Akko/Haifa Dispatch

By Yarendy Lopez

On June 13, we had the opportunity to visit the Druze religious court in Acco, where one of the five judges from the lower and appeal court spoke to us about the Druze religious law and the Druze community in general. About 150,000 Israeli Druze live in the country, and though their faith originated from Ismaili Islam, they do not identify themselves as Muslims. In the Druze community, there are two groups: the religious group and the non-religious group. The practices of the religious group are kept secret, the secret faith. As part of their personal status law, Druze men and women have equal divorce rights, and women are no different than men in terms of filing for divorce. Egalitarian legal divorce is allowed because of heritage laws; daughters inherit equally as sons, which is very different from Islamic and Jewish law. An interesting thing I learned was that, unlike Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, there is no conversion in the Druze religion. There is no way to become a Druze unless you are born into the community. After visiting the Sharia court and the Druze court, I find it interesting the different ways each community runs its court system in Israel. However, every court must adhere to Israeli law and their religious law in making its decisions.

Entrance to the Druze Court in Akko
Meeting with Judge Ehsan Halabi

Below: Taking in Akko’s sites, history, and, most importantly, hummus.

The Baha’i and Ahmadiyya in Haifa

By Mia Patterson

In addition to learning about the Druze religious court in Akko; on June 13th we had the pleasure of viewing the astounding Baha’i Gardens and learning about the Ahmadiyyat Muslim community. Both places are located in Haifa. The Baha’i Garden is surrounded by palm trees and flower beds. In the center, the remains of the founder Bab, is in the dome. The Baha’i faith is a religious group that seeks to unify humanity.

Facing the Mediterranean Sea, we met with Muad Oudeh, leader of the Haifa Ahmadiyya community. He stressed the importance of approaching conflict in a healthy way. This Muslim community believes in peaceful and productive coexistence with their surrounding neighbors. Open and mutual respect during Arab-Jewish dialogue is aimed to be a symbol of harmony for the Ahmadiyyat. I truly enjoyed basking in the sun and learning about societies that seek peace.

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