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Author Topic: Druze  (Read 1494 times)
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« on: May 05, 2007, 03:18:06 am »

ˤUqqāl and Juhhāl

The Druze are split into two groups. The outer group, called al-Juhhāl (جهال), "the Ignorant", are not granted access to the secret Druze holy literature. They form the Druze political and military leadership and generally distance themselves from religious issues. They comprise perhaps 90% of the Druze.

The inner group are called al-ˤUqqāl (عقال), "the Knowledgeable Initiates". Women are considered especially suitable to become ˤUqqāl; they are regarded to be spiritually superior to men.

Druze women who are ˤuqqāl can opt to wear al-mandīl, a transparent loose white veil, especially in the presence of religious figures. They wear al-mandīl on their head to cover their hair and wrap it around their mouth and sometimes over their nose as well. They wear black shirts and long skirts covering their legs to their ankles. Male ˤuqqāl grow moustaches, shave their heads, and wear dark clothing with white turbans.

The ˤuqqāl themselves are also divided into two groups; about 10% are al-Ajawīd, a term that means "The Good Ones (diminutive)". They are the leaders of the spiritual life of the Druze.

Druze places of worship are usually very modest and the Ajawīd lead very modest lifestyles. Prayer is usually conducted discreetly, among family and friends. There is little official hierarchy in the religious community except for the Shaykh al-ˤAql, whose role is more political and social than religious. A religious figure is admired for his wisdom and lifestyle.

Contradictory literature surrounds the Druze mainly due to adopted beliefs that were used to protect them from persecutors and due to the rumors and stories of outsiders. For example, it is still unclear to most outsiders whether the Druze follow the same traditions of fasting as Muslims in the month of Ramadan. This is because the Druze have followed these traditions for centuries in order to protect themselves. Many orthodox Druze hold that they should not follow these traditions, but should follow a different fasting tradition still practiced by religious figures instead. The Druze have other fasting traditions, such as fasting during the ten days before Eid ul-Adha, the last night of which is spent in prayer. The Druze fast is more difficult than the traditional Ramadan fast in that only one light meal is allowed in the evening.
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