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Druze Reincarnation Narratives

Previous Life Memories, Discourses, and the Construction of Identities

Edited By Gebhard Fartacek

This book follows the journey of Druze individuals who can remember their former lives and go on search for their previous families. For the Druze, an ethno-religious minority in the Middle East split between different nation-states, such cases and related discourses embody ambivalent bridges between personal, familial, and ethnic identities.

The contributions in this book, presented by Eléonore Armanet, Nour Farra Haddad, Gebhard Fartacek, Tobias Lang, Lorenz Nigst, and Salma Samaha, draw on ethnographic inquiries and illuminate the broad field of Druze conceptions of rebirth and group coherence against the backdrop of everyday challenges and recent conflicts in the Middle East and beyond.

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Leaving Things in Abeyance: Druze Shaykhs Speaking About Transmigration on TV (Lorenz Nigst)

Lorenz Nigst1

Leaving Things in Abeyance: Druze Shaykhs Speaking About Transmigration on TV


If there is any elaborate “secret” Druze teaching about transmigration (taqammu), it is not accessible. The so-called canonical Druze scriptures or “Epistles of Wisdom” (i.e. the Rasāʾil al-ikma), of which critical editions now exist (see de Smet 2007), contain only few direct references to transmigration (see de Smet 2013: 87). The scope and content of the juwwānī or “internal” literature, with important exceptions such as the “book of points and circles” in this process, Kitāb an-nuqa wa-d-dawāʾir by Zayn ad-dīn ʿAbdalghaffār (d. 1557 CE), which explicitly broaches the topic of transmigration, is for the most part unknown to the general public.2

This chapter rests on the observation that representatives of the Druze religious establishment at times face the expectation to discuss the topic of transmigration during public appearances on TV. “The Druze” are not only known for believing in transmigration and their specific understanding of it;3 the ←131 | 132→phenomenon of “speaking” (nuq) flares up everywhere in Druze communities. This phenomenon typically involves children who “speak” (naaqa) about a previous life in another family, which is occasionally identified, thus pushing transmigration from the level of general thoughts about the soul to particular people in the social world. Due to such cases (ālāt, sg. āla) of “speaking” and the perception of some Druze that they had previously been a different person in another family, the topic of transmigration enjoys some notoriety (see Dwairy 2006; Bennett 1999; French 2016; Stevenson and Haraldsson 2003; Haraldsson and Abu Izzedin 2002). Especially in talk shows, such cases might easily take a turn towards the sensationalist, alongside other topics that promise high viewing figures.4

The contexts in which members of the Druze religious establishment are requested to discuss the topic on TV reflect this twofold presence of transmigration as a general idea perceived to be characteristically Druze and as concrete cases involving specific people. The statements made in such contexts constitute an interesting complement to material from anthropological fieldwork and shed light on the complex Druze discourse on transmigration.

Transmigration occasionally comes up in more extensive interviews with eminent Druze shaykhs. Examples are Sāmī Abī l-Munā’s appearances on Khawābiʾ al-kalām5 or Liqāʾ khā6 or the interview with Bahjat Ghayth on the programme Taaddiyāt.7 In this context, transmigration is neither the reason for the interview nor at centre stage. Rather, the host of the TV programme might broach the topic at some point as something for which the Druze are “famous”. Representatives of the Druze religious establishment may be asked to explain taqammu in documentaries about the Druze as a religious group, such as Al-Jazeera’s Al-Mujtamaʿāt ad-dīniyya.8 Again in this context, transmigration ←132 | 133→and its potential social repercussions are typically addressed as a characteristic element of the Druze belief system, without being the exclusive focus.

Members of the Druze religious establishment occasionally participate in documentaries, talk shows and studio discussions dedicated specifically to transmigration and often involving individuals who allegedly remember a previous life and “spoke” in their childhood. One such programme is an episode of Al-Arabiyya’s Muhimma khāa.9 Notable examples of talk shows include two episodes of Al-ʿAyn bi-l-ʿayn10 and 1544,11 both hosted by Tony Khalifeh. One studio discussion about taqammu is an episode of Fī falak al-mamnūʿ, broadcast by France 24.12

How do members of the Druze religious establishment speak about transmigration in such contexts?

