What It's Like to Date in a Religion of Just 1M

Conventions, Google chats pave way to marriage

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 3, 2014 1:12 PM CDT

(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.)

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)
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