What It's Like to Date in a Religion of Just 1M
Conventions, Google chats pave way to marriage
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Jun 3, 2014 1:12 PM CDT
Israeli-Druze bride Waed Munzer, 26, is surrounded by her relatives before leaving her home to marry a Syrian-Druze groom in the Israel-controlled Golan Heights village of Ein Qeinya, Sep. 19, 2007.   (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

(Newser) – When there are only one million followers of your religion on the planet, it can be a little hard to meet people—especially when that religion requires marrying another Druze if one's children are to be members of the faith. The Arab religion developed about 1,000 years ago, and its followers live in Syria, Lebanon, Israel—and the US, where there are about 30,000 Druze. People wonder, as recently-engaged Fatin Harfouch tells the Atlantic, "Are you only marrying this person because he happens to be Druze?"

The American Druze Society holds national and regional conventions, which, in addition to offering education in the religion, provide opportunities for Druze to meet each other. But if they live on opposite ends of the country, they have to figure out how to get to know each other better. Visits often require chaperones, though "most parents" have loosened up a little about the dating scene, Harfouch says. Technology has made things easier, too: Group Google chats helped Harfouch get to know her future fiancee. Finally, the families met during a sort of "trial period," she notes. In the end, she says, it's all worth it to preserve the closed faith: "It's kind of an honor" to be part of it. (Interesting side note: George Clooney's fiance is Druze, but since no conversions into the faith are allowed, any children they might have will not be Druze.)

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Showing 3 of 18 comments
Tom Maker
Jun 4, 2014 12:39 PM CDT
I am torn. I believe in freedom of religion, but when the religion creates zealots I am not sure it is a good thing!
Internet Browser
Jun 4, 2014 2:37 AM CDT
Muslim Unitarians? Who'd a thunk it?
iq145
Jun 3, 2014 10:20 PM CDT
Only one million? i think not... The Druze are a monotheistic religious and social community, found primarily in Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Jordan. Rooted in Ismailism, a branch of Shia Islam, the Druze beliefs incorporate elements from Abrahamic religions, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism, Pythagoreanism, and other philosophies creating a distinct theology known to highlight the role of the Mind and truthfulness. The Druze call themselves Ahl al-Tawhid "the People of Monotheism" or "the People of Unity" or al-Muwa??idun "the Unitarians". The Druze community played an important role in shaping the history of the Levant, particularly Lebanon, often taking on a much larger role than their demographic weight. The Druzes are known to form a close knit and cohesive social community but also integrate fully in their adopted homelands.