Druze Profile: Perceptions and Prospects: Druze Value System
Part three: Commitment And Dedication
Prominent Druze Americans
Many prominent Druze citizens in the United States have portrayed the exemplary and admirable social values of the Druze Faith. Each state is proud of its heritage. The State of Michigan lauds its own. The late Nafe Katter, Sr. who came from Bethloun, Lebanon was a pillar in the Druze community since he joined the Branch #2 El-Bakaurat Ed-Dirziyat in 1921. He has always been known to the Druze community in the United States and in Lebanon as 'Uncle Nafe.' Among the prominent Hamady family from Baakline, Lebanon, we have the late Uncle Mike Hamady, and his son,the late Robert Hamady and our own beloved the late 'Uncle Jack.' All in the Druze community in the entire United States know that the late Uncle Jack Hamady was a treasure to them. He, and his devoted partner and wife, Lily Hamady (nee Sob) from Chouifat, are precious to every single Druze in Michigan, as well as, the entire Druze community in the United States. We have so many others here in Michigan; the late Sheikh Nassib Nakadi (al-Nakadi) and his mother, Sitt Imm Nassib from Abey, the late Fuad Hassan (Kaid Bay) from Ein Anoub, and the late Aref Sams (Buismail) from Baakline. Although they are no longer with us, we shall never forget Fred Massey (Abu Muslih) from Ainab, Bill Igram (Buagram) from Baakline, and of course, Joseph Bomorro from Ernie, Syria, and all the Mullins (Abu Ghanim): the late Farris Mullin (Melhim Abu Ghanim) from Bmhrine, Lebanon, and Latifie and Hussein Mullen (Abu Ghanim) from Ramlihi, and Ollie Amin (Abu Ghanim), and his brother Sam Amin (Abu Ghanim) also from Ramlihi. Ameen Kassem (Consoul) from Mukhtara, Helen Dow (Thdow) (nee Sefa) from Beirut, and Selma and Charlie Dahook from Baakline, as well as, Nora Modad(USA) and Charlie Wehby (El-Gharib) from Kfhar Metta were always there for the younger Druze children so that they would know each and every one of the Druze social values. These great role models dedicated their lives to maintain the Druze social values and transmit them to their children here in the United States. Due to all the dedication and love of these great people, and so many more like them throughout the entire United States, tradition prevailed. Subsequently, in Southern California, the Druze Cultural Center was born and numerous other contributions have been made, 38) including a Druze cultural center in Detroit, Michigan established in 2003.
American Druze Role Models
A number of the American Druzes have served the community well, and for this we thank them. They have given us, the American Druze Society, high esteem and honor to have them among our ranks. Each of these American Druzes,was raised to understand his or her position in the community and the Druze social values from his or her immigrant parents, and for this, he or she has had the highest dedication and commitment to the Druze community. Each has become distinguished in his and her field, and each has used this to further the Druze cause. We salute Bobby Jaber, Casey Kasem, Jim Sams, Nafe Edmund Katter, Jr., and Salwa Roosevelt, as well as Raymond Hamden and Jimmie Silman, Jr. and Roger Mullin.
Bobby Jaber was the editor of Dialogue, a publication for questions, answers, or comments, as well as Anything that has been written about the Faith. He was born in Matoka, West Virginia to parents from Jebelel-Arab in Syria. His father was the well-known philanthropist, Joe Jaber Choucair, and his mother Belonged to the Al-Atrash family, (a close relative to Sultan from Jebel el-Druze in Syria). Bobby and his Sister, Kathy Jaber Stephenson, have always been consummate champions of Druze causes. Their father Taught them the SEVEN DRUZE COMMANDMENTS. Although Bobby Jaber has never lived in the Middle East, he is well versed in The Druze Faith. He discusses Tawhid as a scientist and a teacher. Bobby Grew up figuratively an orphan in Matoka, a small coal mining town in southern West Virginia. He Matured to follow the footsteps of his father, Joe Jaber Choucair, in the pursuit of the human and spiritual, Rather than the material, values in life. Using his High tech expertise, he has fine-tuned a successful Charitable program, The Tuition Fund, to help educate orphaned and needy children. Hundreds of families And children in the United States were able to participate in this tuition program through the Druze Foundation for Social Welfare in Beirut, Lebanon. All those knowledgeable attribute the success of this Wonderful humanitarian program to Bobby Jaber’s hard work, idealism, and love for justice and good will. Bobby has been presented with the man of the year award which reads: “TO BOBBY JABER WHOSE LOVE AND SERVICE TO THE DRUZE COMMUNITY exemplifies THE COMMANDMENT OF HIFZ EL IKHWAN (BROTHERHOOD).” Bobby Jaber’s contribution manifests itself also in his being such a Role model for others to follow.
