A sect of mystic religionists who inhabit Mounts Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon, in Syrian 294. They settled there about the tenth century, and are said to be a mixture of Cuthites or Kurds, Mardi Arabs, and possibly of Crusaders; all of whom were added, by subsequent immigrations, to the original stock to constitute the present or modern race of Druses.
Their religion is a heretical compound of Judaism, Christianity, and Mohammedism; the last of which, greatly modified, predominates in their faith. They have a regular order of priesthood, the office being filled by persons consecrated for the purpose, comprising principally the emirs and sheiks, who form a secret organization divided into several Degrees, keep the sacred books, and hold secret religious assemblies. Their sacred books are written in antiquated Arabic. The Druses are divided into three classes or Degrees, according to religious distinctions. To enable one Druse to recognize another, a system of passwords is adopted, without an interchange of which no communication is made that may give an idea of their religious tenets (see Tien's Druse Religion Unveiled). Doctor Clarke tells us in his Travels that "one class of the Druses are to the rest what the initiated are to the profane, and are called Okkals, which means spiritualists; and they consider themselves superior to their countrymen. They have various degrees of initiation." Colonel Churchill in his Ten Years' Residence on Mount Lebanon, tells us that among this singular people there is an order having many similar customs to the Freemasons. It requires a twelve months' probation previous to the admission of a member. Both sexes are admissible. In the second year the novice assumes the distinguishing mark of the white turban, and afterward, by Degrees, is allowed to participate ;,n the whole of the mysteries. Simplicity of attire, self-denial, temperance, and irreproachable moral conduct are essential to admission to the order. All of these facts have led to the theory that the Druses are an offshoot from the early Freemasons, and that their connection with the latter is derived from the Crusaders, who, according to the same theory, are supposed to have acquired their Freemasonry during their residence in Palestine. Some writers go so far as to say that the Degree of Prince of Libanus, the Twenty-second in the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, refers to the ancestors of these mystical mountaineers in Syria.
Several chapters deal with the Dresses in the Secret Sects of Syria and the Lebanon, by Brother Bernard H. Springett, London.
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