The Druze and al-Hakim: The Religion with No Converts
This blog entry includes free temporary access to Victory: The Weekly for the India Command. Click here, or on any of the images below to view this document for free until 9th August 2020.
Residing within an issue of Victory: The Weekly for the India Command, from Service Newspapers of World War Two, is an intriguing article on the â€˜Secret Societies of Islamâ€™. While the article explores three â€˜sectsâ€™, we shall be delving into the information provided on the Druze and al-Hakim.
Presently there are one million Druze in the world, residing in Jordan, Israel, Syria, and Lebanon, but this does not mean discovering their faith is easy. The Druze are incredibly private, with very little detail about the tenets of their faith known to the outside world. It would be incorrect to describe the Druze as a branch of Islam or a â€˜sectâ€™; they are an independent religion. This misconception comes from their founding.
Founded in the early eleventh century AD as a break away branch of Ismaâ€™ili Islam, and preached by Hamza ibn Ali ibn Ahmad, the faith established itself further through the patronage of al-Hakim, the sixth Caliph of Fatimid Egypt. In the West, al-Hakim is portrayed negatively due to his destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, but for the Druze, he is a central figure.
While it is impossible to prove whether the rituals detailed in the article are true or not, it is known that the Druze practice the following tenets. They believe in reincarnation, or â€˜Taqammusâ€™, and that there is a finite number of Druze in the world. The belief is that the Druze are the reincarnated souls of the original Druze of the eleventh century. That a Druze soul will only be reincarnated into a Druze body, and that this cycle will continue until the soul is ready to join alongside God. For those Druze who cannot be reincarnated into the Druze community, their soul is believed to go to China. Principally, the Druze faith has not accepted converts since 1043, and marriage outside the faith is forbidden.
Al-Hakimâ€™s role in the Druze faith is central. In 1035 he went missing during a walk; while many believe him murdered, the Druze maintain that he went into occultation. This occultation is the belief that al-Hakim removed himself from the realm of humans and sight, and that when the end of times comes, he will reemerge out of China with those Druze souls that reside there.
While influenced by Islam, the Druze have stripped away the ritualism of Islam, such as the Hajj, obligatory prayers and fasting. They observe that God is not above existence or outside the world, but that God is the whole of existence itself. Furthermore, that God is incomprehensible, and His attributes are not distinct from His essence. Regarding Druze scripture, they observe, the Old and New Testaments, the Qurâ€™an, the works of Plato and their own work, The Epistles of Wisdom. The Druze, while influenced by Islam and other faiths, are their own religion, but still a mystery to outsiders.
With service troops posted all around the world during World War Two, articles such as these were vital for providing, even if somewhat limited or skeptical, information to troops about the cultures around them.