There may not be a general answer to this question. Nevertheless, it is clear that the task of publicly speaking about transmigration is difficult and sensitive. Speaking about transmigration in a TV setting requires navigating between something which is of crucial conceptual importance for most Druze as a community and the often-held view from the outside that the proposition that “souls migrate” is either absurd or heretical.13 Speakers may not want to talk about aspects of the subject; not least, it requires navigating between respect for highly personal accounts by Druze who perceive that they remember a previous ←133 | 134→life and concerns that “speaking” may lead to torn lives. Druze shaykhs navigate between these conflicting perspectives and requirements with an often admirable sense of responsibility and tactfulness. It is hard to dissipate the impression that they do so by “taking the edge off” taqammu as “dogmatic content” of the Druze belief system and “speaking” as a phenomenon in the social world. Most notably, it is through leaving things in abeyance that they gain some time and space. This room for manoeuvre can accommodate diverse beliefs, doubts, and thoughts, without revealing one’s own beliefs. It is plausible that this strategy is largely synonymous with leaving unanswered/unanswerable the question of whether transmigration, and individual cases of “speaking”, are “true”. Obviously, “true” refers to two different things: propositional content and cases of “speaking”. The first corresponds to the question of whether the sentence that “souls migrate to a new body immediately after the death of the old body” is an adequate description of something true for all human souls. The second usage of “true” corresponds to the question of whether someone’s “speaking” “really” verbalises memories of something that happened in a “previous life”. Efforts to “take the edge off” transmigration comprise both dimensions of “truth”.

Leaving things in abeyance: Is the notion that souls migrate an adequate description of what really happens?

It is remarkable that in televised statements and discussions, members of the Druze religious establishment occasionally reframe the issue of “transmigration” with recourse to Qurʾānic verses and the terminology of Islamic jurisprudence. This suits occasional arguments that the Druze are only one Islamic “school of thought” (madhhab) among others.14 Referring to a Qurʾānic verse (Q 3:19), for example, Lebanese Druze shaykh Sāmī Abī l-Munā emphasises that “the religion with God is Islam”15 and that “[w]‌e are Muslims, thank God!”16 They do this in a way that largely dissipates the notion that transmigration is a specifically Druze idea, much less the essence or a core pillar of their ←134 | 135→belief system. Thus, they point to the importance of transmigration in Greek philosophy and qualify the role of transmigration in the Druze faith through two main lines of reasoning (characterised as two “opinions” within the Druze community, both of which deserve respect).

(1)The Druze shaykhs hint that they would prefer to keep with the Qurʾānic statement (Q 17:85) that “[t]‌he [soul] is one of the things, the knowledge of which is only with my Lord. And of knowledge, you [humankind] have been given only a little” (ar-rūu min amri rabbī wa-mā ūtītum mina l-ʿilmi illā qalīlā).17 That is, they would prefer not to talk about the issue of transmigration and the fate of the human soul at all. Sometimes, they explicitly connote this stance with religious authority and rank. Shaykh Mursil Nar illustrates this stance in Tony Khalifeh’s TV talk show 1544, when he characterises it as the “opinion to which our venerable shaykhs cling” (raʾy…yatamassak bihī shuyūkhnā al-ajillāʾ)18 and as “that to which the shaykhs adhere” (hādhā mā yaltazimu bihī sh-shuyūkh).19 This position is furthermore characterised as the mawqif sharʿī,20 that is, as conforming to the Qurʾānic text (Q 17:85) given above.21

(2)Despite maybe articulating a preference for entirely refraining from speculations about the soul (), the Druze shaykhs take care not to discard the discourse on it and reframe the related inquiries as ijtihād.22 The term ijtihād immediately redefines the discourse on taqammu and those who engage in it (aāb naariyyat at-taqammu) for a Muslim audience because it puts them on an equal footing with any other Muslim religious scholar who tries to make sense of the Islamic religious texts. If they are right, they will be rewarded twice; if they are not, they will be rewarded ←135 | 136→once (idhā aābū fa-lahum ajrān wa-in akhaʾū lahum ajr wāid).23 From this perspective, the discourse on taqammu is just another attempt at “sense-making” and as such does not claim to be “the truth”; it is an “investigation into the fate of the soul” (bath ʿan maīr ar-rū)24 which “deserves attention” (tastaiqq al-ʿināya).25 For example, shaykh Mursil Nar states that “the partisans of the theory of taqammu do have arguments in which we cannot but take interest”.26 Significantly, he cites a Qurʾānic verse in this context (Q 2:28): “How can you disbelieve in God? Seeing that you were dead and He gave you life. Then He will give you death, then again will bring you to life and then unto Him you will return” (wa-kayfa takfurūna bi-llāhi wa-kuntum amwātan fa-ayākum thumma yumītukum thumma yuyīkum thumma ilayhi turjaʿūna).

