The Druze Heritage Foundation (DHF) was established in 1999 in London, UK, on the initiative of Mr. Salim Kheireddine.The Foundation is an independent, apolitical institution whose aims are the study and preservation of Druze culture, history and lore and the dissemination of information on all matters relating to the Druze in their Arab homelands and abroad. Deeply rooted in the varied and multi-religious Arab culture of their Middle Eastern homelands, the Druze are at the same time part of a transnational society, represented by highly adaptable and law-abiding immigrant communities abroad. It is our hope that the activities of the Druze Heritage Foundation will contribute toward constructive dialogue and serve to link the diverse cultures of the world.

The work of DHF involves:

  • Research and publication

  • Collection and collation of oral traditions

  • Compilation of literary and documentary material

  • Sponsorship of academic studies

  • Organization of conferences and workshops


  • Mr. Salim Kheireddine (president)

  • Mr. Walid Abi Mershid

  • Mr. Faysal al-Khalil

  • Dr. Raouf al-Ghusayni

  • H. E. Mr. Marwan Kheireddine

  • Mr. Wassim Kheireddine

  • Mr. Nadim Makarem



THE Druze faith, came into being at the beginning of the eleventh century A.D. Although its headquarters were in Cairo, this faith thrived in Mount Lebanon and the Anti-Lebanon range, in Northern and Southwestern Syria, in and around Damascus and in northern Palestine. Ironically, it was not a leader of the faith but a heretic-Nashtakin adDarazi- whose name became eponymous for the movement.

Since the sixteenth century some of the Druze, especially in Lebanon and northern Syria, have been migrating to Mount Hawran in southern Syria. Today there is a large Druze community in this area, which is now called Jabal ad-Duruz “the Mountain of the Druzes”. Following this migration, some Druze, especially from Jabal ad-Duruz, settled in Jordan. The Druze are thus currently centered in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Jordan. In the nineteenth century some Druze from Lebanon and Syria started to settle in the Americas, Australia and West Africa. About forty thousand Druze now live in Latin America, especially in Venzuela, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico, with smaller communities in Chile and Colombia. There are also some Druze in the West Indies and Philippines. Several thousand others reside in the United States of America and in Canada.

The Druzes have organized associations which are active in strengthening the ties among the Druze and others of Arab origin who live abroad. Many of them have reached important positions in the political, social, economic and cultural sectors of the countries in which they have settled.

In the Middle East, the Druzes, although a minority, have filled an important and sometimes a leading role in the political and social life of the area and in its economic and cultural affairs.

During the second half of the sixteenth century and the first half of the seventeenth century the Druze Emir of the Manid dynasty, Fkhruddin II, was the first to establish in the Lebanon a state practically independent from Ottoman rule. He may be regarded as the founder of modern Lebanon. At one time this state extended almost as far as Anotalia in the north; in the east it included Palmyra and in the south reached as far as the Sinai Peninsula. In this state, Druze, Sunnis, Shi’a, Christians and Jews lived in relative harmony with each other. Mount Lebanon was known at that time as the Mountain of the Druzes. Prior to the Druze dynasty of Ma’n, a considerable part of Lebanon also enjoyed political, social and spiritual harmony under the Druze Emirs of the house of Tanukh. The Tanukhids were noted for their frequent victories in struggles against the Crusaders and then the Mongols. The Druze have always been noted for their resistance to foreign rule. This, together with their minority status, was a cause of their many wars against Turkish and, later, French domination. These wars in which they showed distinguished military ability, together with their previous wars against the Crusaders and the Mongols, have given the Druze a collective feeling of pride in and a reputation for courage, valor and chivalry.

Over the last thaousand years ,the druze have played an active role in the political , social and cultural development of the arab east .indeed, wharever in the world they have lived ,thay made significant contributions and maintained a sense of solidarity as well as an attitude of openness towards oyther communities and cultures.

Beginnings of the Movement

The Druze originated historically from the Isma’ili faction of Shi’a Islam. Paying allegiance to a spiritual Imam other than the ruling political Caliph of the Sunni Abbasids, the Isma’ilis were obliged to operate secretly, to go “underground”, as it were. Also, their esoteric beliefs, which differed greatly from the main body of prevailing Islamic doctrine, forced them not to divulge their beliefs to outsiders.

