Druze theology of the forest
Sheikh Sami Abilmona is the Secretary General of the Druze IRFAN schools in Lebanon. He presented this statement at the Visby Faith and Forestry Gathering in August 2007.
Humans and the Environment
Monotheism is the religious title of the Druze community in Lebanon and its surrounding areas. In the monotheistic creed we decree that God created all creatures perfectly and subjected them to humanity so that we can rise through worship and our intellect, towards the glory of humanity - and since humanity is the topmost honoured reflection of God’s image (Be He Exalted) that means towards the glory of God.
We are God’s successors on earth: the guardians who have to maintain its system. Those who manage it well benefit from its riches and those who mismanage and abuse it incur its harm and wrath.
Humanity is called to be inspired by the wisdom of divine dispensation through our minds and to have the significance of all wisdom reflected through our practical behavior within the external and internal nature of our physical existence.
This leads us to delve into the essence of creation and into the need for human existence to be in conformity with this essence. As a result, it is impossible for the monotheist to agree with the idea of dominating nature and utilizing it by destroying the environment and causing damage to the natural balance of things, and consequently producing environmental problems that are not easy to handle, overcome or resolve completely!
|"It is impossible for the monotheist to agree with the idea of dominating nature and utilizing it by destroying the environment and causing damage to the natural balance of things, and consequently producing environmental problems that are not easy to handle, overcome or resolve completely!"
On the contrary, the monotheist looks upon existence as a whole unity and considers us to be responsible for preserving it through the harmony of its elements. Any abuse or toying with these elements leads to disorder and disequilibrium in life’s system and this is a risk of which no one can determine the extent.
Druze and Conservation
Forests and natural reserves are sites conducive to worship, meditation and going beyond yourself and the purely material. But does this happen through misuse, avarice and destruction of the forests? Of course not. It happens because of an appreciation - through the forests - of the divine grace and wisdom in ordering the universe and placing the mind as an arbitrator that decides what could be beneficial and what is an impermissible violation. This is exactly as in our daily lives both for ourselves and our society where it is possible for us to transform suffering into joy, emotion into blessing and nature into a source of bliss and worship. In nature we meet God without obstacles.
We thus look with an eye of regard and speculation; we listen without clamour or pretence; we savour the fragrance of the universe and taste its riches without cunning or corruption; we experience the creeping of holy life into our veins without distortion. We should learn to rise in our prayer with every grain of dust, or breath of air, or drop of water, with a green leaflet, or colourful flower or dainty fruit, with an insect moving, or a bird singing or an animal seeking its food and that of its young ones, or a farmer plowing, planting and reaping the earth’s riches.
Hermits and believers - here as in every place and at every time - have sought to live within the beauty and solitude of nature. The Druze places of worship are all named “heritages" or khalawat since they are constructed very simply and are far from places of human habitation and noise. Here, the monotheist is secluded with The Lord in the heart of the trees, the water, the birds and the rocks. Here the monotheist cultivates food and lives in harmony with all inanimate creatures and fauna and flora. Here he experiences spirituality more than in any other place marked by corruption and unbalanced elements.
Consequently, we are responsible individually and collectively. That is, through our personal commitment and through the teamwork of environmental associations, religious authorities and organizations and nations we are responsible to find a unified conception of nature’s rights and considered actions in order to benefit from and maintain nature. All this emphasizes the importance of this meeting with ARC, the Church of Sweden and the Jinja Honcho, which has brought religions and nature’s fans together at one table: here we think together, pray together, and together we are united for the welfare of nature and humanity.
A Druze Prayer about the Forests
In the name of God the most merciful , the most compassionate,
My Lord, I raise my prayer to Thee from nature’s bosom, from where Thy
greatness manifests itself and Thy wisdom shows.
My Lord, my soul reaches towards Thy splendour, as the mountains and
oases stretch, and my prayer rises, along with the uprise of lofty trees
and the flow of rivers, with the chants of birds and the whispers of
the breeze, and with the succession of night and day and the sequence
of the seasons.
My Lord, love is Thine and to Thee prayer is offered with every new dawn,
with every soft murmur of light, every repose of darkness, every gust of
warmth and every bite of cold; whenever a crescent moon emerges
and a wind whistles, a sea surges, a crop grows and a tongue makes
My Lord, Thou gavest us the whole of existence: of every kind, race, colour
and measure - a splendid creation and an utmost innovation. So make
us reverent and inspire us by thy wisdom that is visible in all that
thou innovatest. And maintain Thy glory in ourselves, in our
societies, in our world and in all Thou created!
My Lord, help us to have integrity and agree upon that which is right for
the sake of humanity’s wellbeing worldwide. Help us to worship Thee
through knowing the secrets of Thy creatures and through the
genuine belief that Thou art the real existence and that existence
itself is one of the various ways through which Thou bringest us close
to Thee by means of Thy Love, compassion and kindness.
My Lord, by obeying Thee and by being at one with Thy system of creation
we worship Thee truly and we implore Thee every now and then to
help us and to bless our alliance. To Thee is Supreme power and to
Thee is Praise and Glorification.