In this reframing, transmigration itself, not to mention its categorisation as “dogmatic belief” (ʿaqīda), is left in abeyance: “It is a phenomenon that some place in the rank of ʿaqīda, whereby they hold that it is inevitable that the soul migrates immediately from a dead body to the body of a newborn. This is what some of our Druze brothers believe”.27 While some state that taqammu is part of the dogmatic beliefs of the Druze,28 others categorically deny this: those who have speculated about transmigration “have never insisted on taqammu in the sense of an ʿaqīda that would contradict any Islamic ʿaqīda, or any other ʿaqīda such as resurrection, for example; they made an effort to understand the issue [ijtahadū fī mawūʿ at-taqammu]”.29←136 | 137→

In essence, both lines of reasoning – refraining from relating transmigration to the soul based on Q 17:85 and reframing it as ijtihād – are ways of expressing and recognising lack of knowledge regarding the soul. The difference is that the notion of ijtihād gives intellectual inquiries their social place, legitimate room (especially as they are linked to a Qurʾānic verse), and permission to be pursued. The unalterable lack of knowledge, which will forever leave the issue in abeyance, removes transmigration from the matters that are beyond doubt for the Druze. As a consequence, it should not affect their lives and communities to the extent it often does. This reframing of transmigration not only effectively avoids foregrounding something incompatible with Islamic “orthodoxy” but also gives transmigration a less weighty and self-evident place within the Druze belief system. This reduction in emphasis is especially important for the phenomenon of “speaking”, which Druze themselves often consider problematic not only because individual cases of it may lead to “torn lives” but also because, in the words of shaykh Ghāzī al-alabī:

“the way people deal with the issue [of taqammu] has become increasingly folkloric and shaʿbī [popular],30 with there being several cases of ‘speaking’ for one person.31 Thus, repeatedly, there were cases where four of five people claimed to be the reincarnation of an eminent shaykh while the soul migrates to only one body.”32

Leaving things in abeyance: Does the fact that someone has memories of a previous life indicate that those things really happened to him or her?

Interestingly, in TV appearances members of the Druze religious establishment not only extend the characteristically Druze phenomenon of “speaking” ←137 | 138→to other confessional groups (anā baʿrif nās min ikhwannā al-masīiyyīn ākīn li-qia)33 and other societies in general (fī kill il-mujtamaʿāt mawjūde).34 They also target the perception that “speaking” individuals necessarily verbalise something that really happened to them in a previous life. That is, they raise two questions: whether transmigration is what happens to all human souls after death and whether the individual case of “speaking” really verbalises previous-life memories. That may or may not be the case. They recognise that the phenomenon of “speaking” has been prevalent in the Druze communities for a long time and tends to surface again and again: “Every family has its story [of ‘speaking’], in every house and in every village you are going to hear a story. Why? Because this is part of the heritage there is”.35 However, in contradistinction to the idea that someone really experienced the content of respective mental episodes (mushāhdāt) in a previous life, these episodes are reframed. It is not questioned that people see something in their minds, but maybe these are “dreams” (“yumkin alām”)36 or the product of their imagination (khayāl), not to mention that others might consider those “memories” the result of demonic possession (mass min ash-shayān).37 Accordingly, people are discouraged from ←138 | 139→declaring individual cases of “speaking” prematurely, either as a straightforward part of religious dogma (al-ʿaqīda ad-dīniyya a-arf) or as mere dreams. They should seek the advice of the shaykhs instead.

