Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

the trutb of my theory, I will mention two ter Mason! I immediately returned it, to other most remarkable corroborations. his equal surprise. He asked me how and

1. In examining the “ Book of the Tes: where I had learnt their secret sign; and timonies to the Mysteries of the Unity,” this set me on the track of further inwhich contains the code of the esoteric quiries, the result of which has been to religion of the Druses, came across the render what was before a very strong following passage at the end :

belief on my part an absolute conviction. The conclusion is, that whosoever knows

I now feel morally certain that my theory and believes in what has preceded, and is of is correct; and speaking as a Freemason, full age, free from servitude, and sound of mind and as one who has also searched someand body, will be of those who are destined to what fully into the mystic tenets of the the ranks (i.c., the different degrees of initia. Druses, I can assert that, in many partic. tion), and entitled to be present at the private ulars, the esoteric teaching of both sys. assemblies (i.c., the “ lodges "), at which tems is more or less identical. Owing whosoever is present will be saved by God to the extreme secrecy and exclusiveAlmighty, and whosoever is absent will re

ness of the Druse character, it is most pent. May God make His good ways easy, difficult to gain an insight into their inner and pour upon us His blessing! He is the rites and tenets; and it requires many Helper, the Giver of victory, the wise, and the initiated! Amen.

years of intercourse with them, and the

firm establishment of relations of mutual Observe carefully the words in italics. confidence and trust, before one can be in The formula which expresses the condi- a position to learn anything concerning tion of eligibility for initiation into Free. them. But, speaking from experience, I masonry is, as is well known, the follow. can only say that if those who are qualiing: "'The candidate for initiation must fied to pursue the subject further, will be of full age, free born, and of good re investigate carefully for themselves this port." Thus it will be seen that in the most interesting matter, they will be more two cases the conditions stated are vir- and more convinced of the truth of my tually identical. This exact coincidence statement, and cannot fail to be peris in the highest degree significant and suaded that the origin of Freemasonry is suggestive. It can hardly be the result of to be traced to the ancestors of the mere accident, and goes far to prove the Druses, and that these ancestors were the intimate connection between Freemasonry Phænician mountaineers of the Lebanon, and esoteric Drusedom.

who were the subjects of Hiram, king of 2. But the second instance of corrobora- Tyre. As might have been expected untion is to my mind stronger still, for it is der these circumstances, thę Druses are ode which has come under my own pero essentially a mountaineering race; there sonal experience. A few months ago I not being a single Druse village situated bad occasion to enter into a business con- upon a plain, either in the Lebanon distract with one of my Druse farmers. trict, across the Haurån, or in the Holy When we

were about to draw up the Land proper. agreement, the Druse suggested that, as This fact naturally exercises a great in. he could neither read nor write, we should fluence over their national habits and ratify the bargain in the manner customary characteristics. Mountaineers are invari. among his people. This consists of a ably active, hardy, and independent; and solemn grasping of hands together in the the Druses are no exception to this genpresence of two or three other Druses as cral rule. There is not a tribe in the witnesses, whilst the agreement is recited whole of Syria that can compare with by both parties. Being always on the them in physical strength, symmetery of qui vive to gain a practical insight into form, muscular development, and capabil. the manners and customs of the Druses, Iity of endurance. In these respects they readily consented to this form of contract, afford a remarkable contrast to the poor, hopiog thereby to learn something more of miserable-looking, abject fellaheen and their methods of procedure. Accordingly, peasantry of an ordinary Syrian village, as the farmer brought three of his neighbors also to the mongrel, cross-bred specimens to me ; and the terms of our contract hav- which are to be niet with in the larger towns ing been made known to them, one of of Palestine. Amongst the latter, indeed, them took the right hand of each of us it is rarely that one can find a genuine and joined them together, whilst he dic- Syrian of pure and native blood. Most of tated to us what to say after him. To my the inhabitants are the offspring of a great astonishment, the Druse who was motley ancestry. Turkish, Greek, Egypgrasping my hand gave me the grip of Mas. I tian, French, Spanish Italian, and Arab

[ocr errors]

a

THE UNIVERSIDA
LIBRARY

blood is intermingled, in greater or less It was then that the Druses, for the proportion, in the veins of the modern first time in their history, attracted the so-called Syrian; and the result of this immediate attention of Europe. During heterogeneous compound is, as might be the Crusades even, when all other Syrian expected, a very inferior type of humanity. races came more or less under the influ.

