middle east 2

  • Study the assigned curriculum — both Parts 1 and 2.
  • Submit your essay (or your contracted alternative), which must include thoughts on both parts of each module.
  • Your peer exchanges are due two days after your essay is due.

The essays are designed to be meaningful exercises of self-exploration (reflections) rather than busy work (summaries).

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The practice of philosophy is a major goal of your essays and exchanges. This practice promotes and supports independent, creative and original thinking.

Essays Due by 11:00 PM on Mondays and Thursdays.

  • Your essays need to be a thoughtful “journal-like” reflections.
  • Essays must address both part 1 and part 2 of each module’s curriculum.
  • A good reflection is one that I could not have read before. This is because it is the essay that only you could have written — due to your unique set of life experiences.

Minimum Requirements

  • Essays are not summaries. That is busy work.
  • Summaries do not receive credit because they do not require serious thought — simply the ability to record information.
  • Your essays must be more than 700 words to receive credit and be eligible for a C, more than 800 words to be eligible for a B, and more than 900 words to be eligible for an A.
  • Your assignments are not eligible for A’s if they require proofreading.
  • Assignments that are partial (not meeting minimum requirements) do not receive partial credit.
  • Late assignments are not eligible for credit.

Essay Prompts

You are not required to use the following prompts, but they may help you think about what you are studying:

  • What did you learn? What surprised you and/or caused enough doubt that you were inspired to do a little research and fact checking?
  • Did you find any specific ideas confusing or difficult?
  • Did you have an emotional response, negative or positive? Do you know why?
  • Have you had any experiences you are willing to share with our class that help you relate to and understand any of the material in this module?
  • Did this assignment contain any “awakening” ideas, those that inspire you rather than depress you?
  • Did you find any of the ideas surprising? Why?

Final Assessment Prompts

You do not need to use these final assessment prompts either, but they may help you put what you are studying this semester into a larger perspective.

  • Can you give an example or two in your essay that demonstrates you were engaging with, and thinking about, our curriculum in a serious way?
  • Did you study everything required or did you rush and skim?
  • Did you find yourself thinking about class content when you did not have to, such as finding yourself discussing ideas with friends or family?
  • Did you seek clarification about class material that confused you? If not, why not?
  • Have your studies contributed to any increase in self-knowledge (how you understand the world and your place in it) or a deeper understanding of one’s current world view?

PART 1

The Middle East

The Samaritans

Early History According to Samaritan Sources

“The Samaritans assert that Mount Gerizim was the original Holy Place of Israel from the time that Joshua conquered Israel and the ten tribes settled the land. According to the Bible, the story of Mount Gerizim takes us back to the story of the time when Moses ordered Joshua to take the Twelve Tribes of Israel to the mountains by Shechem and place half of the tribes, six in number, on the top of Mount Gerizim, the Mount of the Blessing, and the other half in Mount Ebal, the Mount of the Curse. The two mountains were used to symbolize the significance of the commandments and serve as a warning to whoever disobeyed them.”

“The Samaritans have insisted that they are direct descendants of the Northern Israelite tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, who survived the destruction of the Northern kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians in 722 BC. The inscription of Sargon II records the deportation of a relatively small proportion of the Israelites (27,290, according to the annals), so it is quite possible that a sizable population remained that could identify themselves as Israelites, the term that the Samaritans prefer for themselves.

Samaritan historiography would place the basic schism from the remaining part of Israel after the twelve tribes conquered the land of Canaan, led by Joshua. After Joshua’s death, Eli the priest left the tabernacle which Moses erected in the desert and established on Mount Gerizim, and built another one under his own rule in the hills of Shiloh (1 Sam 1:1-3; 2:12-17). Thus, he established both an illegitimate priesthood and an illegitimate place of worship.”

“Further, the Samaritan Chronicle Adler, or New Chronicle, believed to have been composed in the 18th century C.E. using earlier chronicles as sources states:

And the children of Israel in his days divided into three groups. One did according to the abominations of the Gentiles and served other Gods; another followed Eli, although many of them turned away from him after he had revealed his intentions; and a third remained with the High Priest, the chosen place, Mount Gerizim, in the holy city of Shechem.

“According to the Samaritans this marked the end of the Age of Divine Favor, which began with Moses. Thus began the Era of Divine Disfavor when God looks away from the people. According to the Samaritans the age of divine favor will only return with the coming of the Messiah.”

