In the academic year of 1998 / 1999, I had the chance to go to Syria as a participant in a scholarship organised by the Polish Ministry of Education. My timetable at the Arabic Institute for Foreigners in Damascus frequently allowed me to go on trips to find out more about the inhabitants of Syria.

During one of those trips into the mountainous regions, at the foot ofJabalal-Shaikh, I came across a community with unique and distinctive outfits. I saw the same minority later near Suwayda and Idlib as well as in Damascus itself. My trips included a visit to a village called Hudur in the Golan Heights.

Duruz, Muwahhidun and Banu Maaruf are all names referring to a community of almost 200 thousand, inhabiting the remote mountainous regions of Syria. Their main activity is agriculture. They keep their religious doctrine in secret. Some claim it is Islam, others say it is a separate religion based on Ismailism with the central figure of Hakim, a god who appeared among people.

The Druze demonstrate their individuality by their characteristic outfits. They also differ in terms of physiognomy. Fair skin and delicate facial features inspire scientists to look for the ethnic roots of the people outside the Arabic core.

The life of the Druze community members is regulated by an internal civil law which is different from Islamic law in the areas of marriage, inheritance or the responsibilities of family members towards each other. The separate law of the Druze does not interfere with their existence in Syria, PalestineandIsrael. They manage to assimilate successfully in every country, taking an active part in its political life. The controversial careers of the Druze soldiers in the Israeli army or the significant participation of the Druze notables in leading the Great Arab Revolution in Syria are good examples.

The aim of my work is to present the Druze by revealing information which I find particularly interesting, such as their origins, their civil law and the characteristic figure of the fourth Fatimid Caliph. I have never been particularly interested in religious studies, therefore it was my conscious decision not to elaborate on the Druze doctrine. In addition, this topic is far too important and vast to be contained within a single chapter.

There is a section which presents field research and, although rather limited, it can be used to show a cross section of the Druzecommunityin Syria.

I would like totake this opportunityto thank all the people who contributed to the creation of my work, such as my Syrian friends, the Druze and those who facilitated my contact with them. I thoroughly appreciate the time devoted to me by the Sheikhal-Akl ofSuwayda and the Head ofthe Cultural Centre of this town as well as Mr Ziyar al-Yasin (I hope the spelling is indeed correct as the note with the name written on it has unfortunately been lost), without whom I would never have had a chance to meet either of the persons I mentioned before.

Basia, thank you very much for the photos!

Special thanks to my Palestinian friend, Amin, who along with his truly hospitable family welcomed me under his roofwhenever I knocked on his door at Yarmuk.

And finally, I would like to thank the person who methodically encouraged students to do field research, from which it all began – my teacher and the supervisor of my Master’s thesis at the University of Adam Mickiewicz in Poznan, ProfessorHenryk Jankowski.

I hope that the readers of my work will kindly overlook the stylistic and factual shortcomings, which were not intended. Feel free to use the “Contact” tag on the website to send your comments and any suggested changes to the above work which you find necessary.

Here’s hoping you enjoy reading about the Druze!

The Origin of the Druze



To this day, the ethnic origin of the Druze has not been elucidated. It seems that scientists put forward every possible hypothesis in order to question the Arabic roots of the Druze or to invoke an aura of mystery around this community. Unquestionable facts in the history of the Druze appear in the eleventh century with the announcement of their doctrine in Cairo. When asked about where they come from, the Druze themselves usually claim that from Lebanon. The more educated mention their older brothers who lived in the vicinity of Aleppo. I have also heard that the Druze came to Syria and then to Lebanon from Iraq and Persia.

The question of origin does not seem to be of much importance for the average Druze. None of my interviewees ever mentioned the topic themselves. It could be an argument towards their non-Arabic roots for someone who knows how important the origin is for an Arab. However, the issue of the Druze ethnicity is not ignored by Druze authors of books about this community. In an unusually determined way, they accentuate their undeniable Arabic roots pointing to the common language, bravery and religion. Although it is undeniable that these features are common to the two groups, they point to similarities in terms of nationality rather than common ethnic origin. The strong pro Arab stand of Druze authors is dictated by the political status quo, which, especially in Syria, stimulates every aspect of social life. The message of Hamza is worth noting here; it said, “Follow nations stronger than yours, but keep me in your hearts,” which explains the behaviour of the Druze in many situations – what I mean in particular is when they call themselves Muslims. The message can also be applied to justify their desire to be perceived as Arabs.


Nonetheless, I would like to enumerate all the hypotheses which I was able to find out about the Druze in literature research.

1 The Druze come from the Persians who lived in the mountains of Kurdistan.

2 The Druze ancestors were the Hittites who spoke an Indo-European language and who occupied Syria in the fifteenth to the twelfth century BC.

3 The Galatians from Asia Minor who sought refuge in the mountains near Aleppo and in the mountains of Lebanon could be the ancestors of the Druze.

4 There is also a hypothesis that the Druze are derived from a man named Dreux, a French Count fighting alongside the crusaders in Syria. His troops fighting the Saracens roamed the lands of Syria having relationships with indigenous women. After the fighting ended, they settled in the mountains near Mount Hermon, and there the affinity of Christian blood with the blood of Muslim women gave a good basis for the new faith of the Druze. Its first followers also fled to the mountains to escape the persecution of Muhammad’s followers.

5 The Druze are a mix of Arabic, Turkish, Kurdish, Persian, Circassian and French blood.

6 The Druze originate from the Arab tribes which came to Syria and Lebanon from the Arabian Peninsula, such as Rabia Banu, Banu Tim, the Banu Hilal, Tanuch, al-Manazira, Tajj, Quraysh, Kinda, Banu Tamim.

7 Rebellious tribes, the remnants of the long broken Qarmatians lived in Iraq in the tenth century and their main activity was pillage and robbery. As they were effectively fought back by the Abbasids, they moved to the mountainous regions of Aleppo and Lebanon.

8 There is also a hypothesis that the Druze come from English kings involved in the Crusades.

9 Salih Zahr ad-Din refers to some honourable Druze as well as some Arab historians who claim that the Druze derive from Arab tribes participating in the Islamic conquests.

10 Often authors try to prove that the Druze have Arab roots by pointing to their impeccable pronunciation and their command of the Arabic language.

11 In 1976, the Israeli Ministry of Education issued detailed history books for the Druze living in Israel, in which fictional facts were mentioned connecting the Israelis to the Druze. The aim was to elevate the Druze from the Arab community.


The first missionaries of the Druze doctrine.


In 1017, al-Hakim secretly sent ad-Darazi to Syria. He gave him money for his mission and told him about people who lived in the mountains and who were willing to take in the news. Ad-Darazi arrived in Wadi al-Taym where he proclaimed the divinity of al-Hakim. He handed out money, explained the dogma and permitted Muslims to consume wine. The Lebanese mountains, as well as the area around Aleppo and Jabal al-Arab gave refuge from orthodox Islam to secret organizations which developed during the rule of the Umayyad and later the Abbasid. There, the Druze message spread very quickly among the Ismailis. The first missionary coming from Syria was Hasan ibn Chajdar. Under the influence of his sermons, another great Lebanese missionary, Sikkin, later travels to Egypt in the year 1027 to initiate into the religious mysteries. Upon his return, he became the biggest propagator of the new faith in Wadi al-Taym. From there, The Druze doctrine spread to northern Syria, Arabia and further to India. In his fervent mission, however, Sikkin deviated the doctrine, so that al-Muqtana, who had nominated him, was forced to dismiss him. The successors of Sikkin were unfortunately not recorded in the historiography available to me, but the speed with which The Druze community was growing leads me to believe that they were equally zealous preachers of the divinity of al-Hakim.


The Druze on the map of the modern world.


The Druze history stretches over almost 1000 years. Since Hamza and Darazi announced the divinity of al-Hakim in 1016, the Druze doctrine reached wider circles of followers. Missionaries set off from Egypt in the direction of Syria, Lebanon, and the mountainous areas on the border between Syria and Turkey. These areas were already occupied by other Muslim and Christian minorities, for whom the mountains were a perfect place to keep their sovereignty. The obvious addressees of the Druze missions were the Ismailis, as the elder brothers in the Shiite doctrine, but also Qarmatians and other rebel groups that always provide a fertile soil for new ideas promising increased political or economic influence. In 1032, historians recorded the first major social unrest stimulated by the Druze leader al-Muqtana. The emir of Antioch with the emir of Aleppo were forced to quell the uprising of the peasants who had gathered near Aleppo to fight for their land rights. Under the guidance of Hamdan, new Druze converts plundered the locals in Jabal al-Ala destroying mosques and introducing the new social rule. In the Lebanese mountains, the Druze grew from strength to strength under the leadership of the Buhtur family, which, at the end of the 12th century, was strong enough to confront the armies of the Crusaders. From Lebanon, the Buhturs moved towards Jabal al-Arab, where a small Druze community had existed since the times of the early missionaries. The golden age of the Lebanese Druze and the Druze from Hawran came at the time of Fahr ad-Din in the 17th century. The expansion was carried out by peaceful means via keeping good relationships with the Christians living in the area. At the beginning of the 18th century, after the battle of Ain ​​Dara, between the Qaysi and the Yemeni tribes, hundreds of people from the latter group found refuge in Jabal al-Arab, warmly accepted by the Hamdan family. The successful development of the Druze community which had settled in this region rapidly stirred another Druze migration from northern Syria. The famous families of al-Halabi and al-Atrash arrived. The last Druze from Aleppo, ousted by the Alawites, set off in 1811 under the leadership of the Emir of Bahira in the direction of Lebanon and as-Suwayda. The Druze also settled in Palestine and the area of today’s Israel.


The Druze on the map of Syria.


The most accessible and the clearest way to illustrate the distribution of the current Druze community in Syria, was the creation of appropriate maps. At this stage, I relied on the plans of the following orientalists: Kais M. Firro, Andrea G., Masaki Uno, Mari Dupont, Geoffrey Aronson, Xavier de Planhol, Brigit Schaebler, as well as on the maps drawn up by the Ministry of Tourism in Syria. On the basis of these plans and my own field research, I created maps including distinctive features such as the name of the places inhabited by the Druze, the areas of influence of individual families, borders between countries and the height of areas above sea level.

Syrian travel

The first trip to the foothills of Jabal al-Sheikh.

Beginning of November 1998. The village of Arna


After nearly two months in Syria, spent mainly in Damascus, my friends and I decided to visit the mountainous regions of Jabal al-Sheikh. It is situated on the border of Syria and Lebanon, close to the location of the United Nations forces in the Golan Heights. For these reasons the place is especially well guarded by the Syrian Security Office. After registering with an appropriate authority, we received our one-day passes to stay in the village of Arna and to climb towards the summit of Jabal al-Sheikh, but, as it turned out, only in the company of the patrol of Syrian troops stationed there.


Between 8 am and 4 pm, we walked on the slopes of the mountain enjoying the impressive views of apple orchards in their autumn colours, which were scattered all over the area. At this time of year, the last minibus towards Damascus departed at about 6 pm, so we went back to Arna two hours earlier to eat something and to wait for our transport. Near the minibus stop, there is shop which belongs to a man whose name is Mikhail, a very friendly Christian. In addition to the basic food products and regional wines, the place offers falafels with lots of fresh vegetables. The shop is also a good place to watch the village life and chat with the locals passing by.


The young people, dressed typically like young people in Damascus, turned out to be very open and friendly. Often, it was them who started the conversation, drawn by curiosity about the presence of foreigners. The older residents of the village attracted my attention with their original dress and particularly dignified behaviour. All men had a moustache and sometimes a beard. They all wore black clothes and white headwear. The women also wore black clothes and a white headscarf covering their head and neck. I tried to take photographs, but this was met with strong objections. I didn’t insist, knowing that it would only cause reluctance in the inhabitants of Arna and I wanted to come back here soon to learn more about the mysterious people in black, living in the mountainous regions, cultivating these beautiful fruit orchards.


Seeing my interest in the natives, Mikhail bid me farewell, saying, “Come back here whenever you want to, I am a Christian and they are the Druze. Islam is far away.” His words truly intrigued me and aroused my curiosity about the Druze even more. On the way back to Damascus, I wondered whether I had understood the words of Mikhail correctly. After all, they were spoken in a Syrian dialect which, at that time, was not yet well known to me.




In May 1999, I was invited by a young Druze, called Amin, who was then 29 and who studied and worked in Damascus, to stay in the town of Suwayda, where his family lived.


We arrived at Amin’s parents’ on Thursday at lunchtime. His father, aged 58, was a retired soldier and his mother, 50, had never worked outside the home. They lived alone in a block on the outskirts of the city in a flat of about 90 m². Their standard of living reminded me of that of a regular Polish family at that time. After a hearty meal consisting of mutton chops, vegetables and fruit, Amin’s father offered me some traditional strong and bitter Arabic coffee. When asked about my background, family and occupation, I tried to give very full answers in order to encourage him himself to elaborate later, during my interview. When I told him about my family, he was very surprised that my father, who held a respectable position and was of rural origin, did not possess land, which here was the evidence of high social status. My explanations about the unprofitability of agricultural production in Poland remained completely incomprehensible to Amin’s father.


The interview with Amin’s father:

Have you been initiated in the Druze religion?

No and I don’t want to deal with matters of religion.



Because it is not indispensable for living in this world.


But you are a Druze, aren’t you?

Of course! And my daughters will give birth to my Druze grandchildren.


What do you mean?

They married Druze men. One of them is after initiation.


What is the difference between the names Muwahhidun and the Druze?

There is none.


Who was Darazi?

He was a bad man.



You must ask the people of faith.


Do the Druze have special features, signs or symbols?

People who enter this religion wear black clothes and white headwear. The elders wear a white and red lafiya.


At what age do you enter the Druze faith?

30, 40, there are some who go through initiation at the age of 60. Age is not the most important aspect.


And what is?

The willingness to get to know the secrets of the faith and the maturity to be able to keep them a secret.


And what about women?

Women have equal rights, also in terms of religion.


Has anyone tried to talk you into initiation?

No, it is a personal matter.


In some books written by Western researchers I read that for the Druze, al-Hakim – the Egyptian caliph is a God.

God resided in al-Hakim.


But was he God?

Like I said, I don’t participate in the religious life.


Are the Druze Muslim?

The Druze are Islam and the The Quran is the sacred book.


Are the Druze Arabs?

The Druze came from Lebanon.


But are they Arabs?

Yes (he stood up and went to get two books about the history of Jabal al-Arab). The Druze have always been brave, shedding blood for the Arab homeland.


You were a soldier, what do you think about the Druze officers in the Israeli army?


