Druze women throughout the United States have involved themselves in civic and community affairs. They hold prominent positions in the fields of medicine, law, education, as well as, in corporations and other businesses. They are held in the highest esteem.
In Lebanon, literacy among Druze women was common. It is recorded by Colonel Churchill that in the days of the Tanukhid emir Nasir al-Din Husayn (668-751/1269-1350) reading and writing became common, even among females. He continues: "in this respect, women of Druze shaykhs, even to this day (mid-nineteenth century), maintain a marked superiority over the rest of their sex throughout the country." A nineteenth century Lebanese chronicler wrote: "few are the Druze women who cannot read, or are jahilat, i.e., denied access to the Scriptures." ( Abu-Izzeddin, Nejla M., The Druzes A New Study of Their History, Faith and Society, Leiden - E,J, Brill, 1984, p.234. )
In a lecture that Pharmacist Ansaf Hassan, from Lebanon, gave to the Druzes at the American Druze Society Convention in Orlando, Florida in 1998, she said, “Let women be aware that they are the real educators of their children, so they should be educated themselves and should give the necessary time for the children and the family.
Let women be aware that if they are disappointed by their husband's unfaithfulness, they should not go the same way because each is responsible for his or her behavior in front of God. Let them remain as expected of them. Patience and time will solve many problems that seem at a certain moment without a solution.”
Druze women, everywhere, have shown exemplary conduct throughout their lives in whatever role they have had to play, be it in social status, education and in the work force regardless of the forces that they have encountered in their lives. In the “Druze Profile” (see main menu) the role of the Druze women in the United States, from the first immigrants to the present American Druze lady, I show the exemplary and commendable role of Druze women here in America.
The roles of Lebanese women have traditionally been restricted to those of mother and homemaker. However, since the 1970s Arab societies have allowed women to play a more active role socially and in the work force, basically as a result of the manpower shortage caused by heavy migration of men to Persian Gulf countries. In Lebanon, the percentage of women in the labor force has increased; although, the Islamic religious revival that swept Lebanon in the 1980s, reasserted traditional cultural values. As a consequence, veils and abas (cloaks) have become more common among Muslim women. Among Christians, the war enabled women to assume more independent roles because of the absence of male family members involved in the fighting.
Notwithstanding the persistence of traditional attitudes regarding the role of women, Lebanese women enjoy equal civil rights and attend institutions of higher education in large numbers (for example, women constituted 41 percent of the student body at the American University of Beirut in 1983). Although women have their own organizations, most exist as subordinate branches of the political parties.
Data as of December 1987.
By Julia Mullin Makarem
February 9, 2001 Najela Mullin
A Druze lady who is deemed in the highest regard in the Midwest part of the United States is my mother, Mrs. Nagela Farris Mullin. She was born Nagela Abu Shakra from the Chouf village, Ammatour. She married my father, Farris Milhem Abu Ghanim from Bmhrine in the Chouf, in 1927 and came to the United States to join my father a year later. She was from among the first women immigrants in the United States, and she lived a life of a lady with the true spirit of the Druze social values. Those first Druze immigrants thronged into the United States, most leaving their wives behind. The few Druze women that had come to America with their husbands joined hands to make a Druze environment for those men who were without their wives, or who were single. Here in Michigan, the Druze men all assembled at the homes of those few families. Thus, at least one day a week, the men had the brotherhood that they so desperately missed. When the Branch #2 El-Bakaurat Ed-Dirziyat met each month, Nagela Mullin opened her home in Detroit, Michigan to the Druzes throughout the State of Michigan. The years between 1928 and 1952, when the Druze wives began to join their husbands, were difficult for the newcomers. My mother was always there for them; she opened her home to many of those first families and helped them through their adjustment period in the United States.
In those early years of the American Druze Society, my mother joined Mrs. Samia Salman Salem from Washington, D.C. who had established The Dar el-Yateem Orphans organization in the United States. My mother took charge of the American Druze Women's Association in the Midwest. She worked tirelessly organizing assistance from the Druze in the Midwest for the Druze Orphanage in Lebanon, the Dar el-Yateem. She carried on another campaign for raising funds for the Dar el-Druze Home in Beirut, Lebanon when the project for the Building Fund began. She worked tirelessly until the Dar el-Druze became a reality. She also dedicated herself to the founding of the American Druze Society in Michigan.
She was widowed at a very young age, but she single-handedly raised four very young children, teaching them, at all times, the Druze social values. She has never faltered from her moral and ethical social values. With devotion and unity of purpose, she set a shining example of the Druze mothers' spirit. I would like to salute my mother, Nagela Mullin, for her love and unstinting service to Druze affairs, both here and in Lebanon over many years, and I mention her as an epitome of the Druze women abroad.
Nagela Yusuf Abu Shakra Abu Ghanin (Mullin) passed away February 8, 2001 in Detroit, Michigan. She lived a full life, and she lived to see her children marry and have children of their own. Mother is survived by her only son, Roger Farris Mullin, myself, Julia Makarem, and my sisters, Mabel Dakdduk and Thelma Sim. My mother had nine grand-children and nine great grand children. She was a good and gentle woman, and she was most dearly loved by her family and members of the Druze community. We will all miss her greatly !
Another Druze woman I would also like to allude to is Ms. Raghida Dergham. You can read about her outstanding achievements on her web site. Ms. Dergham represents the second set of émigrés, or even the third set, to come to America, and she has established herself as a guiding force for other Druze women everywhere. As well as being a role model for Druze women, she represents the “loyalty to her countrymen” that most Druze women have.
Raghida Dergham is Senior Diplomatic Correspondent for the London-based Al Hayat, the leading independent Arabic daily, since 1989. She writes a regular weekly strategic column on international political affairs as well as editorials. She is also a political analyst for MSNBC and NBC News. Ms. Dergham has been a frequent guest on CNN, FOX NEWS, PBS’s The News Hour and Charlie Rose, ABC, CBS, CNBC, Canada’s CBC and CTV, as well as a radio guest on NPR and the BBC. She has contributed to The New York Times, The Washington Post, Newsweek, the International Herald Tribune. Ms. Dergham was featured in PBS documentary Caught in The Crossfire.
Ms. Raghida Dergham offers her readers and audiences articles and lectures on important and critical point of view from the Arab world.
Social Values: Druze Women