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Ad-Darazi

Muhammad bin Ismail Nashtakin ad-Darazi (محمد بن اسماعيل نشتاكين الدرازي) was a 11th century Ismaili preacher and early leader of the Druze faith who was labeled a heretic in 1016 and executed by the Fatimid Caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah. Nashtakin, a Turk, was born in Bukhara and publicly proclaimed the divinity of Caliph al-Hakim.

Life

Little information is known about the early life of ad-Darazi; according to most sources, he was one of the early preachers of the Druze faith and enlisted a large number of adherents. However, he was later considered a renegade and is usually described by the Druze as following the traits of satan, which is arrogance.

Since when the number of his followers grew, he became obsessed with the leadership and gave himself the title “The Sword of the Faith”. Such attitude led to disputes between him and Hamza ibn-'Ali ibn-Ahmad, who disliked his behavior. The Ad-Darazi argued that he should be the leader of the Da’wa rather than Hamza ibn Ali and gave himself the title “Lord of the Guides”, because Caliph al-Hakim referred to Hamza as “Guide of the Consented”

By 1018, ad-Darazi had around him partisans - "Darazites" - who believed that universal reason became incarnated in Adam at the beginning of the world, passed from him into prophets, then into Ali and hence into his descendants, the Fatimid Caliphs. Ad-Darazi wrote a book to develop this doctrine. He read his book in the principle mosque in Cairo, which caused riots and protests against his claims and many of his followers were killed. Hamza ibn Ali refuted his ideology calling him "the insolent one and Satan". The controversy created by ad-Darazi led Caliph al-Hakim to suspend the Druze da'wa in 1018 AD.

In an attempt to gain the support of al-Hakim, ad-Darazi started preaching that al-Hakim and his ancestors were the incarnation of God.

It is believed that ad-Darazi allowed wine, forbidden marriages and taught metempsychosis although it has argued that his actions might have been exaggerated by the early historians and polemicists.

Death

An inherently modest man, al-Hakim did not believe that he was God, and felt ad-Darazi was trying to depict himself as a new prophet. Al-Hakim preferred Hamza ibn 'Ali ibn Ahmad over him and Ad-Darazi was executed in 1018, leaving Hamza the sole leader of the new faith

Aftermath

Even though the Druze do not consider ad-Darazi founder of their faith - in fact, they refer to him as their "first heretic - rival Muslim groups purposely attached the name of the controversial preacher to the new sect and it has stuck with them ever since. Druze refer to themselves as “Unists” al-Muwahhidūn.

References

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