The Druze of the world considers Casey Kasem (Kamal Ameen Kasem) a National Treasure. He is as dedicated to his Druze heritage as he is to his country, the United States. He has been on radio and television since his high school days. He is famous for hosting "Casey's Top 40," "Casey's Count Down," and "Casey's Biggest
Hits." that are all heard on more than 1000 radio stations around the world. Casey Kasem has been one of the prime movers in the establishment of the first American Druze Cultural Center in the United States and serves as one of the two Americans on the Board of Trustees of the American Druze Foundation.
James Sams ** is a successful lawyer, business man, and former president of National Aircraft Appraisers Association (NAAA). He comes from Bay City, Michigan,and his parents are from Baakaline, Lebanon. His parents taught him, and his sisters, Elaine and May, the Druze social values and their customs, and about the Druze community. As a young man, he served as a lieutenant in the United States Army. After his discharge, he attended Harvard Law School, pursuing graduate studies in international law followed by a diploma in comparative law from L'Universite Internationale in Luxembourg, Sweden. James Sams has served the Druze community here in the United States and in Lebanon, as well. He entered private law practice in Washington, D.C. in 1963, and in 1971, he moved his family to Beirut where he opened a branch office of his international law firm. Along with his professional interest in the Middle East, Jim Sams has also devoted much of his time to improving relations between the United States and the Arab world. He has a deep concern that the United States' having an enlightened Middle East policy. In the early days of the American Druze Society, Jim Sams, and his very charming wife, Betty (nee, Hamady), served the Society in many capacities. James Sams, along with Casey Kasem, is one of the two Americans on the Board of Trustees of the American Druze Foundation.
**Center For Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS) Board Member Jim Sams
We at CCAS are sad to report the news of the death of our friend and colleague Jim Sams. He fought a long and brave battle with lymphoma before finally succumbing on December 21, 2005 at his home in Bethesda, Maryland.
“Jim joined our Board in 2000. He was extraordinarily energetic and diligent in helping develop the Center. He was invaluable in the campaign to endow a chair at CCAS in the name of Hala and Clovis Maksoud; and he was very pleased, in his last days, to learn that it was close to being successfully completed. I benefited enormously from his counsel in a whole range of issues related to the Center. He gave generously of his vast experience as a founder and organizer of Arab-American and third-world NGOs,” said CCAS Director Michael C. Hudson.
James Farid Sams was a founding father of ANERA (American Near East Refugee Aid), one of the leading development organizations assisting the Palestinians. He was a president and chairman of the NAAA (National Association of Arab-Americans) and a key executive committee member of the ATFL (American Task Force for Lebanon). He lent his considerable organizational skills to the ADC (American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee), which honored him in May 2005 with the Alex Odeh Activist Award. He was also honored by a leading social development organization in Lebanon, the Rene Moawad Foundation.
A lawyer by training, Jim practiced law first in Washington and then for five years in Beirut. Later here turned to Washington and established the American Development Services Corporation, a real estate development and investment firm. Jim was fiercely proud of his Arab, Lebanese, and Druze heritage; and he fought tirelessly to promote better understanding between America and the Middle East. We at the Center and his many other friends at Georgetown extend our heartfelt condolences to Betty, his daughters Alicia and Victoria, his son James and daughter-in-law Lisa, and his grandchildren Claire and James.
Nafe Edmund Katter, Jr.
Nafe Edmund Katter, Jr. had a large role in in starting the first American Druze Society's conventions. He was there, along with his revered father, Uncle Nafe Katter, Sr., to support the Druze community in their new endeavor. Nafe and his sister, Elnora, and their gracious and beloved mother, Meta, opened their home in Saginaw to all the Druzes during those early Convention years. We remember them with deep affection. Over the years, as a University of Connecticut drama professor, Nafe Katter has become a dedicated teacher transmitting his love for the theater to his students. Nafe Edmund Katter, Jr. is the pride of the Druze people.
We, the American Druzes, are proud of one of our own, Salwa Showker Roosevelt, who went from attending the first ADS Convention in Charleston, West Virginia to the White House in Washington, D.C. Salwa is the daughter of Druze immigrants who settled in Tennessee. She attended Vassar College, where she graduated with honors, and married Archibald Roosevelt, grandson of the famous President of the United States, Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt. In the White House, Salwa served as Chief of Protocol to President Ronald Reagan. She is a dedicated Druze, and she has always supported the American Druze Society, as well as other Druze causes.
Born in the United States of America, he practiced psychology in Washington, D.C. since 1979. The diverse cross-cultural services are in Clinical, Forensic, Educational, Organizational, and International consultation. In 1990, Dr. Hamden established a professional psychology practice in the United Arab Emirates.
