Religious sect in the Middle East of some 300,000 people. It began as a branch of Shiite Islam, based on a belief in the divinity of the Fatimid caliph al-Hakim (9961021) and that he will return at the end of time. Their particular doctrines are kept secret, even from the majority of members. They refer to themselves as the Mowahhidoon, meaning monotheistic. The religion is exclusive, with conversion forbidden, either to or from the sect.
The Druze sect was founded in Egypt in the 11th century, and then fled to Palestine to avoid persecution; today they occupy areas of Syria, Lebanon, and Israel. Their scriptures are drawn from the Bible, the Koran, and Sufi allegories, and their religious text is called Kitab Al Hikma (the Book of Wisdom). Druze militia groups formed one of the three main factions involved in the Lebanese civil war (the others were Amal Shiite Muslims and Christian Maronites).
The Druze leader (from the time of his father's assassination 1977) is Walid Jumblatt.
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