12 Sep 2016
There are about one million Druze, most living in the Middle East. Druze do not seek their own country, but they are loyal to the country which governs their land. They can be found in Israel, Lebanon, and Syria, and are said to be the best warriors because they are not afraid to die. Druze are village and mountain dwellers, attached only to their individual plots of land and property. They follow a lifestyle of isolation.
The Druze religion came out of an Islamic reform movement in Egypt around 1,000 years ago. They have abandoned most forms of Islamic worship and ritual. Their religious beliefs have been guarded as secrets. They hide what they truly believe, especially their deeper beliefs, when faced with possible persecution or rejection. This enables them to appear as though they are going along with the group they are in, even when deep down they probably disagree.
There are two types of Druze; sheikhs the ‘informed ones’, and non-sheikhs ‘the ignorant ones’. Sheikhs are those who have undergone an initiation and adopted a new lifestyle. They wear the religious attire, attend religious meetings, and study the Druze scriptures. They give up smoking and drinking, and generally try and live more pious lives. The men wear black baggy pants and a white skull cap. The women wear ankle-length black skirts, and white head scarves which cover their mouths.
Non-shiekhs (who are essentially secular Druze) wear normal clothing and can choose to drink and smoke. For example, a favourite pastime in Lebanon is to sit around at home and in restaurants smoking pipes. At a non-sheikh wedding you will hear very loud music and they dance the dabkeh (a famous Lebanese line-dance) all night.
Only sheikhs study the Druze scriptures. If a secular Druze becomes ‘informed,’ they will be expected to become a sheikh. An ignorant Druze may not show wisdom in how he talks about their faith system with others, which would threaten their secrecy. Therefore, secular Druze are just taught the essentials of their faith system – just enough to ensure that they know and preserve their identity.
A surprising aspect of the Druze faith system is that every Druze is taught from a young age that they are the reincarnation of another Druze. They say that their god created a set number of souls and that when a Druze dies, that person’s soul migrates immediately to another Druze baby who is being born at that same moment. This belief means that others cannot convert to become Druze. Likewise, Druze are not allowed to convert to another religion and they must marry another Druze.
The numbers of Druze that have turned to faith in the Lord Jesus remains very small, probably between 0.05 and 0.1%.
Would you commit to pray with us for the Druze for the next 7 days?
- Spiritually the Druze need to meet God in a personal way, opposed to the mysterious mental exercise offered in their religion.
- When Druze live among people of other religions, they try to blend in, to protect their religion and for safety. They can pray as Muslims or as Christians, depending on where they are living. Pray that they know that only way to the father, through Jesus his son.
- Christian groups have partnered together to see several hundred Druze come to faith in Christ. Most Druze believers remain incognito, but others form a growing church. Pray for these new believers, that they would quickly discover their identity in Christ.
- Pray for this fledgling church to grow, and that many more Druze will come into the Kingdom of God.
Note: some information for this blog was resourced from Operation World and the Joshua Project.