National Geographic : 1974 Apr
Victim of the first murder, as told in the Koran and the Bible, Abel was laid to rest by Cain, his brother and killer, in a rocky niche near Damascus, now enclosed by stone and dome (below). The site invokes the special reverence of the Druzes, whose theology mixes Islam with mysteries known only to initiates. Friday visits to the tomb include a feast that ends before sundown with young men linked in a version of the circle dancing common throughout the Middle East. Unlike the Dervishes, whose steps whirl them into religious ecstasy, the Druzes dance just for fun. Many Druzes who live in the region around the Golan Heights, where Leba non, Israel, and Syria meet, find themselves caught in the cross hairs of international conflict. Though close knit as a people, the Druzes have contingents in both the Syrian and Israeli armies.