He earned a Ph.D. in Psychology and continued post-graduate studies in Modern Psychoanalysis. Dr. Hamden consults in Clinical Psychology, Domestic Relations, Crisis Intervention, Trauma, and Homeland Security (Diplomate, American College of Forensic Examiners International), Certified Medical Investigator – Level V and Certified in Homeland Security – Level V, Certified Forensic Consultant (peer review and examination).
Under the auspices of the Emirates Medical Association, Dr. Hamden was the 2003 President of the Emirates Psychological Society which coordinated the 1st Middle East / North Africa Regional Conference on Psychology (MENA RCP). The International Union of Psychological Sciences (IUPsyS) in collaboration with The International Academy of Applied Psychology (IAAP) and The International Association of Cross Cultural Psychology (IACCP) selected Dr. Hamden as President of theMENA RCP held December 2003 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Newly developed, In The Psychologist’s Chair ® with Dr. Raymond Hamden. This program debuted in Dubai, with a season of VIP guests, topics, and helpful ideas. Having published in several magazines weekly and monthly, he had a weekly Psychology segment on English Radio (Emirates Radio2). On Arabic Radio (ARN, 98.9 FM) he was featured from September 2001 to July 2002. Currently, Dr. Hamden consults as a Media Psychologist to various media sources.
He is Director of the Human Relations Institute in Dubai Knowledge Village. Dr. Hamden is a Life Member in the Association of Psychological Sciences (formerly American Psychological Society), International Society of Political Psychology, International Council of Psychologists, and American College of Forensic Examiners International.
For professional distinction, Dr. Hamden was awarded Fellow status in the American College of Forensic Examiners International. He also serves on the Board of Advisors (2004-2007), American Board of Psychological Specialties (Vice-Chair 2007-2008) of ACFEI.
Dr. Hamden has taught and supervised undergraduate and graduate student in psychology and behavioral science as General Psychology, Social Psychology, Human Development, Abnormal Psychology, Crisis Intervention, Group Dynamics. For the Department of Business Administration courses included Organizational Behavior, Psychology of Advertising, Business Ethics, Business Communications, and other related subjects. He has also consulted to international companies and organizations in Cross-Cultural Awareness, Managing Diversity, Creating Effective Workgroups, Self-Awareness, Stress Management, Transitional and Leadership Changes.
Developing Employee Assistance Programs and facilitating Corporate Training and Development programs are some of the features Dr. Hamden manages into his schedule. Two articles on Organizational Psychology were published – Employee Selection and Placement: assessment application in the Middle East and The Importance of Career Interest Tests in the Arab World.
With the University of Maryland, Dr. Hamden was a 1986 Visiting Fellow at the Center for International Development and Conflict Management. His research and consulting was in Political Psychology – the psychology of terrorists and hostage situations. He coined the term “The Retributional Terrorist – Type 4”. His work was published as a chapter in a 4-volume text entitled The Psychology Terrorism, Dr. Chris Stout (editor, 2002). Also, he is invited to write a chapter entitled "Unresolved Trauma and the Thirst for Revenge: The Retributional Terrorist" for Volume I of a three-volume project by James JF Forest, Ph.D. of The West Point United States Military Academy. Dr. Hamden is a completing a book on Terrorists Psychology: a typology for Profiling and Negotiating (publication schedule for 2007).
Dr. Hamden has consulted in Critical Incident Debriefing and Emergency Planning as well as Trauma Situation and Identification and Political Psychology in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Algeria, Iraq, and other international locations.
By invitation, he has presented before the US Senate and wrote for the US House of Representatives:
“Psychological Aspects of IsTishHad: Suicide or Sacrifice” expert witness testimony presented before the United States Senate Anti-Terrorism Caucus, special topic on the Middle East suicide missions. Washington, D.C. 26 March 1986
“Islamic Fundamentalism: Terrorism or Psychological Resistance” written testimony submitted to and published in the series of HEARINGS before the subcommittee on Europe and the Middle East of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, U.S. House of Representative. Washington, D.C., Fall / Winter 1985, Page 416-425.
Other expert presentation include
Psychology of Terrorists: 4 types
Seminar/workshop presented at the September 2006 Conference
American Board of Certification in Homeland Security
Psychology of Safety: a challenged perspective
Seminar/workshop presented at the September 2006 Conference
American Board of Certification in Homeland Security
“The Retributional Terrorist - Type 4". University of Maryland - Center for International Development and Conflict Management, College Park. Archives, Fall 1987
Dr. Hamden has appeared as an expert in international media: CNN, BBC, Al Arabiya, Canada AM, and many others; local networks have regularly called on his professional analysis and testimony in various topics on psychological profiling and critical incidents.
Others topics appeared in Gulf Marketing Review as Corporate Conflicts, Sales Psychology. Both appeared in the Middle East Quality Review. He is co-author of Balanced-4-Life: before Burn-Out (to be published). Other peer reviewed articles and programs are on going. Another topic and text On Relationships: improving your own (to be published).
