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Did the Druze Magically Appear Out of Thin Air?

Al Muizz, the oldest street in medieval Islamic era in Cairo, with famous Minaret of Al Hakim Mosque in background.
Virtually anything that is beautiful as a whole and diverse in its parts, like a flower and its petals, can be used to sow division. On August 10-11, 2019, the Islamic Umma, with all its diverse sects including Sunni, Shia and Druze, celebrated the holy occasion of al-Adha. During this holiday, the Lebanese Minister of Foreign Affairs, along with the media in general, congratulated both “The Muslims and the Druze”on the holy Eid. This greeting ignited a discussion on whether or not the Druze belong to the Muslim community.

Divisive rhetoric has been around in the Lebanese media for a long time. Is it appropriate to speak of the Druze as being detached from the Muslim Umma? Perhaps this question can be best answered by highlighting the Druze appearance within Islamic history, in all its richness and diversity.

I’ve always been asked whether I’m a Muslim and I often had to reiterate the fact that I belong to a Muslim minority.  It’s a constant issue being a Druze learning and working in a diverse country like Lebanon.

Questions about the Druze abound: Who are the Druze? Do they have their own religion? Their own book? Their own prophets? Are they a Muslim minority? Do they constitute a religion of their own? These fundamental questions are even asked by members of the Druze community itself.

A historical view of the Fatimid caliphate and its hierarchy will answer these questions and show that the origin of the Druze is rooted in the Islamic Umma.

During my undergraduate study, I was enrolled in a course on the History of Arab People mostly on the history of Islam and Islamic communities. The instructor back then illustrated the Fatimid caliphate beautifully in a simple diagram. This inspired me to better understand the hierarchy of the caliphs and identify the Druze community among the other Shia sects in the organizational chart below.

The Fatimid caliphate which descended from Imam Ali and Fatimah, the Prophet Muhammad’s Daughter, existed from 909 to 1171 AD. It was officially founded by al-Mahdi bi-Allah, the first caliph of the Fatimid Dynasty who ruled from 909 to 934 AD. He was succeeded by al-Qaim bi Amr-Allah (934 – 946 AD), al-Mansour bi-Allah (946 – 953 AD), al-Mouiz li-Din Allah (953 – 975 AD), al-Aziz (975 – 996 AD) and al-Hakim (996 – 1021 AD) respectively. 

Al-Hakim was also succeeded by several caliphs. However, we conclude with al-Hakim bi Amr-Allah as he was the 6th caliph of the Fatimid caliphate and the 16th Imam of the Ismaili succession who disappeared in 1021 AD and under whose rule, the Druze emerged.

The diagram here illustrates the rule of the Fatimid Caliphate. It highlights Imam al-Hussein’s succession under which the Fatimid caliphate was established. Hence, it doesn’t track the descendants of Imam Ali’s two other sons: Imam Hassan and Mohammad Ibn al-Hanafiyya. It also doesn’t take into account the Fatimid caliphs that followed al-Hakim bi Amr-Allah as the diagram concentrates on the emergence of the Druze.

In the diagram, one can see visually how Druze stemmed from the Islamic ‘Shia’ Fatimid caliphate and specifically from the Ismaili branch of Shiism.

While the divisions among the Fatimid groups are beyond the scope of this article, the caliphate declined due to internal schisms and divisions till it was later destroyed in 1171 AD at the hands of Saladin al-Ayubi who established the Ayyubid Dynasty on the ruins of the Fatimid caliphate. Despite these earlier rifts, the Druze are indeed a Muslim minority. Attempts to dissociate Druze from their fellow Islamic communities emanates from ignorance of Islamic history or from a desire to exclude and isolate the Druze.

New World Encyclopedia, Fatimids Caliphate, Retrieved from
Revolvy, Fatimid Caliphate, Retrieved from
Facts And Details, Fatimid Empire, Retrieved from

About Hala Nasreddine

Hala Nouhad Nasreddine is a freelance journalist in Beirut, Lebanon. She has a background in International Affairs and Communications and is actively involved in nonprofit work.

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  1. The path that everyone is on with this new Islamic direction, is going to make all the religious leaders يندمو قد ما في شعر علا ذقونهم May God have mercy on all the muwahadin with leadership like this.

  2. I am so disturbed with this rhetoric that it seems the community as a whole has been forced to adopt from the elders. They don’t realize what they are doing to the future of the community. رح يندمو قد ما في شعر علا ذقونهم. May God have mercy on our community and may our traditions and culture survive these decisions that these “elders” are making.

  3. Regardless of how clear the historical facts may be in asserting the Druze origin, we will never be able to satisfy the urge of those who insist on dividing the Islamic world for their own agenda. What is troubling, is when the Islamic world itself cast the doubt and question our relation to Islam.
    We are destined to live, patiently and courageously, on an island of wisdom, tolerance , and forgiveness in the midst of an ocean of ignorance, hate, and prejudism.
    Being a Druze is a priviledge and honor, being a Mouahid in the other hand is a blessing and a treasure.
    We are chosen to bear the full weight of history with its glories and flaws, yet we ought to strive to avoid being weighed down by the past by taking full advantage of the present to build brighter and better future.
    I am born a Druze,and if I am to be given a choice, I will definitely and proudly choose to be a Druze. I dont feel I need to prove myself, my faith and my roots to anyone. Our faith is universal and at one point welcomed the world with open hearts and hands. Not catching the bus on time is painful, resenting those on the bus and holding them responsible for your delay is unfair.

  4. Great article Hala, though I am curious to know how do we link the religion to Al Hakim caliphate?
    The holly book of the Druze, Al-Hikma refers to Mohamed as the Druze profit, not Al Hakim!
    If you are able to share any references to books that may link the two, then that will be great.