Druze Origins

1000 Years of History
Historians trace Druze origins to 11th century Fatimid Cairo where they began as an Islamic reform movement. The establishment of this reform movement and doctrine revolves primarily around several individuals, two of whom are Hakim and Hamza. A third individual, named Darazi, is thought to be responsible for undermining the doctrine and ironically lending his name to the sect itself. Hakim was the 6th Fatimid Caliph who became the head of the Islamic Fatimid state in 996 at the age of eleven. Although Hakim's attitude towards the emerging reform movement that later became known as 'Druze' is not fully discernible from available sources, he is regarded within the Druze manuscripts as the founding father of Druzism and the source of its strict unitarianism. Among the reforms he introduced were resolutions to (1) abolish slavery, (2) prohibit polygamy, and (3) implement a form of separation of church and state. While these reforms did not become part of orthodox Islam, the Druzes, as well as other Islamic sectarian movements, adopted them.

The connection between Hakim and the Druzes is best substantiated through the religious writings of Hamza, the second person associated with the Druze faith, who was appointed as a religious leader by Hakim. He is considered the main author behind most of the original Druze manuscripts. After a period of teaching philosophy and religion, Hamza began to organize followers, train missionaries, and write a religious doctrine. Prospective adherents were requested to pledge their loyalty to a form of strict unitarianism (Tawhid), a reform doctrine with a new interpretation of some aspects of Islam and monotheism in general.

The resistance of the medieval populace to such interpretation, however, posed a grave danger for Hamza and his associates. One of Hamza's subordinates, Darazi, seized the opportunity to take political control of the movement and proclaimed himself "Guide of guides" which was meant to elevate him over Hamza.

More importantly, Darazi began to falsify the doctrine of Tawhid by altering a number of Hamza's writings. Darazi was ultimately executed by Hakim in 1019. Nonetheless, some of Darazi's teachings were attributed to the Druzes by his followers, referred to as "Darazis." Ironically, a few medieval chroniclers of the time not only failed to make the distinction between Druzes and Darazis but attributed Darazi's doctrine to the followers of Hamza and argued that Hakim supported Darazi's ideas. Other historians have reported that it was Hamza who was subordinate to Darazi, and still others have referred to Hamza and Darazi as the same person: Hamza al-Darazi. As a consequence, the name "Druze" became synonymous with the reform movement. Despite the ironic and misleading origins of the sect's name, the title "Druze" never occurs in the Druze manuscripts of the 11th century. After the execution of Darazi and his collaborators, Hamza continued his preaching activities for two more years. Among Druzes today, Darazi is known as a heretic and the uttering of his name constitutes the use of profanity.