Imágenes de páginas

begat nor was he begotten.” Ali replied, " Then I and my brother are illegitimate?” Hamzé answered, “You have said it, and borne testimony against yourself.” Thereupon the enraged Ali ordered the wholesale murder of the Unitarians unless they returned to the true Moslem faith. Those who refused were either slain or fled to Syria to their co-religionists. Ali, to conciliate the people, who had by his father's despotism and oppression been greatly embittered against his dynasty, gave up all title to divine honours and the rights it implied.

161. Doctrines. The Druses believe in the transmigration of souls; but probably it is merely a figure, as it was to the Pythagoreans. Hakem is their prophet; and they have seven commandments, religious and moral. The first of these is veracity, by which is understood faith in the unitarian religion they profess, and the abhorrence of that lie which is called polytheism, incredulity, error. To a brother perfect truth and confidence are due; but it is allowable, nay, a duty, to be false towards men of another creed. The sect is divided into three degrees, Profanes, Aspirants, and Wise. A Druse who has entered the second, may return to the first degree, but incurs death if he reveal what he has learned. In their secret meetings they are supposed to worship a calf's head; but as their religious books are full of denunciations against idolatry, and as they also compare Judaism, Christianity, and Mahommedanism to a calf, it is more probable that this effigy represents the principle of falsehood and evil, Iblis, the rival and enemy of Hakem. The Druses have also been accused of licentious orgies; and are said by Bespier in his “Remarks on Ricaut” (an English diplomatist (d. 1700)] to marry their own daughters; but according to the evidence of resident Christians, a young Druse, as soon as he is initiated, gives up all dissolute habits, and becomes, at least in appearance, quite another man, meriting, as in other initiations, the title of “new-born. The initiated are known by the appellation of Ockals, and form a kind of priesthood in the midst of the general population. According to their traditions, the world was at the appearance of God in the form of Hakem, three thousand four hundred and thirty million years old, and they believe, like the Chiliasts of England and America, that the millennium is close at hand. The Wise often retire into hermitages, whereby they acquire great honour and influence. When discoursing with a Mahommedan, the Druses profess. to be of the same creed; when talking with a Christian, they

are Christians. They defend this deception by alleging that it is not lawful to reveal any dogma of their creed to a “Black," or unbeliever; and their secrecy with regard to their religion has led them to adopt signs and passwords, such as

are in use among Freemasons and other secret societies. When in doubt whether a stranger with whom they conversed belonged to their sect, they would ask, “Do people in your part of the country sow balm-seed ?" If the other replied, “ Yes, it is sown in the hearts of the faithful,” he probably was a co-religionist; but he might be an Aspirant only, and therefore they would question him further as to some of the secret dogmas; if he did not understand the drift of their question, they would know that he was not initiated into the higher grades. But their signs and test-words and phrases had frequently to be changed, their import having been discovered by the Blacks, which happened especially when the extensive hermit village of Bajjada, near Chasbaia, was destroyed in 1838 by the troops of Ibrahim Pasha, and the sacred books of the Druses were made publicly known.

162. Customs of the Druses.—Every village has its meetinghouses, where religious and political affairs are discussed every Thursday night, the Wise, men and women, attending. The resolutions passed at such meetings are communicated to the district meetings, held in the chief village of every district, which again report to the general assembly in the town of Baklin on Mount Lebanon. This was the fortified seat of government until, in this century, Deir El-Kammar (the moon-monastery) was built as the Lebanon metropolis. At the general assembly the questions raised at the district meetings are discussed, and the deputies from the different villages who have attended, on their return home, announce the decisions arrived at; so that the Druses, in fact, have a regular family council, to which, however, the Wise only are admitted, the uninitiated never being consulted in political or social matters. The civil government of the Druses is in the hands of the Sheiks, who again are subject to the Emir, or Prince of Lebanon. They are warlike and industrious, and two traits in their character deserve notice and commendation; they refuse to give up any man who has sought refuge amongst them, and detest the European tall hat, which they compare to a “cooking-pot,” and laugh at. In the days when Burckhardt visited them, one of their maledictions was, “May God put a hat on you!" The number of Druses does not exceed fifty or sixty thousand, exclusively







[ocr errors]

occupying in the Lebanon upwards of forty large towns and villages, and nearly two hundred and thirty villages with a mixed population of Druses and Christians, whilst in the Anti-Lebanon they are also possessed of nearly eighty exclusively Druse villages.