“The Samaritans claim that there are three periods of the deviation of Jews from Israel. The first was during the time of Elijah the Priest. Elijah decided on his own to relocate the Holy Place to Shiloh, but this point was rejected from the beginning by the nation. The second controversy started during the split of the ten tribes of Israel from the tribe of Judea due to a dispute about tax payments in the year 928 BC. The third controversy was during the Return to Zion by the Jews from Babylon in the year 538 BC. In that time there was physical fighting between the two sects, with the Jews claiming that the Samaritans informed the Persian King about their intention to build the Second Temple.”

“The Samaritans never deny that the Assyrians assimilated with them, but they claim that other nations have assimilated into Judaism as well. The fact is that the Assyrian exile was a long process and took many years. The Assyrians who came to Samaria were few in number and most of them have assimilated with the locals. The Samaritans themselves make a clear distinction between their own ancestors and the inhabitants of Samaria.”

Non-Samaritan View of Origins

“The emergence of the Samaritans as an ethnic and religious community distinct from other Levant peoples appears to have occurred at some point after the Assyrian conquest of the Israelite Kingdom of Israel. In approximately 721 BC, the Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom and captured its capital city of Samaria.”

Some date their split with the Jews to the time of Nehemiah, Ezra, and the rebuilding of the Second Temple in Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile. Returning exiles considered the Samaritans to be non-Jews and, thus, not fit for this religious work.

The Encyclopedia Judaica (under “Samaritans”) summarizes both past and the present views on the Samaritans’ origins. It says:

Until the middle of the 20th Century it was customary to believe that the Samaritans originated from a mixture of the people living in Samaria and other peoples at the time of the conquest of Samaria by Assyria (722/1 BC). The Biblical account in II Kings 17 had long been the decisive source for the formulation of historical accounts of Samaritan origins. Reconsideration of this passage, however, has led to more attention being paid to the Chronicles of the Samaritans themselves. With the publication of Chronicle II, the fullest Samaritan version of their own history became available.”

“According to the former, the Samaritans are the direct descendants of the Joseph tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh, and until the 17th century C.E. they possessed a high priesthood descending directly from Aaron through Eleazar and Phinehas. They claim to have continuously occupied their ancient territory and to have been at peace with other Israelite tribes until the time when Eli disrupted the Northern cult by moving from Shechem to Shiloh and attracting some northern Israelites to his new followers there. For the Samaritans, this was the ‘schism’ par excellence.”

End of the Judean exile

“When the exile ended in 538 BC and the exiles returned home again, they found that their former homeland was now populated by other people who had claimed this land as their own and that their former glorious capital still lay in ruins.

According to 2 Chronicles 36.22–23, the Persian Emperor Cyrus, who returned the exiles to their homeland, explicitly ordered the people to rebuild the temple. The prophet Isaiah identified Cyrus as “The Lord’s anointed” (see Isaiah 45.1). The temple was rebuilt over a period of several decades.

“Ezra 4 tells us how the local inhabitants of the land offered to assist with the building of the new temple during the time of Zerubbabel, but their offer was rejected. According to Ezra, this rejection precipitated a further interference not only with the rebuilding of the temple but also with the reconstruction of Jerusalem.”

The text is not clear on this matter, but one possibility is that these “people of the land” were thought of as Samaritans. We do know that Samaritan and Jewish antagonism continued to increase, and that the Samaritans eventually built their own temple on Mount Gerizim, perhaps around 330 B.C.”

Samaritan temple on Mount Gerizim

“The precise date of the schism between Samaritans and Jews is unknown, but was certainly complete by the end of the fourth century BCE. Archaeological excavations at Mount Gerizim suggest that a Samaritan temple was built there about c. 330 BC.” This temple was destroyed only about 200 years later by the Jews when they were trying to reestablish their kingdom.”

“The Torah mentions the place where God shall choose to establish His name (Deut 12:5), and Judaism takes this to refer to Jerusalem. However, the Samaritan text speaks of the place where God has chosen to establish His name, and Samaritans identify it as Mount Gerizim, making it the focus of their spiritual values. The Gospel of John relates an encounter between a Samaritan woman and Jesus in which she asserts that the mountain was the center of their worship John 4:20.”