Not so, however, the Druses. Their eace of the Franks, and were thus brought rigid exclusiveness of religion and nation into contact with European nations, the ality has preserved them from such an in- Druses bad consistently held aloof, untermingling of races; and, throughout the molested and unmolesting; and their centuries, they have retained a purity of names are seldom mentioned in Crusading blood uncontaminated by foreign admix- chronicles. ture. It is true, indeed, that there has But now, in the begioning of the sevenuntil lately existed - and there may still teenth century, after the invasion of Ibralinger - a common and popular belief him Pasha, the Druse nation sprang into amongst travellers in the East, that the notice, and became recognized in Europe Druses are in some way connected by as a race worthy of remark. As not undescent with the Crusaders. The fair frequently happens, the common danger bair and light eyes of many of the Druse and disaster had healed the internal maidens are cited in support of this divisions, and the whole Druse nationality theory; but the idea may be discard as had become united under one common entirely erroneous. It will be seen below head. A man of extraordinary talent and how it first originated.

ability came to the fore

the greatest It is now eight hundred years since the hero, perhaps, of which the Druses bave Druses embraced the faith of Hamzé. been able to boast. His name was FakrDuring that period their native land has ed-Deen. Under his able leadership, the passed through many vicissitudes. The Druse nation attained its highest power. foreign foe has devastated Syria and Pal. Never before nor since has it been so estine. The Christian and the Moslem prosperous and united. In a series of succeeded one another in the dominion brilliant campaigns, Fakr-ed-Deen comof the country. The Crusaders, the pletely routed the Turks, the Arabs, and Aleppo sultans, the Mamelukes, and the the various tribes of the Lebanon and the Turks, in turns held sway over the land. neighborhood, and gained possession of Yet throughout all these varying crises, the whole tract of country from Beyrout for more than five hundred years the to Safed, and from Sidon, Tyre, and Acre Druses maintained their independence to Baalbek. One by one, all these imporand pursued the even tenor of their way, tant towns fell under his conquering undisturbed by the conflicts which raged might; and in the year 1613 he endeavored around them.

further to subdue the pashas of DamasAt length, in the year 1588, Amurath cus and of Tripoli. This he found a task III. resolved to reduce them into subjec- beyond his unaided power; and in order tion. For this purpose, one of his gener. to gain the assistance and sympathies of als, named Ibrahim Pasha, was sent from Europe, he undertook a journey to Italy. Cairo with an army, on an expedition The most powerful European court against them. The Druses were not in that time was that of the Medicis, and to a favorable condition for a successful re-them he addressed himself for succor and sistance; for internal feuds had divided alliance. His claims were strongly supthem into two parties, and their principal ported by the merchants and missionaries sheikhs were at enmity one with another. of Beyrout and the Lebanon; and acting The civil dissensions amongst the Druses under their suggestions, he gave out to at that time may be compared to our Rome that the Druses were Christians, English Wars of the Roses ; for the Kaisi descended from the Crusaders, that they and the Yemani - - as the opposing fac- had derived their name from a noted tions were called — carried respectively champion of the cross, the Comte de red and white flags, the consequence being Dreux, and that he himself was closely that the strife was commonly known as related to the royal family of Lorraine. the war between the Reds and the Whites. And here we have the fons et origo mali,

Ibrahim Pasha put a summary end to the source and origin of that erroneous their internecine struggles, for he speed tradition, which has led Palestinian writers ily subjugated the whole race, and im. astray, when they have connected the posed upon them an indemnity of one Druses with the Crusaders. It has all million piastres, in addition to a heavy resulted from this fiction, invented annual tribute.

