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) are a religious community found primarily in Syria, Lebanon, Israel/Palestine, and Jordan, whose traditional religion is said to have begun as an offshoot of Islam, but is unique in its incorporation of Gnosticism, Neoplatonism and other philosophies, similar to other followers of Ismaili Shi'a Islam.In Syria, the Druzes number about 260,000 people, of whom about 15,000 live in northern Syria near Aleppo, about 20,000 in and around Damascus, about 25,000 in the districts of Qantana and Qunaytira in southwestern Syria, and about 200,000 in Jabal ad-Duruz.To the ignorant of the Druze in Israel one should know the amount of persecution the Druze recieved under the Ottomans and later by neighboring Muslim Arabs (today the Palestinians) before they decided to side with the Jews upon their immigration from Europe.Consequently, the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were to witness a succession of armed Druze rebellions against the Ottomans, countered by repeated Ottoman punitive expeditions against the Chouf, in which the Druze population of the area was severely depleted and many villages destroyed.Under Fakhreddin II, the Druze dominion increased until it included almost all Syria, extending from the edge of the Antioch plain in the north to Safad in the south, with a part of the Syrian desert dominated by Fakhreddin's castle at Tadmur (Palmyra), the ancient capital of Zenobia.

The Shihab family (who were Sunnite Muslims and originally Hira Arabs), which had governed Hauran under the early caliphs of Damascus and thereafter held power in Hermon, intermarried with the Maan; and in the latter's day of weakness sided with the Qaisi faction and obtained the supreme amirate of the Mountain.Although the Druze represent a small percentage of the total population of the countries of the Near East in which they reside, their concentration in mountainous districts has produced a compact social structure, resulting in a nearly exclusive majority in some geographical regions, and therefore a low frequency of admixture with other populations.Ad-Darazī was a dā‘ī ("missionary") who first preached an unorthodox version of the faith to outsiders in 1016.The only early Arab historian who mentions the Druze is the 11th century Christian scholar Yahyá ibn Sa‘īd al-Antākī, who clearly refers to the heretical group created by ad-Darazī rather than the followers of Hamza ibn ‘Alī.The Druze faith began as a movement in Ismailism that was mainly influenced by Greek philosophy and gnosticism and opposed certain religious and philosophical ideologies that were present during that epoch.

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