The New International Encyclopædia/Druses

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DRUSES, drōōz'ez. A people of mixed origin, who inhabit a district in Syria, comprising the southern portion of the Lebanon and the western slope of Anti-Lebanon, as well as a large portion of the region of the Hauran. In the first-mentioned district they hold exclusive possession of about 40 towns and villages, and divide the possession of about 200 more with the Maronites (q.v.), while 80 villages in other parts of Anti-Lebanon are peopled by them. They number about 90,000, and are probably derived from Kurdish, Persian, and Arab stock. Their religion is fundamentally Mohammedan, but of a peculiar type, which they adhere to with stern fanaticism. Early in the eleventh century Hakem, the Fatimite Caliph of Egjpt, a cruel tyrant hated by his people, caused the incarnation of God in himself to be publicly preached in Cairo by his confessor, Darasi, who thereby brought upon himself the active hatred of the people. He escaped to the Lebanon, where he was received by the mountaineers and taught his new religion. From him the name Druses is probably derived. It was, however, by Hamze, a Persian disciple of Hakem, that the faith was given the form in which the Druses hold it. The Druses have maintained their religious and political independence for nearly nine centuries. Their faith mingles the teachings of the Mosaic law, the Christian Gospels, the Koran, and the Sufi allegories. Their seven cardinal principles are: (1) veracity in dealings with each other; (2) mutual protection and resistance; (3) renunciation of other religions; (4) belief in the divine incarnation in Hakem; (5) contentment with the works of God; (6) submission to His will; (7) separation from those in error and from demons. They believe in one God who has revealed Himself ten times upon earth as mortal man, the incarnation in Hakem being the tenth and last. They believe in the transmigration of souls, with constant advancement and final purification. Their teachings enjoin abstinence from wine and tobacco, from profanity and obscenity. They are divided into the Akals, or initiated, and the Djahils, the ignorant. The latter are free from all religious duties. Between 1840 and 1860 there was bitter strife between the Druses and their immediate neighbors, the Maronite Christians. Owing to the shocking barbarities perpetrated by the Druses in 1860, the European powers undertook to intervene in defense of the Christians. A French army was dispatched to Syria in August and a commission of the powers was appointed to investigate the facts. The Druses escaped into the Hauran desert, and it was found that Turks and Damascene fanatics were really responsible for stirring up the strife in which the Maronites had acted with a vindictiveness equal to that of the Druses. Punishment was meted out to the Mohammedans who were principally responsible, and among others Achmet Pasha, the Governor of Damascus, was shot. In June, 1861, the troops returned to France, and the commissioners drew up a scheme of Government for the Lebanon. It provided for a Christian governor, appointed by the Porte, and the division of the region into seven districts, under chiefs of the religion prevailing in each. Fuad Pasha, an Armenian Christian, was the first governor, and the district chiefs included four Maronites, one Druse, one orthodox Greek, and one separatist Greek. The Constitution did not satisfy the Maronites, whose revolt, under Joseph Karan, kept the Lebanon in a very unsettled state till 1867. During this period the governor had to restrain the Druses from attacking the Maronite villages. They had no superior educational establishment until Fuad Pasha founded and endowed one at Abeih. Polygamy is unknown among them. They possess an extensive theological literature. They have, with incredible toil, carried the soil of the valleys up and along the hillsides, which are laid out in terraces, planted with mulberry, olive, and vine. Their chief trade is the manufacture of silk. Corn is raised, though in very small quantities. Deirel-Kamar is the principal town. Consult: Earl of Carnarvon, Druses of the Lebanon (London, 1860); Churchill, Ten Years' Residence in Mount Lebanon (London, 1853); id., The Druses and Maronites Under Turkish Rule from 1840 to 1860 (London, 1862); Guys, La nation druse (Paris, 1864); id., La théogonie des Druses (Paris, 1863); Oliphant, Land of Gilead (London, 1880); id., Haifa (London, 1887).