Casey Kasem, America's king of popular music countdowns, passed away early Sunday after months of family controversy surrounding his end-of-life care. Although famous for his radio shows, Kasem will also be remembered for representing the little-known Druze religion.
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Kasem, born Kemal Amen Kasem, was the son of Lebanese Druze immigrants, The Washington Post reported. He worked to support the Arab American community throughout his career and was named Man of the Year by the American Druze Society in 1996.
The Druze grew out of Shi'a Islam, although the community's place among contemporary Muslims is contested. "The Druze faith is a complex combination of Islam and gnosticism, with a history of assimilating into their new homelands," Religion News Service reported.
Omid Safi, in a column about Druze lawyer Amal Alamduddin, offered an in-depth look at the tiny faith, which has 1 to 2 million members worldwide. Alamduddin, who is George Clooney's fiancé, succeeded Kasem as the most famous American Druze.
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