The Druze are everywhere, living in every country around the globe. Everywhere they are, they make sure they are good citizens. The problem with Druze officers in the Israeli army is minimal. It is, however, true that the young Druze must do compulsory military service there.


A phone rang during the conversation. It was Amin’s older sister saying that the following week she was flying from Argentina. She’d been living there with her family for 10 years. Amin suggested a walk around the town and a visit to his other sister.


Suwayda is a quiet and pleasant city, but it gives the impression of an endless construction site. On the one hand, there are the ruins of monuments, on the other, unfinished homes which seem to account for 85% of the buildings in the city and can be seen everywhere. The family home of Amin’s sisters had three floors and, strangely enough, was fully completed. We were invited into a room for visitors which was tidy, about 45 m² in size and equipped only with seats and a table. The walls were adorned with photos of ancestors. The sister was a friendly and open person. She spoke a little French and she had finished high school. She had two children, a boy and a girl. The grandmother came in to bring us some tea and coffee. Amin chatted to her telling her the latest news about himself and the family. The grandmother unfortunately did not answer any of my questions – perhaps it wasn’t suitable to talk to a strange man. Still, she willingly agreed to have her photo taken. After a half-hour visit, Amin thanked them for their hospitality and we left. There were no men at home at that time. Maybe this was the reason why the visit was so short. When we said goodbye, the grandmother insisted I was to visit them next time I was in Suwayda.


We headed towards the city centre. Then we walked around a residential area in the eastern part of Suwayda. At about 7 pm, men and women dressed in black with snow-white headwear appeared in the streets. As there were more and more of them, I asked Amin what was going on. The answer was: “Thursday is the day of the Majlis – a meeting at a designated place of those who are initiated in the religion.” It was strange that the Druze were heading in different directions and were usually walking in pairs. I took this opportunity to ask Amin if I could take a photo of one of the couples passing by. He asked and the Druze stopped without a word to have their picture taken and then left without a word. Amin couldn’t or wouldn’t say where the houses of prayer were located.


On Friday morning, Amin’s family hired a taxi to go towards the mountains. His colleague’s father had approximately 1 hectare of land 15 km from Suwayda where they grew cherries and apples. The spacious house standing there could easily be used as a year-round place to live. Upon arrival, Amin’s parents went to do their work and we set off on a walk through the orchard and the neighbouring fields. Amin complained about the backwardness of his parents. The rules governing the behaviour of the community in Suwayda irritated the young IT engineer who was now residing in Damascus. He admitted that he would happily live in Suwayda with his parents and commute to work in Damascus, as it would be cheaper, but it was impossible. His parents would not give him any autonomy. The will of a young Druze is entirely subject to the elders and it is an unbreakable principle. Amin pointed out the advantages of land ownership, but wondered why everyone had to be bound to it. He was also afraid that if he fell in love with a girl who was not a Druze, his relations with his parents would disappear completely. His father would never accept such a relationship.


In the evening, before returning to Damascus, we visited Amin’s uncle from his father’s side. The house of about 300 m² was in the centre of the city and three families lived in it. The grandfather, who must have been about 75 years old, greeted me and then sat down in a corner of the guest room. He sat there not saying anything until the end of the visit, although he did offer us coffee twice and then poured it into small cups.

I learnt that a year ago the uncle had returned from Moscow where he had done business. Except for a few breaks, he had spent 12 years there altogether. He hadn’t made a fortune in Russia. The good money of the first prosperous period in Moscow had been used to cover the loss of the unsuccessful recent years. The uncle laughed saying that living abroad was worth a try, but there was no point wasting time living a worse life than he could have in Syria. He had now opened a shop in the city centre and had high hopes associated with it. The uncle didn’t wear white hats or black clothes as he wasn’t initiated into the faith.

The presence of the grandmother and the uncle’s wife and children prevented a relaxed and detailed interview so we said goodbye and went with the uncle to the city centre to visit the shops of his friends.

Golan. The village of Hudur


I visited the Golan Heights in October 1999, during the fig harvest, hoping to find the Druze. I chose the village of Hudur for its remoteness from the main roads. Not having obtained the earlier-mentioned authorization from the Security Office to enter this area, I decided to get there illegally. The only possible way to deceive the vigilance of the guards at checkpoints was to look like a UN soldier. Thus, I cut my hair short, put on green trousers, a grey T-shirt and heavy boots, and tucked a blue cap with the emblem of the United Nations in my bag. I had been given the hat six months earlier by Polish soldiers stationed in the Golan Heights. My trick worked. Without any hassle, I got to Hudur by saluting through the window to some young Syrian soldiers at two checkpoints.

As we arrived in Hudur, I asked the minibus driver to drop me off on the edge of the village. I asked the first people I encountered to direct me to someone who could tell me about the Druze living there. The villagers took a while to consider my question and then referred me to the village administrator, Mr. Nur ad-Din. His house was located in the central part of Hudur. He lived in a bungalow overgrown with vines which, in the vicinity of the entrance stairs, created a beautiful canopy with bunches of ripe fruit hanging overhead.


The administrator was clearly unhappy about my visit. He invited me to his terrace in a rather dry manner. His wife brought coffee. I justified his behaviour by the fact that it was the Golan Heights and everyone here had enough problems anyway, and my visit would definitely have to be recorded by the administrator in his reports to the Syrian Security Service. I tried to relax the atmosphere by talking about my course at the Arabic Language Institute at the University of Damascus, about the work which I was writing on the Druze and explained that I had visited them across Syria for this reason. Mr. ad-Din then agreed to a short interview noting at the beginning that he was not the religious leader of the village, but only the administrator appointed by the Syrian authorities.

Here is what I learned.


He had three sons, two of whom were married. The eldest had a shop, the middle one was an office worker and the youngest a driver. At this time, the village men married at the age of 30-35. In the past they did so at 25. He himself grew apples, cherries, olives, figs and some corn on a 20-acre piece of land. The village had 7,000 inhabitants, as very few young people settled in Damascus. After finishing school they usually came back to live with their family and work in agriculture. The village of Hudur maintains strong links with the Druze living in the part of the Golan Heights occupied by Israel; the reason being family ties.


As for living near the Maronites, due to major problems in the past, current contact was limited to the necessary formalities such as co-governing the state, being neighbours, etc. The administrator had been initiated in the Druze faith. He explained, however, that people of his age had little knowledge about religion and so he couldn’t help me in this matter. Instead, he offered to take me to the Sheikh of the village, Mr. Mahammad.


We went through the village, passing by poor households. The administrator went first, slowly. Pressing his right hand to his chest, he greeted the people he passed. The streets made of concrete, the grey buildings with metal doors leading to each house and the sight of ever present poverty overwhelmed me.

The Sheikh’s house was no different from any other house in the village. We had to wait quite a while at the door before Mr. Mahammad let us inside. It must have been the most modestly furnished abode I had visited since I came to Syria. The austere stairwell walls gave a pleasant coolness, but in no way encouraged me to linger near them. Led by the Sheikh, I walked towards the room for visitors, passing the kitchen, which was simply a room with a gas stove, three cupboards and bags full of vegetables lying on the ground below the window. A stout, elderly woman dressed in black was peeling onions.

In the room for visitors, of about 30 m², stood a highly polished glass case stuffed to the brim with various kinds of china and glass dishes. A rug was lying in the middle and mattresses and pillows were placed by the walls, which were covered with green oil paint. In the corner, by the window, placed on a metal table, was a TV.

The Sheikh indicated our places and we all sat down. He was a very friendly, elderly man who smiled constantly, squinting his watery and cloudy eyes. As he was a bit deaf, he almost shouted when he spoke. I often needed the administrator’s help in decrypting what the Sheikh had said. Mahammad spoke only a dialect of Arabic. He spoke quickly and unclearly.


This is what I managed to write down:


The Sheikh was 101 and a half years old.

He had raised six sons and five daughters. They all lived in the village and they were all people of faith.

He boasted that he had fought against the Turks and the French for the freedom and faith of Islam.

The Sheikh didn’t know where the Druze came from, but they had come to Syria from Lebanon.

The Druze name came from the name Ad-Darazi who was a messenger bringing the thoughts of Hakim to the Syrian lands, but as he had preached falsely during the journey, the Druze did not like the name.

The name Muwahhidun referred to those who glorified God and gave themselves entirely to him, both in body and mind. They called themselves Muwahhidun because they were united with God.

The term Beni Maaruf came from the mystery and purity of moral life in the community. The Sheikh said a few more sentences about it, but I didn’t understand them at all. When I asked the administrator for help in translating, he only said that the Sheikh’s words had been very vague and he hadn’t understood them either.

The Turks and the French had tried to rule the Druze, who were not numerous at that time, so they had settled in the mountains which gave them shelter.


Majlis. As a Jahil (uninitiated, an unbeliever) I could enter the house of prayer and listen to the introduction, whereas the following sections were comprehensible only to those initiated in the Druze faith. I asked, “Was Hakim a God or a Prophet?” The reply was, “Hakim was oneness. Go to Suwayda, the Sheikh Djarbu will tell you the truth about the faith. Ask him about our flag and the law of the Druze.

The old man got tired and the village administrator was giving me signs with his hand to stop. We finished our cold Pepsi, which had been brought to us by a little boy during the conversation. We weren’t offered any coffee.


The outskirts of Damascus


One of my Palestinian friends living in Muhayyam Yarmuk asked me to meet his friend, a book publisher and a PhD in history, living and working in the area of ​​Ja Rumana. The man looked wealthy. He had a relaxed manner and he was dressed entirely in accordance with European style. Dr. Majid received us in his office. Sitting proudly behind a massive desk, he  spoke willingly about himself and the Druze. His two daughters listened to our conversation. Sometimes they expressed their opinions speaking in literary Arabic. All three were students at the Faculty of History at the University of Damascus. They were also having private lessons in English and French.


Here is what I found out:


The doctor didn’t have a friendly relationship with the Druze. He studied and worked in Moscow, where his wife came from. The mother of his daughters wasn’t a Druze so they weren’t Druze either.
He knew a lot about their religion, but his interest was purely academic and he never felt any spiritual connection. The Druze, in his opinion, come from the same ethnic roots as Arabs, but there are others who argue that the Druze are from Persia. Hakim is God in the Druze faith. Through him, God revealed himself to people and through him, God will return to Earth for the day of judgment. The Druze doctrine is a religion, but remains within the framework of Islam. To my question about how it was possible, he said that you had to be smarter than both of us together to comprehend it. The Ismaili are a faction of Islam important for the Druze. The Druze Takammus doctrine is different from Ismailism above all in the belief that, regardless of God’s judgment, the soul always comes back to a human body, whereas the Ismaili claim that the condemned soul is to return to Earth in the body of an animal.


The religious initiation in Lebanon is done at the age of 15-20. In Syria, the Druze become familiar with the secrets of their religion at the age of 55-60, when people begin to think about God.

Today, the young Druze in Syria are not interested in religion at all. This is due to the universal and very strong tendency towards atheism.

During one of his incarnations on Earth, the Prophet Muhammad was the incarnation of Satan. At that time, he had a very bad influence on the Druze community.

For the Druze, the fundamental issue in this world is land and agriculture. Someone who works in a different area than agriculture has no respect in the traditional Druze community.

The sacred Druze books are nothing original. They are a collection of wisdom from different religions. They used to be secret, but now you can read them in European libraries.

There is no single general assembly for the Druze from all over the world. Lebanon is considered a religious centre. Suwayda is also an important centre of the Druze community.


Suwayda the second time


This time I was invited to Suwayda by Mr. Zijar al-Yasin, the head of the Trade Union of Teachers in Syria. His family came from Suwayda, though he himself had lived in Damascus since he went to university. He said he belonged to the Communist Party of Syria. As a Jahil, he wasn’t at all interested in talking about religion. He described the Druze as a religious minority and not an ethnic one. He stressed that they had the same rights as all the citizens of Syria and then elaborated on the Druze participation in the creation of the Ba’ath Party.
In connection with the upcoming seventieth anniversary of the Communist Party, Mr. Zijar invited me to participate in the Communist Congress in Suwayda, which was to be held in the Cultural Centre, in a rented cinema hall.

The director of the Cultural Centre in Suwayda was Dr. Fandi Abu Fakhr, a Druze and an educated historian. I opened the door and walked into his spacious and sunny office. Apart from his desk, there was also a large conference table and a few comfortable armchairs loosely arranged by the wall. A long burgundy carpet stretched across the entire length of the room. The director had been notified about my visit so he scheduled the whole day for the meeting with me. During our conversation, the director behaved in a distant manner, which, I presume, was due to his high position, which he had held since 1986. His membership in the Ba’ath Party and his degree of Doctor of Humanities had helped him reach such a high position in Suwayda.


Here is what I learned during the meeting:


Dr. Fandi Abu Fakhr came from a small village near Suwayda.

He was 48 years old.

He had written his doctoral thesis on the history of Jabal al-Arab in the years 1840-1918, which was published in Dar al-Majid in Damascus.

His wife was a Druze and she worked as a teacher in a primary school.

He had one daughter and three sons. The eldest son was graduating from high school that year, the middle one was to graduate the following year and the youngest was at primary school. The daughter was a student at the Institute of Mechanics in Damascus.

The director wasn’t initiated into the faith and wasn’t intending to do so in the future.

It was largely the pressure of the family which determined the initiation in the faith. His family did not insist on it even though his mother and father were Ukkal, those initiated into the Druze faith (1),

My host said that all the Druze Books are generally available in Lebanon. He was of the opinion that in the times of religious freedom, there was no point hiding the Books. Building mystery around the Druze faith, which they do themselves, leads to speculation about the Druze, slander and false theories.

The Druze officers serving in the Israeli army were condemned by the Druze community. There were very few of them so it wasn’t seen as a problem and wasn’t a topic of conversation in the community.

In Syria, in regions where the Druze were the majority, political power was exercised by representatives of the community. It happened that the Druze acted as governors in regions they didn’t come from.

The Druze banner shows five colours. Each has a separate symbolic meaning:

A. Green – refers to the green colour of the Ark of Noah.

B. Red – refers to the colour of fire and the religion of Moses.

C. Yellow – refers to the colour of the light flowing onto Jesus when he spoke with God.

D. Blue – also points to Jesus changing the colour of the sky from black to blue.

E. White – refers to the white colour of Imams worn by Muhammad. This colour symbolises peace.

The Director strongly emphasized that the Druze were associated with the Ismaili in terms of their dogma; however, they did not worship their Imams.


