Hamza ibn-'Ali ibn-Ahmad

Hamza ibn-'Ali ibn-Ahmad

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Hamza ibn ‘Alī ibn Aḥmad (985-???) (Arabic and Persian حمزه بن علي بن أحمد) was an 11th century Ismaili
Ismaili
' is a branch of Shia Islam. It is the second largest branch of Shia Islam, after the Twelvers...

 and founding leader of the Druze
Druze
The Druze are an esoteric, monotheistic religious community, found primarily in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, which emerged during the 11th century from Ismailism. The Druze have an eclectic set of beliefs that incorporate several elements from Abrahamic religions, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism...

 sect
Sect
A sect is a group with distinctive religious, political or philosophical beliefs. Although in past it was mostly used to refer to religious groups, it has since expanded and in modern culture can refer to any organization that breaks away from a larger one to follow a different set of rules and...

. He was born in Zozan
Zozan
Zozan is a village in Jalgheh Zozan District, Khvaf County, Razavi Khorasan Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 2,183, in 479 families....

 in Greater Khorasan
Greater Khorasan
Greater Khorasan or Ancient Khorasan is a historical region of Greater Iran mentioned in sources from Sassanid and Islamic eras which "frequently" had a denotation wider than current three provinces of Khorasan in Iran...

 in Samanid-ruled Persia (modern Khaf, Razavi Khorasan Province
Razavi Khorasan Province
Razavi Khorasan Province is a province located in northeastern Iran. Mashhad is the centre and capital of the province.Other cities and townships are Ghouchan, Dargaz, Chenaran, Sarakhs, Fariman, Torbat-e Heydarieh, Torbat-e Jam, Taybad, Khaf, Roshtkhar, Kashmar, Bardaskan, Nishapur, Sabzevar,...

, Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

).

Hamza is considered the founder of the Druze
Druze
The Druze are an esoteric, monotheistic religious community, found primarily in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, which emerged during the 11th century from Ismailism. The Druze have an eclectic set of beliefs that incorporate several elements from Abrahamic religions, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism...

 sect of Islam and the primary author of the Druze manuscripts.

Life


After spending the first twenty years of his life in Samanid-ruled Persia, Hamza emigrated to Egypt and became known in the Fatimid Government as Hamza al-Fātimī "Hamza the Fatimid". He arrived in Cairo
Cairo
Cairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...

 (modern Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

) just as the Fatimid
Fatimid
The Fatimid Islamic Caliphate or al-Fāṭimiyyūn was a Berber Shia Muslim caliphate first centered in Tunisia and later in Egypt that ruled over varying areas of the Maghreb, Sudan, Sicily, the Levant, and Hijaz from 5 January 909 to 1171.The caliphate was ruled by the Fatimids, who established the...

 Caliph
Caliph
The Caliph is the head of state in a Caliphate, and the title for the ruler of the Islamic Ummah, an Islamic community ruled by the Shari'ah. It is a transcribed version of the Arabic word   which means "successor" or "representative"...

 Tāriqu l-Ḥākim built the House of Knowledge, which became one of the main cultural centers of the Fatimid state. In a very short period of time, Hamza became a close associate of al-Ḥākim and the Caliph appointed him Head of Letters and Correspondence.

Hamza took as his headquarters the Raydan Mosque, which was located outside the walls of Cairo. This mosque became the center where Hamza organized a new missionary movement. In May 1017, al-Ḥākim issued a decree naming Hamza the imām of "the Monotheists" (al-Muwahhidūn) immediately after declaring the beginning of the Divine Call. Hamza demonstrated brilliant leadership for four years under al-Ḥākim’s direction.

Al-Ḥākim granted Hamza the freedom to preach this new reformist doctrine openly. Public resistance to Hamza's teachings increased as he spoke against corruption, polygamy, remarriage of divorcees and other social customs as well as his theological disputes with other prominent Ismaeli leaders.

Hamza and ad-Darazī


During this external resistance, an internal rivalry arose between Hamza and one of his subordinates, ad-Darazī. Ad-Darazī deviated from the essence of the movement’s message and falsified the writings of Hamza to present al-Ḥākim as divine.

Ad-Darazī had hoped that al-Ḥākim would favor him over Hamza, but instead there was public opposition to his teachings. Ad-Darazī then redirected the public’s resistance by declaring that he had acted on Hamza's instructions. Consequently, instead of attacking ad-Darazī, the crowds turned against Hamza and his associates, who were at Ridyan Mosque at the time. Although al-Ḥākim executed ad-Darazī for heresy and repudiated his teachings, many years later observers ironically attributed the Druze doctrine to ad-Darazī and do not mention Hamza at all. After the execution of ad-Darazī and his collaborators, Hamza continued his preaching activities for two more years.

Few medieval chroniclers of the time not only failed to make the distinction between Druzes and Darazīs but attributed ad-Darazī’s doctrine to the followers of Hamza and argued that Hakim supported ad-Darazī’s ideas. Other historians have reported that it was Hamza who was subordinate to ad-Darazī, and still others have referred to Hamza and Darazi as the same person: Hamza ad-Darazī. As a consequence, the name “Druze” became synonymous with the reform movement.

Despite the ironic and misleading origins of the sect’s name, the title “Druze” never occurs in the Druze manuscripts of the 11th century. After the execution of Darazi and his collaborators, Hamza continued his preaching activities for two more years.

Many modern scholars have written that Hamza's and ad-Darazī's ideology was the same, which is preaching the literal divinity of al-Ḥākim, whom they say supported their claims. Such uncertainty is caused by the historical ambiguity of that era and the secretive, esoteric aspect of the Druze faith.

Occultation


During the same year that al-Ḥākim disappeared in 1021, Hamza went into retreat and delegated the third leading figure, Baha'u d-Dīn as-Samuqī ("al-Muqtana Baha’ud-Dīn") to continue the missionary movement. Baha'u d-Dīn continued public preaching with the approval of Hamza, who was in a disclosed location known only to Baha'u d-Dīn and few other missionaries. Preaching was halted after the Druze sect was closed in 1043 by Baha'u d-Dīn.

External links

  • Hamzah ibn 'Ali. Encyclopædia Britannica
    Encyclopædia Britannica
    The Encyclopædia Britannica , published by Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., is a general knowledge English-language encyclopaedia that is available in print, as a DVD, and on the Internet. It is written and continuously updated by about 100 full-time editors and more than 4,000 expert...

    . 2005. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 18 Nov. 2005 .