Remarkably, it is the status of individual incidences of “speaking” which is central to the social reality and many people’s experience of taqammu that members of the Druze religious establishment deliberately relegate to the category of things that will forever remain uncertain.38 They seem to raise the notion that previous-life memories might be dreams, the product of someone’s imagination, or the effect of a mass min ash-shayān, in order to push the Druze community at large away from insisting all too easily on the reality of concrete cases of “speaking”. This insistence could expose them to the potentially relationship-forming force of the phenomenon. In fact, the shaykhs advise that memories of such unclear status should not, and certainly not too easily, be used in a way that can cause the “speaker” psychological difficulties and the feeling of being lost between two families. While the danger of getting lost would be real even if specific memories were true, the uncertainty about the “truth” of the individual case makes it even more problematic.

This is why the shaykhs advise against the characteristically Druze habit of letting “speaking” produce effects in the social world through establishing relationships between the previous-life and present-life families of a “speaker”. Moreover, shaykhs occasionally remind people that “speaking” does not constitute legitimate testimony in court – for instance, if a murder victim “returns” in the form of a “speaking” child – which points to the essentially unclear ←139 | 140→status of such “speaking”.39 Explicitly underlining respect (itirām) for individual stories of “speaking”, Lebanese Druze shaykh Sāmī Abī l-Munā insists that there is a difference between paving the way for a “speaking” child and silencing that child:

“regarding my opinion about this topic, as much as I respect these cases which occur often – not only in the Druze community, but in all other communities, too – there is a difference between paving the way for the child so that he or she speaks, and silencing him or her because one takes into account that this might be a case of demonic possession.”40

If, according to the emic view, “speaking” just happens and little can be done about it, from that moment onwards, people do have a choice, and they have to make that choice bearing in mind that the status of the “speaking” is unclear. Like families of other confessions, Druze families are strongly advised to stop their children if they begin to “speak” about a previous life. They have to draw a clear line and thwart any attempt by another family to establish familial bonds between the two groups based on a concrete case of “speaking”. Druze shaykh Sāmī Abī l-Munā recounts two cases involving members of his own family (sister; son). In both cases, people who had lost a relative showed up at the family’s home and tried to make the respective child reoccupy and retake the position of their passed-away relative. Without the slightest hesitation, the shaykh insists that such visitors must be turned away – with due respect, but decidedly (shrabū finjān qahwa, Allāh maʿakum, khalā, bi-kull adab wa-tirām).41 He says that his family did the appropriate thing when those visitors showed up by putting an end to the entire affair (anhaynā l-mawūʿ). He could not be more explicit: stories about “speaking” may contain moral lessons (ʿibar) from which people can benefit, but to really “enter” those stories and let them become “a part of our life” (ārat juzʾā min ayātnā) is tantamount to entering a “gigantic maze” (matāha awīla ʿarīa)42 with a real risk of getting lost and ←140 | 141→ending up damaged. People should live their present life, in which they are held accountable for their acts.


In a remarkable parallelism, in their televised statements members of the Druze religious establishment reframe transmigration at the level of both ideas and concrete cases of “speaking”. Reframing transmigration as connoted with lack of certain knowledge makes the concept not only more acceptable for a non-Druze audience but also a less clear-cut element of the Druze belief system, leaving it in abeyance. Using Qurʾānic verses to achieve this (which is hardly coincidental) keeps possibly relevant Druze texts hidden. Leaving things in abeyance also seems to be the strategy vis-à-vis the phenomenon of “speaking”: reframing its origin and making room for the possibility that it does not refer to real previous-life experiences. Again, the representatives of the Druze religious establishment do this in a way that accommodates and makes use of non-Druze perspectives. Their statements on TV were made to an unspecified audience. Leaving things in abeyance not only places a protective shield around one’s beliefs but also dissipates the idea that the Druze are uncritically convinced that people may remember a previous life.

Such statements by Druze shaykhs may also be directed against automatisms that spring from the all too premature certitudes of people who have taken a particular element of their belief system in their “own hands”. They may be concerned that believers may cast an “inadequate” light on their belief, give that element too much weight, and in concrete cases of “speaking” do more harm than good. Finally, while for many Druze, “speaking” seems to be the phenomenon through which transmigration becomes most “palpable” (“shī māddī malmūs”), puts the truth of their belief beyond doubt, and is intimately connected with the need to cope with unexpected loss, transmigration does not necessarily represent the core concern of the religious virtuosi.