At midday, Mr. Fandi invited me to lunch, to which we were taken by the Director’s personal driver. Inside the restaurant, the head of the Cultural Centre in Suwayda was warmly greeted by the staff. We were shown to a table already set with two plates of fresh vegetables and a jug of water. In the corner of the room, I saw about fifteen men seated at a large table. They were talking loudly and drinking alcohol. Mr Fandi was a little embarrassed by such company. Then he explained that the men were celebrating the signing of a construction contract for the renovation of a school. I asked if they were the Druze and he confirmed. Each of them bowed seeing the director, but they remained loud. During the meal we talked mainly about my family, my university course and my plans for the future. I noticed that the director wasn’t as formal as before in the office. Sitting with him I felt that any cultural differences were irrelevant. He ate and talked, was interested in the same things which, for example, my father would be. He had never travelled abroad. Previously, he couldn’t afford it and now he had too many duties connected with work. Nonetheless, he noted that he would like his children to go abroad for work practice. The Centre had a lot of contacts with France and the United States.

On the way back to the office, Mr. Fandi offered his help in arranging a meeting with Sheikh al-Akl in Suwayda, Mr. Djarbu.


Sheikh Djarbu residence


At about 3.30 pm, I was dropped off at the door of a stately house with a gate in the middle. In the courtyard, I saw three big American cars in seventies’ style. An elderly woman in black opened the door and let me into a spacious room which, judging by the furniture, was a room for visitors. It was approximately 60 m² in size, with stone tiles on the floor and the walls painted from top to bottom with white oil paint. Simple seats cushioned with woollen rugs stood against the walls and, in the corner, there was a small brass table with a set of Arabian style coffeepots on it. We exchanged polite greetings and the woman left the room. The Sheikh appeared soon after. A small, elderly man smiling broadly invited me to his office. The Sheikh’s position was equivalent to a high-rank priest in the Catholic Church. He was warm and welcoming and spoke slowly and in a relaxed manner. He was able to listen and he also gave the impression of a person who cared greatly about his appearance.


The Sheikh intimidated me. I was afraid to ask questions especially about religion, feeling that my questions might force him to avoid the truth. I knew that as a high Druze dignitary, he would have to give politically correct answers.


Here is what I managed to jot down during a brief meeting:


The Sheikh came from Suwayda. He was 75. He had graduated from religious schools in Suwayda. Before going to Venezuela in 1949, he had taught at several schools of the region of Jabal al-Arab. In Venezuela, he had opened a gas station, among other things, and dealt with all kinds of trade. In 1965 he had returned to Suwayda to his dying father. Shortly after, he had become Sheikh al-Akl. All of his children are happily married. Some of them live with their families in Venezuela or in the UAE, while others remained in Suwayda.

The Sheikh didn’t encourage his children to initiate in the Druze religion, wanting it to be their own, mature choice. Two sons had already initiated in the Druze faith. The daughter residing in Venezuela and her husband were also after the initiation.

According to the Sheikh, religion shouldn’t be the most important aspect in a person’s life and when it is, this often leads to civil wars such as those which could be seen at that time in Algeria and Africa.

In Syria, in the five provinces, there are 340 small centres of the Druze faith.

When asked about the Druze officers in the Israeli army, he said that the government of a state didn’t matter. What mattered was the country where one lived and one must do everything to be able to live in it comfortably. As for marriage, if a Druze married a girl from outside the Druze community, he was excluded from the religion, and could not return to it, even if he divorced. There were no other consequences.


He also said that the only major difference between Muslims and the Druze was the number of wives. The Druze Books were issued in Lebanon as cheap books to discredit the Druze community by revealing their alleged secrets. The holy book mostly read by the Druze was The Quran. He had known president Assad personally for 35 years. The five colours on the Druze banner had no particular meaning. He ironically mentioned the Chinese five-pointed star and asked whether it had any meaning. The Druze had come from Yemen to Aleppo and from there to Lebanon and Syria.

When I asked whether the Druze were Arabs, the Sheikh pondered for a moment and then said, “The Druze belong to the culture of the Arab countries, although some Syrian writers and many French ones diminish the role of the Druze in the history of Syria.”


The Sheikh emphasised the need for ongoing development of both the internal and external human existence. The earthly life was worthy of interest. A human being is free and should constantly think about the future. After a 45-minute-long meeting, the Sheikh rose from his desk announcing that he had a business meeting in the evening which he had yet to prepare for. Saying goodbye, he embraced me. I felt very happy that I had been able to get to know one of the leaders of the Druze, and that he had proved to be an outstanding and warm person, as well as open to the world.


The Aleppo area


This time I went to the area of Aleppo in search of the Druze. In the mountainous regions near the border with Turkey, there are 12 villages inhabited by the Druze minority. The most popular village in the area is Kalb Luza. Here visitors can find early sacred Christian monuments and the ruins of a Roman settlement.

I arrived in Kalb Luza at 10 am on a beautiful, sunny October morning. The sun at this time of year is not as intense as in the summer so the village was full of running children and adults walking by. Poverty and dirt was everywhere. I was surprised with the level and the way of life of the people who lived there. For the first time, I was met with such insistence by the children who tried to sell hand-embroidered pieces of cloth, or just begged for a few lire. The adults I approached in trying to make contact didn’t show any interest. They turned and walked away without a word. I felt very uncomfortable there. I decided to move on towards the village of Banabil. The beautiful weather convinced me to beat the 6 km distance on foot. As I was walking, I admired the mountainous landscapes and inhaled the air with the scent of corn and olive groves.

After about two kilometres, I met an elderly man on the road slowly leading a white donkey. He warmly responded to my greeting. He was surprised why I was carrying such a big backpack and hadn’t taken a bus. He took my backpack and loaded it on the donkey, telling me that he was walking towards Banabil too. His fields were there.

Sulayman, for that was his name, admitted that he couldn’t write or read Arabic, so he wouldn’t help with writing down his name. He was 60 years old, had four sons and two daughters. One of the sons had married and settled in Lebanon. He himself had 50 acres of land on which he grew olives and corn. He boasted about large grain exports from these regions to Saudi Arabia. He mentioned president Assad as a good leader, the protector of the Druze and the promoter of agriculture. “Now they have nothing to be afraid of,” said Sulayman. When I asked why the Druze always lived in the remote mountain areas, he replied that after all, mountains are the most beautiful and besides, the Druze came to Syria in troubled times, so they preferred to hide. Sulayman said that the Druze had come to Lebanon from Iraq and Persia and then to Syria, but now most of them lived in India. According to him, the Druze were everywhere on earth and mostly in areas where many people lived. Each village had its Sheikh. The most important one resided in Suwayda. Sulayman admitted that he hadn’t initiated into the faith.


The village of Banabil did not differ much from Kalb Luza. Simple one-storey buildings made from brick and stone, a concrete road with sheep and goat droppings scattered around. All this discouraged me from trying to make contact with the inhabitants of the place. I sat on a stone wall along the road, pulled out a bottle of water from my backpack and began to wonder whether coming here was worth the effort. People started appearing, mostly children. They approached me with curiosity and broke into laughter after hearing my imperfect Arabic. I asked them boldly whether they were the Druze. The children didn’t respond, but a tall man came up and said that it was a Muslim village and there were no Druze here. I got up intending to head off. At this point, an elderly man dressed in traditional Druze clothes came out from a nearby building. I gave the tall man a wry smile and asked who the elderly man was. He replied that it was Islam and the clothes were a traditional village outfit. I asked to meet the village administrator.


Abu Hatim was 55 years old, had two sons and five daughters. He had undergone the religious initiation. He had been the village administrator for 10 years. He held the function on behalf of the state and it had nothing to do with the social structure of the Druze. For the first half hour of the meeting, I had to answer questions about the reason of my visit. I could tell that he was afraid of the conversation with me. In the meantime, another man came, who was later introduced as a nephew. The meeting took place within the administrator’s grounds of about 500 m², which were surrounded by a low wall of stones and included a house, a barn and a small building of about 6 metres by 8. It was the first time I had come across the idea of ​​placing the room for visitors in a separate building. Apart from rugs, there were no other facilities there. With the arrival of the administrator’s nephew, the atmosphere relaxed. He spoke pure literary Arabic, which helped me in contact with the two other men. The nephew was called Nasif and he had graduated from a technical college in Aleppo and was now running a grocery store in the village and helping his father in the cultivation of the land. He had two children. Nasif explained why the natives were afraid of any contact with strangers saying that the Druze had lived in this region for centuries and kept themselves to themselves wanting to defend their land. The present authority exercised a policy of intimidation. It was easy to go to jail even only on the basis of accusations. A foreigner in particular, not having understood something properly, could later say something to someone and bring trouble to the village.


On hearing this, I told the host about my Syrian journey in search of the Druze, about the difficulties I had encountered, and that I had been staying in Syria for almost a year and I understood the realities of life in this country. I assured everyone that I would never insist on answers which the Druze did not want or were afraid to give. I was interested in the basic issues of Druze life and was glad most of all when the Druze talked about themselves alone, without my questions, for it was then when I found out the most important things.

The tall man informed me that religion had very little impact now on the lives of the inhabitants of this region. Young people move to the city as they want to live modern lives. With a wave of his hand in contempt, he said, “Religion is for the old folk.”

The village administrator and his nephew laughed the man’s words off saying he had no wife, and therefore, there was no God in his heart. He wasn’t mature enough. Till the end of my visit, the tall man hardly spoke at all.

The administrator’s daughters brought a meal, mainly vegetables, laban, bread, hummus and rice with mutton wrapped in currant leaves. The light but nutritious meal relaxed the still-too-formal conversation.


Here’s what I managed to note down during the rest of the interview:


The Druze had lived in this region for nearly 1000 years.

They had come to Syria and Lebanon from the south, from countries where land was well cultivated.

The Druze faith derived from Islam and its origin dated back to Egypt.

Hakim is the most important figure for the Druze, but I managed to get information about him only from the Sheikh al-Akl.

The chief Sheikh of the region lived in a village called Kiftin and his name was Talal Ghamr ad-Din.

The major strength of the Druze religion were the strong ties between its members. The Druze were one big family, whose number of members was fixed from the beginning of the world and would not change until the Last Judgment.

The Quran is the Holy Book of the Druze.

Suwayda was the Druze centre in Syria because Sheikh al-Akl Djarbu lived there, as did a lot of wealthy Druze.

In the village, everyone over 60 years of age was initiated into the faith.

Families in Banabil raised between 3 to 10 children.

Women in the Druze community had more rights than women living under Islamic law.

The law prohibiting the Druze to marry within their families made their blood healthier than in Muslim families.

The Druze got together on a daily basis and once a week teachings at different levels of expertise were held in a designated place.

Every village had a meeting place.

Everything that scientists wrote about the Druze was only partly true. The Druze religion would remain a mystery until the Last Judgment.

The village had 500 inhabitants. They grew corn and olives. They kept sheep, goats and cows.

Many children attended a college in Aleppo but it was very expensive, so they often returned home before they graduated.


I had to leave around 4 pm because otherwise I would have had problems with returning to Aleppo. At this time of year, it got dark quickly. As we said goodbye, the village administrator gave me his address so that I could send the photos I had taken. I was glad to have met these interesting and poor people who lived their lives their own way.


Jabal al-Sheikh. The last visit with the Druze


Nearly a year had passed since I first came to the foot of Jabal al-Sheikh. In Arna, it was harvest time for apples, plums, pears and grapes. Having already had experience in dealing with the Druze, I walked into the village without hesitation. In the centre of Arna, there was a square the size of a sports field. I stopped in the middle of it and looked around at the nearby households carelessly scattered around. The thought of visiting one of them seemed like a good idea. I chose a two-story house with a large terrace. There was a well-kept garden, and the nicely maintained exterior of the house distinguished it from others. I rang the door bell. Almost immediately the door opened. I was shocked with such a prompt reaction, but not more so than the two men standing in the doorway. I introduced myself as usual, and explained what the purpose of my visit was. They exchanged a few words after which the younger man, dressed in secular clothes, said that he had to go to Damascus soon, but that his uncle – he pointed at the older man, dressed in black, would receive me at his place. We walked in silence to the other side of the village.

From the terrace of Mr. Ahmad’s house I had a beautiful view of Jabal al-Sheikh and the entire village. The host asked his wife for a plate of fruit and coffee. He was smiling, but he was also nervous. I showed him the letter from the Polish Embassy and my passport so that he could write down all of my details in case there were problems with the security forces, who would certainly be interested in my visit here.

The conversation didn’t last long as the host and his two sons had to prepare apples and plums which were to be collected at 5 pm by some merchants from Damascus.


Here is what I learned during the interview:


The host was 50 years old and had six daughters and three sons.

The eldest son was a student at the Institute of Computer Science in Damascus. He lived with his father and commuted. The middle son was fourteen and the youngest thirteen.

Speaking of his sons’ education, he praised president Assad and the Syrian state for educating children for free.

He had been initiated into the faith.

Arna had 5000 inhabitants.

The Druze came from Lebanon.

The Druze were fond of the mountainous regions because, especially in the initial period of their exile, they found good shelter there. The region of Syria had constantly been plagued by wars and internal unrest. Over the years, the Druze had specialized in the cultivation of the land, especially orchards. The fertile volcanic mountainous regions of Syria were perfect for this type of agricultural activity so now, in an era of peace and political stability, the Druze remained on their land among their beloved mountains.

There were no special names for different social classes in the Druze community, although wealth significantly affected position in the hierarchy of the Druze. For example, the nearby village of Rima, which was much poorer, automatically had fewer Druze initiated into the religion than was the case in Arna.

The host himself had been initiated only recently and did not want to comment on religion.


After parting with Ahmad, I spent an hour walking around the village and its area. The villagers passing by in their small tractors asked me to try the produce of their land. I talked to them about how beautiful and prosperous the land in Syria was. Everyone thought I was a soldier of the United Nations. As it happened, an Austrian unit was stationed in the Golan Heights so when I told the locals that I was from Poland, they replied, laughing, that they knew there were also mountains in Austria, like here. There was no point in explaining what the difference between Poland and Austria was. I looked at their smiling faces and I enjoyed the good mood.


While waiting for a bus, I decided to visit my Christian friend, the owner of the shop. Mikhail didn’t recognize me, but he was just as pleasant as last time. I explained the purpose of the visit but when the shopkeeper heard the word “the Druze” he scowled and began to speak with contempt about them.


Here is what I wrote down:


90% of young people got as far as the 9th grade.

10% went to college but 90% of them returned to the villages anyway.

Parents did everything to keep their children tied to the cultivation of land and have them settle here and start families only with members of the Druze sect.

Girls from this region never went on to higher education. In Suwayda they did.

All the teachers in the elementary school in Arna are Christians.

