Chronicling the follies of religion and superstition, the virtues of skepticism, and the wonders of the real (natural) universe as revealed by science. Plus other interesting and educational stuff.
"Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure."
“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”.
“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”
The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like all farewells, should not be protracted.
Origins: Al-Darazi in 11th century, Cairo, Egypt. Roots in the Isma’iliyya sect of Shia Islam.
Adherents: (apprx) 500,000 - 1 million
God(’s) and the Universe: One God. Universal Intelligence (al-Aql al-Kulli) or Divine Essence (akin to Neoplatonism), of which al-Hakim is believed to be an incarnation.
Human situation and life purpose: Live a good life for a favorable reincarnation. Await the re-appearance of al-Hakim (a Fatimid caliph who disappeared in 1021), who will usher in a Golden Age for true believers.
Afterlife: Reincarnation. Heaven is a spiritual existence when one has escaped reincarnation. Hell is distance from God in lifetime after lifetime.
Practices: Modest lifestyles, fasting before Eid al-Adha. Beliefs and practices are hidden for protection from persecution. Special group of initiates called uqqal.
Texts: Al-Naqd al-Khafi (Copy of the Secret); Al-Juz’al-Awwal (Essence of the First)
History and Beliefs
Meet the Druze, members of a unique religion in the Middle East who had split from Shia Islam during the 11th century. Their faith began as a movement in Egypt, which was influenced mostly by Greek philosophy and Gnosticism, while incorporating elements from Abrahamic religions and other philosophies. According to Druze tradition the birth of their religion was a re-appearance of an ancient and purified monotheistic faith. From the beginning of its existence, the Druze community was under severe persecutions which caused their emigration to southern Lebanon. Over the years they spread throughout the region, and today the estimated 1,000,000 members of the community are found primarily in Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Jordan. The Druze are Arabic speakers with their own unique dialect, similar to Syrian dialects of Arabic.
The principals of the Druze religion are considered a secret and known only to the minority of the Wiseman. The prayer-houses of the Druze are called khalwa and their sacred scriptures are the Epistles of Wisdom (Kitab Al Hikma), which include 111 texts replicated by hand only.
Shrouded in secrecy the known basics of the Druze religion are:
• Monotheism and the prohibition of paganism
• Belief in reincarnation
• Acceptance of the Ten Commandments with “Thou shalt not kill” and “Thou shalt not commits adultery” as leading precepts.
• Recognition of all Prophets from Judaism, Christianity and Islam with five prophets of the Druze, led by Jethro
The Druze belief that this world is only a prelude to the afterlife is the reason why Druze have no aspirations for national independence. They believe in being loyal to the country in which they live. In 1957 Israel had officially recognized the Druze at their request, as a religious community. This recognition was unprecedented due to the fact that no country has officially recognized Druze faith as a religion of its own. Since that year the Druze are enlisted to serve in the IDF, with a high proportion of serving officers and excelling warriors.
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