|Druze town of Daliyat al-Carmel|
I draw blank stares when I tell people back home that there is a town near Haifa called Isifiya where Druze, Christians, Muslims, and a few Jews live together in peace. Who are the Druze? They are a monotheistic religious group of Arabic speakers that split off from Islam in the 11th century. According to Internet articles, there are about one million of them around the world, mostly in Syria and Lebanon. There are 125,000 Druze in Israel, less than 2% of the population, and about 20,000 Druze in the United States.
Only a few enlightened individuals understand all the faith's secrets. About 20% of Druze are called knowledgeable initiates and have special dress. The rest are just followers. There is no fixed daily liturgy, defined holy days, or pilgrimage obligation. Five colors have special meaning for the Druze: red for the universal soul, green for the universal mind, yellow for the Word, blue for potentiality, and white for immanence.
|Shrine of Abu Ibrahim (note the 5 Druze colors over the door)|
|Sheikh Amin Tarif|
I descended a dozen large, uneven stone steps to crawl through a small door to a 10x12 foot stone chamber with stone benches on the sides, one of which had a tray with several burning candles. I said a silent prayer to my own God. A Druze couple I met there explained that they do not worship there, but do so on Monday and Friday nights at a place called a khalwa.
|A Druze place of worship in Daliyat al-Carmel|
|Druze memorial museum|
|Outdoor memorial to the Druze killed in acion|
|Photos of some of the fallen Druze soldiers|
|Tomb of Abu Abdallah, in Isifiya|
I am spending the weekend in Isifiya with my Palestinian Christian friends, the Hallouns, some of whom are pictured below.