Dr. Hamden was a co-convener of the Globalization for the Common Good – an international conference, which was held March 2004 in Dubai.
As a member of the American Business Council of Dubai and the Northern Emirates (ABC), he serviced as the 2002 Chair of the Overseas Security Advisory Committee (OSAC). In 2003, he was elected to the Board of Directors of the ABC and was the OSAC liaison.
Dr. Hamden was elected to the 2006-2008 Board of Directors of the Rotary Club of Dubai. Most recently, he was selected to service on the committee for the European Space Agency (ESA) and consult on Psychology of Space Travel.
Jimmie Silman, Jr.
Jimmie Silman, Jr. is the son of Jamile and Wadad Silman who played an instrumental role in the foundation of the American Druze Society. Jimmie, Jr. and his sister Polly attended the first Convention in Charleston, West Virgina in 1947. Each has chaired the Convention a number of times, as well. Jimmie, Jr. has always stood by the officers of the American Druze Society throughout the years, and he has always offered his support for the success of the Society. The American Druze Society is proud to have him among them. He volunteered for the Navy at age 17 in 1944 and spent fifteen months in the Pacific Theater. He was a Radio announcer during his college years and after Navy service culminating announcing career with BS Radio. His Television career as a producer/director/writer began in Washington, D.C. in 1951. He directed for CBS News: FACE THE NATION, CBS EVENING NEWS (Washington), INAUGURATION CEREMONIES, STATE VISITS BY FOREIGN DIGNITARIES, STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESSES, AND OVAL OFFICE ADDRESSES. He produced for PBS: INTERNATIONAL PERFORMANCE WITH ROBERT MERRILL He directed for PBS: QUEEN ELIZABETH STATE DINNER AT THE WHITE HOUSE. He produced or directed for CBS Sports: MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL, NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE, NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION NCAA FOOTBALL and BASKETBALL and professional CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING. Jimmie was awarded two National Emmys as Producer and as Director of NFL games. Jimmie Silman
- Served as Program Director for the Washington Post/Newsweek CBS station in Washington, D. C. And was an Adjunct Professor at The American University in Washington teaching Advanced Television Production.
- President of the Washington Chapter of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and served on the Board of Directors of the National Academy for four years.
- Wrote, produced and directed intelligence briefings for the White House and top national officials through the offices of the CIA. This independent contract work was for the Carter, Reagan, Bush and Clinton Administrations.
Member, Board of Directors of Bethesda Country Club six years. President for two years and Chairman of the LPGA National Championships which took place at Bethesda for four years.
Roger Mullin, an America Druze, was born and raised in Michigan. He graduated an engineer, and he spent almost all his working years with the Ford Motor Company, attaining one of the highest positions with the Company. He worked for Ford in England, as well as in the United States.
He was a Mason and held the position of Worthy Master of his Lodge. As he was going “up the chairs, there were opportunities for him to take progressively more prominent roles until he ultimately earned the office of Worshipful Master. Shortly after that, he became the Worthy Patron for the Cedars of Lebanon Chapter of the Order of Eastern Stars/.
Roger Mullin was dedicated to helping the members of the al Bakaurat ed Diryzat Branch #2 in Detroit, Michigan. He was the Druze’s most prominent, powerful and loyal champion of working people. “He loved the Druze and Bakaurat ed-Diryzat because he saw loyality and camaraderie could make a difference in people’s lives. And he loved Druze people most of all.”
His Druze brethren in the United States were important to him, and so was the American Druze Society. He held various offices in the Society, and he was the National President in 1956. He was instrumental in keeping the Bakaurat ed-Diryzat, Branch #2 in Detroit, Michigan alive and well for many years past the demise of most of the other branches of the Bakaurat ed-Diryzat in the United States.
Major Moral Values
Truthfulness is the quality or state of being, or a combination of, the following behavioral characteristics: true, real, genuine, exact, sincere, honest, trustworthy, and accordance with experience, facts, or reality.
Fellowship or brotherhood “Protecting or Safeguarding the Brethren” is frequently used to emphasize among the believers, as well as mankind in general.
Purity is defined in the content of The Tawhid Faith as the quality or condition of being clean, clear, innocent, honest, virtuous, loyal, and devoted. Cleanliness of the body, clarity of the mind, and innocence in relationships with fellow humans are highly desired qualities of the MUWAHHID. Furthermore, truth in human relations, intellectual honesty, virtuous behavior, chastity, and spiritual devotion are esteemed by the MUWAHHID. Purity should be an obvious characteristic of the mind, spirit, and body.
Compassion implies deep sympathy with, and sorrow for, the troubles of other people and a willingness to help them.
Justice implies righteousness, fairness, impartiality or equal treatment, sound judgment, and congruence with the truth, religious commands, or man-made laws. It also emphasizes reward and punishment on an equal basis, regardless of differences in social background and physical characteristics.