Fakr-ed-Deen and his friends, in order the

at

by

some

more effectually to arouse the interest and majority of Druses know little or nothing enlist the active sympathies of the Chris- of the esoteric side of their religion; and tian powers of Europe.

the intense reticence and reserve which The notion that the Druses could have in common with others who have endeavderived their name in any way from the ored to fathom the mysteries of the Druse Comte de Dreux is absurd upon the face creed, I have frequently encountered, has of it; for travellers in the East, belonging resulted, as I have since discovered, more to periods long before the Crusades, make often from ignorance than from the conmention of the Druses by name. To take scious scruples of a devotee. Take an one example out of many, Benjamin of ordinary Druse, and question him on the Tudela, wbo wrote somewhat fully, al. subject of his religion ; you will find it though with ridiculous inaccuracy, about almost impossible to get anything out of them, lived and died more than a hundred him, and this is, in nine cases out of ten, years before the Comte de Dreux was in simply because he knows nothing about existence !

it himself. He has a sort of vague and The subsequent career of Fakroed-Deen superstitious idea that there are is a matter of history, and I need not deep, mysterious marvels of religion with dwell upon it here. Suffice it to say that which those fully initiated are conversant; the Druses were defeated by the Turks in and this renders bim in his turo mysteri. 1631, and that from that date they have ous in his demeanor when a stranger conalways been subject to the Ottoman Em- verses with him on the subject. pire; though for some length of time they At the same time there are certain were allowed to occupy a position of semi- broad principles and general beliefs, conindependence. They had a nominal ruler stituting the exoteric aspect of their reli

a of their own, who was, however, a vassal gion, with which all Druses are more or of the sultan of Turkey, and whose sway less familiar, according to the stage of inwas limited by the Ottoman authority. itiation to which they have attained. For a few generations, the chiefdom of the These principles and beliefs are really Druses was vested in the family of Fakr. the most essential features of their creed, ed-Deen ; but at length the succession of for it is by them that the Druses are pracmale heirs failed, and the government tically influenced, and their lives and char. passed to the family of Shehab.

acters are in a great measure moulded Uotil their subjection in 1631, the upon them. Some of these I will briefly Druses had remained as a compact body discuss. in the district which they had always in- In the first place, the Druses believe in habited; but after that period, those mi- one God, and one alone; and everything grations commenced which have resulted that happens in the world, good or bad, in their present divided settlements in the they ascribe to his direct intervention. Lebanon, the Jebel-ed-Druse to the east of This firm belief may be said to be the the Haurân, and the Palestinian provinces keynote of their daily religion. It is not of Galilee and Carmel. A few families merely that they acknowledge God as the also emigrated northwards, and there are great first cause, but they do not believe Druses to be found in the neighborhood in any secondary causes whatever. Thus, of Aleppo.

for example, they consider it the height of lo speaking of the religion of the folly and presumption to imagine that the Druses, about which there has been so weather is guided by any natural laws. I much speculation and controversy, one have times without number tried to induce must always bear in mind that it is neces. a Druse to give me his opinion as to sary to distinguish between the esoteric | whether or not we are likely to have rain and exoteric aspects of the case. Esoteric on the morrow. The following conversa. Drusedom contains within it abstruse tion is a type of what is almost invariably speculations of metaphysics, many of the result of iny question: which are fanciful and childish in the ex- "Well, Soleiman, do you think it is treme. Some of these theories are orig- likely to rain to-morrow? inal, some borrowed from other "How can I know, ya Khawajah ? God sources; but very few of those with which knows. I am acquainted have much practical • Of course I do not expect you to bearing on daily life and conduct. Only know. . I asked you what you thought." they who have reached the highest stage How can I think? God knows." of initiation are thoroughly conversant “But look up at the sky.: See those with them, and these learned mystics are clouds over the sea yonder. Do they look very limited in number. By far the great as if we shall have rain soon?”

