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Safeguarding: a Principle of the Druze Faith

Image Courtesy: Iyad K. Btaddini, Chouf, Lebanon.
This article is part of a series of round-table discussions covering the principles of the Druze faith. Special thanks to our Contributors: Dr. Ramy Fayad (Ohio, US), Sam Radwan (Florida, US), Wiaam El Khatib (Indiana, US), Henry Jawhary (California, US).
We continue our discussion on the Principles of the Druze Faith. In this article, we explain in greater detail the second principle: Safeguarding of Brothers and Sisters, or “Hifz al-Ikhwan”. Almost all religious groups adopted a similar principle at one time or another, and it becomes even more crucial to protect a minority like the Druze. Mutual support was and still is indispensable for safety and survival.

In Dr. Anis Obeid’s book, The Druze & Their Faith in Tawhid, he translates a passage in an epistle by luminary Hamza Ibn ‘Ali: 

“And be thankful to God, exalted be his name, for what he has bestowed on you of wisdom and favored you with his grace… And safeguard your brethren in faith. For in their safety your faith becomes more complete. Respond to their requests and address their needs. Accept their regrets and oppose their adversaries. Visit their sick, and support the weak and infirm among them. Give them all the support you can and never let them down…. And peace be upon those who chose the right path and were steadfast in believing God’s messages and built their belief in Tawhid on the truth. Praise be to God.”

— Druze luminary, Hamza Ibn ‘Ali

Dr. Ramy Fayad: A more casual translation of “hifz al-Ikhwan” would be to foster and care for your brothers and sisters. I think this is meant to nurture a feeling of belonging to a community. In our words and actions, we should always protect, support and serve our brothers.

Sam Radwan: Serve selflessly with love and compassion, and serve without expectation of anything in return. Make the service for God being done by God through you. Take no self pride but perfect your labor for God. Being in the service of others is a sacrament and offering to the Divine. And done with the right intentions, it becomes less an act and more a state of being.

Wiaam El Khatib: “Hifz al-Ikhwan” loosely translates to “guarding one’s sisters and brothers” among fellow Druze, and even supersedes relation of bloodline. Each Druze is an essential link within a larger chain of purpose. Safeguarding has five essential components: affection, knowledge, love, friendship, and companionship. These are also a form of “zakat,” or charity, and done freely without the feeling of an imposed obligation. One must unite in times of poverty, sickness, and moral strife to maintain strength within the community and provide more time for spiritual pursuits.

Furthermore, one cannot speak of giving without also mentioning sacrifice. Sacrifice embodies a material sense of giving and a spiritual sense of curbing appetites and desires, especially when they conflict with a brother’s welfare.

Sheikh Zaynuddin Taqiuddin, a commentator of Druze Scriptures, explains a duty to view our brethren with dignity and without discriminating based on status or wealth. One can only excel others in knowledge and good deeds, to be judged by God Himself. And our eyes should not look down on another for their sins, but instead provide moral notice and guidance.

Dr. Ramy Fayad: Great insights Wiaam. I would add that like any other religious, political, or economic group, we can hold the good of our brothers above all without harming anyone else. We should all strive for the good of humankind no matter the race, religion or ethnicity. This love emanates from the love for God who is omnipresent and all encompassing. Otherwise we would deviate from the main principle of Tawheed in which God is all and all is God.

Henry Jawhary: Safeguarding means protection of our brothers and sisters in faith. For their needs are like our own. We are all on the same journey to God, and we need each other to find the way. When we are in the service of one another, both the giver and the receiver are strengthened. We must also forgive each other–offer forgiveness to others just as God has forgiven us. Do you have a brother or sister who can use your forgiveness today? In a sense, you are also forgiving yourself from the errors of your own perception. Maybe it’s time to reach out to someone you can forgive. When you forgive, you honor God’s creations (a simplified reference to U.M. and ibdaa’) and affirm their perfection.

Dr. Ramy Fayad: I love the idea that by educating ourselves and others we are striving to reach that goal. Education and service hand in hand. Lead by example. Making the world a better place for others. A popular quote says, “we cannot hold a torch to light another’s path without brightening our own.”

Sam Radwan: I use a quote in one of my articles introducing the Druze Professional Network initiative–it goes like this.  Don’t let what you cannot do stop you from doing what you can do. Each person has something to give and a community that works together succeeds together.

Ramy Fayad: We can support our brothers through education to enhance their knowledge of our existence and faith. We can guide them towards good and away from vice and evil. We can accept them as they are, veil their vices and protect them from harm. It’s easier when we start with our love for God and His creation!

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One comment

  1. Very informative discussion, everyone’s explanation and interpretation was valuable and felt like a refreshing spring water flowing smoothly into the river, what’s different is the English speaking young Druze involvement and commitment
    I am very happy and proud to see this kind of collaboration among our youth, it makes me feel very good about our future as Druze in the World especially the United States & Canada