Austerity implies moral strictness, rigorousness, abstinence, sacrifice, simplicity, and curbing appetites for physical pleasures.
Fortitude can be looked upon from an active or passive point of view. In a passive sense, it implies patient endurance of pain, misfortune, injustice, oppression, and the like. In an active sense, it refers to such qualities as firm resolve to take risks and meet challenges, perseverance to achieve, loyalty to ideals, courage, and the like.
Dignity implies several personal characteristics such as: worthiness, honor, nobility, merit, decency, and high repute, position, rank, or social status. A person with dignity exhibits such personal traits on a regular basis in daily life, thereby, commanding self-respect and the respect of others.
Character is uppermost: The Druze community has the highest ethical behavior. Truthfulness heads the list. The Druzes strongly believe in absolute honesty by professing the truth, acting according to the truth and living for the truth. “Tell the truth and fear nothing but your sin” runs a Druze maxim. They keep their word. Veracity is important to them, and it is taught in the religion. Observance of the truth may be relaxed, however, when outsiders inquire about the Druze religion or if telling the truth could bring harm to the community. In both these circumstances, white lies are permissible (Taqiyah). (40) They are good and uprighteous citizens and never inimical to organized government and to state authority. (41)
The Druzes are a minority, less than 10 percent of the population of Lebanon; yet, they are respected and esteemed and played an integral part in fighting the recent Civil War, and they also claim a decisive say in all matters related to the political future of Lebanon. They are represented in the Lebanese Parliament and hold integral positions on government committees.
In the United States, the Druzes have been outstanding citizens, as well as, good statesmen. Most retained their Druze heritage; yet, they were still able to conform to the new society in which they found themselves. The word Druze has never been in the newspapers for any misbehavior or disrepute; however, the Lebanese crisis in 1975 brought the word Druze to the front pages of American newspapers. In 1982, many Americans learned of the Druze presence in the United States after the American Druzes formed the American Druze Public Affairs Committee (ADPAC) in order to educate the American public, and, especially, the media and politicians. Previously, the Druze lacked a lobby in Washington D.C.
Propriety, gentility, and dignity of bearing are common to Druzes, high and low. They are common Druze qualities. Druzes of all social categories share a politeness and refinement of manners that in other societies are usually associated with the upper social levels. A respectful, deferential, and courteous Druze man is customary. (42)
The American Druzes have continuously impressed the communities where they live with their graciousness, correctness, and breeding. Most have adopted a low religious profile; yet, it is not uncommon for them to be nominally Christian. The Druzes are strong nationalists in America dedicated to the country they have adopted. Assimilation for them proved quick and easy; however, the majority holds firmly to their ties of culture and society.
Women’s deference is another tenet of the Druzes. During the First World War, starvation drove many young Christian women from Lebanon to Jbl-el-Druze, where they were given refuge, work and sustenance that enabled them to survive. At the end of the War, the Druzes did not permit them to return to their homes until Christian clergy came and investigated, certifying that none had been molested, dishonored, or maltreated during their stay. Daniel Bliss, the founder of the American University of Beirut, in recording the events of the Druze Revolution of 1860, relates how it was possible for any woman to pass through the warring Druze armies in perfect safety. (43) Al-Durzi (the Druze man) respects not only his own woman, but he also other people’s women as well; even the women of his enemies. He regards all derogatory remarks about women as offensive. He always pays women the compliment of consideration and respect. A Druze highwayman during the Revolution against the French in Lebanon refused to touch a French woman, even though, they carried money and jewels belonging to themselves and their male companions under and within the folds of their dresses. (44)
Humility, gentleness, and compassion are also qualities of the Druze. These qualities are inbred and deep-seated and expected of every Druze; however, “when the community is in danger, they will spring to its defense like tigers.” Old and young alike will then swiftly close ranks and emerge as a formidable fighting force to confront any who attempt to threaten their survival, their rights, their land, and their well-being as a community. This ability has been demonstrated throughout history. To help one another is a sacred duty. The Unitarians are brothers and sisters, and fraternal love guarantees the obligation of mutual assistance in every possible way, materially and in combat. In any case of personal conflict, the primordial duty is to provide support and to make peace. (45) The Druzes fight an outsider, along side each other, and because of their unfailing support for one another, there has never been, during their long history, any beggars among them. During the First World War, when famine hit all of Lebanon, the Druzes were spared because of the assistance they received from their Jbl al-Druze brothers. Despite the horrors of the recent war in Lebanon and the collapse of the country’s economy, there was still not a single beggar to be found in the Druze community.(46)
In Lebanon, after the great genocide of the Druzes in the Shahar region in 1983, those who escaped to Beirut were given housing immediately. They came from the mountains by the thousands; yet, there was not, from among them, one person who was left homeless. Entire hotels were rented by Druze organizations and even by affluent families to house the refugees. Other Druzes opened their homes to them. I gave refuge, in my own home, for more than a year to a family and one member of another family from Abey after the Battle of the Shahar region. There never was a question from whom they would receive shelter, as well as, food and clothing.