  • (Anonymous) 2013 AD / 1434 AH. Risāla fī ukm ad-Durūz wa-n-Nuayriyya al-ʿalawiyya al-musammāt: aqwāl al-aʾimma al-ʿālina fī ukm ad-Durūz wa-t-Tayāmina li-muftī ash-Shām al-ʿallāma ʿAlī al-Murādī tuwuffiya 1183 AH / 1771 AD wa-maʿahā: fatwa fī ukm ad-Durūz wa-n-Nuayriyya li-muftī ash-Shām al-ʿallāma ʿAbdarramān al-ʿImādī. Dimashq and alabūnī: Dār Bilād ash-Shām.←141 | 142→
  • Benjamin of Tudela. 1784. Travels of Rabbi Benjamin, Son of Jonah, of Tudela: Through Europe, Asia, and Africa; from the ancient kingdom of Navarre, to the frontiers of China. Faithfully translated from the original Hebrew; and enriched with a dissertation, and notes, critical, historical, and geographical: in which the true character of the author, and intention of the work, are impartially considered. By the Rev. B. Gerrans, lecturer of Saint Catherine Coleman, and second master of Queen Elizabeth’s free grammar-school, Saint Olave, Southwark. […] London: Printed for the translator, and Sold by Messrs. Robson, New Bond-street; J. Murray in Fleet-street; T. Davis, Holborn; W. Law, Ave-maria-lane, and at no. 7, Canterbury-Square, Southwark.
  • Benjamin of Tudela. 1840. The Itinerary of Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela. Translated and edited by A. Asher. Vol. 1–2. New York: “Hakesheth” Publishing Co.
  • Bennett, Anne. 1999. Reincarnation, Marriage, and Memory: Negotiating Sectarian Identity among the Druze of Syria. Dissertation, University of Arizona, USA.
  • De Smet, Daniel. 2007. Les Épîtres sacrées des Druzes: Rasā’il al-ikma, vols. 1 et 2, Introduction, édition critique et traduction annotéedes traités attribués à amza b. ʿAlī et Ismāʿīl at-Tamīmī. Leuven: Peeters.
  • De Smet, Daniel. 2013. “La transmigration des âmes. Une notion problématique dans l’Ismaélisme d’époque fatimide,” in: Mir-Kasimov, Orkhan (ed.): Unity in Diversity. Mysticism, Messianism and the Construction of Religious Authority in Islam. Leiden et al.: Brill.
  • Dwairy, Marwan. 2006. “The Psychological Function of Reincarnation among Druze in Israel,” in: Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 30, pp. 29–53.
  • Firro, Kais M. 2011. “The Druze Faith: Origin, Development and Interpretation,” in: Arabica 58, pp. 76–99.
  • French, Christopher C. 2016. “Reincarnation Claims,” in: D. Groome and R. Roberts (eds.): Parapsychology: The Science of Unusual Experience. London: Psychology Press, pp. 82–95.
  • Haraldsson, Erlendur and Abu Izzedin, Majd. 2002. “Development of Certainty About the Correct Deceased Person in a Case of the Reincarnation Type in Lebanon: The Case of Nazih Al-Danaf,” in: Journal of Scientific Exploration 16(3), pp. 363–380.
  • Krawietz, Birgit. 2002. Hierarchie der Rechtsquellen im tradierten sunnitischen Islam. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot (Schriften zur Rechtstheorie, Bd. 208).
  • Playfair, Gui Lion. 2007. New Clothes for Old Souls: Worldwide Evidence for Reincarnation. London: Druze Heritage Foundation.←142 | 143→
  • Stevenson, Ian and Erlendur Haraldsson. 2003. “The Similarity of Features of Reincarnation Type Cases over Many Years: A Third Study,” in: Journal of Scientific Exploration 17 (2), pp. 283–289.
  • alīʿ, Amīn. 2001. At-Taqammu. A-abʿa ath-thāniya. Buqʿāta: Maʿri ash-shūf ad-dāʾim li-l-kitāb.
  • Yayā, Anīs. 2002. Jasad kāna lī. Bayrūt: Dār al-Farābī.

Online sources

Manuscript sources

  • Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen MA VI 141

1Lorenz Nigst is currently working with the KITAB project, a project that has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (Grant agreement No. 772989).

