Wissam H. Halawi
December 7, 2020
In his work ʿUmdat al-ʿārifīn , Šayḫ al-Ašrafānī, a Druze scholar living in Syria in the 11th/17th century, composed a Druze history of origins for the entire community. This universal history portrays Druzism as an inherent part of human history, like the other monotheistic doctrines. The author thus offers a theological account of the birth of Druzism by tracing a linear discourse of world history from Adam to the Druze daʿwa (preaching) in the 5th/11th century. Al-Ašrafānī also attributes an Islamic character to Druzism by drawing on the Druze sacred text as well as exegetical literature from the late 9th/15th century, while highlighting the Islamic nature of Druzism and its pre-eminence. This rewriting of history in the 11th/17th century contributed to the popularization of Druzism, as attested in other texts from the same period. While al-Ašrafānī did not greatly influence his contemporaries, his work was of considerable importance in the Druze communities of Bilād al-Šām afterwards. Indeed, ʿUmdat al-ʿārifīn had such a substantial impact on Druze historiography that it became a historical source for writing and rewriting the Druze history of origins. Despite being quoted extensively by modern Druze historians, it remains unpublished, being kept secret in the community.