Article - ID AL-NABI SABALAN
ID AL-NABI SABALAN (DRUSE FEAST OF NABI SABALAN)
The Druze comrnunity, which is domiciled mainly in Syria and Lebanon, numbers about half a million, of whom some 92,000 lived in Israel in 1995.
The Druze left Islam during the rule of Fatimid Caliph al-Hakim in Egypt at the end of the 10th century. Very little is known about the Druze religion and its followers are reluctant to disclose details about their faith. As far as it is known, the religion is monotheistic and it is influenced by other such religions and by the philosophy of ancient Greece.
Nabi Sabalan is one of the important Druze prophets. The Holy Place connected with his name lies south of the village of Hurfeish, near Israel's border with Lebanon, on a mountain which rises 700 meters above sea level. This place was chosen because it was here the prophet used to pray, and both the rock near where he prayed and the small cave where he lived can be seen there. The exact time the prophet lived is not known today.
What is especially remarkable about Nabi Sabalan is that all the communities in Galilee which live in the vicinity of this Holy Place worship the prophet and honor his memory. They come there to pray for the recovery of their sick, and also on the occasion of the birth of their sons.
Four large buildings stand near the holy site, a number of ancient fir trees mark the location. A legend about this place relates how, once, when all the other fir trees around were consumed by a fire, these four large firs remained unharmed because it was in their shadow that Nabi Sabalan used to pray. The Druze visit the site throughout the year but especially on September 10, when all those living in Galilee, in the Carmel villages, and in the Golan come to worship there and to discuss community affairs.
The ties between the Druze community and the Jewish people have a long history. They are mentioned by Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela in the 12th century, while in our own times the Druze have fought side by side with their Jewish comrades in the Israel Defense Forces, first as volunteers and later, at their own request, as conscripts. Close cooperation exists between both peoples in many and various civilian activities in the country.