The Druze women are strictly subordinated to the will of the men. They cover their faces with scarves.

The richest Druze in the village is not richer than the richest Christian.


Currently, Christians and Druze lived in harmony although in the past bloody wars had taken place.

The Sheikh for Arna was Suleyman Kubul.

People didn’t like the Druze because they were a very closed community. They maintain close contact only among themselves.


Mikhail suggested that I once came to visit the Christians in this region. He would be my guide and he would put me up in his home..


Three days after my second visit to Arna, I boarded the plane to Poland. The Druze living in Syria seemed closer to me yet I still knew so little about them.

Selected concepts





1. Four Books of Faith: the Five Books of Moses, the Psalms, the Gospels, the Koran.


2. The text of the Druze Catechism can be found in Hichi, Salim Hassan in “La Communote Druze: son orgin et son histoire”. Beyrout, 1973.


3. God “God came to earth as a human before his people and led the same life as they did.”

“… he governs all, he may, if he wants, take the figure of a man, a king, an imam, a prophet, but also a simple man. This can be done in a place and at a time submitted only to his will.”


4. Ḡayba “It is absence, disappearance, hiding; this concept already occurred in the doctrine of Ismaili Shiite who believe that the twelfth imam went into hiding because of the wickedness of people. For the Druze, the period of absence is a trial period which ends with the triumphant return of Imam (the incarnation of God) which is foretold by a number of signs defined in the Holy Scriptures.”


5. Judgment Day “It will come when the rulers will rule according to their fantasies and when Christians have authority over Muslims.”


6. Five Pillars of the Druze religion

I. Hamza ibn ‘Alī ibn Aḥmad az-Zawzani – universal intelligence, al-Akl.

II. Abu Ibrahim Ismail b. Muhammad b. Hammad at-Tamimi – universal soul.

III. Abu Abd Allah Muhammad b. Wahib al-Kurajshi – the word.

IV. Abu al-Chajr Salama b. Abd al-Wahhab as-Samiri – the successor.

V. Baha ad-Din Abu al-Hasan Ali b. Ahmad as-Sammuki al-Mashuri (Muqtana).


7. Five colours of the Druze banner

green – Hamza,

red – Ismail,

yellow – al-Kurajshi,

blue – al-Chajr,

white – al-Hasan,


8. The Druze Commandments

I. “Don’t lie – it is the most important of all commandments as it also includes: don’t steal, don’t kill, do not commit adultery. Whoever commits one of these sins lies in the soul, lies openly in words in order to expiate his guilt. Lying can therefore be a more or less serious offence, depending on which of the commandments has been violated.

II. Love your brothers and provide them with all the needed material and spiritual help.

III. Do not, in your soul, believe in other religions and their gods, in particular idols, sacred stones, such as Al-Kaaba.

IV. Do not uncover the mystery of Our Lord. Discard his rivals and honour the five priests.

V. Believe in the oneness of God in all ages, times and age.

VI. Obey the will of God.

VII. Be strong and steadfast in faith in the face of happiness and failures.”


9. Al-Majlis: “A simple room with no architectural embellishments. We will not see any statues. Mats are spread on the ground. A simple pulpit stands there.”


10. The prayer: “The five Muslim prayers at set times, the Druze replace with adoration, which may take place at any time and any place.”


11. Fast: Fasting can be substituted by silence, not speaking


12. Pilgrimage: The Druze are not required to do a pilgrimage.


13. Reincarnation – Kamal Jumblatt wrote: After death, the soul of the deceased detaches from his body and goes to the body of a child being born. Until this time, the child lived in his mother’s womb with an animal form. With the baby’s first breath, the soul penetrates the body to remain in it until its death.”

“The body does not come back after death; souls pass into other bodies and subordinate them. The united soul passes into a united form, and the soul of an unfaithful in the unfaithful form. The soul passing into a different body does not change. Only the body of a human acquires a soul. Animals do not have this ability.”


14. The cult of the bull: In the Museum of Cardinal Borgia, there is a brass figure to which the Druze adoration was attributed.”
“… The Jesuits who lived in Syria since the beginning of the seventeenth century noted in their manuscripts that the Druze have a figure of their founder and… they treat it like a God, addressing their requests to it.”
“To drink (to accept) the bull is to become an unfaithful according to the Druze books, worshipers of the bull will be treated with extreme severity on Judgment Day.”
“A bull and a buffalo were used as symbols of false religions, especially those coming from Muhammad and Ali, i.e., pure Mohammedanism and its allegorical variety Ismailism.”


A fragment of the Druze books: “Those who move away from the truth plunge into the vast darkness of ignorance and due to their obstinacy, which is far from the truth, they become lost in the depths of the error and forever remain drawn into the cult of a bull and an ox.”

A fragment of a wisdom session: Do not be liars, or do not repeat after those who say: we voluntarily confess what we are ordered to do and they take the bull into their hearts; because the bull is the enemy of the creator of the world and the bull usurps power to rule.”
As Mr. Venture observed, it is difficult to imagine that the Druze who have accepted the books of Hamza and Muqtana and hold them as sacred and as the foundation of their faith, could adore Hakim in the form of a bull figure.”

Al-Hakim Ali Al-Mansur




Fatimid Egypt


For 270 years of the Fatimid rule, the period which became inscribed in the history of the Arab Muslim rulers as the most interesting was the period of the Caliphs of Egypt. After three failed military campaigns, the region was finally conquered by the Christian General Jawhara in 969 AD. The same general conquered Mecca and Medina for the Fatimid Caliphate, and then marched with his army to Syria, of which he managed to capture only the limits as far as Aleppo. The whole of Yemen and Sicily belonged to the Fatimid dynasty. The empire drew its economic power from a very fast-growing trade in the Nile valley, which began to replace Mesopotamia as a convenient trade route between oriental Africa and the coasts of Asia on one side, and the Mediterranean Sea, Byzantium and Europe on the other.


The treasury of the Egyptian Caliph was supplied with taxes from the land, farming, crafts from Middle and Upper Egypt, river trade, sea trade and caravans. Taxes in the provinces were spent on their maintenance, especially on the military and the governor’s expenses. The overdeveloped administration resulted in bureaucracy and corruption among officials who got rich quickly by trading with public money. The financial nature of the Egyptian reign can be proved by the fact that most of the ministries had the task of monitoring the revenues and expenditures of the state.


The reign of Cairo did not spread over the whole empire in terms of territory, but was limited to the urban areas complete with a military garrison and a governor. Interest was given to the agricultural areas only in the times of tax collection. For the rest of the year, they remained under the jurisdiction of the Bedouin tribes, who divided the sphere of influence among themselves. The rapid population growth, recorded since the year 989 AD, and the climactic changes causing a lack of rainfall, led to the impoverishment of the rural population. The impoverished people were easily influenced by leaders of anti-state movements and rebellions.


The Fatimid Empire covered a huge area. In consequence, there was a great diversity amongst the inhabitants in terms of ethnic and religious background as well as wealth. Governing such a society wasn’t easy. Each group usurped the right to exercise their political, economic and religious goals. Whether fighting or cooperating, the cohabiting groups included Maghrebians, Africans, Berbers, Turks, Iraqis and Syrians. They were followers of different religions: Shiites, Sunnis, Christians, Jews and polytheists.


The state administration was run by Coptic and Iraqi officials, or Jews of Iraqi descent. The army, mainly consisting of warriors from Maghreb, Turkey and Africa, was weak and inefficient due to internal conflicts. This situation was successfully used by Caliph al-Hakim for his spectacular plots, such as burning the city of Fustat.

The Berbers formed a strong lobby, especially the Kutama tribe, associated with the dynasty since its origins. They demanded leadership over the other ethnic groups.


Christians and Jews never rebelled. Their systematic work helped them earn high state positions and become land owners. The situation of these two groups changed greatly during the reign of al-Hakim, the first Arab-Muslim ruler, who severely persecuted these two religious minorities. Abbasids treated Christians and Jews in a similar way.


The Fatimid Empire throughout its duration had two main enemies: the Byzantines in the north and the Abbasids in the east. Al-Hakim’s father was killed while fighting against the Byzantines. Al-Hakim, in order to rule Aleppo, came into conflict with Basil II who, in consequence of this, as well as the destruction of the Church of the Resurrection in 1016, broke up trade relations with Egypt.


The Fatimids and the Abbasids, as two forces under the banner of Islam, counterbalanced each other. The Fatimids spared neither money nor propaganda to get rid of the caliphs of Baghdad. Bouron mentions 40 weeks in which Friday sermons in Baghdad were preached honoring the Fatimid Caliph, al-Mu’izz. Nonetheless, in the overall evaluation of Middle Eastern history, it cannot be said that the Fatimids were able to undermine the influence of the powerful Abbasid rulers.


The Fatimids propagated Ismailism, which al-Hakim tried to raise to the rank of a state religion. Ismailism is a branch of Shia Islam which accepted subordination to Ismail whose right to acquire the Imamat was taken away by his father, as-Sadik Jaffar, the sixth Imam. The reason was Ismail’s immorality and insubordination. Subordination to the imam is characteristic of all the sects centred around Ali, Muhammad’s son in law. The key issue here is the right to become the Prophet’s successor. Ismailism is a highly hierarchical group. The system, which was later borrowed by the Almohads, was led by four ministers gathered around the Imam and consisted of 12 districts, which were led by 12 “Days” or “Hodja”, specially dressed and surrounded by scholars. The main “Qadi” was a figure endowed with great religious and legal authority. Since the beginning of the Fatimid dynasty, these duties belonged to the al-Numan family until the sixth Caliph, in one of his controversial edicts, removed the family from this office and gave it to a different family.

The main Ismaili doctrines say that all which is external has internal sense, and the internal values which are hidden surpass those which are external. It is a spiritual and secret religion into which one must be initiated. In Fatimid Egypt, the Ismaili teachings were given during Majlis – the meetings of wisdom held on Thursdays and Fridays. In the year 407, al-Hakim banished them, thus facilitating the preachers of his divinity to promote the new faith.


Hakim Abu Ali al-Mansur

About the family


Al-Hakim, called Abu Ali al-Mansur, was born in a palace in Cairo on Thursday, 23rd Rabi 375 AH, 13th August 985, when, as the French orientalist De Sacy puts it, the 27th degree of Cancer came onto the horizon.

Abu Ali was the sixth caliph from the Fatimid dynasty, whose name derives from Fatima, the daughter of Prophet Muhammad. The Arabic historian al-Maqrizi (1364 – 1442) and De Sacy support the thesis posed by the advocates of the dynasty which says that its roots go back to Muhammad. The dynasty was started by Ubaid Allah, called Said al-Mahdi by the Druze, after he escaped from the as-Salamiyya to Africa chased by the Abbasids. His father was a Jew but, as we know, Judaism is inherited from the mother’s side. According to chronicles, in his youth Ubaid was a good student and had a noble soul. The former imam of as-Salamijja liked him very much and, not having his own children, made him his heir and passed the secrets of faith to him. Al-Mahdi became very rich, which gave him the freedom to promote the new faith in exile. He found shelter with the Berbers from the Kutama tribe and settled in Tunisia, where the views of the Kharijites were in strong opposition to the Abbasid dynasty.  There he founded the city of Mahdiyah, which became the capital of the Fatimid rulers in Africa and the Middle East for almost three centuries.


Al-Hakim’s father was called al-Aziz. All authors mention that he died in Bilbays, where he led a military campaign against the Byzantines. Bienquis quotes al-Maqrizi “Ittiaz al-Hunafaa from 386 AH”, who notes that after his death, al-Hakim’s sister, Sitt al-Mulk came to this city in mourning in the company of the most important persons of the state, including the young al-Hakim. On page 112, Bienquis describes the corrupt bureaucracy in Egypt and the hypocrisy of the state notables, who conspired against al-Aziz only to humbly bow to him later while accepting gifts from him. Bianquis writes about the big influence which Sitt al-Mulk had on their father.


Al-Hakim’s mother was a Christian. Her son showed her great affection and love. How then can one explain the confiscation of all his mother’s property in 399 AH and the lack of respect for her religion through the widespread persecution of Christians and the destruction of the symbol of Christianity, the Church of the Resurrection in Jerusalem?


Al-Hakim’a sister, Sitt al-Mulk was 18 years older. Historians often mention her beauty and rich social life. She wasn’t indifferent to the political life of the State. Some theses indicate her involvement in the murder of her brother.

Bouron of Nerval briefly describes al-Hakim’s grandfather, al-Mu’izz li-Din, who was the founder of Cairo. He was greatly interested in astrology. He created Cabalistic tables, which were later used by al-Hakim. Al-Hakim inherited his grandfather’s spiritual approach to the world. It was said that al-Mu’izz hid for a few days and then told people that he had been taken to Heaven. Another time he hid underground and said he had vanished from the face of the earth but without dying like other people. When asked about the evidence linking him with the Prophet, al-Mu’izz apparently put his hand on his sword and said: “Here is the creator of my race.” Then he threw a gold coin and said, “And here are my genealogical documents.”


Unusual personality


The characteristic element in the description of al-Hakim is his clothing. The ruler who always managed the environment around him in a way which was absolute, took great care about the way he dressed.


During the ceremony to accept the leadership of the dynasty, his clothes were probably influenced by the government dignitaries, who dressed him in ceremonial robes. He sat on a white horse (83), he had a turban on his head inlaid with precious stones, and he held a staff in his hand. Never again was al-Hakim dressed so exquisitely. As his eccentric lifestyle developed, the clothing became more modest, to be finally reduced to a single robe, drenched in sweat and mud. Dupont mentions that al-Hakim also grew his beard and nails (86). As a ruler, he often went on solitary strolls around the city dressed up as a simple man to easily blend in with the crowd.


In one of the anonymous Druze books, a religious significance was attributed to al-Hakim’s clothes: “Our Lord wore black clothes, to manifest his disappearance and to inform his loyal followers and subjects that for seven years after his disappearance (87) they would live in suffering and darkness.”


The importance which al-Hakim attached to clothing is also present in his edicts concerning Jews and Christians. In the year 395 AH/1004, he ordered Jews and Christians to wear belts and black turbans. Bouron mentions that particular year as the time when Jews had to wear yellow clothes with a wooden figure representing the head of a bull hanging on their chest. Christians wore blue clothes and an elbow-sized cross hanging (90) around their necks. In the year 399 AH, Christians entering the baths could not take off their crosses and Jews were forced to keep their bells.


