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Lectures >2001 Speeches > 30/03/2001

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Ayatullah Al Ozma H.E. M. H. Fadlullah delivered two khotbas (at the Imamain Al-Hassanain Mosque) Muharram 5, 1422h /March 30, 2001 (Several prominent religious scholars, dignitaries and thousands of believers attended the Jumu’a prayer).

The mental and spiritual tranquillity of Islam

The First Sermon

In the Name of God, The Compassionate the Merciful

The mental and spiritual tranquillity of Islam

Islam brought mental and spiritual tranquillity for the believers. God (SWT) wanted Muslims to live in this state so that they would be able to think calmly about any issue they face and see how well it conforms to their principles and faith. Then, when they take a stand, they can therefore consider calmly which means they can use in order achieve their goals. When you face your personal commitments or when you are irritated by someone you have to remain calm and keep a pious attitude. You have to consider which action would please God (SWT) and take this action even if it causes you hardships and leave what does not please God (SWT) even if you like it. Sometimes piety means that you ought to control your temper while you are boiling inside and sometimes you’ll be faced with people who have opinions that you are totally opposed to but you should remain calm as this is what pleases God (SWT).

When God (SWT) says in the Qur’an:

“He commanded them to speak pious words…” (S48,v26)

He was telling the Messenger and the believers that they have to be mindful of God (SWT) in everything they say or do and that this is the way we should treat fanaticism. I may have addressed this issue many times before but certain things cannot be said often enough and especially since the community we are living in at the moment is a fanatical on an individual, family, sectarian, national or partisan level. We Muslims have returned to the fanaticism of pre-Islamic times. We no longer resort to piety when our fanaticism provokes our instincts to act in a way that has nothing to do with our faith.

Negative aspects of fanaticism

Let us examine the Islamic texts that refer to fanaticism. The Messenger says:

“Whoever is fanatical or is the object of fanaticism will remove the collar of faith from around their neck”

“Whoever dies with a small grain of fanaticism in his heart will be raised with those of the pre-Islamic age on the Day of the Ressurection.”

“Whoever calls for fanaticism, fights on the basis of fanaticism, or dies a fanatic is not one of us”

The Imam Abi bin Hussein described fanaticism as the thing:

“That leads man to find the bad people of his tribe better than the good people of other tribes. Nevertheless it is not fanatical to love one’s tribe but it is fanatical to support them in their injustice”

That is if you take part in a fight on the side of one of your family/tribe/party etc. without enpuiring as to whether he is in the right or not. Therefore fanaticism is siding with your own group whether they are right or wrong and whether they are evil or good in contradiction to what Islam recommends which is that you should always side with good against evil and with right against wrong.

An Arab poet when describing nationalism said:

“I welcome unbelief if it unites us and I don’t mind hell if it comes afterwards”

This poet meant that if we had a choice between unity on the basis of non-belief and division on the basis of faith then we should opt for unity even if it is against what God (SWT) wants. And this is what some people think when they follow a certain leadership. There is nothing wrong with following a leadership when you are sure it is a good one but it turns to fanaticism when this leadership tries to undermine another leadership even using lies and backbiting. And if you become fanatical you will end up in Hell.

This is what we call being closed-minded -where man stops having a dialogue with the others or stops cooperating with him even when they have a cause in common. And this will pave the way for internal wars within groups.

The concept of party politics is originally a western idea and we still don’t have proper parties in the eastern countries. The west is now practicing party politics in a civilized manner since there is close cooperation between the parties that might sometimes leads to a bill being voted for by members of opposition parties and governing parties alike or vice versa. This is what is what happens regularly in Britain where there are the Conservative and Labour parties and in America where there are the Democrats and the Republicans. Because, there, there is no fanaticism and the idea of one’s party always being right or “My country right or wrong” does not exist. So your party, party leadership or even your country are not always right and whenever you find this to be the case you must stand with whatever is right.

Commitment is openness

“Oh you who believe! Be continually just as proof of your faithfulness to God even if it is against yourself against your parents or against your relatives…” (S4,v135)

You have to stand up for justice agianst oneself, against your parents or your relatives because you are duty bound to be just at all times. Therefore when we follow our family or party we have to understand that they are not infallible so we need to open our eyes and think about each idea or action that they take so that we do not follow them when they are wrong. We should watch over our leaders as we watch over ourselves and this should not be considered as an insult to them because we only seek to have a dialogue with them and correct them if they are wrong.

Although he was infallible, the Imam Ali used to ask people not to:

“…ever stop giving advice when you think it is right for I am not above making mistakes…”

Therefore we must learn to be followers of a certain thought without being fanatics and without getting angry if someone holds a different opinion. Differences are acceptable and they only call for dialogue.