The Isma’ili movement came into the open when the Isma’ili Imam, Al-Mahdi Billah, assumed power, after escaping Abbasid persecution in Syria and fleeing to North Africa, where he founded the Fatimid Caliphate in A.H. 297 {A.D. 909}.

After al-Mahdi, the Imamate was assumed by al-Qa’im bi-Amrillah, then by al-Mansur Billah, and then by al-Mu’izz li-Dinillah. Al-Mu’izz conquered Egypt from the Ikhshidids, the vassals of the Abbasids, in A.H. 358 {A.D. 969}. He founded the city of Cairo and made it the capital of the Fatimid State. In A.H. 359 {A.D. 970}, one year after the founding of Cairo, he built the mosque of al-Azhar which became one of the greatest centers of teaching. After al-Mu’izz, the Fatimid Imamate was assumed by al-Aziz Billah, and after al-Aziz by al-Hakim bi-Amrillah. As heads of a Shi’a state, the Fatimids promoted allegorical interpretation of revelation according to man’s needs and his readiness for esoteric knowledge. They were noted for their patronage of learning, philosophy, the sciences, literature and the arts. The newly built city of Cairo successfully competed with the two other centers of civilization in the world at that time, Baghdad and Constantinople.

Besides founding al-Azhar, which became the main university of the Islamic world, the Fatimids also established Dar al-Hikma {The House of Wisdom}, known also as Dar al-Ilm {The House of Knowledge}.  This Dar al-Hikma was established by the Fatimid Caliph Imam al-Hakim bi-Amrillah in A.H. 395 {A.D.1005}. It was connected with the Royal Palace and contained a huge library and many conference rooms. Lectures were given in both al-Azhar and Dar al-Hikma, and in many other centers of learning in Cairo and other places in the Fatimid Empire. Scholarly activities were one of the main interests of the state. Cairo became a center of scientists, philosophers, theologians, men of letters and scholars.

In such an intellectual atmosphere, the Druze movement started in the year A.H. 408 {A.D. 1017}, during the reign of the sixth Fatimid Caliph and Imam, al-Hakim bi-Amrillah. It was a result of intellectual ferment within the various philosophical and theosophical schools that had emerged in Islam.
The movement was headed by Hamza ibn Ali, assisted by four functionaries: Isma’il ibn Muhammad at-Tamimi, Muhammad ibn Wahb al-Qurashi, Salama ibn Abd- al-Wahhab as-Samirii and Ali ibn Ahmad at-Ta’I (better known as al-Muqtana Baha’uddin). Hamza ibn Ali is considered in the Druze Scriptures to be the leader of the Druze Movement. His teachings and those of his four disciples are thought to be irrevocable and final as far as the Druze faith is concerned.

When the Middle East fell successively under the rule of the Seljukids, the Ayyubids, the Mamluks and then the Ottomans, they were all foreign, in one way or another, to the intellectual development of Islamic civilization. Being strict Sunni Muslims, these rulers were unsympathetic to any ideas foreign to traditional Islam. In fact the Druze experienced a revival in the philosophical and theological aspects of their doctrine only when they were under autonomous rulers, such as the Tanukhid and the Ma’nids who were themselves Druze. Such rulers, though they were theoretically vassals of other dynasties, ruled internally with a relatively free hand. It was under such circumstances that Druze scholars, such as al-Amir Jamaluddin Abdallah at-Tanukhi (1417-1479), ash-Shaykh Zaynuddin Abdul-ghaffar Taqiyyuddin (died ca. 1528) and ash-Shaykh al-fadil Muhammad Abu Hilal (1579-1640), flourished.

(This section is taken from the writings of Dr. Sami Makarem).