All the authors who describe the life of al-Hakim emphasise the unconventional behaviour of this ruler. The frequent changes of temper, nocturnal lifestyle, the ease of giving death sentences are for some an indication of a mental illness, while for others a reason to give al-Hakim divine worship. The Druze guides always describe al-Hakim in a positive way, saying, “Our lord, being infinitely good and just, could not do injustice and cruelty.” How then to explain the killing of all the prisoners held in Cairo in 395 AH, or the murder described by Yahja ibn Said from the year 407 AH. Apparently, while al-Hakim, was strolling around the town, he went into the butcher’s where he grabbed a cleaver and for no reason hit one of his squires. The man was mortally wounded while al-Hakim went on his way without a word. It was not until late in the evening that he sent a shroud to wrap and bury the poor man. Moreover, it is difficult to find an explanation for the verdicts which al-Hakim passed on his dedicated military commanders. Numerous examples of al-Hakim’s atrocities can be found in Canard’s work on page 81. Bienquis, on page 119, describing the revolt of the anti-caliph Abu Rakwa, also mentions a Fatimid commander, Abu al-Futuh al-Fadi, who, two years after his victory over Abu Rakwa, was sentenced to death by al-Hakim in 399 AH. Eleven years later, al-Hakim’s cynicism reaches its peaks. His response to the Turks and Berbers who dared to stand up for the residents of the Fustat district, which was plundered and burnt on the orders of al-Hakim, was impassive. He said, “And who ordered it to be done?”

The fact that al-Hakim travelled around the city on a donkey was against the generally accepted canon of behaviour for rulers in a public place. Although Druze literature gives this conduct a religious meaning, “al-Hakim rode on a donkey, as he didn’t respect and tolerate external laws and the prophets who imposed them”, I believe it was simply al-Hakim’s eccentricity.


Al-Hakim often remained indifferent to the precepts of Islam, which he eventually abandoned in 1015 AD. Without prior warning, he would enter women’s chambers in the palace, break a fast before its formal end, or banish charity and ridicule ritual celebrations in Mecca. In 395 AH, he cursed the first caliphs and the companions of the Prophet. This caused widespread outrage in the community. In his decree for the infidel, he allowed them to return to their original faith (having previously forced them to convert to Islam). This decree is also an indication of al-Hakim’s ignorance of the Islamic law which states that once a person becomes a Muslim, they can never renounce their faith.


Al-Hakim also interfered in what his Egyptian subjects ate. Under the pretext that one of the vegetables was a delicacy of the first caliphs, he forbade its consumption. Another time, he ordered people to abstain from eating any gelled food as this reminded him of dog droppings. He ordered honey, dates, raisins, any products that could be useful for the production of alcohol to be thrown into the Nile (105). Al-Hakim issued and suspended decrees on the consumption of beverages several times. In the year 396 AH, he canceled the prohibition because one of his doctors (106) prescribed drinking wine for medicinal purposes.

The main interest of al-Hakim was astrology. Observing the stars every night, he looked for answers to questions about the future. It sometimes happened that late at night, he convened secret meetings of his most important scholars and informed them about signs which he read in his observatory on Mokattam. The palace of the fourth Fatimid Caliph always hosted a lot of scholars. Al-Hakim was glad to consult his decisions with them – especially at the beginning of his reign. As a result of the fact that al-Hakim promoted science, Cairo attracted scholars from all over the Arab world. He created a great library, established the first Islamic university called Dar al-Ilm, or Dar al-Hakim. He built an astrological observatory on the Mokattam hills.


The reign of the sixth Fatimid Caliph


The end of the fourth century AH, which is often called the Renaissance of Islam, is the age in which a very distinctive ruler reigned in Egypt. Bienquis, while writing about al-Hakim, compares him to a character from “One Thousand and One Nights”. With great wealth at his disposal, he manipulated the empire giving free rein to his fantasies. His father’s death deprived al-Hakim of his childhood and forced him, at the age of 11 years, five months and six days, to take the throne of the Fatimid dynasty. The child was mentally immature to rule so he fell into deviation, which led to ordering the killing of the prime minister of Egypt, Barjawan in 389 AH. The young murderer was then only 14 or 15 years old. At the age of 20, he ordered a death sentence to all who dared to speak ill of Ali and Fatima. At that time, he also issued decrees against Christians and Jews. He prohibited alcohol consumption and travelled around Cairo on horseback. He changed the times of prayers which had been established for centuries. Al-Hakim’s eccentric reign lasted intact for years. Around him, there was fear and terror. No one had the courage to oppose the decisions of the ruler. Any disobedience resulted in choleric attacks, which brought bloody repressions on the subjects.


In the year 405 AH, al-Hakim announced himself God and changed the phrase “Bismi Allah” into “Bi-Amr-al-Hakim”. The young ruler or rather “the Young God” was then 30 years old, the same age as Christ and Muhammad when they announced their revelations. Al-Hakim died or rather disappeared at the age of 36, leaving numerous emissaries proclaiming his divinity and a new religion in Egypt, North Africa and Syria.


Hakim’s rule can be divided into two phases. The first was indirect rule when al-Hakim ruled via his first ministers. The second phase was al-Hakim’s personal reign, which incidentally was the last rule of a caliph in the history of the Arabs.


The caliph appointed Ibn Ammar to be the head of state, a function which the man carried out for two years. He favoured Berbers in the military and government which led him into conflict with Barjawan, who was a tutor of the young al-Hakim. Barjawan urged the governor of Damascus, a Turk, to attack Egypt. Defeated by one of Ibn Ammar’s generals, he subsequently contacted the newly revoked governor of Tripoli, which led to an uprising. Ibn Ammar was defeated and killed. Barjawan, the second of al-Hakim’s leaders took charge of the state at the beginning of 387 AH. Al-Hakim did not like the man because in his youth Barjawan used to call him “a lizard”.


But this was not the only concern of the new governor. The Byzantine offensive in the north of Syria, the rebellion in Tyre and Damascus filled three years of his reign. Nerwal implies that Barjawan had a very close relationship with al-Hakim’s sister, Sitt al-Mulk. This is possible, although no other authors I cited support this thesis. The failed cooperation with the caliph finally led to Barjawan’s death in 389 AH. He was assassinated by one of the henchmen of al-Hakim. This event marked the beginning of a rule that had been unprecedented. A reign of moods, whims and infantile desires. A rule which evoked widespread terror and reached the point of absurdity.


Historians do not mention many examples of al-Hakim’s generosity, but… after the death of Barjawan, the caliph embarked on his solitary wanderings around Fustat. Walking through the dark alleys of the city, he became familiar with many problems which his subjects had to face. In 398 AH, seeing the poverty on the streets of Egypt, he commanded the inspection of houses in the rich district of Cairo in search of grain. He fixed the official price of bread. Canard, quoting Jahja, mentions that al-Hakim abolished onerous taxes connected with sharia: the transport and trade tax.


Al-Hakim also took care of the morale of his people. The dissolute life of Egyptians, which he observed during his walks, forced him to issue edicts on the consumption of alcohol for both Muslims and non-Muslims. A loin cloth was made obligatory in baths. Suspicious walks on the banks of the Nile were also prohibited. Christian women were banned from participating in celebrations held according to the Christian calendar and celebrations of the Nile and vegetation. To force women to stay at home, he forbade shoemakers to produce women’s shoes.


Al-Hakim devoted a large part of his ruling time to creating special laws for Jews and Christians living in Egypt. He confiscated goods belonging to orders and churches. All those who would not convert to Islam were forced to emigrate to Byzantium. Finally, he went as far as profaning the most important Christian church in Jerusalem.


During the reign of al-Hakim, the Fatimid empire didn’t lose any of its territory, even though  numerous rebellions in Egypt and Syria could be observed from 390 to 411 AH. Al Hakim’s army stationed in Syria was the busiest, where it fought against the rebels in Tyre and Damascus, the Bedouins in Palestine and Hamdanids and the Byzantines in northern Syria. The unrest in Egypt posed the greatest immediate threat. The first riot broke out in the region of Buhayra, in the south-east of Alexandria. The second, also started by the Banu Kurram tribe, under the leadership of Abu Rakwa (an Umayyad prince who usurped the right to the title of Caliph) was much more threatening as it came to the gates of Cairo. Canard indicates that at that time, due to the very real threat, the caliph considered an escape to Syria.


During the two years of the rebellion, al-Hakim took measures to win over his people by emptying public stocks for poor families from the old port, regardless of their origin or faith, and by freeing hundreds of slaves. On page 119, Dupont mentions the sum of one million dinars which al-Hakim paid to bribe the Sunni to create a powerful army. The first battles with Abu Rakwa were lost by al-Hakim, even though his Hamdanid subjects from Syria and the Bedouins from the Ṭajjit tribe were his allies. Finally, in 396 AH/1006, al-Fadl ibn Salih defeated Rakwa in Fayyūm. The anti-caliph also promoted an uprising in Palestine in 403 AH. The Ṭajjit tribe and a few former notables of al-Hakim recognised the leader of Mecca as their ruler. Taught by the experience of the previous rebellions, Al-Hakim abandoned the argument of military force and decided to use the power of his treasury to plot schemes between the leaders of the rebellion, which soon resulted in its collapse.


An unexplained disappearance ended al-Hakim’s 22-year rule. The Druze books assess that the event took place in 412 AH. Historians point to 27th day of the shawwal month, 411 AH, as the date of the murder of the sixth Fatimid Caliph. The circumstances of his disappearance are described in various ways by the authors I quote in this work. The facts which are stated everywhere say that al-Hakim went for his usual evening stroll to the observatory on Mokattam. He was in the company of more than one squire, and of course he was travelling on a donkey. During the search for the lost caliph, the corpse of a slave was found, as well as his wandering donkey and al-Hakim’s clothes with the buttons still done up. The killer could have been an unknown fanatic or al-Hakim’s sister, Sitt al-Mulk. Bouron writes that many people in Cairo did not believe in al-Hakim’s death, and claimed that he had gone to the desert to finish his life in peace and formulate his eccentric thoughts. De Sacy quotes an anonymous Druze letter from the 9th year of Hamza, saying that al-Hakim had disappeared underground and entered into a rock called Sedd Escander to remain in it until he wishes to reveal himself.


A new religion


Kamal Jumblatt: “The Druze faith is a religion of the elementary unity of things and beings. There is a fundamental unity in the world between its spiritual and physical form. At the beginning, there was God, the world and the soul. In the end, a wholeness came into existence, one being.”


From the Druze books: “Why, if you ask us, do we reject all the books except the Quran? Know that as we were forced to hide behind the veil of Mohammedanism, it was necessary to adopt the Book of Muhammad. ”


Al-Hakim, who throughout his reign aroused strong mixed feelings in his people, in the end became the object of worship 11 years before his death. Four centuries after Muhammad’s revelations, a part of the Islamic world wanted to have a permanent incarnation of God who came to earth in the likeness of Christ, or the gods of the Far East. The emissaries of the new faith came from Persia, where Islam always had a more spiritual nature due to ancient Persian beliefs.


The first person who dared to speak of God residing in al-Hakim arrived in Egypt in 409 AH, His name was Hasan ibn al-Farhan Heydar, often referred to as al-Aghram. Al-Aghram objected to Muhammad’s prophetic mission and urged people to do things which were forbidden by the laws of the Quran. Some sources report that al-Hakim was so pleased with al-Aghram’s message that he invited him to the palace, dressed him in fine clothes and made him a member of his cortege. His career, however, did not last very long. After 8 days, he was robbed and killed by the mob. One source claims that after al-Aghram had tried to read a letter in the mosque, beginning with the words “Bismil-Hakim al-rahman al-rahim …” the crowd pounced on him and his companions, killing them all apart from al-Aghram who managed to escape.


In the year 410 AH, Hamza ibn Ali ibn Ahmad al-Zawzani, from the town of Ruzun, appeared. In a mosque next to Bab al-Nasr, he invited people to worship al-Hakim and he announced himself the leader of those who believed. He appointed titles and assigned responsibilities in the new assembly. While creating his books, Hamza often reached for the forbidden works of Pythagoras and Plato.


Another emissary proclaiming the divinity of al-Hakim was Muhammad bin Ismail Nashtakin ad-Darazi born of a Turk and an African mother. He was an adept and a missionary of the Ismaili sect. He was in charge of finances in al-Hakim’s palace. Ad-Darazi’s mystic genealogy proclaimed that the soul of Adam went to live in Ali and then passed into al-Hakim where it remained forever. Hamza and ad-Darazi competed with each other, which, as Perillier suggests, could have led to ad-Darazi being murdered by Hamza.


The name “Druze” referring to the religious community is probably derived from ad-Darazi, but all researchers agree that the theoretical background of the religion was created by Hamza. He was the author of “Acts Suspended”, the content of which can be found in De Sacy’s work. The new community was called al-Muwahhidun (unifying, monotheists) or Duruz. The first of these names does not raise any objections and is commonly used by both followers of al-Hakim and researchers. While travelling around Syria, I was often corrected when I used the term Duruz. The explanations were different, but usually al-Darazi was mentioned and people didn’t want their faith to be associated only with this one preacher of their faith.

The law of the Druze




Searching for texts which could define the social laws of the Druze, I came across a fragment of Hamza’s letter found by Sylvestre de Sacy in the midst of Hamza’s letters to his emissaries, or rather missionaries. De Sacy looked through numerous documents on regulations in terms of the Druze conduct, however, he thought them to be unreliable, i.e. not originating from legitimate leaders.


“… what applies to religious dictates is that when a Unitarian man takes a Unitarian sister for his wife, he divides his possessions in half with her. If circumstances force them to divorce, then you must judge who bears the greater loss and how to compensate that party for it. If the woman wants to be liberated from the relationship with the man and he is leading a decent life, and the woman still insists on separation, he will acquire half of her assets. However, if religious people claim that this man is violent, the woman keeps all her possessions. If it is the man who asks for a divorce because he does not agree with the woman’s way of life, he keeps half of what she possesses, even clothes that she bought for her own money. If the man wants to divorce without giving any reason, the woman has the full right to half of his property, the home and furniture, clothes, money, gold, livestock.”


Other authors of works devoted to the Druze treat the subject of the community’s civil code very superficially. They present the general nature of Druze legislation in a descriptive way, referring largely to comparisons with Muslim law. Finally, during one of my visits to Suwayda, I met the director of the Cultural Centre in Suweyda, Mr Fandi Abu Fahr, who arranged my meeting with Sheikh Akl ad-Duruz Hussein Djarbu. During the meeting, I mentioned the topic of Druze legislation and the absence of any coherent text encompassing the entirety of the Druze rights, those which would be made available to someone who is not bound by the secrets of the Druze faith (not initiated into their religion). The Sheikh was surprised and said that the collection of the Druze rights was published in official state journals, not only in Syria but wherever the Druze brothers reside. In his generosity, he did not hesitate to give me a collection of the Druze rights, which he had published himself in four languages and which contained a foreword written personally by him​​.