In the United States, the Druzes have stood along side their brothers, just as they did in their mother countries. When a new family arrives in a city, the Druzes of the area immediately make themselves available to assist the newcomers in every way. After the recent Civil War in Lebanon, many came to the United States because they had lost all their possessions and their land in Lebanon. The people in America acted swiftly to arrange shelter for them. Committees through the American Druze Society helped those who came to continue their education. Presently, through modern technology ( the Internet), the American Druze youth reach out to each other in many ways.
Fearlessness is one of the highest and noblest of Druze qualities. To accept and resign one’s self to God’s will, in prosperity or adversity, is a foremost tenet among the teachings of the Druze religion. It is for this reason that the Druzes are fatalists. They strongly believe that what is written is written, and that, at birth, a Druze’s age on this earth is recorded in the book of destiny. Nothing in the world will prolong or shorten their days. “He who is destined for ten will never die at nine.” “Every bullet has an address, and will find it no matter what you do.” These are universally popular sayings among the Druzes. Their belief in an age fixed at birth goes some way to explain their extraordinary courage and lion-hearted bravery in battle. Incredible feats of daring and heroism abound in Druze legend. Their fatalism is fundamentally based on their belief that “whatever comes is ordained by God.” (47)
Courage is found in all Druzes, men, women, and children alike.
Courage is taught in the Druze religion, it serves as the pride of the faithful. It is a conspicuous Druze quality, and there were many situations that proved it during the recent Lebanese Civil War. One outstanding battle, which completely demonstrated their valor and courage, is germane to moralize here !
The Unique Druze Community
I was privy to the Battle of the Shahar in 1983 when a call by the Druze religious members (Sheikhs) was made to the Druze fighters to free the Shahar region of Lebanon from occupation by the Lebanese Forces. Five months earlier, these Lebanese Forces had occupied the Shahar region; then, they annihilated the Druzes of the region. Four villages experienced genocide: Abey, Kfhar Metta, Binaay, and Barwittie. Captain Walid Sukiriyyih, who had been part of the occupying forces in the Shahar region of Lebanon, told me the story about the atrocities later. On September 5, 1983, after the withdrawal of the Israeli Army from the mountains of Lebanon, the Lebanese Forces, a splinter group of the Lebanese Army, replaced the Israelis who had been occupying Lebanon. As the Israeli Army left, the Lebanese Forces took up positions in the Shahar region of Lebanon, and a massacre of unprecedented violence occurred in the villages of Kfhar Metta, Abey, Binnay, and Barwittie. The Lebanese Forces were responsible for the massacre of the Druze residents in these villages. Few were able to escape. As the news of the massacre reached other villages in the Shah’ar, thousands fled to Beirut.
Unable to be part of the atrocities any longer, Captain Walid Sukiriyyih defected in February of 1984. He immediately informed the Druze Military Command of the situation in the occupied villages of the Shah’ar region and gave them the strategic information necessary for the Druze fighters to free their villages. The ‘Call’ was made for one thousand Druze fighters. By evening, ten thousand men (of whom the majority were Orthodox Druze men from the Chouf mountains), had congregated together to enter the battle. The plan, however, had been made for just one thousand fighters, so it was necessary to choose the one thousand at random, by drawing straws, from among the ten thousand Druze men who were all clamoring to fight to death in the battle for the Druze villages.
The evening of Monday, February 13, 1984, as their leader led the one thousand men off to battle, they could be heard proclaiming, “Who, from among us, shall be the first to drink of his mother’s milk in the morning.” The Druze are fatalists, and they believe in reincarnation (transmigration of the soul), so the new mother will deliver the baby who has the soul of the dead fighter, and the baby will be born by morning. Tuesday morning, February 14, 1984, the time of deliverance came to the Shah’ar region, and the Druze fighters returned to their villages. It took just one thousand men only one day to wipe out an army. This is the unique Druze Community!
Sunday morning. February 19,1984, I went to the Shah’ar region with hundreds of Druze ladies from all of Lebanon to see the ravages of the Druze villages of Kfhar Metta, Abay, Binnay, and Barwittie by the Lebanese Forces. In Abay, the sacred Druze shrine (the Sayyid Abdallah) had almost been totally destroyed. I gave an interview to the BBC at the shrine, and as I finished, someone arrived and announced that sixty-five new corpses had just been found in the village of Kfhar Metta. I joined a few of the others to go see the corpses that had been found just that morning. The film “The Massacre” was made showing such scenes for the media. “The Massacre” was shown in all the Middle East, as well as in London. While I did the English version of the film, it was never shown in the United States !