Antiochus IV Epiphanes and hellenization

“In the second century BC a particularly bitter series of events eventually led to a revolution. Antiochus IV Epiphanes was on the throne of the Seleucid Empire from 175 to 163 BC. His determined policy was to Hellenize his entire kingdom and standardize religious observance. He proclaimed himself the incarnation of the Greek god Zeus and mandated death to anyone who refused to worship him (1 Maccabees 1:41-50). A major obstacle to his ambition was the fidelity of the Jews to their historic religion.”

Some Jews believe that the universal peril led the Samaritans, eager for safety, to repudiate all connection and kinship with the Jews, but we simply do not know if this is true or not. (Christianity may also have become its own religion partially by trying to distinguish itself from the Jewish rebellion against the Romans in the year 70.)

“In 167 BC the Seleucid ruler Antiochus Epiphanes set up an altar to Zeus over the altar of burnt offerings in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. He also sacrificed a pig on the altar in the Temple in Jerusalem. This event is known as the “abomination of desolation”. The authority of the high priesthood was severely damaged when first Jason and then others bought their office from Antiochus. The persecution and death of faithful Jewish persons who refused to worship and kiss Antiochus’ image eventually led to a revolt led by Judas Maccabeus and his family. Judas’s priestly family, the Hasmoneans, introduced a dynasty that ruled during a period of conflict, with tensions arising both from within the family as well as from external enemies.”

“During the Hellenistic period, Samaria (like Judea) was largely divided between a Hellenizing faction based in Samaria and a pious faction, led by the High Priest and based largely around Shechem and the rural areas. Samaria was a largely autonomous state nominally dependent on the Seleucid empire until around 129 BC, when the Jewish Hasmonean king destroyed the Samaritan temple and devastated Samaria.”

The Hasmonean dynasty lasted less than 100 years, until the Romans replaced the Greeks as the rulers of Palestine. While Samaritans were not able to have true independence under the Romans, they were able to reestablish themselves as a distinct people and even rebuilt their Temple once the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Jewish rebellions.

“Later, under the Christian Byzantine Emperor Zeno in the late fifth century, Samaritans and Jews were massacred, and the Temple on Mt. Gerizim was again destroyed. This period is considered the worst for Samaritans. Under a charismatic, messianic figure Julianus, the Samaritans launched a war to create their own independent state in 529 AD. With the help of the Arabs, Emperor Justinian I crushed the revolt; tens of thousands of Samaritans died or were enslaved. The Samaritan faith was virtually outlawed thereafter by the Christian Byzantine Empire; from a population once at least in the hundreds of thousands, the Samaritan community dwindled to near extinction.”

Under Islam

By the onset of Islamic rule, Samaritans were living in an area stretching between Egypt and Syria. Like other non-Muslim “people of the Book” in the empire, they had protected status and were expected to pay special taxes. Conversions to Islam to avoid these and other pressures occurred during that period. During the Crusades, Samaritans, like others in the region, were persecuted by the Crusaders. In 1624, the last Samaritan high priest of the line of Eleazar, son of Aaron, died without issue, but descendants of Aaron’s other son, Ithamar, remained and took over the office.

“In the past, the Samaritans are believed to have numbered several hundred thousand, but persecution and assimilation have reduced their numbers drastically. In 1919, an illustrated National Geographic report on the community stated that their numbers were less than 150.”

Modern Times

“According to their tally, Samaritans now number a total of 705, half of whom reside in their modern homes on Mount Gerizim, which is sacred to them, and the rest in the city of Holon, just outside Tel Aviv.”

“Until the 1980s, most of the Samaritans resided in the Palestinian town of Nablus below Mount Gerizim. They relocated to the mountain itself near the Israeli settlement of Har Brakha as a result of the first Palestinian uprising (1987-1990), and all that is left of the community in Nablus itself is an abandoned synagogue. The Israeli army maintains a constant presence in the area to monitor activity in Nablus and secure Har Brakha.”

“Relations of Samaritans with Jewish Israelis and Palestinians in neighboring areas have been mixed. In 1954, the Israeli President created a Samaritan enclave in Holon. Those living in Israel have Israeli citizenship. Samaritans in the Palestinian Authority territories are a recognized minority; they had a reserved seat in the Palestinian Legislative Council in the election of 1996, but they no longer have one. Palestinian Samaritans have been granted passports by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

As a small community divided between two mutually hostile neighbors, the Samaritans are generally unwilling to take sides in the conflict, fearing that whatever side they take could lead to repercussions from the other. However, perhaps in part due to the fact those who are Israeli citizens are drafted into the military, both communities tend to be more politically aligned with Israel.