I decided to translate this collection into Polish and include it in my MA thesis as an interesting genuine source and I have no doubt that not only I will use it in the future. The English version has been translated on the basis of the Polish text.

Translating a text from Arabic can be problematic not only at the level of vocabulary, but also syntax. The elaborate sentences with frequent repetition could bore the average reader so I decided to abandon the literal translation in parts and paraphrase some sections instead. Nonetheless, due to the legal nature of this text, I did this very infrequently.






The civil code of the United Druze minority is one of the best legal systems when it comes to linking it with the different stages of life of every Druze.


This system applies to all family issues, by defining the rights of its members who remain in family relationships throughout life. It sets restrictions for women. It prohibits polygamy and contact between ex-spouses. It gives freedom to establish a will. In our law, the main heir has the right to inheritance, and other heirs after him – one-third of the value of the inheritance or more depending on the specific indications of the law. It also arranges a person’s matters from conception to infancy. It specifies the rights of a child, and then a youth until his or her marriage and the motherhood period. The law deals with the division of property and the issues of successors and beneficiaries after the death of a Druze


It would be desirable for anyone who is in need to use the Book of Rights, especially our brothers in exile. This is why we published it in four languages​​: Arabic, English, Spanish and French, which will definitely help it to be understood and will contribute to its wider dissemination.


This code will be useful for anyone who would like to deepen their knowledge of the spiritual-legal system of this religious group. I address my pride and respect to our sons in exile for their perseverance in the struggle against adversity. I especially want to mention the Druze living in America and Nigeria, who were the first to encourage me to publish this book. Feeling responsibility for the Druze union in exile, for our benefit, I would like our national consciousness and the good contacts of the Druze in exile with their families in our homeland to be our joy and an example for our Arab brothers and sons who emigrated. The feelings for our noble country and the duty to connect with the problems of our homeland, should be expressed in words and in deeds. I sent my prayers and wishes for permanent peace to God who listens and responds to requests.

Sheikh Akl ad-Duruz Hussein Djarbu


The Supreme Spiritual Council of the United Druze


The Supreme Spiritual Council of the United Druze community consists of three people holding Sheikh al-Akl positions. The election for the post of Sheikh al-Akl is held according to tradition and special religious rites. The Supreme Spiritual Council informs the Bureau of the Council of Ministers about the election. The jurisdiction of the Spiritual Council includes the Druze in Syria and all the members of the minority abroad. The provisions made by the Druze minority are determined and independent. The three Sheikhs al-Akl are their representatives. The Sheikh al-Akl’s function involves spiritual and educational guidance, and ensuring that Arabic Islamic customs are strengthened.


The Spiritual Council is obliged to: issue laws and decisions in accordance with the law of this religious group; regulate charitable donations (“al-awqaf”) and appoint all kinds of committees and organizations necessary to manage the affairs of religion, legislation and supervision; commission Islamic law officials to administer marriages and funerals in the country and abroad. These officers will be required to record acts of marriage and wills. The Spiritual Council is also obliged to represent the community around the world; appoint Druze judges in a way which does not interfere with the law of the country in which they live but at the same time is based on the traditions of the United Druze community; appoint and dismiss the highest penalties (such as excommunication) and announce that someone belongs to the Druze religious group or withhold the religious initiation of individual members.


The Law of the Druze Minority


The law of the Druze School is regulated by Act no. 134 from 1945.

Here is the content:

1 Druze courts will function according to the following regulations:

The appointment of a Druze judge shall be made at the request of the Supreme Spiritual Council. The Ministry of Justice issues a decree on the choice of the right person for the post by spiritual leaders.

2 Druze courts are to look after the unique nature of the religious community, and especially its independence and complete freedom in maintaining religious and legal practices, in accordance with the spirit of the community and its principles of law.

3 The acts and provisions issued by the judges of the Druze School are approved by the Supreme Religious Assembly of the Druze in the Jabal ad-Duruz region. The Assembly is the highest judicial authority in the Druze community. All these activities are governed by ritual ceremonies to make the provisions binding.


In 1959 and in 1961 there was a break (chaos) in the functioning of the judiciary of the Druze School. Drawbacks resulting from this situation are being currently dealt with.

Nonetheless, the Civil Code is executed in content and spirit.


The Code of Rights of the Druze Religious Minority


The text of the Code was issued on February 24th 1948, in Lebanon. Amendments to it were announced on July 2nd 1959. In 1953, the Code was approved in Syria and assigned number 59. It was modified in 1975 by Act No. 34, specifically by article 307.



When does one become eligible to marry?


Article 1

A young man becomes eligible to marry at the age of 18, while the age for a young woman is 17.

Art. 2

Sheikh al-Akl or a judge from the Druze School may authorize the marriage of a young man who is 16 years of age, provided that it is medically stated that he will cope with the obligations of marriage. This authorization must be approved by the legal guardian of the young man.

Art. 3

Sheikh al-Akl or a judge from the Druze School may authorize the marriage of a young woman who is 15, provided that it was medically stated that she will cope with the obligations of marriage. This authorization must be approved by the legal guardian of the young woman.

Art. 4

In the case when Sheikh al-Akl or a Druze judge allows marriage between two minors and it happens without parental consent, then each of the two spouses has the right to nullify the marriage within a period of six months from the date when they reach maturity, as set out in Article 1

Art. 5

Marriage is generally forbidden for young men before the age of 16, and young women before the age of 15. The prohibition of marriage also refers to the mentally ill, those suffering from venereal disease and advanced tuberculosis. The obligation to determine the state of health of the intending spouses lies with the Sheikh al-Akl, or one of the Druze judges, who ask for a relevant certificate to be issued by an appropriate medical examiner. It may happen that one of the Sheikhs al-Akl or judges undermines the certificate and then his decision is final and unquestionable.

Art. 6

If a young woman who is 17 years old asks to be married, Sheikh al-Akl, or a judge shall notify her guardian. If the guardian does not object within 15 days, or if the guardian’s objection is supported by a lie, a wedding takes effect due to the decision of the Sheikh al-Akl or a judge.

Art. 7

The marital guardian must be level-headed and responsible, and must be of age and in good mental health.

Art. 8

If any of the intending spouses can not find a guardian corresponding to the posed conditions, the Sheikh al-Akl, a judge or another designated person will undertake to perform this function.



What relationships are legally prohibited?


Art. 9

Marriage is prohibited and void if it is between those remaining in another relationship or those in the period of mourning after the death of their spouse.

Art. 10

Polygamy is prohibited, and if a man marries a second time, this relationship is illegal.


Art. 11

If a man divorces a woman, he is forbidden to take her for his wife a second time (148).

Art. 12

The womb of a women remains inaccessible for a man who is her relative.

Marriage with these four groups of women are forbidden to a man:

a. The man’s mother and his grandmothers.

b. His daughters and granddaughters.

c. His sisters and their daughters, the daughters and granddaughters of his brothers.

d. His aunts.

Art. 13

Marriage is forbidden for women if it may result in affinity.

4 groups of women are defined here:

a. The wives of sons and grandsons.

b. The mothers and grandmothers of wives.

c. The wives of fathers and grandfathers.

d. The daughters and granddaughters of wives.



About the act of marriage


Art. 14

A marriage certificate is written down at a special meeting, with the mutual consent of the spouses and confirmed by the presence of witnesses. The witnesses come from the fiance’s and the fiancee’s side, and their number can not be fewer than four. The marriage certificate is signed by the spouses and their witnesses. If one of the future spouses is absent, and the inability of arrival is justified, the Assembly accepts the signature of an authorized representative, and a power of attorney document which contains the amount of dowry (a sum of money paid by the man to the family of his future wife) will be attached to the marriage certificate.

Art. 15

Consent for marriage is given by uttering a special formula, and in the case of a mute person, by making appropriate gestures.

Art. 16

Marriage is legally binding only if it is granted by Seikh al-Akl, a judge or a person specially appointed for that function.

Art. 17

In each region and locality, Sheikh al-Akl or a Druze judge shall appoint one or more representatives to grant marriage, depending on the needs.

A proxy may grant marriage only with the written consent of Seikh al-Akl or a Druze judge.

Art. 18

The prepared marriage certificate is sent by a proxy to the Sheikh al-Akl or the judge who confirms its authenticity and registers it. The marriage certificate is valid from the date of its conclusion.

Art. 19

It is the duty of the Sheikh al-Akl or a Druze judge to make a record of the marriage in a special Book.

The marriage certificate is sent back to its owner within a period of one month from the date of registration.



The obligations of marriage


Art. 20

Obligations arising from “al-mahr” and “an-nafaka” (the meaning of these two words can be found in chapters five and six) will be fulfilled from the moment the marriage is approved. The same applies to the rights to inheritance.

Art. 21

The wife, except in two cases: divorce or the death of a spouse, is not entitled to claim the second part (“al-muajjal”) of  “al-mahr”.

Art. 22

The wife is obliged to stay at her spouse’s home after the signing of the marriage certificate and after using the first part (“al-muajjal”) of “al-mahr”. The house must meet the conditions of both spouses residing in it in an equal way.

The wife is obliged to accompany her spouse if he moves to another city. This obligation may be invalidated by a serious reason.

Art. 23

The husband is obliged to create appropriate living conditions for his wife and to help her. The wife must obey her husband in fulfilling the rights and obligations of marriage.



What is “al-mahr”?


Art. 24

“Al-mahr” is a sum of money which the husband is due to pay his wife according to a legally binding act of marriage. The value of “al-mahr” is established in the marriage certificate. If “al-mahr” was not recorded in the certificate, a judge determines it according to set standards.

Art. 25

The value of “al-mahr” can be set in its entirety or only partly. It is also possible to determine the time of payment.

Art. 26

Fiances can break their engagement without any consequences.


As for engagement presents:

If the engagement was broken by the fiance, he should not demand that what he gave his fiancee was returned to him.

If the engagement is broken by the fiancee, she must give him back all the presents he has given her. In the case when the given things are destroyed, the fiancee repurchases them or refunds their value in cash.

Art. 27

Loss of the other half of “al-mahr” takes place in the following cases:

death of one of the spouses


death of a spouse before the marriage was consummated.



What is “an-nafaka”


Art. 28

“An-nafaka” is a sum of money spent by the man on his wife and children. It includes food, clothes, accommodation and medical bills. Even if the wife is wealthy and she is weakened or sick, the man also pays for household staff.

The realisation of “an-nafaka” happens by agreement between the spouses or on the basis of a judge’s statement.

Art. 29

The lowering or raising of “an-nafaka” can be caused by a rise in prices and by the improvement or deterioration of the spouse’s financial condition.

Art. 30

If the wife asks for “an-nafaka” and the husband stops paying it, a Druze judge shall appoint “an-nafaka” according to the wealth of the spouses at the time when the dispute arises and demand its payment including a determined pre-paid period.

Art. 31

If the husband cannot pay “an-nafaka” to his wife, the wife is entitled to take a loan in her husband’s name, starting from the day the matter is reported.

Art. 32

If the husband leaves his wife, dies or goes away without providing any “an-nafaka”, the judge will allow the wife to take a loan in her husband’s name, having examined the irrefutable evidence that this woman is married to that man.

Art. 33

If the judge allows the wife to take a loan for the aforementioned reasons, and she executes this decision by involving one of the relatives, the relative can demand reimbursement only from her husband. But if the wife takes a loan from strangers, they may demand reimbursement from her husband and from her.

Art. 34

If the absent husband had some money in the hands of third parties, or granted them a loan from which he drew financial benefits, and the wife could present evidence for this in a special court, taking an oath at the same time that she is not divorced, and the husband did not leave her any “an-nafaka”, then “an-nafaka” is established for her from the aforementioned money specified on the date of filing the complaint.

Art. 35

The amount of money collected from child support, set by the court or the terms of the agreement, is not subject to loss in the event of divorce or the death of a spouse.

Art. 36

If the wife left her husband’s house without a lawful reason or did not want to let her husband in without producing a request to move, the “an-nafaka” shall be suspended for the duration of the dispute.





Art. 37

A divorce is possible only on the basis of the decision made by a Druze judge.

Art. 38

A man cannot marry a woman if a Druze judge previously declared a divorce between them.

Art. 39

If before or after the wedding the woman finds out that the husband suffers from an illness, such as leprosy or a venereal disease, which makes regular cohabiting with him impossible, she has the right to ask a Druze judge for separation. If there is a chance of recovery, the judge appoints two years of separation. If the illness does not pass and the husband does not agree to divorce, the judge announces separation. Being mute or lame does not constitute a reason for separation.

Art. 40

The wife has a right to ask for separation if the husband suffers from an illness which makes regular marital contact impossible for him and the doctors confirm that his condition is incurable (151).

Art. 41

If the husband loses his sanity and does not recover within a year from the time designated by a judge, the wife has every right for separation.

Art. 42

The spouses have the right to annul their marriage amicably by announcing their decision in front of witnesses to a Druze judge who must confirm the annulment.

Art. 43

If the husband’s adultery is proven, the wife must file for separation. If the wife’s adultery is proven, the husband divorces her and he is relieved from the obligation of “al-mahr.”

Art. 44

If the husband is sentenced to 10 years or more in prison, and spends 5 consecutive years there, after this period the wife can file for separation.

Art. 45

If the husband remains in hiding or is missing for the period of 3 years and the “an-nafaka” is not paid, the judge announces separation at the wife’s request. If, however, “an-nafaka” was paid, the wife’s claim is found unjustified. If the husband is missing for 5 consecutive years, and the obligation of “an-nafaka” is on him and hasn’t been paid for 2 years, the wife has the right to file for separation.

Art. 46

If the marriage is annulled due to the husband’s absence and the wife remarries, the return of  the first husband does not constitute grounds for the annulment of the latter marriage.

Art. 47

If there is a conflict between the married couple and one of the spouses turns to a judge, the judge appoints mediators: one from the family of the husband and one from the family of the wife. If an appropriate person cannot be found among the family, the judge appoints a person from outside the family.

Art. 48

The mediators must be familiar with the cause of the conflict and make every effort to resolve it. If a settlement cannot be reached by the spouses, the judge rules as follows:

If the dispute is raised by the man, a separation is announced and the whole or partial payment of “al-mahr” is made. If the dispute comes from the woman, she loses the rights to “al-mahr” in its entirety or in part. The judge also decides what the spouses owe one another in view of the damage caused.

Art. 49

If, when announcing divorce, the judge feels that it is not fair, a compensation may be appointed to the wife, as an additional sum to the “al-mahr” for the moral and material harm she suffered.



