the Druze, according to the Druze epistles, or the Druze canon. This principle is very important.
Since the inception of al-Muwahhidūn al Dururz, the muwahhidun have always advocated for equal rights for women, both in the secular as well as spiritual spheres. Women of the al-Muwahhidūn al Dururz faith generally are well-educated. According to Dr. Naim Aridi, lecturer at Gordon College and the College for Arab Teachers in Haifa, “Druze women can attain positions of religious significance, and some have indeed achieved high rank.”
Men and women are equal, without distinguishing between the two – in marriage and divorce, inheritance, and everything. The daughters and sons have the same rights in the family. Not only they pray, but to behave as a Druze, to behave as a unitarian.
Traditionally, the muwahhiduns are farmers, subsisting for the most part on vegetables.
Most of the time they eat vegetables. They prefer to eat vegetables, and some people now follow the vegetarian instruction. For example, the leader of the Druze community in Lebanon, Kamal Jumblat, he was vegetarian, and he tried to introduce vegetarianism to the Druze initiated people, and he succeeded in some areas.
I think there are now followers of Kamal Jumblatt in Lebanon and in Syria, who became vegetarians. He visited several times India and was influenced by the Asian culture. He found similarities between the Druze and some communities in India; he was influenced by vegetarian communities and followed vegetarianism.
To preserve the purity of their religion, the muwahhidun keep their teachings secret; only the uqqal, or the enlightened ones, have access to the scriptures, especially the “Epistles of Wisdom,” al-Muwahhidūn al Dururz’s canon. Furthermore, no new members have been accepted into their faith since 1043, over 9 centuries ago. Emigrating from Egypt to Lebanon, the muwahhidun now live in other places such as Syria, Israel, Australia, the United States, and Europe, with approximately 2 million worldwide.
Our religious men and women, all the time, speak about peace and about a good life. And we think about how to be at peace in all the world. We are coming to this world all the time to love one another. That all men and women in all the world, they are friends. We believe that the world can have a capacity for all us.
Our vision for the Druze community: that the Druze community can be one day the ambassador of peace for all the world. To us, all the communities of the world, a good life and good communication, and the countries to think about positive things, not negative things, like war and the nuclear and all things, and to change that to help the poor communities.
Our sincere appreciation, Dr. Kais Firro, for sharing your knowledge on the uplifting principles of the al-Muwahhidūn al Dururz faith. May the God-loving adherents continue to promote messages of universal love and peace within our world, with manifold blessings.
Gentle viewers, thank you for joining us today on A Journey through Aesthetic Realms. Our Noble Lineage is coming up next, right here on Supreme Master Television. Wishing you abundant grace from Heaven.