One of the biggest problems facing the community today is the issue of continuity. With such a small population, divided into only four families and a general refusal to accept converts, there has been a history of genetic disease within the group due to the small gene pool. To counter this, the Samaritan community has recently agreed that men from the community may marry non-Samaritan (primarily, Israeli Jewish) women, provided that the women agree to follow Samaritan religious practices.”

Religion

“The Samaritan religion is based on some of the same books used as the basis of mainstream Judaism, but differs from the latter. Samaritan scriptures include the Samaritan version of the Torah, the Samaritan liturgy, and Samaritan law codes and biblical commentaries. Samaritans appear to have texts of the Torah as old as the Masoretic Text and the Septuagint; scholars have various theories concerning the actual relationships between these three texts.

There is one God, the same God recognized by the Hebrew prophets;

Their view of God is the same as the Jewish biblical view of God;

The Torah was given by God to Moses;

Mount Gerizim, not Jerusalem, is the one true sanctuary chosen by Israel’s God;

Many Samaritans believe that at the end of days, the dead will be resurrected by Taheb, a restorer (possibly a prophet, some say Moses);

They possess a belief in Paradise (heaven);

The priests are the interpreters of the law and the keepers of tradition; unlike Judaism, there is no distinction between the priesthood and the scholars;

The authority of classical Jewish rabbinical works, the Mishnah, and the Talmud are rejected;

Samaritans reject Jewish codes of law;

They have a significantly different version of the Ten Commandments (for example, their 10th commandment is about the sanctity of Mt. Gerizim).”

“The Samaritans retained the Ancient Hebrew script, the high priesthood, animal sacrifices, the eating of lambs at Passover, and the celebration of Aviv in spring as the New Year. Their main Torah text differs from the Masoretic Text, as well. Some differences are doctrinal: for example, their Torah explicitly mentions that “the place that God will choose” is Mount Gerizim. Other differences seem more or less accidental.”

The Druze

The Druze reside primarily in Syria (country with the largest population), Lebanon (country with highest percentage), and Israel, with a smaller community in Jordan. The Institute of Druze Studies estimates that 40%-50% of Druze live in Syria, 30%-40% in Lebanon, 6%-7% in Israel, and 1%-2% in Jordan. Large communities of expatriate Druze also live outside the Middle East, in the United States, Canada, Latin America, West Africa, Australia and Europe. They use the Arabic language and follow a social pattern very similar to the East Mediterranean people of the region. There are thought to be as many as 1 million Druze worldwide, the vast majority in the Levant or East Mediterranean. However, some estimates of the total Druze population have been as low as 450,000.

History

Druze history goes back to the Middle Ages, when the Druze sect began to develop. A noted traveler, Benjamin of Tudela, wrote about the Druze in his diary in 1167. He describes the Druze as “Mountain dwellers, monotheists, [who] believe in soul eternity and are good friends with the Jews” and other religions as well.

In the 11th century CE, Druze religious thought further developed through the Ismaili sect, a sub group of Shi’a Islam. The Druze did not attempt to change basic principles in the Islamic religion, but tried to create a united country of Muslims from different sects. Druze tried to concentrate on principles that all Muslim sects share in common, and give for each sect the freedom of opinion in minor branches in Islam that don’t affect the principles. It is known that they believe in one God and seven prophets — Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, and Muhammad bin Ismaili Nashtakin ad-Darazi. They believe that Muhammad is the last prophet and that the holy “Qur’an” is the law by which they abide. However, they have the freedom to interpret the unclear Qur’anic phrases without altering any of the Islamic principles or beliefs.

The Druze religion has its roots in Ismailism, a religio-philosophical movement that founded the Fatimid Caliphate in Egypt in the tenth century. During the reign of al-Hakim (996 – 1021), the Druze creed came into being, blending Islamic monotheism with Greek philosophy and Hindu influences. Active proselytizing of the new creed was brief; since about 1050 the community has been closed to outsiders.