163. Druses and Maronites.—The Druses were frequently at war with the Maronites, a neighbouring Christian sect, so called after Maro, its founder (circa 400 A.D.), originally fugitive Monothelites, who had settled on Mount Lebanon after the accession of Anastasius II. (496–8), who persecuted them as long as the Turkish Government favoured the Druses, in order to keep down the influence of the Maronites. The former, though the less warlike people, generally prevailed against the latter, but when the ruling Emir, Bence-Schihab, with his family, seceded from Mahommedanism and became Maronite Christians, the Maronites were for a time masters of the situation. In 1860, however, when the Maronites, for the promotion of Christianity, declared war against the Druses, Turkey again assisted the latter. True, the Porte afterwards changed sides, and supported the Maronites, partly because Europe insisted on the Christians being protected, and partly because it suited Turkish policy to so protect them; for the Maronites had by that time been so weakened, that Turkey considered the opportunity favourable to break the power of the Druses also. Since then the latter are under a governor appointed by the Porte.1

164. The Ansaireen or Nuseiriyeh.This is another Syrian sect, who worship a mystic Triad, consisting of Ali, Mohammad, and an early companion of the latter, Selman el Farsi, whence their mystical name, Ams, formed from the initial letters of the three names. This Triad is ultimately resolved into Light, or the Sky, the Sun, and the Moon, the first being illimitable, the second proceeding from the first, and the last proceeding from the other two. Their religion is largely made up of Christian, Jewish, and Mohammedan elements, but there cannot be a doubt that beneath them all are remnants of the old Sabæan faith. Some of their doctrines, which have become known, advocate the most licentious practices, especially between the priests and the female members of their congregations. They invoke the Deity under extraordinary appellations, such as “ Prince of Bees," “Lion," "End of Ends." They are supposed to be the aborigines of Northern Syria, and to have remained in the

* At the present time (July 1896) the Druses are in rebellion against the Turks.

mountain chain stretching from Mount Cassius to the Lebanon, while successive tides of conquest have swept along the valleys on either side. It is difficult to ascertain exactly the details of their religion, both because it is secret and ill-digested, and because few among them understand it, or have fixed points of agreement or disagreement. They number about two hundred thousand, and derive their name from a sectary called Nusaïri. Burckhardt, in his “Travels in Syria and Palestine,” gives some curious particulars concerning them, which will not bear transferring to these pages.



165. Dervishes. Also called Fakirs, and a monastic order of Islamism. Mahomet probibited the introduction of monks into his religious system; but thirty years after the death of the Prophet, monks made their appearance, and it is supposed that there are now seventy-two orders of them. But twelve of them are undoubtedly older than Islamism.

The four chief orders are: 1. The Rifajeh, who carry black flags and wear black or dark-brown turbans. They practise jugglers’ tricks, such as swallowing daggers, eating fire, charming serpents,&c. 2. The Kaderijeh, with white flags and turbans; they are chiefly fishermen. 3. The Saïd Bidani, whose founder is the greatest saint of the Egyptian Moslems, Saïd Achmed El Bidani. Their colours are red and white, and they are divided into several sects. They wear an absurd costume and act as buffoons. 4. The Saïd Ibrahim, with green flags, and turbans. All that is known of them is that they have a monastery at Alexandria.

166. Shiites and Sunnites.The Dervishes are, moreover, divided into two grand bodies, named as above, the former being Egyptian, the latter Turkish Dervishes. These latter are our great enemies in India. The pilgrims from that country propagate at Constantinople antagonism to our rule, and return to India strengthened with the sympathies of the Mussulman world. It is a remarkable circumstance, that though the Ulema are opposed to the Dervishes, they being looked upon as heterodox, men of great intellect, orthodox in their principles, and occupying high positions in the state, should enrol themselves in the order. The only explanation may be found in their study of the Persian Soofee poets, whose doctrine, which is that of the Dervishes, is that form of spiritualism which ends in Pantheism, teaching that God is, or may enter into, all things spiritual, and which approximates to that materialism of which Buddhism is the exponent.

167. Doctrines.—The Dervishes have their “Paths," which

« AnteriorContinuar »