Ad-Darazi

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Muhammad bin Ismail Nashtakin ad-Darazi (Arabic: محمد بن اسماعيل نشتاكين الدرازي‎) was an 11th-century Ismaili preacher and early leader of the Druze faith who was labeled a heretic in 1016 and subsequently executed in 1018 by the Fatimid Caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah.

Life[edit]

Little information is known about the early life of Ad-Darazi. According to most sources, he was born in Bukhara. He is believed to have been of Turkic or Persian origins and his title ad-Darazi is Persian - meaning 'the tailor'.[1] He arrived in Cairo in 1015, or 1017, after which he joined the newly emerged Druze movement.[2]

He was the leader of an army that was sent from Cairo to put down the up-rising of the Unity movement that started in the mountains of Lebanon to unite Christian and Muslim Sunni and Shiah under one God. Ad-Darazi's army was around 200,000 men while the Unity movement that started in the Choufe Mountains of Lebanon and the Houran Mountains of Syria had less than 10,000 men. The two sides met in battle north of Jerusalem. Ad-Darazi army was destroyed and he was captured. As a result of the victory, the Unity movement was called at that time the movement that destroyed the army of the Darazi.

After the battle, Ad-Darazi was converted to be one of the early preachers of the Unity faith (which became known as the Druze faith). At that time, the movement enlisted a large number of adherents.[3] However, he was later considered a renegade [4] and is usually described by the Druze as following the traits of satan,[5] in particular, arrogance.

This view is based on the observation that as the number of his followers grew, he became obsessed with his leadership and gave himself the title “The Sword of the Faith”. In the Epistles of Wisdom, Hamza ibn-'Ali ibn-Ahmad warns Ad-Darazi, saying, “Faith does not need a sword to aid it.” However, Ad-Darazi ignored Hamza’s warnings and continued to challenge the Imam. This attitude led to disputes between Ad-Darazi and Hamza ibn-'Ali ibn-Ahmad, who disliked his behaviour.[4] Ad-Darazi argued that he should be the leader of the Da’wa rather than Hamza ibn Ali and gave himself the title “Lord of the Guides”, because Caliph al-Hakim referred to Hamza as “Guide of the Consented”.

By 1018, ad-Darazi had gathered around him partisans - "Darazites" - who believed that universal reason became incarnated in Adam at the beginning of the world, was then passed from him to the prophets, then into Ali and hence into his descendants, the Fatimid Caliphs.[5] Ad-Darazi wrote a book laying out this doctrine. He read from his book in the principal mosque in Cairo, which caused riots and protests against his claims and many of his followers were killed. Hamza ibn Ali refuted his ideology calling him "the insolent one and Satan".[5] The controversy created by ad-Darazi led Caliph al-Hakim to suspend the Druze da'wa in 1018 AD.[4]

In an attempt to gain the support of al-Hakim, ad-Darazi started preaching that al-Hakim and his ancestors were the incarnation of God.[3]

It is believed that ad-Darazi allowed wine, forbidden marriages and taught metempsychosis[5] although it has argued that his actions might have been exaggerated by contemporary and later historians and polemicists.

Death[edit]

An inherently modest man, al-Hakim did not believe that he was God, and felt ad-Darazi was trying to depict himself as a new prophet.[3] Al-Hakim preferred Hamza ibn 'Ali ibn Ahmad over him and Ad-Darazi was executed in 1018, leaving Hamza the sole leader of the new faith.[3]

Aftermath[edit]

Even though the Druze do not consider ad-Darazi the founder of their faith (rather, they refer to him as their "first heretic"[6]), rival Muslim groups purposely attached the name of the controversial preacher to the new sect and it has stuck with them ever since.[3] Druze refer to themselves as “unitarians” (al-Muwahhidūn).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Farhad Daftary (30 Dec 2011). Historical Dictionary of the Ismailis. Scarecrow Press. p. 40. ISBN 9780810879706. 
  2. ^ Samy Swayd (27 Jul 2009). The A to Z of the Druzes (annotated ed.). Scarecrow Press. p. xxxii. ISBN 9780810870024. 
  3. ^ a b c d e The Olive and the Tree: The Secret Strength of the Druze By Dr Ruth Westheimer and Gil Sedan
  4. ^ a b c About the Faith of the Mo’wa’he’doon Druze by Moustafa F. Moukarim
  5. ^ a b c d E.J. Brill's first encyclopaedia of Islam 1913-1936 By M. Th. Houtsma, E. van Donzel
  6. ^ Swayd, Samy (1998), "Introduction", in Swayd, Sami, The Druzes : an annotated bibliography, Kirkland WA: ISES Publications, ISBN 0-9662932-0-7