An apparent is Courage is inbred in the Druze women, and they have always stood behind their men in war as in peace. They have never deserted them in times of trials and tribulations. So it is in the United States. Man’s free choosing brings forth character, as well as liabilities. Character rules out any subterfuge in misdeeds. It closes the door to those who like to blame God for their weakness, foibles and crimes. God gave man freedom of choice in order to make him assume responsibility and to grow. He does not order man to do wrong nor does He offer him excuse or indulgence in doing it.(49)
Hospitality is inbred and earns blessing for to the Druze, the most blessed food is that around which many hands gather. Hospitality and asylum are accorded to the wayfarer in such a manner that the Druzes are called Benu-Ma’ruf or the people of good deeds. If a stranger comes to banquet or dinner, all members of the family show respect and cordiality, as though he were the dearest of relatives. Even if his most implacable enemy comes to his house and breaks bread with him, the Druze is required to offer full protection and to see to his safety for twelve hours after he departs. Should the guest take only a drink at his host’s house, the care-taking obligation is for two hours only? This custom, with its sacred touches and hedges, was bequeathed to the Druze by the desert Bedouins and stands honored and inflexible for all time. The triumphant Druze spares the life of his antagonist during melee in a raid, merely by touching his horse. In Druze History, Bouron emphasizes the Druzes passionate belief in individual hospitality and their stout defense of its obligations. Whoever enters a Druze home becomes inviolate. Prior to the great revolt, Sultan Pasha attacked the tanks on their way from Swayda to Damascus because they were carrying off a man seized in his house. This seizure, he considered a violation of his sacred rights as host. ...The foregoing statements are no myths. Although the Hawran country robbers pose threat and danger against not only foreigners, but also the Druze themselves, a whole people may not be judged by its deviates and riffraff. In the Druze community, the first article of conduct is genuine hospitality to all comers. I still recall the many nights I spent in the sparsely populated North Maqran with a few men. We invariably went into Druze homes. With my own eyes, I would see our hosts sleep across the door of the guest house as guards against any untoward incident and some take station on the roof to insure our sense of absolutely safety. (50)
In the United States, a Druze will find a home open to him wherever he may go. Druze have no beggars, and few who look to others to support them. If they are unable to fend for themselves, another Druze will take on the responsibility until the person or persons are able to support themselves.
Charity is commanded, and a person with means, when he makes his will, has the responsibility of leaving one twelfth of what he possesses to the poor, to the needy and to the pious. In the United States, Druze immigrants played a major role in raising funds for the Druze Orphanage, Dar-al-Yatiem, in Abey, Lebanon. The majority of the American Druze continues to support this orphanage, as well as, other organizations in Lebanon dealing with the needs of the Druze children. After the recent Lebanese Civil War, the Druzes in the United States contributed major amounts of money to those fighters injured in battle. and also, to the children and the families of the martyrs of that war. Najib Alamuddin says: “that when the worse fighting in Lebanon occurred in the last quarter of 1975 and most of 1976, indiscriminate shelling of residential areas by all the fighting factions was responsible for killing tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children; rarely did the warring parties meet face to face in battle. Instead, they preferred shelling innocent people from safe positions and safe distances.” The Druze fighters had no part in the indiscriminate shelling; yet, they were the victims. In the Druze Orphanage, Dar-al-Yatiem, in Abey, the children of these families, as well as the children of the Druze fighters, are carefully raised with funds from the Druzes living abroad. The Druzes in the United States also contributed generously to the building fund of the Dar-al-Druze in Beirut, the site of the office of the Sheikh al-Akl. The Dar-al-Druze is presently the Druze Center in Beirut. My mother, Nagela Farris Mullin, was instrumental in raising contributions and pledges to the Building Fund of the Dar-al-Druze. The American Druzes have also been generous contributors to all charitable and national undertakings of other denominations in the United States.
Druze generosity is apparent in other ways, as well. In Lebanon, Najib Alamuddin, a prominent Druze statesman,and the President of Middle East Airlines (MEA), decided that his company must pay for the education at a Lebanese university for the children of the crew members killed in a plane crash. The crew members who had lost their lives were parents of young children, and Najib Alamuddin felt that MEA should take responsibility for their education in Lebanon. In addition, the MEA paid for the education of the son of the French flight engineer in France. This company policy was definitely not the norm in Lebanon.
The Druzes are renowned for their character traits of generosity.
Conduct :Submissiveness and straightforwardness are qualities of the children of the Druzes, and these qualities are exercised in every activity in their daily lives. A Druze child is raised by his or her parents to know that the goal in life is not just to live in comfort and ease, but to be graced by God and great in His eyes. This is inbred! They respect their elders and treat them with utmost courtesy. So it is that these children become adults and live a moral life. Amazingly, the Druze [who have been religiously conformed], as well as, the uninitiated, and especially the women, have always striven to live just as moral and circumspect a life as the enlightened. The initiated Druze woman devotes considerably more time to scriptural study than the uninitiated Druze women. From this scriptural study, they gain the wisdom that earns them respected status in Druze society.