[ocr errors]

are

“ It is as God pleases. If God sends | band, impelled by the force of custom, rain, it will rain; and if he does not, it insisted on branding her arm first with a will not."

red-hot packing.needle. This burn was And I have never been able to get fur- the only thing that caused us any diffither than this.

culty; for long after the effects of the poiThis idea, that everything is the result son had passed out of the woman's system, of God's immediate work, independent of a festering sore remained from the brand. the laws of cause and effect, can be traced I was much amused by the fine points of in its influence upon their characters and distinction which the woman made as reconduct throughout.

garded her fatalistic belief. Inveighing Thus it renders them absolute fatalists. against her husband because he had inIf a Druse becomes ill, he and his friends sisted upon branding her, she emphatically will say that it was predestinated that he exclaimed, “ It was predestined that the should get ill, and that it is no good trying snake should bite me; but it was not preto cure him; for that if God wills, he will destined that my husband should burn recover, and if it is God's will, he will die. me." Many of the Druses will even go so far as Another result of this feature of the to refuse medicine or any other remedies, Druses' creed is that they take all the on the plea that they are wicked attempts varying phases of life most calmly. They to interfere with God's work. This is are unelated by happiness, undepressed pot, indeed, the case with all. The ma by sorrow. On one occasion it so hapjority are ready enough to come to you for pened that two strong, healthy young men, assistance, in the event of illness or of an the eldest sons of their respective fainilies, accident, and they will take what you give were taken suddenly ill in the harvestthem; but it is very often accompanied by field from fever, and died on the same day. a half-contemptuous, half-sceptical smile, Now the saddest event of which a Druse as though they would say: "I will follow is conscious is the death of a first-born your advice and swallow your rubbish, son. Consequently, when I went to pay because I know it will please you ; but visits of condolence to the two bereaved you must not expect me to believe that it families, I expected to find them overis going to make any difference with the whelmed with grief and crying their eyes course of the predestined issue."

out in pair. Nothing of the sort. The There are certain remedies which they whole family in each case — father, moth. are accustomed, even of themselves, to er, brothers, sisters — were quietly seated have recourse to; but they are of a very around, a placid sinile of resignation and primitive and drastic character, and mainly content on their faces; and on my speakconsist of bleeding and burning. Almost ing a few words of sympathy to them, every Druse has about him some scars they replied, “ Hamdillah! Praise be to where the native doctor has branded him God! It is the Lord's doing; and we are with a red-hot iron or packing.needle; for very thankful.” It was no canting hypothis is the favorite instrument of torture. critical phrase that these poor people

A little more than a year ago, a Druse uttered; it was the genuine expression of woman was bitten on her hand by a very their inmost feelings, and it reminded me poisonous snake whilst weeding in the most forcibly of the utterance of the patrifields. We have found one simple cure arch of old : “ The Lord gave, and the for these terrible dangerous snake bites, Lord hath taken away; blessed be the which is invariably successful if applied name of the Lord.” in time. It consists of pouring as much I have frequently noticed the same neat brandy as possible down the throat thing since. At first it would seem to of the patient in the shortest possible result from a callousness of disposition time. The tendency of the snake poison and want of heart, this absence of any outis to cause death by congealing the blood; ward manifestation of grief at the loss of the alcohol has just the opposite effect; a dear one. But it is not really this; it is so that the two poisons counteract one the result of the innate belief in every another. One young man, who must in. Druse's mind that God orders all things, evitably have died otherwise, drank two and that whatever he does is best. and a half bottles of neat brandy in one It must be acknowledged, at the same and a half hours ! And he had never time, that the Druses are wanting in those tasted anything stronger than water in his finer susceptibilities to the pain and sorlife before! But the remedy cured him. rows of others which are the outcome of This woman, when she was bitten, begged Christianity and of a higher civilization. to be brought at once to us; but her hus. | Hardy as they are themselves, and com