A Historical Overview

It was during the period of Crusader rule in Syria (1099-1291) that the Druze first emerged into the full light of history, in the Gharb region of the Shuf mountains. As redoubtable warriors serving the Muslim rulers of Damascus against the alien invaders, the Druze were given the task of keeping watch over the Crusaders in the seaport of Beirut, with the aim of preventing them from making any encroachments inland. Subsequently, the Druze chiefs of the Gharb placed their not inconsiderable military experience at the disposal of the Mamluk rulers of Egypt (1250-1516); first, to assist them in putting an end to what remained of Crusader rule in coastal Syria and, later, to help them safeguard the Syrian coast against Crusader retaliation by sea.

(In 1425, a Druze contingent from Beirut and the Gharb joined in a major Mamluk naval expedition against Cyprus, where the last remnant of Crusader rule in the Near East was reduced to subservience). In return for the valuable services rendered by the Druze of the Gharb and other parts of the Shuf mountains, the Mamluks appear to have allowed them the freedom to manage their internal affairs with minimal interference from the central government in Cairo, or its Syrian agency in Damascus. The history of the Gharb Druze during the Crusader and Mamluk periods is known from the work of two remarkable Druze historians, Salih ibn Yahya (d. ca. 1435) and Ahmad ibn Hamza ibn Sibat (d. 1523), no such documentation being available regarding the Druze of other Syrian regions. It appears, however, that the Druze of Hauran were among the peasants and tribesmen of that area who fought and decimated the forces of the Second Crusade, as they advanced from Palestine to attempt the capture of Damascus in 1147.

Notably, the Druze placed their military resources at the disposal of the Sunni Muslim state against the Crusaders at a time when their community was being singled out for special condemnation by the Sunni religious establishment on account of its beliefs. Unlike the Mamluks, the Ottomans who succeeded them as the rulers of Syria in 1516 were not prepared to allow the Shuf Druze the customary local freedoms which they had come to regard as established rights. Consequently, the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were to witness a succession of armed Druze rebellions against the Ottomans, countered by repeated Ottoman punitive expeditions against the Shuf in the course of which the Druze population of the area was severely depleted and many villages laid waste. These military measures, however, severe as they were, did not succeed in reducing the local Druze to the required degree of subordination. This led the Ottoman government to agree to an arrangement whereby the different nahiyes (districts) of the Shuf would be granted in iltizam (that is, in fiscal concession) to one of the region’s emirs, or leading chiefs, leaving the maintenance of law and order in the area, and the collection of its taxes, in the hands of the appointed emir. This arrangement was to provide the cornerstone for the privileged status which ultimately came to be enjoyed by the whole of Mount Lebanon in Ottoman Syria, Druze and Christian areas alike. Remarkably, the Shuf Druze had taken up arms against Ottoman rule when the Ottoman Empire was at the peak of its power. Starting from the middle decades of the nineteenth century, the Hauran Druze of Jabal al-Duruz whose earlier history remains obscure due to a lack of documentation-put up a similar resistance to determined efforts on the part of the Ottoman state to tighten its weakened control over Syria. Later, in the mid-1920s, these same Hauran Druze rose in armed rebellion against the French shortly after France, emerging victorious from the First World War, was allotted its mandate over Syria and Lebanon. This Druze revolt was to trigger a general Syrian insurrection against the French Mandate, lasting for nearly three years.

Historically, the close relations between the Druze and Christians of the Lebanon date back to the sixteenth century, when the Druze of the Shuf, whose livelihood depended on silk production, first opened their country to large-scale Christian-and principally Maronite-peasant migration from the north, to help produce the silk. To encourage this Christian immigration, the leading Druze chiefs of the area made generous donations of land to Maronite and other Christian monastic orders for the building of monasteries and churches; tradition has it that the Druze villages where the Christian newcomers settled came to be called 'honoured villages' (diya musharrafa). Meanwhile, as the Druze emirs holding the iltizam of the Druze area gained control over the adjacent Maronite nahiye of Kisrawan, the management of the affairs of Mount Lebanon developed into a close Druze-Maronite partnership. Having the advantage of numbers and of privileged external connections, the Maronites eventually started to gain the upper hand in this partnership. This development appears to have elicited little Druze concern in its initial stages but, before long, tensions began to rise. Incited and openly backed by France, the Maronite clerical and feudal leaderships began, from the 1840s, to seek complete dominance over the whole of Mount Lebanon, causing the Druze to feel dangerously threatened on their very home ground. When the Druze reaction, in full force, finally came in 1860, its violence was such that the Christian parties who had provoked it fled the scene, leaving the defenceless Christians of the Druze regions to their fate.

