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The First Mihrajan of the Al Bayan 1947

By Julie Makarem

 In 1946, all Druze gatherings in Michigan discussed the necessity of forming a lasting organization that would unite the Druzes of the United States and bring them together once a year under one roof.
 
 Also in 1946, a group of men, all members of a branch of the El-Bakaurat Ed-Dirziyat, was instrumental in having a Convention in Charleston, West Virginia. “Al-Bayan” was one of the oldest Arabic newspapers in the United States, and it was in dire need of funds, as well as support from the members of the El-Bakaurat Ed-Dirziyat in order for it to sustain itself and continue its publications. Mr. Mahmoud Sadek from Washington, D.C., and a group of men who belonged to various branches of the El-Bakaurat Ed-Dirziyat, began a tour of the United States wherever there was a concentration of Druzes.
 
 The other men in this group were: Sam Rafey from Hopewell, Virginia (Salim Abou Rafeh); Fayz Rasheed from Richmond, Virginia; Brahim Shoukier from Munday, Texas, Saeid Waheed from Lubbuck, Texas, and Jimmie Silman who had just moved to Saginaw, Michigan from Texas, Samia Shoucair Salam from Washington, D.C. and her two daughters, Nadeen and Alva Salem and Wadad Silman, the wife of Jimmie Silman, Sr., and their daughter, Polly (Pauline) Silman were also among the group. As well as gaining support for the Arabic newspaper, Al-Bayan, this group wanted to have a Convention that would bring all the Druzes in the United States under one roof.

Along with promoting Al Bayan the Arabic newspaper, the First Convention was planned with the purpose of rallying the American born Druzes to become acquainted with each other, as well. As the group toured the United States to demonstrate support for the Al-Bayan; they proposed that each member of the El-Bakaurat Ed-Dirziyat take his wife and children to the First Mihrajan of the Al-Bayan (The first Convention). Thereafter, on October 15, 1946 at the house of Zakia and Slyamn Joseph of Charleston, West Virginia, the decision for holding yearly conventions found universal support among the community members.

This would be done in the name of the   Al-Bayan  Corporation, its stockholders, subscribers, supporters, and friends. Thus, The American Druze Society was founded in 1946 and held its first Convention in Charleston, West Virginia on July 22, 23, 24, 1947 under the name of  The First Mihrajan of the Al Bayan 1947.

On June 23, 1946,  the Druze that attended the Historic Meeting at the home of Mahmoud (George) Sadak for promoting “Al Bayan,” the Arabic newspaper owned by Ameen David Fayad were from all over the United States. 
Present were Uncle Nafe Katter, Ameen David, Aref Al Awar, Rashid Hassen Rashid, Sam Rafey, Najm Basheer, Slyman Sadak, (Mahmoud’s brother), Said Kabalan, Salim Showker, Khatter Rashid, Mansour Showker, Said Rashid, Salim Massoud Abdul Khalek, Ferris Sadak (Mahmoud’s son), Fayez Rashid (seated), Jamil Sayegh, Abbass Nasrallah, Yusuf Aboul Hosn, and Ali Sleiman Jaber.

In 1947, the Al-Bayan Corporation held their first convention at Charleston, West Virginia. *Mr. George (Mahmoud) Sadek was the President, Mr. Nafe Katter, Sr. was the Vice President, Mr. Richard Rashid was the Secretary, and Mr. Haney Abou Mislah (Massey) was the Orator. Mr. Mickey Sanjid was the Chairperson, along with Mr. Ameen Joseph.*

* See: The First Mihrajan of AL-BAYAN; July 21,22,23, 1947; KANAWHA FOREST; Charleston, West Virginia ; this first convention booklet is available in: My Collection; see  Julia Makarem Papers,  Box 4.

* This first convention booklet is available in: My Collection*:

*The First Mihrajan of the Al Bayan 1947
By Julie Makarem

 Charleston, West Virginia

 The First Convention was planned with the purpose of rallying the American born Druzes to become acquainted with each other, as well. As the group toured the United States to demonstrate support for the Al-Bayan, they proposed that each member of the El-Bakaurat Ed-Dirziyat take his wife and children to the First Mihrajan of the Al-Bayan. Thereafter, on October 15, 1946 at the house of Zakia and Sylamn Joseph of Charleston, West Virginia, the decision for holding yearly conventions found universal support among the community members. This would be done in the name of the “Al-Bayan”, its stockholders, subscribers, supporters, and friends.

“Al-Bayan” is an Arabic newspaper published in Washington, D.C. At that time, there was a strong movement to support the continuing publishing of the Al-Bayan as it was the only source of communication among all the Druze community. It was working then, as it always had been, in accordance with its constitution: to strengthen and promote better relationships between our country of adoption and that of our origin. The Druze community was determined to find support to continue publishing the Al-Bayan. This group of supporters decided there should be a gathering of all the Druzes in the United States for this cause, as well as for brotherhood among the community.”