About “al-idda”, the period of mourning, the quiet time


Art. 50

The period of “al-idda” lasts 4 months from the date of divorce, separation or the husband’s death. “Al-idda” for a pregnant woman ends with a birth or miscarriage.

Art. 51

“Al-idda” does not apply if the divorce or annulment of marriage was done before the marriage was actually legalised.

Art. 52

“Al-idda” begins at the moment of announcing the divorce, annulment of marriage or the death of the husband, even if the wife does not inform authorities about it.

Art. 53

The husband needs to maintain the divorced wife during “al-idda”. No money is paid to the wife after the death of the husband, even if she is pregnant.



Raising children


Art. 54

The mother has priority in bringing up and educating the children in the duration of the marriage and after separation, if she fulfils the appropriate requirements.

Art. 55

The child’s legal guardian must be mature, trustworthy, rational and physically healthy so that she could protect and educate the child. The guardian cannot be married to someone who is unrelated to the child according to the requirements of the faith.

Art. 56

If the guardian marries, she loses the right to look after the child for the benefit of a person who is next in line in terms of fulfilling the guardian’s requirements. If an appropriate candidate for this duty is unavailable, the child’s relatives take over the custody.

Art. 57

The right to custody is due to the mother and her immediate family in the first place. After that, the right goes to the father and his family. Thus, if the child’s mother dies, or enters into a marriage as defined in Articles 12 and 13, or does not meet other requirements for raising a child, the custody goes to her mother. If she proves to be incapable of this function, the child’s father’s mother will take over the custody. Next in line are the sisters of the child, especially their own sisters. From the two parents’ families: the mother’s sister, the father’s sister, then the daughters of the child’s own sisters, the daughter of the mother’s sister, then the child’s aunts from both sides, the mother’s aunts by birth, the father’s aunts by birth, then the father’s sister’s daughter, the daughters of the child’s brother, then further aunts from both parents, the mother’s further aunts, the father’s further aunts and further in that order ..

Art. 58

If women in the family circle do not meet the conditions necessary for raising children, then the obligation is transferred to the male line of the family according to the law of succession:



Own brother.

Own brother’s sons.

Father’s brother’s sons.

Father’s brother.

The father’s father’s brother.

If two or more persons are worthy of raising the child, priority is given to those who are more qualified and older.

Art. 59

If an appropriate person, as referred to in Article 58, cannot be found, the custody goes to the person with whom the child’s relationship is not allowed and they are:

– Mother’s father.

– Mother’s brother.

– His son.

– Maternal uncle

– Uncle from both parents

– Paternal uncle

The following people cannot take custody of a girl:

– The father’s brother’s daughters

– The father’s sister’s daughters

– Uncle’s daughters

– Aunt’s daughters

– The father’s brother’s sons

– The father’s sister’s sons.

– Uncle’s sons.

– Aunt’s sons.

They, however, maintain the right to look after boys. The father’s brother’s son is the only one who may be allowed to look after a girl, having his morale thoroughly examined. Otherwise, the custody of the girl is given to a trusted woman.

Art. 60

The costs of upkeep are not a part of “an-nafaka”. If the child needs money, the father is obliged to provide it.

Art. 61

If the mother was the child’s guardian, was divorced or was in a relationship with a person with whom the child’s marriage was prohibited by law, or was in the course of “al-idda,” she has the right to enforce child support. The child’s father is required to build a home if the child has nowhere to live. A rich father must also provide household staff if the childcare requires it. The child’s mother and all the guardians have the right for alimony.

Art. 62

If the mother is raising a child without receiving payment, the child’s father is poor and the child received no money even from those with whom his relationship is denied, the judge can allow a loan in the child’s father’s name.

Art. 63

If a suitable guardian is found among those who cannot enter into a relationship with the child and the child’s father is rich and still no maintenance is paid, the mother has priority in receiving the money and raising the child. Also, if the father is poor or rich, and if the child has money or not and if the mother prefers to keep the child even without receiving child maintenance rather than to give the child to a guardian, and the father takes the child away and sends them to an unrelated guardian, he will not follow the law and will have to return the child to the mother and pay her a salary independent of the child maintenance.

Art. 64

The period of care ends for a boy when he reaches seven years of age. For a girl this age is nine. After this period, the father is obliged to take the child. If the father and grandfather are dead, the children are sent to close relatives. As for the girls, the relatives only include those people with whom their relationship is allowed. In the absence of a suitable foster family, children remain with their former guardians unless the judge decides otherwise.

Art. 65

If it forbidden to take the child away from her country before the guardian period is over and without the mother’s consent. And if the divorced man takes the child from the mother due to her marriage with a foreigner, and she is the only guardian, the father is allowed to travel with the child until the child’s mother regains her guardian rights, or if the right passes to someone else who is in charge of the child’s care.

Art. 66

A divorced mother cannot travel with a child who remains in her care without the father’s consent. This also applies to other women who look after the child; they are not allowed to move the child from the designated place of care, unless the child’s father gives his consent or a judge in the absence of the father.



“An-nafaka” which is due to the sons by their fathers


Art. 67

The father is obliged to pay three types of “an-nafaka” to his children. “An-nafaka” refers to a younger, poor child, regardless of whether it is a boy or a girl, until the boy starts working and the girl marries.

Art. 68

The father is obliged to pay “an-nafaka” to his elder son if he suffers from a condition which prevents him from earning his keep. A poor married daughter will always receive money from her father.

Art. 69

Nobody will help the father in paying “an-nafaka” to his fully fit son.

And if the father is on his deathbed, the obligation of “an-nafaka” passes onto those who take over the custody of the son after the father’s death.

Art. 70

The mother is the first person before others to give money to her son if he is in need. If the parents are poor, and the children are eligible for “an-nafaka”, a rich relative may pay the money and the child’s father will repay that person the money when his financial situation improves.

Art. 71

If the father is poor and his relatives are rich, and some of them have the right of inheritance but they are all equal in terms of kinship, then the obligation of paying “an-nafaka” lies on the relatives who have inheritance rights. If such equality does not exist, it is the child’s closest relatives who pay “an-nafaka” according to their inheritance rights.

Art. 72

If a child is in need and the father falls into poverty, and the child has relatives among whom some have inheritance rights and others do not, then the obligation lies on those who are closer related and they must pay “an-nafaka”. If all relatives have inheritance rights, it is those who are more eligible to inheritance who must pay “an-nafaka” to the child.

Art. 73

If a father, who is absent, owed “an-nafaka” to his child and he had money or movables deposited at the child’s place or at third party’s or benefited from money he lent to someone, the judge will declare that “an-nafaka” is paid from this capital. If the father deposited the money in real estate, the real estate is not sold. However, the judge can allow a loan to be taken with the real estate as security for paying back the loan.

Art. 74

The father does not pay “an-nafaka” to the wife of his poor son, but guarantees her upkeep and if the need arises, pays the “an-nafaka”. The father will pay and his son will pay him back when his financial situation improves.



“An-nafaka” which is due to parents from their sons


Art. 75

Rich children both of age and under age, both male and female, are obliged to pay “an-nafaka” to their parents and grandparents who are in need.

Art. 76

A poor woman who married a man not being the father of her child will receive “an-nafaka” from her husband. If her husband is poor or absent, the rich child of this woman will pay “an-nafaka” and her husband will pay the money back when he returns or when his financial situation improves.

Art. 77

A son is obliged to pay “an-nafaka” only to his father when the son’s income is stable and his father is unable to work but has to maintain his wife. A poor son who has a family must take his parents to his home and provide for them according to his means.

Art. 78

If the son is absent but has money in the possession of a third party, the judge can assign some of this sum towards “an-nafaka” for the parents in need. If the depository or borrower pays the money to the father of the absent son without the consent of the son or the judge’s decision, he will have to vouch for what is not refundable.

Art. 79

Inheritance law is not linked with the obligation of “an-nafaka”, which lies on the sons towards their parents. “An-nafaka” is in this case an obligation of the closest family towards one another.

Art. 80

Those with whom marriage is forbidden will be maintained by their rich beneficiaries, even those under age, according to their eligibility for inheritance.



Authority in the family


Art. 81

The father has authority over the younger and older children, male and female, regardless of whether they remain in the care of their mother or relatives.

Art. 82

If the child reaches the age of maturity, but is mentally ill, paternal authority does not cease to apply over this child. And if the child reaches maturity while being in physical and mental health and then over time becomes insane, the paternal authority over this child returns on the basis of a judge’s verdict.

Art. 83

If the father is an honest and trustworthy person, he is allowed to administrate the child’s money and use it in business.

Art. 84

If the father, who possesses the qualities mentioned in Art. 83, sells some movables or immovable property which belong to the child, buys something in the child’s name or lends the child’s money to third parties, and if he does it in an improper way and dishonestly, the judge can appoint a probation officer who will nullify the father’s undertakings. If the matter concerns a rental agreement, the child has no right to demand so that the contract becomes void, even when the child comes of age. However, if it is a contract of purchase, it becomes the father’s responsibility and does not burden the child.

Art. 85

If the father is mentally ill, has no organisational skills or was sentenced to prison and is thus incapable of looking after the child long term, then he cannot sell his child’s property without a judge’s decision, even if the sale is profitable.

Art. 86

If the father is a spendthrift and his behaviour does not guarantee that he will keep his child’s money, a judge appoints a probation officer who takes over the child’s property.

Art. 87

The father is forbidden to use his child’s money for his own benefits. He is forbidden to buy, sell, or constitute lien on the child’s property. Profiting from lending the child’s money to others without a special permit from the judge is forbidden. The father cannot make a donation using the child’s property.



The power of attorney


Art. 88

A proxy is a person who manages the legacy of the father’s death. A proxy may be designated in a will or appointed by a judge.

Art. 89

If someone is appointed in a will to be the proxy, they can not withdraw from this duty after the father’s death, unless the judge decides otherwise.

Art. 90

If one is selected to be a proxy without one’s knowledge, one has the right to reject or accept the function. The judge must be notified about the decision.

Art. 91

The wife, mother or another woman who has inheritance rights or not, may be a proxy. The mother or another woman can be appointed to be a person cooperating with the proxy.

Art. 92

The proxy indicated in the will must be at least 18 years old. The proxy appointed by a judge must be at least 21.

The proxy is required to be reasonable, trustworthy, and conscientious and must meet all the mandatory obligations of the civil law.

Art. 93

If the proxy appointed does not fulfil the conditions as set in Art. 92, the judge can relieve this person from the obligation and take over the function of a proxy.

Art. 94

The judge has no right to dismiss the indicated proxy if the person is just, and worthy of holding this function. And if the indicated person is not healthy enough to fulfil their duties, the judge will appoint a helper or will substitute the proxy until the person recovers.

Art. 95

If disloyalty of the proxy is proven, the judge immediately dismisses them from their position.

Art. 96

A proxy is appointed for a minor (al-Kāsir) if the child has no guardian or there is no proxy indicated in the will.

Art. 97

When the child reaches adulthood, they become entitled to dispose of the assets they inherited according to the will.

Art. 98

If the child comes of age, but it is mentally ill, irresponsible, or there are charges against them, then they lose their right to the assets left in the will. The property is passed to a proxy who is appointed by a judge



The obligations of the guardian (“al-wali”)


Art. 99

The guardian is obliged to protect and multiply the property of a minor.

Art. 100

The guardian can freely dispose of the movable property of a minor, even if the latter does not need to profit, however, a judge must issue a permit for such activity.

Art. 101

The guardian is not allowed to sell the real estate from the minor’s property unless the following conditions are present:

The result of selling the real estate is extraordinary profit.

The sale of the real estate covers the debts of the deceased.

If money is needed for the fulfilment of the will, it is obtained from the sale of the real estate for an appropriate price.

If a minor is in need but does not possess money or goods which could be sold, and if the expenditure exceeds the minor’s income.

If the real estate has fallen into disrepair and the minor heir has no money for its renovation.

Art. 102

The judge is required to carefully study the aforementioned regulations before signing the contract of sale, so that his permission is based on at least one of them.

Art. 103

The guardian, indicated in the will or appointed, before they undertake their duties, must obtain information from the person who the judge appointed to writing the will, about which movables and immovable property are passed onto the minor, and submit appropriate permits to this person.

Art. 104

The guardian is obliged to submit yearly reports on the revenues and expenditures of the minor. If they procrastinate in spite of the judge’s warning, they may be dismissed from their position.

Art. 105

The guardian and their relatives are forbidden to use the minor’s money for personal benefits.

Art. 106

The guardian can not settle their own financial liabilities using the minor’s money or borrow money for personal use.

Art. 107

The guardian may not delegate their duties to third parties, unless they do so with the consent of a judge for participation in conflicts and court cases. The proxy can personally repeal the authorisation to be represented by a third party.

Art. 108

If the will or a judge indicates two guardians, then neither of them can work independently, with the exception of the following:

Preparation of the deceased.
Defence of the minor in conflicts.
Request for repayment of a loan.
Payment of the minor’s debts on the basis of a court decision or a certificate of debt or other evidence of debt.
The implementation of a particular will for the benefit of a particular poor person.
Buying things which are necessary for the child.
Accepting gifts.
Repayment of a loan or returning a deposit.
Reimbursement of what the deceased kept and thus court orders not carried out.
Sales of perishables after harvest.

Art. 109

If the guardian’s duties are taken on by two people and one of them resigns, the judge appoints a helper to assist the remaining guardian.

Art. 110

If the mother is the guardian, she can not manage the child’s inheritance beyond the sum of her own inheritance.

Art. 111

The guardian can not relieve the debtors to the deceased from their financial obligations without the judge’s permission.

Art. 112

The guardian’s duty is to reach an agreement with the debtors of the deceased and the child if they object to payments. A judge’s permission is necessary for these undertakings.

Art. 113

The guardian must settle matters with those who make claims towards the deceased or the minor on the basis of approved documents or a court’s decision.

Art. 114

The guardian is not authorised in terms of settling debts and other claims as well as the will of the deceased.

Art. 115

If the guardian pays the deceased person’s debts not on the basis of an official document, a court decision or permission of the biggest beneficiaries of the will, the guardian must then give a guarantee.

Art. 116

When the child becomes of age, they have an obligation to pay their guardian. The guardian is required to report on their fulfilment of duties in detail. And if “an-nafaqa” is not paid, the judge orders the payment or the guardian takes the money themselves.

Art. 117

If the guardian dies, the represented person must issue a guarantee for their own part of the inheritance before the will is executed. Valuable possessions can constitute security but if they are worn out, the beneficiary gives a financial guarantee.

Art. 118

The guardian passes the inheritance to the young heir under the supervision of a judge or a specially appointed person.



