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Druzes (Arab., Durūz). Members of a religious group numbering about half a million, mainly in S. Lebanon, SW Syria, and Hawran district of Israel/N. Palestine. A closely knit community, mainly landowners and cultivators, the Druzes practise a secret religion which conceals doctrines and practices from the uninitiated, a fact which has prevented until modern times a clear understanding of its origins, doctrines, and practices.

The Druze religion was derived from Ismāʿīlīya, and was established in the 11th cent. in Cairo, Egypt, around the cult of the Fāṭimid Khalīfa al-Ḥākim (disappeared in 1021 (AH 411)). Al-Ḥākim was first recognized as incarnate reason by al-Darazī, from whom the name Druze derives. The two most sacred books of the Druzes are Al-Naqd al-Khafi (Copy of the Secret) by Ḥamza b. ʿAlī, often regarded as founder of the faith; and Al-Juzʾal-Awwal (Essence of the First) by al-Muqtāna Bahāʾuddin (d. 1031 CE), its main propagator. The main dogmas of the Druze faith are: confession in the unity of God; belief in successive manifestations of the deity (or of the Universal Intelligence, al-ʿAql al-Kulli) in human form; acceptance of al-Ḥākim as the last and greatest of these divine incarnations; recognition of five ministers who manifest aspects of the Divine Essence, Ḥamza b. ʿAlī being the supreme saint (wali-al-zaman); belief in metempsychosis and in predestination; and observance of the seven precepts of Ḥamza who, on behalf of al-Ḥākim, absolved his followers from the obligations of Islam. Ḥamza's seven precepts are: veracity in speech; protection and mutual aid to the Druze community; renunciation of all forms of former worship and false belief; repudiation of Iblīs (the devil) and all forces of evil; confession of the divine unity in humanity, concentrated in ‘Our Lord’, Ḥākim, who is not dead but hidden; acquiesence in all al-Ḥākim's acts no matter what they be; and absolute submission and resignation to his divine will.

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