The Druzes, from Ismaili Esotericism to the Formation of a Doctrinal School of Law

17th March 2021

Islamic History and Thought Lecture Series

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The Druzeinfo-icon dogma was developed in the 5th / 11th century in Cairo during the reign of the sixth Fatimid caliphinfo-icon al-Ḥākim. The founders of this dogma, notably Ḥamza, were Ismaili missionaries who, in their writings known as al-Ḥikma or the Rasāʾil al-Ḥikma, established a new Ismaili Shi'ite doctrine, which parted from the mainstream Fatimid doctrine.

Accused of extremism and exaggeration (ghuluww), the Druze movement was then banned from Cairo under the caliphateinfo-icon of al-Ẓāhir, so it only developed in the Syrian mountains. Rural clan leaders in Syria had indeed converted to Druzism during the daʿwa (1017-1043) and continued to pass on their doctrine secretly until the 9th / 15th century. In this talk, Dr Halawi will show how Druzism was in line with Ismaili doctrine at that time, while developing a substantive law influenced by Sunni fiqhinfo-icon and customary law.



Date: 17 March 2021
Time: 2.00 pm – 4.00 pm GMT
Location: Online (Zoom)


Q&A: At any time during the lecture, attendees can submit questions to the speaker through the Q&A option at the bottom of the control panel. As time allows, the speaker will address as many questions as they can during the Q&A session at the end of the presentation.

Recording: Please note that the session will be recorded and published on the IIS website.



Speaker: Dr Wissam Halawi (University of Lausanne).

Discussants: Dr Fârès Gillon (IIS), Dr Christian Sahner (Oxford University).







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Dr Wissam Halawi

Dr Wissam Halawi is an Assistant Professor at the University of Lausanne (Switzerland), Institute of History and Anthropology of Religions (IHAR). He is a social historian of the Islamic world in mediaeval times, and works on rural Shiiteinfo-icon and Christian minorities in the Middle East. His publications include: Les Druzes aux marges de l’Islam. Ésotérisme et normativité en milieu rural XIVe-XVIe siècle (Paris, 2021).