Solving the mystery of the Druze – a 2,000-year-old odyssey

Lebanese migration to Australia occurred in the three main waves. The first occurred from to when many Maronite, Melkite and Orthodox Christians migrated. They were classified as a Turk due to Lebanon being a province of the Ottoman Empire at that time. Subsequent migration was steady until an influx occurred surrounding the Arab-Israeli War in and the general political and economical uncertainty of the country. Progressively, over the ten years between and , the Lebanon-born community in Australia grew from 10, to 33, people. This resulted in the third and largest influx from Lebanon. The population surged between and

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Lecturer in population, medical and evolutionary genomics, University of Sheffield. For 1, years, the mysterious origin of the Druze people — who live almost exclusively in the mountains of Syria, Lebanon and Israel — has captivated linguists, historians, and sociologists. There has been much dispute over whether the Druze are of Arabian, Turkish, Caucasus or Persian origin. But thanks to our new research that mystery may now have been solved, with the use of a genetic GPS system — that works in a similar way to the sat nav in your car.

There are thought to be around 1m Druze people in the world today, whose secretive religion was developed in AD as a movement within Islam. While the spiritual elements of their religion are highly guarded and known only to the elders, the known practices are made up of various religions which include Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and Judaism. This variety is most likely based on historical gatherings that are typical of nomadic tribes. Previous research has always placed the origins of the Druze in the the Near East region.

And by zooming in on the area, our genetic GPS traced most Druze to the region that overlaps northeast Turkey, southwest Armenia and northern Iraq. This area borders the Zagros and the Ararat mountains and is the tallest region in Turkey. This was discovered by applying our GPS tool to the genomes of over Druze, along with Palestinians, Bedouins, Syrians and Lebanese to compare their ancestral origins. Throughout history, the Caucasus region — which borders Europe and Asia — was subjected to political, military, religious and cultural conflict, which prompted many tribes to seek refuge in remote regions.

The Druze were no different. It is thought that the first Druze worshippers probably lived in Cairo, where Druzism was adopted by Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah who ruled in Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean — known as the Levant — between and

Syro-Lebanese Migration (1880-Present): “Push” and “Pull” Factors

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The title Druze Arab. Some Druze families also reside in Beirut, where the judiciary and administrative center of the community has its headquarters. In Israel, Druzes live in the Galilee and Carmel Mountain regions, with smaller numbers in other parts of the country. There are also a few thousand Druzes living in Jordan.

The initiated members learn the precepts of their faith through readings and discussions of the sacred writings in the Druze house of prayer khalwah or majlis. Only those believers who demonstrate piety and devotion and who have withstood the lengthy process of candidacy are introduced to the esoteric teachings and oral traditions of the faith. The Druze doctrine considers women more spiritually prepared than men, and women therefore undergo a less rigorous initiation process.

The initiated men and women are easily identified by their modest dark clothes and white head covers. Thus, they provide exclusive authority on the religious doctrine and dictate the proper conduct of members of the community, reinforcing its interactions within families, villages, and the rest of the world. Uninitiated persons make up the majority of Druze society.

They may seek initiation at any age, but their acceptance is based on their character. Although the uninitiated are indeed “ignorant” of the Druze doctrine, they are expected to behave according to certain prescriptions, both spiritual e. The division of Druzes into the initiated and uninitiated also has important ramifications for the political behavior of members of the community. However, despite the power held by the political leaders, families continue to consult, revere, and defer to the initiated members of their own families and of the community as a whole.

Looking for Love in One of the World’s Tiniest Religions

The Epistles of Wisdom is the foundational text of the Druze faith. Although dwarfed by other, larger communities, the Druze community played an important role in shaping the history of the Levant , where it continues to play a large political role. As a religious minority in every country in which they are found, they have frequently experienced persecution. Even though the faith originally developed out of Isma’ilism , Druze do not identify as Muslims.

They are found primarily in Syria , Lebanon and Israel , with small communities in Jordan.

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How This Druze Chef and Entrepreneur Found Success in NYC

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A further 5. Religion plays a major role in Lebanese culture, society, politics and legal systems. Lebanon recognises 18 different religious sects recognised within the Muslim and Christian religions, each of which is considered to represent a significant Lebanese community. Parliamentary representation is organised to reflect these partitions in society, and so seats are apportioned according to the dispersion of religion.

