From Jerusalem Post, Sept. 18, 2002
Druse, Indian groups with 1,000-year roots meet in Cairo By HAIM SHAPIRO
Talk about roots: Majallie Whbee is having his first reunion in 1,000 years. Whbee, director-general of the Regional Cooperation Ministry, is leading a group of eight other Druse dignitaries and religious leaders from Israel who are meeting in Cairo with a delegation of Ismaili Muslim spiritual leaders and historians from India. Both trace their roots to the Fatimid rulers of Egypt. The meeting was organized by Whbee, together with Moshe Hananel, an Israeli tourism entrepreneur who has close connections with the Indian Ismaili community.
The latter, who are known as Boharas, live in western India, which they reached from Yemen, where they had lived following the defeat of the Fatimid dynasty. They believe a descendent of the Caliph Amir will eventually reveal himself. Both groups keep some of their beliefs secret.
The Druse trace their existence as a community from the 11th century after a follower of the Fatimid Caliph Hakim, al-Darazi, was forced to flee to the mountains of what is now northern Israel, southern Lebanon, and Syria, where he preached the principles of the faith.
This week the two groups together visited the palaces and mosques erected by the Fatimids, as well as other sites considered sacred to them both.
Speaking from Cairo, Whbee said there are some 700,000 Boharas in India and that they are favorably oriented towards Israel. The Bohara community also has about 100 families who live in Cairo and care for their shrines there, he said.
Whbee said the Israeli group went to Egypt on Sunday and is planning to return tomorrow. For the past few days, he said, the two groups have been discussing their two faiths, but added they did not stress their theological differences.
“For the first meeting in 1,000 years, we are only speaking of our joint roots, of brotherhood, and goodwill,” Whbee said.