if one may

paratively insensible to pain, they cannot According to the Druse creed, the ten appreciate the fact that others may suffer incarnations of the Deity took place in the more than they. Consequently, just as following human beings : Ali, El Bar, they themselves will laugh rather than cry Zacharias, Elias, Maal, El Kaem, Manif they meet with an accident, such as cut- sûr, Maaz, Aziz, and Hakiin. ting or burning themselves, so are they Ali was the first incarnation, and this prone to regard an accident to another occurred at the inauguration of the presperson as a subject for mirth rather than ent race of humanity. It

was, for sympathy: I once saw a Druse man use an apparently contradictory term, an fall from his horse whilst galloping madly invisible manifestation ; for, although the in a fantasia. He sustained very serious incarnation was in human form, no man injuries, and presented a pitiable spectacle ever saw Ali at any time. as he lay upon the ground, bruised and El Bar was the incarnate Godman, from bleeding. Yet, to my amazement, his whom Enoch learned the truth. He was, friends and fellow-villagers, instead of in other words, the “God” of whom the pressing forward to render him assistance, Bible speaks when it says, “ Enoch walked stood and laughed to their hearts' content, with God.” El Bar, so the Druses say, as if they thought it the grandest joke in was the founder of all priesthood. the world. The Druse children are espe.

Whether the Zacharias mentioned as cially fond of capturing a poor helpless the third incarnation is identical with any little bird and torturing it for their own character in Old Testament history, Í amusement. All these things are sad to have been unable to discover; but Elias, contemplate, and they certainly reveal de the fourth incarnation, is undoubtedly fects in the Druses' characters. But they Elijah. The Druses have a divine revare the natural concomitants of an inferior erence for the memory of this remarkable stage of civilization, and are the usual prophet, whom they worship under the characteristics of a hardy untrained race title of El Khudi (the Evergreen), in such as that of the Druses.

token of his eternity; and it is this which The Druses, as I have intimated, call led them to establish colonies on the themselves Unitarians; and they are Mount of Carmel, which is specially sacareful to maintain that the belief in the cred to Elijah's name. It may be menone God is the primary essential to ever- tioned, en passant, that all Syrian races, lasting salvation.

Christian, Mohammedan, and Jew alike, At the same time, they believed that have almost the same superhuman rethe one God has appeared on earth in spect for the name of this mysterious human form, under ten different manifes- saint of God; though I am not aware that tations or incarnations.

any of them go so far as the Druses in The incarnation of the Godhead is thus ascribing to Elijah a divine incarnation. expressed in the “Book of Testimonies :" The fifth manifestation of the Godhead

occurred in the person of Maal, who is It is necessary to believe in God Almighty said to have appeared upon earth in the in His human form, without confusing it with time of Mobainmed. This incarnation the questions, where? or how much? or who? for that same figure has no flesh, nor blood, I took place at “Tadmor in the East,” now nor body, nor weight; but it is like unto a

known as Palmyra. According to the mirror when you put the same into a scale to

“ Book of the Testimonies,” Maal's "apweigh it, and look at yourself in it; for does pearance was extremely beautiful and gloit weigh more by your seeing your own face rious, and he was most rich, and travelled in it? So is the figure of the Almighty; it alone with one thousand camels laden does not eat, nor drink, nor feel, nor can with goods and merchandise.” incident or time alter it. It is invisible; but

Hitherto, it will be observed, the maniit contains the power of being ever present, festations of the Godhead in human form and it has appeared to us on earth in human occurred at widespread intervals, the tirst form, that we should be better able to com- five incarnations having been diffused prehend it, there being no power in us wherewith to compare the Divinity.

over the vast period ranging from the com

mencement of the human race to the time Curious and quaint is the description here of Mohammed in the sixth century of the given of the Godhead -- especially strik Christian era. But, with the appearance ing being the illustration of the mirror of Maal, there seems to have begun a and of the image of the face within it, deeply concentrated effort on the part of which, while being present to the senses, the Deity in his dealings with the human makes no difference to the weight of the race, for the last five incarnations were mirror!

handed down in successive generations,

« ElőzőTovább »