The first Druze settled in what is now southern Lebanon and northern Israel, and then eventually in Syria and Jordan as well. Until the end of Ottoman rule (1918), the Druze were governed by emirs, as a semi-autonomous community. In 1921 the French tried to set up a Druze state under the French Mandate, but the attempt failed.

The Druze in Galilee and on Mount Carmel have always kept in contact with the other branches of the community, especially with those of Mt. Hermon and Lebanon. During the British Mandate over Palestine they refrained from taking part in the Arab-Jewish conflict, and during Israel’s War of Independence (1948) became active participants on Israel’s side.

The Druze have played major roles in the history of the Levant. They were mostly scattered in Mount Lebanon (known for some time as the Mount of the Druzes), and later in Syria, which had an autonomous Druze state in the French Mandate of Syria from 1921 to 1936. The Druze also played a major role in the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990). A peace treaty was then signed between the Druze and Maronite Christian leaders, which has enabled them to live peacefully together and later, become allies.

The Druze today

In Lebanon, Syria and Israel, the Druze have official recognition as a separate religious community with its own religious court system. Their symbol is an array of five colors: green, red, yellow, blue and white. Each color pertains to a symbol defining its principles: green for “the Universal Mind,” red for “the Universal Soul,” yellow for “the Truth/Word,” blue for “the Antagonist/Cause,” and white for “the Protagonist/Effect”. These principles are why the number five has special considerations among the religious community; it is usually represented symbolically as a five-pointed star.

In Israel, where the Druze enjoy prominence in the military and in politics greatly surpassing their proportion of the general population, the majority of Druze do not identify themselves as Arabs. Since 1957 the Israeli government has officially considered the Druze to be a distinct ethnic community, at the request of the community’s leaders.

Israeli Druze served in the Israeli army voluntarily during 1948-1956, and, at the community’s request, compulsorily ever since. Their privileges and responsibilities are the same as those of Israeli Jews; thus, all Druze are drafted, but exemptions are given for religious students and for various other reasons, as in the majority Jewish population. Israeli Druze have achieved high positions of command in the Israeli military, far beyond their proportion in the general population of Israel. Most recently in the 2006 Lebanon War, the all-Druze sword Battalion, through their knowledge of the Lebanese terrain, suffered no casualties and are reported to have killed 20 Hezbollah fighters, triggering suggestions that the battalion be transformed into an elite unit. In 1996, Azzam Azzam, a Druze Israeli businessman, was accused by Egypt of spying for Israel and was imprisoned for eight years, an accusation denied by the Israeli government.

In January 2004, the spiritual leader of the Druze community in Israel, Shaykh Mowafak Tarif, signed a declaration calling on all non-Jews in Israel to observe the Seven Noahide Laws as laid down in the Bible and expounded upon in Jewish tradition. The mayor of the Galilean city of Shfaram also signed the document. The declaration includes the commitment to make a “…better humane world based on the Seven Noahide Commandments and the values they represent commanded by the Creator to all mankind through Moses on Mount Sinai.”

Support for the spread of the Seven Noahide Commandments by the Druze leaders reflects the biblical narrative itself. The Druze community reveres the non-Jewish father-in-law of Moses, Jethro. According to the biblical narrative, Jethro joined and assisted the Jewish people in the desert during the Exodus, accepted monotheism, but ultimately rejoined his own people. In fact, the tomb of Jethro near Tiberias is the most important religious site for the Druze community. It has been claimed that the Druze are actually descendents of Jethro.

The relationship between Israeli Jews and Druze since Israel’s independence in 1948 is no less emotional than practical, partly because of the considerable number of Israeli Druze soldiers that have fallen in Israel’s wars, and is commonly known by the term “covenant of blood”. This expression has however been criticized in recent years as being evident of a narrow context which does not provide enough opportunity for Israeli Druze youth beyond the traditional military relationship.

Beliefs of the Druze

The Druze faith abides by Islamic principles, but with some unique interpretations and different emphases. The Druze believe in the unity of God, hence their preference for the name “People of Monotheism” or “Monotheists.” Their theology has a Neo-Platonic view about how God interacts with the world through emanations, and is similar to some gnostic and other esoteric sects including the Sufi philosophy. Some Druze sheikhs interpret Qur’anic phrases that they believe talk about reincarnation. Druze religion does not allow them to intermarry with Christians, Jews, or members of any other religions since they have different beliefs and different traditions.