2For the term juwwānī literature, see Firro (2011: 92–98). Obviously, the fact that this literature is for the most part unknown does not imply that it contains relevant material. See Seybold, Christian 1902: Die Drusenschrift: Kitāb Alnoqa Waldawāir. Das Buch der Punkte und Kreise. Leipzig: Kirchhain N.-L.

3As early as the twelfth century CE, Benjamin of Tudela pointed to the Druze belief in transmigration in his itinerary. See Benjamin of Tudela 1840, vol. 1: 61–62: “They say that the soul of a virtuous man is transferred to the body of a newborn child, whereas that of the vicious transmigrates into a dog or some other animal”. Although elements of this description such as the transmigration into animal bodies are not accurate, Druze today frequently state that the soul migrates to the body of a newborn. The similarity with statements made by Druze today is more manifest in an alternative translation of the same passage: “They say when a good Man dies his Soul immediately seizes the Body of some little Infant, which is born at the very same Instant in which the Soul departed from the Body of the Man” (Benjamin of Tudela 1784: 66).

4For example, an episode of Tony Khalifeh’s TV show Al-ʿAyn bi-l-ʿayn (see below) stages a woman who claims to have been murdered, remembering details of her killing and the place where it happened, etc. See (accessed 20 June 2018); min 38:05 ff.

5Available at: (accessed 20 September 2018).

6Available at: (accessed 20 September 2018).

7Available at: (accessed 20 September 2018); the link is to the first part only.

8Available at: (accessed 20 September 2018).

9Available at: (accessed 20 September 2018).

10Available at: (accessed 20 September 2018).

11Available at: (accessed 20 September 2018).

12Available at: (accessed 20 September 2018).

13Transmigration is clearly connoted with heresy in a Muslim environment and continues to be highlighted as an element of Druze theological aberrance. See, for example, the publication (Anonymous) 2013 CE / 1434 AH: Risāla fī ukm ad-Durūz wa-n-Nuayriyya al-ʿalawiyya al-musammāt: aqwāl al-aʾimma al-ʿālina fī ukm ad-Durūz wa-t-Tayāmina li-muftī ash-Shām al-ʿallāma ʿAlī al-Murādī tuwuffiya 1183 AH / 1771 AD wa-maʿahā: fatwa fī ukm ad-Durūz wa-n-Nuayriyya li-muftī ash-Shām al-ʿallāma ʿAbdarramān al-ʿImādī. Dimashq and alabūnī: Dār Bilād ash-Shām. For al-ʿImādīʾs fatwa against the Druze, see the manuscript MA VI 141, 44r–47r held by the University Library of Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen.

14Most notably, the idea that there is something like a “Druze religion” is occasionally rejected. Being Druze is tantamount to forming part of a particular maslak or madhhab.

15See (accessed 4 July 2017); min 12:00 ff.

16Shaykh Sāmī Abī l-Munā; see (accessed 4 July 2017); min 36:17 ff.

17Translation by Mohsin Khan.

18See (accessed 3 May 2017); min 10:22 ff.

19See (accessed 3 May 2017); min 12:47 ff.

20Shakyh Mursil Nar; see (accessed 4 July 2017); min 20:22 ff.

21See also (accessed 24 March 2017).

22Shaykh Mursil Nar; see (accessed 4 July 2017); min 57:19 ff; see also (accessed 5 March 2017); min 10:43.

23Shaykh Mursil Nar, see (accessed 4 May 2017); min 14:53 ff. For this topic, see, for example,Krawietz (2002: 350–369).

24Shaykh Sāmī Abī l-Munā; see (accessed 4 July 2017); min 10:35 ff.

25Shaykh Sāmī Abī l-Munā; see (accessed 25 April 2017); min 00:56 ff.

26See (accessed 4 July 2015); min 12:50 ff.

27Shaykh Sāmī Abī l-Munā; see (accessed 25 April 2017); min 00:36 ff.

28See, for example, alīʿ (2001: 17, 19–20). See also: “mawūʿ at-taqammu mufāduhū intiqāl ar-rū min jasad ilā ākhar lā anfī ʿaqāʾidiyyan hādhā l-mawūʿ” at (accessed 29 November 2016).