While the manner in which the Druze fell upon their terrified Christian neighbours in 1860 in the Shuf, Wadi al-Taym and elsewhere-went beyond the justifiable limits of self-defence, what it represented at the time was an outburst of pent-up feelings of hostility provoked by decades of equally unjustified Christian provocation. Over a century later, during the course of the multi-faceted Lebanese civil war of 1975-1991, Christian provocation was even more pronounced and included indefensible attacks on isolated and unprotected Druze communities in different parts of Mount Lebanon (notably, in the Matn and Shahhar districts). This was a decisive factor in eliciting the violence with which the Druze attacked Christians living in their midst in 1983, devastating their villages and forcing a massive Christian exodus from the Shuf. In both instances, the Druze recourse to violence represented a departure from the historical Druze norm, which had emphasized peaceful coexistence on the basis of equitable partnership and mutual goodwill. However, to maintain this norm, the community had first to attend to its survival, which is why, at various turning points in their history, the Druze felt compelled to resort to arms when they perceived their community to be in danger. This compulsion was the same regardless of whether the perceived danger came from a neighbour or an external power, or whether the odds were with the Druze or overwhelmingly against them.

Proud of their communal identity and solidarity, the Druze have also been staunchly attached to their native soil; the same Druze families have lived in the same towns and villages, if not the same houses, for centuries, with hardly an interruption. Attachment to community and territory, however, has never been a bar to active Druze involvement in the affairs of the broader societies to which they belonged; nor has it obstructed the Druze commitment to the wider Arab identity that they share with other Muslim and Christian communities of the Near East. Moreover, though socially conservative, the Druze have exhibited a remarkable openness to Western cultural influences in modern times. During the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, Lebanese Druze chiefs welcomed and offered their protection to British and American missionaries arriving to establish schools and colleges in the Shuf mountains, as they had in Beirut; Furthermore, by sending their own sons and daughters to these teaching institutions, they set the example for others. As a result, the spread of modern education began particularly early among the Druze, no less than among Lebanese Christians. In due course, Druze educated at home or abroad came to be counted among those playing leading roles in the social, economic and cultural advancement of Lebanese society, as of the broader Arab society, thereby placing their community in the vanguard of Arab development. All of these considerations make the heritage of the Druze community a subject worthy of serious academic investigation.

(This section is written by Dr. Kamal Salibi).

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A: The Druze: Realities and Perceptions, a conference held by DHF in collaborations with the Middle East Centre of St. Antony’s College, Oxford in October 2001.

The following papers were presented at the Conference and later published by DHF in a book with the title “The Druze: Realities and Perceptions" The Druze: Realities and Perceptions” edited with an introduction by Professor Kamal Salibi:

  • Preface by Salim Kheireddine
  • The Druze Faith by Sami Makarem
  • Druze Religious Texts by David Bryer
  • Al-Sayyid Jamal al-Din al-Tannukhi as a Druze Reformer by Naila Kaidbey
  • Aspects of Social Structure: There are no Free Floating Druze by Fuad Khuri
  • Druze Identity in the Middle East: Developments and Tendencies in the Modern Druze Communities since the 1960s by Bernadette Schenk
  • Druze Women: Ideal and Reality by Intisar Azzam
  • The Druze British Connection in 1840-1860
  • The Subordination of the Hawran Druze in 1910: The Ottoman Perspective
  • Jabel Druze as Seen by Rustum Haydar by Kamal Salibi
  • Druze Shaykhs, Arab Nationalists and Grain Merchants by Michael Provence
  • Fuad Hamza as Observer of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by Leslie Mcloughlin
  • The Druze and Arabism by Eyad Abu Chakra
  • Essay: Remarks on Some Communities with Druze like Affinities by Amir Taheri
  • Coping with Crisis: Druze Civic Organization during the Lebanese Civil War by Judithe Pamer Harik

B. Druze Perspectives, a conference held by DHF in collaboration with the Middle East Center, St. Anthony’s College, Oxford in October 2004. The following papers were presented at the conference:

Book Fairs

DHF has participated regularly in the Beirut International Arab Book Fair which is held annually. The Fair has served as an opportunity to display DHF publications on a wide scale and enhance contacts with publishers, authors and a variety of visitors.


