3. Obscurity of the Druse Religion

The doctrines of the Druses mark an advance over the tenets of the Ismailiyyah and the Karmathians, their immediate predecessors, and they regard the teachings of the Ismailiyyah, like Shiitiam and Islam in general, as superseded by their own and even hostile to them. On the other hand, the Mohammedans consider the Druses infidels, and Islamic writings seldom mention them. The difficulty of a clear presentment of the confused doctrines of the Druses is increased by the fact that their religion is esoteric, its adherents being forbidden to reveal its mysteries to non-believers and being required to hide their religious books from all. Druses who have been initiated into the faith seldom become converts to other religions, and from the uneducated nothing can be learned. Many dogmas and customs, moreover, which formerly had a distinct religious meaning, now survive as unintelligible remnants, especially as the Druses seldom pursue deep religious studies, and the very fact that the religion is secret (as it must be on account of the Mohammedan attitude toward it) renders it peculiarly liable to the danger of degenerating into meaningless phrases and ceremonies. The many-sided character of their religion makes it possible for Druses to emphasize the Islamic elements of their faith in conversing with Mohammedans and to follow a similar course with Christians or even with freemasons.

4. Doctrine of God

According to the teaching of the Druses, God is one, and the confession of his unity is the first duty of religion. While this coincides with the Koran, their doctrine that God is devoid of all attributes, having neither origin, limitations, definitions, names, or anthropomorphism of any sort, makes them closely akin to the rationalistic Mutazilah. This philosophical concept of God might seem to lead to pantheism, but its principal result was the theory that the Deity, in order to approach more closely to man, has revealed himself in bodily form, and has accordingly hidden himself in men; although man does not thereby become the Divinity. God ever remains the same, even in these forms which serve him as a veil, and it is, therefore, the duty of each one to attain through these manifestations a knowledge of God and a proof of his existence. The last of the ten (or nine) incarnations of the Divinity was the calif al-Hakim.

5. The Administrators

The real administrators of the world and the actual preachers or priests for mankind, however, are the "bonds" (ḥudud), or "revelations" (ayyat), which are also called by many other names. The chief terms are derived from the fact that before the origin of the Druses the Mohammedan sect of the Bataniyyah interpreted every expression of the Koran allegorically and applied it to persons. In the system of the Druses such administrators were primarily abstract ideas which were later regarded as incarnate. The persons in whom they dwelt,


who have lived at various times under various names, are regarded, however, merely as bearers of the one unchanged idea. The first of these administrators was Will, a figure of perfect purity created by God from the light which streams from him, and from it all else comes. It is also universal Wisdom, from which all truths are an emanation. Although it is a "speaker," it has appeared at various times as an Imam, its last incarnation being Hamzah, who had attended Adam as Shatniel, Noah as Pythagoras, Abraham as David, and who was Eleazar, the true Messiah, in the days of Jesus. When, however, Wisdom saw that he had no equal, he became proud, and thus was born Darkness, the author of disobedience in every form. Wisdom then implored forgiveness, and at his prayer God created as the second administrator the universal Soul, who received the knowledge of truth from Wisdom, to whom she stands in the relation of a wife, the other administrators deriving their existence from her. The soul has likewise been incarnate at certain times, as in Enoch and Hermes, white Hamzah regarded his contemporary Abu Ibrahim Ismail ibn Muhammad as an incorporation of this principle. The union of Wisdom and Soul produced the Word (in the Neoplatonic sense), while Soul's need of assistance against the adversary resulted in the fourth administrator, the "Preceding," or "Left Wing." On this principle the writings of the Druses are vague and scanty, although it is apparently derived from the allegorism of the Bataniyyah. The fifth and last administrator, called the "Following," or the "Right Wing," is important as being identified with the last noteworthy author of the sect, Abu'l-Hassan Ali, surnamed al-Muktanah or Baha al-Din, who established the doctrines of the Druses on a dogmatic basis about 1038.

A subordinate hierarchy must be distinguished from the one just described. On the "Following" are dependent the spiritual leaders of the Druses, who are called, in decreasing order, Da'i ("missionary"), Ma'dhun ("he to whom it is permitted"), and Mukassir ("breaker," i.e., of the doctrines of other beliefs). These subordinate hierarchs are invariably regarded as men. The five celestial administrators are opposed, furthermore, by five principles of error, who have been incarnate in Mohammed, Ali, and others.


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