29Shaykh Sāmī Abī l-Munā; see (accessed 4 July 2017); min 38:30 ff.

30Druze intellectuals sometimes refer to the notion and frequent occurrence of “speaking” as a “popular phenomenon” (āhira shaʿbiyya); something the wider Druze population believes in (yuʾminu bihā ʿāmmat an-nās min ad-Durūz), but which these intellectuals feel distant to. See, for example, (accessed 4 July 2017); min 21:38 ff.

31This problem was taken up in Roy Stemman’s Channel Four documentary on reincarnation (see about 32:10 min); see also French (2016: 92). Our interview partners also mentioned the problem.

32See, for example, (accessed 29 November 2016): “bāta t-taʿāmul al-ʿāmm maʿa l-masʾala folklōriyyan wa-shaʿbiyyan maʿa taʿaddud ālāt an-nuq bi-sh-shakh al-wāid wa-qad takarrarat ālāt ʿan arbaʿat aw khamsat ashkhā yaddaʿūna taqammu aad al-mashāyikh al-kibār fī īn anna r-rū tantaqilu ilā jasad wāid faqa”.

33See (accessed 4 July 2017); min 49:00 ff.

34See (accessed 4 July 2017); min 49:00 ff. Several Druze publications point into this direction, see, for example, Playfair (2007).

35“fī kill ʿayle fī qia, bi-kill bayt, bi-kill ayʿa tismaʿ qia. Lesh? Li-anna hādhā t-turāth mawjūd”. See (accessed 4 July 2017); min 49:00 ff.

36Sāmī Abī l-Munā states: “I see things, but I don’t know, maybe they are dreams; when I was a child, I saw houses, and I saw how I went back and forth between places”. (anā ʿindī mushāhadāt anā bass mā baʿrif yumkin alām wa-anā zghīr shifit byūt, shifit kint nani min maall la-maall). See (accessed 4 July 2017); min 49:00 ff.

37See (accessed 4 July 2017); min 48:20 ff. It is worth emphasising that much of what in Druze discourse is indicative of previous-life memories (knowledge about hidden things, xenoglossy; knowledge of past events) in other socio-religious contexts could be seen as caused by demonic agents (jinn, jānn). This is not only reflected in Sāmī Abī l-Munā’s seemingly effortless inclusion of this interpretation cited immediately above. Occasional attempts are made to make sense of “speaking” through explicit references to demonic agency. One instance is found on the Paranormal Arabia website: “It is well known that the Islamic religion confirms the existence of the qarīn and describes it as a type of jinn which hovers over a person and constantly is around that person as long as it lives and lingers on after that person has died (jinn live longer than humans). Now, it happens that the qarīn of the first person after the death of that person enters and takes possession of someone else who is alive in what is called the phenomenon of mass ash-shayān, where that qarīn shifts the memories of the first person to the second person, especially if the second person is still young and has not yet reached puberty, because children are more diaphanous when it comes to external influences (jinn) and more ready to receive them – which is precisely what we can see in the majority of cases of taqammu”. For this passage, see (accessed 14 March 2017); see also (accessed 14 March 2017). In another instance, in Anīs Yayā’s novel Jasad kāna lī, a woman who claims to have previous-life memories meets with a Christian cleric who thinks that her condition indicates demonic possession (see Yayā 2002: 68).

38Druze discourse at large insists that there is often sufficient “proof” to dispel doubts about a particular case.

39On efforts to include the testimony of a “speaking” child in an Israeli court, see e.g. (accessed 9 February 2017).

40“[…] anā hādhā l-mawūʿ, bi-qadr mā anā batirim hādhihī l-qia illi hiya mawjūde bi-kathra fī l-mujtamaʿ, mish bass fī mujtamaʿ il-Muwaidīn ad-Durūz, fī kill il-mujtamaʿāt mawjūde, fī farq bayn man yufsi fī l-majāl amām a-ifl li-yatakallam wa-bayn man yuskithu ʿalā iʿtibār hādhā mass min ash-shayān”. See (accessed 4 July 2017); min 49:00 ff.

41Shaykh Sāmī Abī l-Munā; see See (accessed 4 July 2017); min 50:40 ff.

42Shaykh Sāmī Abī l-Munā, see (accessed 4 July 2017); min 53:00.