English program
First program in English

To the best of our knowledge, the following people were present at the home of Zakia and Slyman Joseph: Nafe Katter, Saeid Fayyad (brother of Ameen David Fayyad), Yusef Bomorra, Farris Milhem Abu Ghanem (Mullin), from Michigan. Melhim Yahya, Fayz Makarem, from Ohio. Rashid Al Shaar, Melhem Atallah, Najib Mosrie, Sami Mosrie, Farris Mosrie, Aref Kassem, Henrey Flehan, Harry Hamdan, Hussein Helal, Mahmoud Jaber, Rashid Mosrie, Slyman Joseph, Ameen Joseph, from West Virginia Ameen Fayyad David from Washington, D.C. Fayez Rasheed, Mahmoud Shaban, Kassem Shaban, Nejim Basheer, and Salim Abou Rafey from Virginia. George Salem, Wadia Dakkour, Shakeeb Dakkour, Shakeeb Ameen. Anis Silman Ameen, Azzat Dakkour from Texas.
 
 A group of men decided they would go to many states as heralds and invite the Druzes in those states to Charleston, West Virginia where this first great event would take place. Among those ambassadors were James Silman, Sr. from Saginaw, Michigan, Faze Basheer from Richmond, Virginia, Brahim Shoukier from Lubbuck, Texas, Sam Rafey from Hopewell, Virginia, and Mahmoud Sadek from Washington, D. C. They went to many homes in each state, and they invited the Druze community to come together in Charleston the following year to attend the Druze Convention. In the interim, the Al-Bayan carried the message of the forthcoming convention to the Druzes in all the United States.

Program Arabic
First program in Arabic

 The immigrant members of the El-Bakaurat Ed-Dirziyat realized that they had to establish a means to create interest toward more fellowship among all the Druze in the U.S.A. - to acquaint the younger generation with one another and bring together a large number of Druze once a year at different locations in this country.
 
 Thus, the need for brotherhood has been fulfilled, and the American Druze Society celebrated its 50th Anniversary Convention in 1996. The strong bond among the Druzes and dedication to brotherhood has prevailed abroad in North America as it has at home.
 
1947. Charleston, West Virginia Program
 
 The year 1947 and Charleston, West Virginia are the date and the place of the foundation of The American Druze Society. In 1947, the AL BAYAN Corporation held The First Mihrajan of the Al-Bayan July 21, 22, 23 1947, Kanawha Forest, Charleston, West Virginia.
 
 It is recorded in the first souvenir issue: “It is with great pleasure that we take this opportunity to extend to you individually and collectively our heartiest welcome to this first Mihrajan of Al-Bayan. It is, indeed, a historic occasion that which brings together for the first time the family of Al-Bayan ......”
 
 “Al-Bayan, as you all know, is one of the oldest newspapers in the United States. It was founded by the late Sheikh Sulayman Baddour in 1910. It has rendered through these years invaluable services to the cultural, educational, social, and public welfare of our Arab speaking Americans. It has always been in the forefront in supporting every movement that was in the interests of our beloved land of adoption, the United States of America ...”. The first convention program appears was as follows:
 
 Monday, July 21: Arabic concert from 12 noon to 7:00 P.M. at the Boat Club. Karawan Al-Wadi and his orchestra will entertain the public.
 
 Tuesday, July 22: Arabic dance (Dabki) and various kinds of social and musical activities from 12 noon to 7:00 P.M. at the Boat Club.
 
 Wednesday, July 23: Meetings in the afternoon in the Boat Club, Banquet at 8:00 P.M. in the Daniel Boone Hotel, All details of social and musical activities will be announced daily.
 
 Julie Mullin Makarem remembers that on Tuesday evening, after the Arabic band had left the Boat Club, all the adults went to the homes of some of the locals to spend the rest of the evening. The younger Druzes, all gathered in the cars of the local West Virginians: Norman Shaar, Rufus Canon, Romes Joseph (Mire), and there were others. The locals stopped at a place that had water melons for sale. Each car was loaded in the trunk with the watermelons. Then, the group set out to a park for the remainder of the night. There was no time for sleep at this first convention. When the Druze Convention ended, all that had attended vowed to keep in touch with each other, and of course, to attend the second convention which would be in Washington, D.C. Thus, the American Druze Society.
 
 The convention booklet throughout contains advertisement. On other pages, there are lists of names for other purposes. One such page contains: The First Mihrajan Committee Members. These names are in Arabic, and the English translation has been provided.
 