As stated above, the Druze have a five-colored flag, which was made to identify this Islamic sect from others. Many interpretations were made to that flag but the main one is: Fatima, her father (Muhammad), her husband, and her two sons. Others translate these colors to others religious people and prophets and meaning. The Druze believe in prophets like Adam, Muhammad, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Jacob, Moses, Solomon, John the Baptist, and Jesus and Jethro. They also believe in the wisdom of classical Greek philosophers such as Plato and Pythagoras, who have a lower stature as other prophets. In addition, they have an array of “wise men” who founded the religion in the 11th century. Other interpretations of the five colors in the flag are as follows: Red stands for courage, bravery and love. Yellow is knowledge, wisdom, enlightenment, or wheat. Green is nature and earth. Blue for patience, forgiveness, sky and water. White is purity, peace and conciliation.

Druze places of worship are usually modest and the Druze are expected to lead very modest lifestyles. Prayer is usually conducted discreetly, among family and friends. The heart is considered to be the place that needs to be clean first to pray and be close to God. Druze practice praying the same way other Muslim sects do. There is little official hierarchy in the religious community. A religious figure is admired for his wisdom and lifestyle. The Druze, as a sect of Islam, follow the same traditions of fasting as Muslims in the month of Ramadan. In addition to that, they consider fasting from committing sins and saying bad things should be applied every second; not just in Ramadan.

Beliefs and Traditions

The Druze consider their faith to be a new interpretation of the three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. For them, the traditional story of the Creation is a parable, which describes Adam not as the first human being, but as the first person to believe in one god. Since then, “emissaries” or prophets, guided by “mentors” who embody the spirit of monotheism, have disseminated the idea of monotheism. The mentors and prophets come from all three religions, and include Jethro and Moses, John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth, and Salman the Persian and Mohammed – all reincarnations of the same monotheistic idea. In addition, the Druze hold other influential people – regardless of their religion – in great esteem, as the advocates of justice and belief in one god. These include the Egyptian Akhenaton, the Greek philosophers Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, and Alexander the Great.

Although the Druze recognize all three monotheistic religions, they believe that rituals and ceremonies have caused Jews, Christians, and Muslims to turn aside from “pure faith.” They argue that individuals who believe that God will forgive them if they fast and pray, will commit transgressions in the expectation of being forgiven – and then repeat their sins. The Druze thus eliminated all elements of ritual and ceremony; there is no fixed daily liturgy, no defined holy days, and no pilgrimage obligations. The Druze perform their spiritual reckoning with God at all times, and consequently need no special days of fasting or atonement.

The Druze religion is secret and closed to converts. From the theological perspective, the secrecy derives from the tenet that the gates of the religion were open to new believers for the space of a generation when it was first revealed and everyone was invited to join. Since in their belief everyone alive today is the reincarnation of someone who lived at that time, there is no reason to allow him or her to join today. Therefore, the Druze refrain from missionizing, and no member of another religion can become Druze.

Druze religious books are accessible only to the initiates, the uqqal (“knowers”). The juhal (“ignorant ones”) accept the faith on the basis of the tradition handed down from generation to generation.

Tenets and Precepts

The Druze religion has no ceremonies or rituals, and no obligation to perform precepts in public. The main tenets that obligate all Druze, both uqqal and juhal, are their own version of the five pillars:

Speaking the truth (instead of prayer) 
Supporting your brethren (instead of charity) 
Abandoning the old creeds (instead of fasting) 
Purification from heresy (instead of pilgrimage) 
Accepting the unity of God and 
submitting to the will of God (instead of holy war)

Druze are forbidden to eat pork, smoke, or drink alcohol.

Druze Women

Druze women can attain positions of religious significance, and some have indeed achieved high rank. Regarding personal status, their rights are almost identical to those of men; actually, Druze women are preferred over men in joining the uqqal, because they are considered to be better “spiritually prepared”. Consequently, there are more women than men among the uqqal. Female uqqal take part in the religious assemblies in the (prayer house), but sit separately from the men.

Uqqal men and women usually intermarry. If a juhal wishes to marry a member of the uqqal, the former is expected to declare in advance his/her intention to join in the near future. Druze men, both uqqal and juhal, may not have more than one wife, nor may they remarry their divorced wife, or even be under the same roof with her. Also, a male uqq