The ratio of Christians to Muslims in Parliament used to be kept at However it is now at , with eight seats reserved for Druze representation. This government structure is intended to prevent any religious community being privileged over another.

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The Druze numbered more than 1,, in the early 21st century and live mostly in Lebanon, Syria, and Israel, with smaller communities in other countries. In the doctrine was publicly preached for the first time, causing riots in Cairo. The Druze faith gradually died out in Egypt but survived in isolated areas of Syria and Lebanon, where missionaries had established significant communities.

At that point, proselytism ended, and the Druze ceased to recognize conversions to the faith. The Druze still do not permit conversion, either away from or to their religion. Marriage outside the Druze faith is rare and is strongly discouraged. Many Druze religious practices are kept secret, even from the community as a whole. Despite the small size of their community, the Druze have figured prominently in Middle Eastern history.

The Druze enjoyed considerable autonomy under the Ottoman Empire and often rebelled against it, protected from direct Ottoman control by the mountainous terrain of their homelands. From the 16th to the 19th century, a series of powerful feudal lords dominated Druze political life. The largest concentration of Druze in the present day is in Lebanon.

5 facts about Israeli Druze, a unique religious and ethnic group

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Druze are estimated at 5. Druze are ethnically Arab and Arabic speaking. Their monotheistic religion incorporates many beliefs from Islam, Judaism and Christianity, and is also influenced by Greek philosophy and Hinduism. Druze have not proselytized since the 11th century, and the religion remains closed to outsiders. Persecuted in Egypt, they gained footholds in the Shuf and Wadi al-Taym. Druze hegemony over Mount Lebanon declined in the eighteenth and disintegrated in the nineteenth century, the result of internal conflict between ascriptive kinship groups, later exploited by external rulers, who sought to introduce taxation.

Decline also reflected progressive demographic and economic ascendancy by the Maronite and Greek Catholic communities, mainly from inland Syria, and the failure of the religious leadership to provide cohesive direction to the community. Many Druze left Mount Lebanon for the Hawran in the nineteenth century and benefited from British support in the same way that the Maronites benefited from French support. Druze resented the French creation of Greater Lebanon in , with its institutionalized Catholic ascendancy and the formal political separation of Lebanese and Syrian Druze.

Several leading Druze had strongly supported the short-lived kingdom of Syria. However, they accepted the inevitable, playing a fuller part in Lebanese political life than their community size might have suggested. Under Kemal Junblat, the Druze community espoused Arab nationalism and the Palestinian cause in the s, though they were careful not to allow Palestinians a foothold in the Druze Shuf.

After his assassination by Syrian agents, his son Walid succeeded as community leader.

Empowering Druze women to shatter Israel’s glass ceiling

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Gazala Halabi is poised to open her second Druze restaurant on the Upper West Side. in she started selling date cookies—a traditional recipe from her childhood. Is This the End of Australia’s Free Wine Tastings?

Like a number of other ethnic groups in the Middle East, such as the Kurds, the Druze live in several different countries, separated by borders drawn after the breakup of the Ottoman Empire in the early s. But unlike the Kurds, who are largely Muslim, the Druze are a unique religious and ethnic group. Their tradition dates back to the 11th century and incorporates elements of Islam, Hinduism and even classical Greek philosophy.

Today, 1 million-plus members of this community live primarily in Syria and Lebanon and, to a lesser extent, in Israel and Jordan. In Israel, the Druze are a close-knit community active in public life, according to a new Pew Research Center study of Israel. Roughly two-thirds say they have a special responsibility to take care of Druze in need around the world. Since just after its founding in the 11th century, the Druze tradition has been officially closed off to outsiders and proselytism has been prohibited.

Since that ban, the Druze population has continued to exist solely based on the continuation of its previous generations. But there are no set holy days, regular liturgy or obligations for pilgrimage, as Druze are meant to be connected with God at all times. Several philosophers and other influential people are also held in high regard by the Druze, including Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and Alexander the Great.

In fact, for more than four decades, the Israeli military had a primarily Druze infantry unit called the Herev, or sword battalion. This is in contrast with Israeli Arabs, who are exempt from military service.

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