Hamza ibn-'Ali ibn-Ahmad
|Beliefs and practices|
|Current Branches of Shi'ism|
Hamza ibn ‘Alī ibn Aḥmad (985-???) (Arabic and Persian حمزه بن علي بن أحمد) was an 11th-century Ismaili and founding leader of the Druze sect. He was born in Zozan in Greater Khorasan in Samanid-ruled Persia (modern Khaf, Razavi Khorasan Province, Iran).
Hamza is considered the founder of the Druze and the primary author of the Druze manuscripts.
After spending the first twenty years of his life in Samanid-ruled Persia, Hamza emigrated to Egypt and became known in the Fatimid Government as Hamza al-Fātimī "Hamza the Fatimid". He arrived in Cairo (modern Egypt) just as the Fatimid Caliph Tāriqu l-Ḥākim built the House of Knowledge, which became one of the main cultural centers of the Fatimid state. In a very short period of time, Hamza became a close associate of al-Ḥākim and the Caliph appointed him Head of Letters and Correspondence.
Hamza took as his headquarters the Raydan Mosque, which was located outside the walls of Cairo. This mosque became the center where Hamza organized a new missionary movement. In May 1017, al-Ḥākim issued a decree naming Hamza the imām of "the Monotheists" (al-Muwahhidūn) immediately after declaring the beginning of the Divine call. Hamza demonstrated brilliant leadership for four years under al-Ḥākim’s direction.
Al-Ḥākim granted Hamza the freedom to preach this new reformist doctrine openly. Public resistance to Hamza's teachings increased as he spoke against corruption, polygamy, remarriage of divorcees and other social customs as well as his theological disputes with other prominent Ismaeli leaders.
Hamza and ad-Darazī
During this external resistance, an internal rivalry arose between Hamza and one of his subordinates, ad-Darazī. Ad-Darazī deviated from the essence of the movement’s message and falsified the writings of Hamza to present al-Ḥākim as divine.
Ad-Darazī had hoped that al-Ḥākim would favor him over Hamza, but instead there was public opposition to his teachings. Ad-Darazī then redirected the public’s resistance by declaring that he had acted on Hamza's instructions. Consequently, instead of attacking ad-Darazī, the crowds turned against Hamza and his associates, who were at Ridyan Mosque at the time. Although al-Ḥākim executed ad-Darazī for heresy and repudiated his teachings, many years later observers ironically attributed the Druze doctrine to ad-Darazī and do not mention Hamza at all. After the execution of ad-Darazī and his collaborators, Hamza continued his preaching activities for two more years.
Few medieval chroniclers of the time not only failed to make the distinction between Druzes and Darazīs but attributed ad-Darazī’s doctrine to the followers of Hamza and argued that Hakim supported ad-Darazī’s ideas. Other historians have reported that it was Hamza who was subordinate to ad-Darazī, and still others have referred to Hamza and Darazi as the same person: Hamza ad-Darazī. As a consequence, the name “Druze” became synonymous with the reform movement.
Despite the ironic and misleading origins of the sect’s name, the title “Druze” never occurs in the Druze manuscripts of the 11th century. After the execution of Darazi and his collaborators, Hamza continued his preaching activities for two more years.
Many modern scholars have written that Hamza's and ad-Darazī's ideology was the same, which is preaching the literal divinity of al-Ḥākim, whom they say supported their claims. Such uncertainty is caused by the historical ambiguity of that era and the secretive, esoteric aspect of the Druze faith.
During the same year that al-Ḥākim disappeared in 1021, Hamza went into retreat and delegated the third leading figure, Baha'u d-Dīn as-Samuqī ("al-Muqtana Baha’ud-Dīn") to continue the missionary movement. Baha’ud-Dīn continued public preaching with the approval of Hamza, who was in a disclosed location known only to Baha’ud-Dīn and few other missionaries. Preaching was halted after the Druze sect was closed in 1043 by Baha’ud-Dīn.
- Hamzah ibn 'Ali. Encyclopædia Britannica. 2005. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 18 Nov. 2005 <http://search.eb.com/eb/article-9039092>.
- Hamza Ibn Ali From Book one of the Tawheed Faith By the American Druze Society
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- The Druze in the Middle East: Their Faith, Leadership, Identity and Status - Page 41 by Nissim Dana
- Encyclopaedic Survey of Islamic Culture - Page 94 by Mohamed Taher