Tags / druze faith
Traditional Mashrabiya window coverings at the Druze Council in Beirut, home to its clerical authority. Many agree, that the firm belief in reincarnation - which also changed the opinions of sceptics such as Nibal himself - allowed them to fight without the fear of death, and gave closure to families after sudden loss of close ones.
An elderly Druze man sells newspapers in Aley, Mount Lebanon. According to Gerald Russell, who wrote about the Druze, “Going into battle, the Druze would shout: ‘Who wants to sleep in the mother's womb tonight?’”
Bridge on Beirut-Damascus highway. After a death of a Druze, the saying in the community goes - “May the person be reborn to good parents.”
Bridge on Beirut-Damascus railway, shrouded in the passing clouds. Those children who remember violent deaths in previous lives, usually involve sudden accidents, car crashes and most recently, the war.
Bridge connecting Mount Lebanon with the road to Beeka Valley, yet also forming the north-south dividing line between Druze and Christian strongholds, who fought a brief, but bitter civil war in 1860, and again in the late 20th century. Regardless, both areas retain a mix of religions today.
Clouds over Chouf region, on Mount Lebanon, drifting over cedar trees, the symbol of Lebanon. Chouf was the home to Fakhr-Al-Din, the Druze leader in the early 17th century, who managed to carve out a kingdom in the Ottoman empire stretching as far as Palmyra in present-day Syria.
The Druze have continued tracing their multiple lives across Mount Lebanon, which helped the community become fearful fighters against their enemies. “In this life, I am a supporter of the same political party, same as my parents. Throughout my youth, I wanted to fight for the same ideals, and used to think about the joining the war in neighbouring Syria, but with age, this fighting spirit has decreased,” said Nibal.
Valleys in Mount Lebanon carry an air of beauty and mystique, akin to philosophical studies of the Druze faith, centered on monotheism and individual interpretation. Shadi Khalek, Nibal’s friend, recalls asking his Christian teacher at school: “If we were all sons of God, same as Jesus; I do not remember the answer.”
Nibal Khalek stands in the backdrop of the Druze religious house in his village, Majdal Baana. Nibal accepted the influence of the past life in his current decisions, which in a way, guided his choices in the present life. “Maybe that's why my soul wanted to be reborn in this body, to finish what it started,” he said.
Faint outline of the Druze religious building hugs the outline of the rock face on Mount Lebanon. The religious buildings, the Khalwa, are nondescript, often displaying no more than the five-point star of the Druze faith.
A home in Majdal Baana village. As entire generations live side-by-side, noticing reincarnations in the early years following a child’s birth became a family tradition.
Many children, including Nibal, guided their families to the houses of their previous-life families. Nibal remembered his death in clashes between the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, with whom the Druze allied during the civil war, and Islamists in the Sunni Muslim stronghold in Tripoli, northern Lebanon.
View towards Beirut from Mount Lebanon, the heart of Druze community in Lebanon. The now-defunct Damascus-Beirut railway operated until the civil war broke out in 1975, and opened these mountains to tourists from across the Levant escaping the summer heat. Prior to that, it made an ideal stronghold for its autonomous community, submerged in religious secrecy.
A Druze man plays the flute in their friends hangout, perched on the hill overlooking the valley below. The tight knit community of friends all subscribe to the ideals of Druze faith - or at least, to the little of it that they do know.
Young people from Nibal’s village dance Dabke - the traditional regional dance. All in their late 20s and 30s, no one has ever been shown the ways of Druze faith, without having undertaken the lifelong path of becoming a religious cleric, the sheikh.