The Druzes keep faith with all who live in their midst, whatever their religious beliefs. The city of Baaqline, in the Chouf District of Lebanon, has always been overwhelmingly Druze. For a long time, Christian families continued to live in Baaqline and remained throughout most of the recent Lebanese Civil War. When the last male member of the remarkable Haddad Christian family living in Baaqline died, his coffin and the crosses in his funeral procession were carried by the Baaqline Druzes - his fellow villagers and friends. This was in 1981 despite the factional hostilities. (51)
Much importance is attached to decorum, in speech, appearance, and behavior. It is a common observation that Druze speech is of absolute propriety. A pioneer American educator in Syria, Cornelius Van Dyck, who spent a lifetime among Druzes, said he never heard a single Druze utter an improper word. (52) Their dress is impeccable, immaculate and flawless. The ‘uqqal’ (clergy) wear a heavy white turban and abstain from wearing gaudy colors. My own experience at the funeral of my father-in-law, Sheikh Nassib Makarem, who was among the most prominent of the ‘uqqal’, was one of reverence at the sight of many, many thousands of the ‘uqqal’ standing together to pay their respects. The sight was one that you would see looking at a snow covered mountain. The women initiates also stood together at another side of the interment, and their headdress, also white, added to the spectacular sight.
The Druze women initiates wear a long white headdress which almost covers their black dress hiding their ankles and arms. Her deportment is dignified and reserved, and she does not shake hands with men; however, she does acknowledge their presence with a visual glance. If the man is a relative, she inquires of his well-being and state of concern. The Druze women who are not initiates also dress modestly. They, however, are not compelled to wear a white headdress even though it has been the custom from almost the inception of the Faith. Sami Makarem, Nejla Abu Izzeddin, Abdallah Najjar, Robert Benton Betts, and Fred Massey make no mention of it. The headdress for the women non-initiates is a rather long sheer white veil. It is a traditional common part of a women’s raiment in the Druze villages, but, in the 1960s, the women in the cities began to abandon the customary manner of wearing the long heavy headdress. The material went from light-weight cotton to gossamer, sheer-like material. This veil became considerably shorter in the cities, and as the years passed, the manner of wearing the veil changed as well. Now, those women who continue the tradition of wearing the veil drape it around their necks. Others, who have abandoned the tradition, considering it a sign of becoming modern.
Propriety in relationships between the sexes is also guided by puritanical norms. Ideally, an initiate male will never remain alone with a woman or even return her greeting unless a third person is present. (53) The Scriptures enjoin propriety on men and women alike, and propriety is emphasized in the family social values. Druze code forbids casting reflections on the virtue of women and frowns on indulgence and gratification in making women subject of common conversation.
In America, the Druze place propriety first regarding men and women. Few instances are on record of inappropriate behavior between Druze men and women, as well as, with those of other sects. In the United States, no case of ignominy has been recorded.
Ethics holds the highest station among the Druze values. Al-Hakim bi-Amrillah issued stringent decrees against alcohol. He curtailed its source of production by placing severe weight and quantity limits for shoppers and purchasers of raisins and grapes. (54)
The common misconception among non-Druze that the basic theology of the religion is ‘secret’ or ‘prohibited’ to all except the ‘uqqal’ may be partially explained by the fact that those Druze who smoke, drink alcohol, or violate more serious norms of personal conduct are deemed unworthy and are denied permission to pray or meditate with the initiates. Aside from the policy of exclusion, any Druze, man or woman, has the right to enter a place of worship, read the holy texts, and pray.(55) The Druze religious teachings speak of intoxicants as the concentration of all evil.(56)
The Druze community richly and justly deserved, by virtue of its long, historic record, wide recognition and shining accolades in character, conduct, and excellent repute. Bouran, a French military officer, in his History of the Druze, says, “They ban prevarication, alcohol, smoking, perjury, slander and the art of informing. They are commanded to be gentle and amiable and to avoid avarice and envy.” The encyclopedist, Butrus al-Bustany, comments that “they practice self-control, probity and veracity; they avoid indecorous talk and vulgarity; they reject tainted money.”(57)
From Sufism, the Druze religious community took precepts, such as suppressing personal gratification, purging the soul of material taint and hindrance, and stressing contact with the divine truth. The Druze depreciates worldly possession, orders obedience to the morally right, urges continence and contentment, and advocates diligent study of the secrets of existence. The Druze religious authority wears the Sufist black woolen-box coat; yet, personal responsibility for human choice and action is the uppermost belief (58).