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The Druze Faith: Origin, Development and Interpretation

In: Arabica
Author: Kais M. Firro1
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  • 1 University of Haifa (Israel)
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Abstract

This study examines the basic components of the Druze doctrine which had become crystallized at the beginning of the eleventh century by five dā‘īs (propagators). The study attempts to introduce some new insights for understanding the Druze faith as articulated by its founders and as interpreted by the guwwānī (internal) literature of the Druze ‘uqqāl. Although the Druze doctrine follows Ismaili terminologies and the Ismaili esoteric interpretation of the Qur’ān, it adds many new elements that placed the Druze doctrine outside the main stream of Ismā‘īliyya. The study argues that the Druze doctrine elaborates early Ismailism where bātin is set above zāhir and ta’wīl above tanzīl and the ritual acts are considered as divine punishment. The Qur’ānic verses were invariably quoted to differentiate between three stages of believers: ahl al-zāhir, i.e. the Sunnis, ahl al-bātin i.e. the Shiites and the Ismailis, and finally ahl al-tawhīd i.e. the Druze. With its allegorical interpretation of the Qur’ānic verses, the Druze faith considers the seven pillars of Islam (five for the Sunnis and two for the Shiites and Kharijites) as rituals meant only for those who accept the outward meanings of the Qur’ānic verses in the literal sense. The Druze faith substitutes these seven da‘ā’im taklīfiyya (the ritual pillars) with seven Unitarian principles. It would appear that the derogatory attitude of the Druze doctrine toward ritual obligations was strongly influenced by Sufi extremists who argued that God should be reached without intermediaries. Druze guwwānī literature holds Sufism in high regard and greatly reveres Sufi behavior.

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