DHF organized a visit to Lebanon for Dr. Maria Kastrinou of Brunel University, U.K. Dr. Kastrinou had lived in the Druze town of Jaramana, a suburb of Damascus, where she prepared her Ph.D dissertation in anthropology and has since maintained a sustained interest in research on Druze life and culture. She made an exploratory visit to Lebanon in December 2015 as part of a research project on Druze institutions in Lebanon. Her visits included the Druze Community Center in Beirut, social welfare organizations, and educational and health institutions in the Shouf (Irfan Schools, Ain Wazein Hospital), and she crowned her visit with a visit to Hasbayya and the Khalwat al-Bayyada, the most sacred of Druze religious locations. Dr. Kastrinou is expected to return to Lebanon to conduct her research.


Abi Mershed, Walid

Board of Trustees, DHF

Abi-Shakra, Ziyad

Independent scholar

Abou Imad, Atif

Independent historian

Abou Salih, Abbas

Lebanese University

Abu-Husayn, Abdulrahim

American University of Beirut

Abu Shaqra, Eyad

Journalist and researcher

Akarli, Engin

Brown University

Armburst, Walter

St.Anthony’s College, Oxford

Assaad, Sadeq

Independent scholar

Azzam, Intisar

American University of Beirut

Al-Bakhit, Mohammad Adnan

Independent scholar

Al-Beaini, Hasan Amin

Independent historian

Bitar, Zeinat

Lebanese University

Breyer, David

University of California

Chaker, Fadi

Independent scholar

Clarke, Lynda

Concordia University

Daou, Father Anotine

La Sagesse University

Eshtai, Faris

Lebanese University

Eshtai, Chawkat

Lebanese University

Fandi, Talal

Independent scholar

Fawaz, Leila

Tuft University

Ghannam, Riad

Independent historian

Ghusayni, Raouf

Board of Trustees, DHF

Hajjar, Bassam


Haraldsson, Erlendur

University of Iceland

Harik, Judith Palmer

American University of Beirut

Havemann, Axel

Free University of Berlin

Hood, Kathleen

Ethnomusicologist, UCLA

Hoteit, Ahmad

Islamic University

Jabir, Munther

Lebanese University

Kaidbey, Nayla

American University of Beirut

El-Khalil, Faysal

Board of Trustees, DHF

Kheireddine, Marwan

Board of Trustees, DHF

Kheireddine, Salim

Chair, Board of Trustees, DHF

Kheireddine, Wassim

Board of Trustees, DHF

Khouri, Rana


Khuri, Fuad

American University of Beirut

Mcloughlin, Leslie

Independent writer

Makarem, Nadim

Board of Trustees, DHF

Makarem, Sami

American University of Beirut

Moosa, Matte

Gannon University

Nasr, Sheikh Mursil

Head of the Druze Higher Court (retired)

Naufal, Antoine

Independent scholar

Playfair, GuyLyon

Independent scholar

Provence, Michael

University of California, San Diego

Qontar, Ahid

Independent scholar

Rifai, Sami


Rogan, Eugene

St. Antony’s College, Oxford

Salibi, Kamal

American University of Beirut

El-Sawaryah, Nawfan el-Hamoud

Independent scholar

Schenk, Bernadette

Free University of Berlin

Al-Shahi, Ahmed

St. Antony’s College, Oxford

Taheri, Amin

Author and Journalist

Takiddin, Suleiman

Writer, historian, journalist

Trabulsi, samer

Independent scholar

Walker, Paul

University of Chicago

Wasfi, Mohammed Rida

Independent scholar

Zahreddine, Izzat

Independent historian

Zahreddine, Umayma

Independent historian



DHF books are available for sale in all major bookshops, or contact us as follows:


Phone (London) : +442076297761
Phone (Lebanon) : + 961-1-739750 - Ms. Lina Yehia
Fax (Lebanon) : + 961-1-347923


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