The limitation of rights


Art. 119

The judge limits the rights of the mentally ill, the intellectually weak and the irresponsible and at the same time appoints proxies for them. Weak mental health is confirmed by a doctor who issues a suitable document.

Art. 120

The judge must give the reasons of incapacitation.

Art. 121

Decisions made by a sick person before and after the announcement of incapacitation are invalid. Only decisions made prior to the announcement of incapacitation while the person was healthy are held as valid.

Art. 122

The person who is to be incapacitated can appear before a judge who should hear them.

Art. 123

Decisions of the intellectually weak and the irresponsible made before the announcement of incapacitation are not valid unless they bring benefits to those persons.

Art. 124

Decisions of one who is intellectually weak who squanders wealth and is irresponsible, which were made prior to the announcement of incapacitation, are legal and can be executed. Those made after the announcement of incapacitation are not respected by the law unless they refer to marriage, divorce, paying “an-nafaḳa”, which is the person’s obligation, or a decision referring to the person’s will if they had no testamentary heirs.

Art. 125

The assets of the incapacitated person shall be submitted after the withdrawal of rights, but only on the basis of a judge’s decision.



About a missing person and their administrator


Art. 126

The term “al-mafkud” refers to a person who is missing, whose whereabouts are not known and there is no information as to whether the person is alive or dead.

Art. 127

If, before going missing, “al-mafkud” leaves a proxy to look after the property, this person is not dismissed from the function unless they prove to be dishonest or incapable. The proxy cannot take the residence which belongs to the absent person unless the judge agrees.

Art. 128

If “al-mafkud” does not leave any proxy, the judge will appoint one to protect the property of the absent person, sell their crops and receive repayments of loans which “al-mafkud” has granted.

Art. 129

When selecting the administrator, the same criteria apply as when choosing an heir (al-wasi).

Art. 130

The duties of the proxy include, with the judge’s permission, selling that moveable or immoveable property which is dispensable or could fall into ruin thus the absent would have no money to restore it. The proxy must notify the judge about the income from the sale, who then passes the money to the absent person at the time of their return or adds it to the  inheritance if the missing person is dead.

Art. 131

The proxy is obliged to pay all the due “an-nafaka” from the money of the absent person as well as all the costs of taking care of the property left behind.

Art. 132

The judge grants the proxy the right to represent the absent person in disputes.

Art. 133

At the end of each year, the proxy is required to submit a balance sheet of expenditures and revenues of the absent person to the judge. If the proxy delays this submission after receiving a warning, they are dismissed from the function.

Art. 134

The judge announces the death of the absent person if it is highly probable and 10 years have passed since the person went missing. If there is no indication that the absent person is dead, after 10 years the judge carries out a detailed investigation which has to be conclusive as to whether the person is alive or dead.

Art. 135

After the announcement of the death of the absent person, as stated in Art. 134, the division of the property is carried out among the person’s beneficiaries. However, they cannot use the inheritance for a period of 2 years from the moment of the announcement of the absent person’s death.

Art. 136

If the missing person returns or it is proven that the person is alive, and the judge has already announced their death, the beneficiaries are obliged to return their share of the property in its original form or an equivalent in cash, the value of which is calculated on the basis of prices at the time when the property was divided.



The genealogy (an-nasb)


Art. 137

The minimal pregnancy period takes 180 days and the maximal 300 days.

Art. 138

If the wife gives birth after 180 days from the conclusion of the marriage, the child automatically takes the name of the husband. However, if the birth occurs before this period, the child takes the husband’s name only if he gives his clear consent.

Art. 139

The decision on not granting the child their father’s name must be made within a period of one month after the birth or after the absent father is notified.

Art. 140

The child cannot be rejected by the father if:

The father wants to reject the child after the period as indicated in Art. 139.

The father wants to reject the child after clearly expressing his will to give the child his name.

The mother gives birth to a stillborn child.

The father wants to reject the child after the court has announced that the child is entitled to his surname.

Art. 141

If a divorced woman, or one whose husband has died, gives birth to a child before the period of 300 days from the divorce or death, the child keeps the rights to the father’s surname. If the child is born after the period of 300 days, the right to receive the father’s name ceases.

Art. 142

If the wife announces the birth of her child and the husband does not acknowledge it, the truth is determined by the midwife and the women who were present during childbirth.

Art. 143

The child has the right to the father’s name if it is born before the period of 300 days after the separation of its parents is announced if the father knew about the pregnancy or it was visible.

Art. 144

The child’s rights are not recognised if no contact between the wife and the husband were concluded since signing the marriage certificate, or if the birth takes place 300 days from the moment the husband was absent.



The last will and the inheritance


Art. 145

The will is a voluntarily prepared document establishing the division of property in the case of death.

Art. 146

For the will to be valid, it must be written by a person of age and mentally healthy, who passes their property voluntarily onto their beneficiaries.

Art. 147

A will cannot be realised if its assets are pledged for a loan, unless the creditors release the property and allow the distribution of the inheritance.

Art. 148

The will may refer to the entire property of the deceased or only its part, which will be passed onto heirs or third parties.

Art. 149

Whoever commits a premeditated act of murder on the author of the will, will be excluded from its provisions.

Art. 150

The author of the will may donate their property to charity.

Art. 151

Religious differences between persons present in the will have no influence on the validity of the will.

Art. 152

The beneficiary can use the inheritance immediately after the announcement of the will. A rejected inheritance is divided according to the precepts of religion.

Art. 153

The author of the will can revoke it in whole or in part, and modify it as they wish.

Art. 154

If the assets of the will are lost by inadvertent errors of the beneficiaries, they are not required to provide a guarantee. If, however, the loss of property is a result of deliberate and intentional actions, the guilty beneficiary must submit a warranty – secured according to the value of the will.

Art. 155

If one of the beneficiaries mentioned in the will dies before the author of the will, who does not change the provision referring to this beneficiary before his death, the part passed onto this beneficiary in the will goes to his heirs, if there are any, if not – such a part of the will is shared between the remaining beneficiaries of the will who are alive.

Art. 156

If the author of the will and the beneficiary die at the same time and it can not be determined which one was first, then the right to the inheritance goes to the heirs of the beneficiary, if there are any, if not – it is divided between the remaining beneficiaries of the will according to the precepts of religion.

Art. 157

If a person writes a will as a bachelor and then gets married and God blesses him with children, such a will is invalid and the property is distributed according to the precepts of religion. If, however, the person has no children, the will shall be realised after the spouse’s share in the property is established.

Art. 158

The author of the will confirms and records it with a Druze judge or Sheikh al-Akl. After the will is recorded, it becomes ready for immediate implementation at any time without any further decisions of the judge. An unregistered will can only be realised when the judge has established its legitimacy.

Art. 159

The beneficiaries are obliged to ask the judge to legally validate the will within two years from the author’s death. If they fail to do so, they lose their right to the property bequeathed in the will. This does not apply to minors, the disabled and the mentally ill. The original of the will is deposited with the judge, the interested parties only receive a certified copy.

Art. 160

The judge may appoint a deputy in the person of one of the religious men to arrange and confirm the will. This person registers the will with the judge, if the author of the will asks him to do so.

Art. 161

If the author of the will resides abroad, the authenticity of the document can be confirmed by an authority designated for this purpose in this country. In Lebanon, a will can be implemented only upon presentation of the regulatory text from a Druze judge, in accordance with the regulatory procedure referring to foreign rights on the territories of Lebanon and Syria.

Art. 162

The register of wills takes place before a Druze judge. The author of the will signs the register in the presence of at least two witnesses, who also sign it. Then the judge certifies the formalities done in his presence. The author of the will receives a certified copy of the document.

Art. 163

If the author of the will is illiterate, the confirmation of legitimacy is done by applying a fingerprint in the registry in the presence of the judge. The judge reads the will in the presence of at least two of the will’s beneficiaries.

Art. 164

A will may remain undisclosed. To do so, the author of the will puts it in an envelope, then seals it with red wax, while the judge applies a judicial stamp and signs it. This procedure may also be performed by four witnesses. Then the judge makes a record of what has been done and assigns a number to the document in the book of wills. A certified copy is given to the author of the will. The judge keeps the sealed envelope and the contents of the will are known only to him.

Art. 165

After the death of the author of the will, the envelope is opened in the presence of his relatives and the will is read out, before it is recorded in the book of wills. The original of the will stays with the judge and the relatives receive a certified copy.

Art. 166

If the author wants to make changes in a will which is undisclosed or withdraw it, the judge makes a record of this event and signs it. The ​​four witnesses of the act also sign the document.

Art. 167

If a relative requests that the death of the author of the will is declared and inheritance property estimated, the judge announces the division of the inheritance according to ​​a legitimate will or, if there is none, the division of property takes place according to the precepts of religion.

Art. 168

If the deceased has not left a will or the will was invalidated, the division of property shall be according to the precepts of religion.

Art. 169

Every issue connected with inheritance refers to the wisdom of the precepts of religion. If the beneficiary designated in the will dies, his legal heirs take over the assets bequeathed to him in the will.



The donations “al-awqaf”


Art. 170

In all which refers to “al-awqaf” – its management, use, validity, the appointment of persons entitled to receive “al-awqaf”, the distribution of profits from it – we use special “al-awqaf” files, tradition and the precepts of religion, as well as the current legislation.

Art. 171

In the absence of a legal basis in the modern law, the  Druze judge bases his decisions on the precepts of Islam, the Hanafi school or other legislation which is not in conflict with the Islamic doctrine.

Art. 172

The aforementioned laws will be published in the Journal of Laws. All laws inconsistent with the above lose their value with the release of the Collection of Laws and Responsibilities.

Final note

This site contains information which will definitely benefit someone who is interested in the religious and ethnic Druze minority. The choice of subjects is the result of field research conducted in Syria. In mountainous regions of the cities of Suwayda and Idlib, as well as at the foot of Jabal al-Sheikh, I noticed visible differences in the physiognomy of the Druze and Arabs which stimulated my curiosity about the origins of the former. The Druze religion remained a mystery to me, although I became interested in the person of the Fatimid Caliph, al-Hakim, who was referred to as a man in whom God dwelt, or even as God himself, and who is the basis of the Druze faith.


The Druze are a minority fully assimilated in the Syrian society, in spite of the fact that they are governed by an internal code of civil law. The text edited by Sheikh al-Akl proves that the Druze are subject to different laws than Muslims in terms of family relationships and inheritance.


During the field research, I was also able me to photograph the original Druze outfit and the places where they reside. It is impossible to overlook the members of the Druze minority in Syria, even though they live in mountainous regions and surround their religion by an aura of mystery. Their significant political activity allowed the Druze to create a strong lobby which upholds their religious and economic independence.



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De Sacy, S. 1838. Exposé de la religion des Druzes tiré des Livres Religieux de cette secte. Paris.


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Schaebler, B. 1996. “State Power and the Druzes: Integration and the Struggle for Social Control (1838-1949)”. Berliner Islamstudien.


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Captions to photos in the GALLERY


A Druze married couple from Suwayda.

A visitor’s room at a Druze house.

A street in Suwayda.

Elder women wear light scarves with which they cover their hair, neck and lips.

Young shop keepers from Suwayda.

The owner of a wonderful sweet chop in Suwayda. A light scarf worn by men is called “hatta” or “keffiyeh”.

Ruins in the centre of Suwayda are no surprise to anyone. A traditionally dressed Druze is sitting on a curb waiting for a minibus.  Next to him, there is a man wearing standard Arab clothes.

The director of the city’s Cultural Centre in Suwayda.

The Druze Communists at a congress in Suwayda.

Sheikh Djarbu serving traditional Arabic kahwa murray.

Sheikh gladly agreed to have our photo taken.

Druze buildings adjacent to the Byzantine church in Kanawat.

A Druze standing in the courtyard of his home in Shahba. Many of the houses in the city are built on the basis of the Roman ruins.

Sheikh of the Hudur village in the Golan region.

With a visit to the Sheikh

Three Druze men from Arna in front of a shop.

A Druze man from Arna.

Orchards in autumn near Arna.

Orchards in autumn near Arna.

A visit in a Druze house in Arna.

A view on some Byzantine ruins in the village of Kalb Luza. A woman wearing the traditional Druze clothes. In the area of Suwayda such dress can no longer be spotted.

Children selling hand embroidered cloths. The village of Kalb Luza. Basilica from the 5th century.

From Kalb Luza I walked to the village of Banabil.

An elderly woman is sitting on a terrace of her house watching the road leading into Banabil.

Main road in Banabil with sheep droppings scattered around.

The traditional outfit of a Druze woman. The village of Banabil.

Visiting the village administrator in Banabil.

The village administrator with his daughter.

Boys from Banabil.

To present the differences in the appearance between the Druze and the Arabs, here is a photo of boys from the region of Sergiopolis.

The Druze youths from Suwayda.

Preparation of sacrifice before Id al-Adha.

Three Druze women in a laundry.

Women preparing a meal.

Women kneading traditional al-Kubba, with minced mutton meat filling. Men and women eat meals separately.

Inside the tomb in the area of ​​Suwayda a lot of space is occupied by emblems showing the colours of the Druze banner.

In Damascus, the al-Umawwi Mosque is a place frequented by the Druze.

The Druze women are easily recognized on the streets of Damascus.

A Druze farmer from the area of Suwayda.


A description of two maps provided on a CD

Names of places in the region of Jabal al-Arab.


Map 1.







Khirbat Awwad




Umm ar-Rumman






Madzdal asz-Szur





Tal al-Lawz














Rima Hzima




Kafr al-Luhf

Rmia al-Luhf










Rudaymat al-Liwa

As-Sawra as-Saghira



Umm Hartain

As-Sawra al-Kubra






Umm az-Zaytun






Rudajmat ash-Sharqiyyah


Umm Rawwak







Sahwat al-Hudur


Symbols on Map 1 indicating the influence of particular families in villages in Jabal al-Arab.


The Atrash family: A

The Nasrar family: B

The Nasrar + Kuntar families: C

The Darwish family: D

The Sallam family: E

The Ḳalani family: F

The Sahnawi family: G

The Amir family: H

The Halabi family: K

The Shajin family: L

The Kiwan family: M, T

The Azzam family: N

The Abu Fahr family: O

The Hunajdi family: P

The Abu Assaf family: R

The Halabi family: S


Names of places in the region of Jabal al-Sheikh

Map 1




Majdal Shams

Ajn Kinja





Kalaat Jandal



Ism al-Fawka


Names of places in the region of Idlib

Map 2




Kafr Kabla

Kafr Haris





Kafr Bagha



Maarat al-Ihwan