 Daoud Abi Al- Mona, Aref Kasem Merhi, Raji Daher, Abbass Dakdduk (Branch #1),Rasheed Hassen Rasheed, Abdel Hamid Fadayil, Rashid Yahya, Abdel Hamid Yusuf, Rafic El Rasamny, Abdel Rahman Abdallah, Saied Baz Radwan, Ali Ameen Abu Ghanam, Saied Daoud Zahareldeen, Ali Hamzi, Saied Rasheed, Ali Slyman Jaber Abi Elhasen, Saied Salman Abdel Khalik, Ali Mahmoud Shadid Abu Hassen, Saied Ali Ghannam, Omar Hleik, Saied Kabalan, Farris Ali Kabitah, Saied Mohammed Halloway, Fays Rasheed, Saleem Abu Rafeh, Saleem Ameen Abu Hassen, Saleem Shoukier, Saleem Ali Seif, Salman Assad Ameen, Salman Al Aridi, Salman Fayad, Slyman Salman Abu Izzidine, Slyman Saleem Ali, Slyman Makarem, Slyman Yusuf Merhi, Shibley Tajeldeen, Shukri El-Khouri, Fareed Abu Muslih( Branch #2),Mahmoud Ghanem, Fareed Rasheed, Mahmoud Fayad, Kasem Shoukier, Mustafa Saied Abu Fakhridinne, Kamel Abu Hatoum Hamady, Mansour Shoukier, Kamel Ghanem, Nafe Katter (Branch #2), Kamal Yakhthan Rasheed, Najm Rasheed (Branch #7), Majid Sharafeldinne Abi Elhasen, Najib Shaheen Elmosrie, Majid El Shaar, Najib Mahmoud Ali Elmosrie, Majeed Farag, Nassib Ali Slyman Rasheed, Mohammed Zeineldeen Makarem, Nassib Nakid (Branch #2),Mohammed Said Massoud, Wadih Eldakour, Mohammad Kantor, Whey Chatter (Branch #2),Mohammed Merhi, Yassine Mashal, Farris Milhim Abu Ghanem, aka. Farris Mullin (Branch #2), Amine Shuman, Mohammad Saied Abi Elmona, Yusuf Habhab, Mustafa Saied Abi Elmona, Yusuf Chatter Elmahithawi, Mohammed Ali Abi Elmona, Yusuf Rasheed, Mohammed Hani El Kantar, Yusuf Rayyes, Mahmoud Shaaban, Yusuf Saleh, Mahmoud Sadaka, Youssef Kasem Abi Elhasen, Fays Mohammed Merhi, Yusuf Mahmoud Najjar.

After reading the material that *Nafe Katter, Sr. gave me before he passed away, I realized that the President of the First Mihrajan of AL-BAYAN in Charleston, West Virgina is listed incorrectly in the “Our Heritage” the official American Druze Society publication.  Mr. George (Mahmoud) Sadek, rather than Mr. Amin Joseph Merhi. was the President in Charleston, West Virginia in 1947,  Amin Joseph Merhi was listed as the President. in the “Our Heritage” 1994 Year Book. **However, Mr. George (Mahmoud) Sadek was the President, Mr. Nafe Katter, Sr. was the Vice President, Mr. Richard Rashid was the Secretary, and Mr. Haney Abou Mislah (Massey) was the Orator. Mickey Sanjid was the Chairperson.

Mr. Henry Fleihan, who was instrumental in beginning the compilation of material to write the history of the El-Bakaurat Ed-Dirziyat, authinacated this information in a discussion with me in 1972 in Beirut when he was at our home.  Mr. Ajaj Andari was witness to the discussion. It is pertinent to mention here that at that time, I turned over the Convention booklets for all the years beginning with 1948 to Mr. Raymond Hellal to take back to the United States.  I felt that the information would be better used by the Committee who would be compiling the material for the History of the Druze in America.  I later learned that all the material is now in the possession of Mr. Ajaj Andari, or at his home since he has since passed on.
 
The above Information was taken from
’The First Mihrajan of the Al-Bayan Year Book.’

 *Nafe Katter, recalls: “In 1947, the Al-Bayan Corporation held their first convention at Charleston, West Virginia. Mr. George (Mahmoud) Sadek was the President, Mr. Nafe Katter, Sr. was the Vice President, Mr. Richard Rashid was the Secretary, and Mr. Haney Abou Mislah (Massey) was the Orator. Mickey Sanjid was the Chairperson. We all agreed to have a "General Meeting" because there were members present representing several different states (This apparently was the result of those present having attended the The First Mihrajan of the Al-Bayan Convention, and the “General Meeting" was held after that Convention - The First Mihrajan of the Al-Bayan. That first meeting was held in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Selman Morhey. It was very constructive, and it approved the adoption of our name ‘The American Druze Society’. There was an encouraging number in attendance with everyone showing much interest for its continuing the following year. In fact, they agreed on several locations where several future conventions would be held. It has become the cornerstone of the American Druze Society.”
 
 *The First Mihrajan of the Al-Bayan convention provided joy, happiness, and the feeling of family togetherness. The younger generation enjoyed the continuous entertainment of dancing, singing, picnics, and sport competitions, while the old folks reminisced about old times, exchanged news, and conducted the unfinished business of El-Bakaurat Ed-Dirziyat. The business of the Al-Bayan newspaper was discussed, and when the Convention ended, brotherhood and fellowship was inherent among all who had attended. All of the young people at that convention were first generation Americans, and they were overjoyed with meeting each other.
 
 They each found that the struggles a first generation American Druze has with other American teen-agers is insignificant. Each teenager vowed to attend the next convention in Washington, D.C., and from that point on, lasting relationships were made. The Al-Bayan newspaper wrote extensively of the success of the first convention, and this made people in the Druze community even more determined to attend the following convention.
 
Nafe Katter, Sr. correspondence is available in: My Collection. see: Julia Makarem Papers, Box 2.
This first convention booklet is available in: My Collection . see: Julia Makarem Papers, Box 4.