(d) Sunnite Moslems are a weak element, strongest in Shuf and Kurah, and composed largely of Druse renegades and "Druse" families, which, like the Shehab, were of Arab extraction and never conformed to the creed of Hamza.
No longer armed or wearing their former singular dress, the remnant of them in Lebanon seems likely ere long to be assimilated to the "Osmanli" Moslems. Their feud with the Maronites, whose accentuation in the middle of the 19th century was largely due to the tergiversations of the ruling Shehab family, now reduced to low estate, is dying away, but they retain something of their old clan feeling and feudal organization, especially in Shuf.
The feudal organization of both, the one under the house of Khazin, the other under those of Maan and Shehab successively, was in full force during the 17th and 18th centuries; and it was the break-up of this in the first part of the 10th century which produced the anarchy that culminated after 1840 in the civil war.
The Druses renounced their Shehab amirs when Beshir al-Kassim openly joined the Maronites in 1841, and the Maronites definitely revolted from the Khazin in 1858.
Formerly they were wholly organized on a clan system under feudal chiefs, of whom those of the house of Khazin were the most powerful; and these fought among themselves rather than with the Druses or other denominations down to the 18th century, when the Arab family of Shehab for its own purposes began to stir up strife between Maronites and Druses (see Druses).
There appears to be no formal distinction of rank among the various members; and though the amir, Beshir Shehab, used to appoint a sheikh of the Akils, the person thus distinguished obtained no primacy over his fellows.
The Shehab family, originally Hira Arabs, which had governed Hauran under the early caliphs of Damascus, and thereafter held power in Hermon, intermarried with the Maan; and in the latter's day of weakness sided with the Kaisi faction and obtained the supreme amirate of the Mountain.
Haidar Shehab, third of the line, inflicted a notable defeat on the pasha of Saida (capital of an Ottoman eyalet since 1688) and the Yemenite Druses at Ain Dara, near Zahleh, in 1711, and proceeded to consolidate Shehab power, breaking up the old feudal society and substituting for the sheikhs mukatajis (tax-contractors), who had penal jurisdiction.
The Turks recognized the status quo, and made terms with the Shehab amir in 1748; but his power was none too well secured against the opposition of the Kurdish.
Jumblat family, even though he was supported by the Talhuk, Abd al-Malik and Yezbeki families; and it appears that some members of the Shehab joined the Maronite faith in the middle of the 18th century, causing a suspicion of secret apostasy to fall on all the family.
Meanwhile, the Hauran, the old seat of the Shehab family and Hermon Druses, had been steadily receiving a Druse influx, since the day of Ain Dara (see above).
Towards the close of the 18th century some 600 families left Lebanon for the Hauran, in discontent with the rule of the Shehab dynasty, and their place and property were taken by 1500 families driven out of Jebel Ansarieh by Topal Ali in 1811.
A history of the Druse nation by the amir Haidar Shehab is quoted by Urquhart.