The Druze faith dates back as early as the 11th century. The faith was greatly influenced by a diversity of religious sources including the Quran and Christian and Jewish Scripture, as well as elements of Greek philosophy, Eastern mysticism, and other ancient doctrines. The Druze progressive interpretation – including abolition of slavery, equal treatment of men and women, and separation of church and state – was considered unorthodox, especially so early on.
Like all religious sects, while seeking knowledge of God, one’s self, and the world, the Druze believe that faith without knowledge is stagnation, and knowledge without faith is emptiness.
The Druze are followers of the Tawheed faith that centers on the belief in the oneness of God.
According to most sources, lacking exact census, the Druze number around one to two and a half million worldwide. The largest concentration is in Syria, followed by Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, and Jordan. The rest are scattered throughout the world, in the U.S., Europe, Australia, South America, Canada, and other countries.
The Druze symbol is a five-pointed star, symbolizing the five ministers of the call:
- Green symbolizes the mind (Arabic al-akl), which is necessary for understanding the truth
- Red symbolizes the soul (Arabic an-nafs)
- Yellow represents the word (Arabic al-kalima), the purest form of expression of the truth
- Blue (Arabic as-sabiq) is for the mental power of the will
- White (Arabic al-tali) is the realization that the power of the will has been materialized in the world of matter.
For most Druze, their identity is defined more by family values and traditions than by the pillars and rituals of their faith. In actuality, the religion is non-ritualistic; there are no practical commandments such as prayer, fasting, pilgrimage, or day of rest required from its members. There are also no religious teaching institutions.
Individuals enjoy freedom of choice in the practice of religion, which is considered a private experience rather than a public right – a sort of ‘secret’ between man and God that should not be divulged to others.
This freedom of choice is respected as long as the main precepts of the faith are adhered to: i.e., truthfulness (Sudk el-lisan); safeguarding of brethren (Hifz el ikhwan); belief in the unity of God in every age and stage; acceptance of His divine acts – whatever they may be; and submission to His will, in private and in public.
The Druze way of life is erected atop honorable values and precepts, crowned by truthfulness and the safeguarding of brethren. The Druze are focused on egalitarianism, self-discipline, oneness of God, supremacy of the mind, and community-bound reincarnation. Deeply entrenched are the notions that the community is literally composed of brothers and sisters and that Druzeness is its own distinct ethnicity.