“If you differ on something you should refer to God and the messenger” (S4,v59)

We also have another problem. Just as we have party-political fanaticism we also have a new fanaticism that has to do with choice of religious guide who, if you follow sincerely, you will no longer be repsonsible before God (SWT). Just as when you go to a good doctor, that you believe will cure you, he is one who is ultimately responsible for your health. But how does this give you the right to attack other religious guides or tell people that if you emulate them your pilgrimage and prayers are invalid.

From all these verses and texts we have looked at we can conclude that we must abandon fanaticism and to differentiate between being a follower and being fanatical. To be a follower of Islam means that even if the issue in hand is to do with your family, sect or community you have to judge it on the basis of Islam and decide whether it is right or wrong. Do what’s right even if it is against those who you follow and be against wrong even if it is apparently to the benefit of those who you follow since pleasing God (SWT) should come before pleasing any other person and because fanaticism blinds man while belief opens his heart and mind.

The second Speech

In the Name of God, The Compassionate the Merciful

The Arab Summit

Now that the Arab summit is over the Arab peoples have the right to know what has been achieved, the goals it has determined and the dynamics that could accomplish these goals.

It is clear that the results of this summit were disappointing to say the least. Although not even the most optimistic among us were expecting these people to take any courageous decision that would involve a fulfilment of their obligations towards their fellow Arabs and Muslims and especially regarding the Palestinians and their ongoing Intefada that has been continuing for more than six months now without receiving any real Arab support. The Arab leaders have even failed to arrange a cover-up of their own failures and have resorted as usual to fiery televised speeches. It appears that whenever a decision must be taken is when they fail to make any move however small.

The resolutions made were as dulland as woolly as expected including those that have to do with support for the Palestinians. The promise of billions of dollars made at the last summit was substituted for one of tens of millions and the direct support promised has been reduced to the form of loans to the Palestinian authority.

American summit agenda

The spectre of the American administration was ever present at this summit as it had been at the previous one. The Arab leaders followed American instructions, given in the form of advice prior to the event, to the letter thus reinforcing the all-American flavour of this summit with leaders hiding behind ‘moderate’ and ‘realistic’ verbal camouflage given to them by American secretary of state Colin Powell. They were even prepared to go back on their previous promises of support for the Palestinians.

The plan was to keep the leaders talking about Iraq and Kuwait to the extent that the Palestinian issue would be virtually forgotten and the final communiqué would not include any commitment towards it. The only positive point of development could be the new relationship that could pave the way for a unified Palestinian/Syrian/Lebanese position that could take up the slack of the other Arab countries. During the next period this triangle will be important in cornering the Israeli’s and the enemy has already made it clear that they are concerned about the development of such a relationship that would limit its choices if they decide to embark on an all out terrorist war against the Palestinians.

I believe that this is a good window of opportunity, provided that the parties involved adopt a long-term strategic approach that builds on the Palestinian Intefada and the Lebanese resistance.

America and Israel - partners in terrorism

We have to understand that the Americans are partners of Israel in their war against the Palestinian people and the latest use of their veto rights in a case in point.

If western silence, and Arab shyness have saved the American administration considerable embarrassment over their position and if America believes that such stands will not change any policy on the part of the Arab regimes the Arab people must prove them wrong and take to the streets in order to make their feelings of protest known and force the regimes to move from verbal condemnation to concrete action. The Arab peoples must treat the American representatives in their countries as real enemies. They should besiege, them boycott them and restrict their movements outside official circles so that they will feel that it is not just a matter of communiqués of condemnation that will have no real effect on the American administration. Moreover, all national and Islamic liberation movements, parties and religious scholars must revitalize the Arab boycott and isolate all those who are not committed to it so that the American administration will feel as though they are being treated as an enemy with all the political and economic consequences that follow.

Faced with all these hardships, we feel proud of the spirit of sacrifice and steadfastness on the part of the Palestinians who have initiated the campaign to topple Sharon by defeating his terrorist plan and, when Sharon falls, the actual process of liberation will have begun.

Unity against sectarianism

In these hard times and faced with these dangerous threats we have to take care in any move we make not to induce chaos that might have a negative effect on our political and economic situation. All that has been said in this respect does not have any basis, either locally or internationally. Any sectarian incitement will not do any good for the country but will add further complications. We should go back to the spirit of unity and responsibility in the aftermath of this latest storm. All political and religious officials should try to choose their words carefully in order to reinforce national unity and kill sectarian tendencies. We don’t want Lebanon to have to pay the price twice. The first time they incited the civil war here in order to try to eliminate the Palestinian cause and now they are trying to incite sectarianism to stop us creating a second front in support of our brothers in Palestine.

Lastly, we should not ignore the tragic conditions of the Palestinians in Lebanon. We should provide them with decent living conditions and I do not understand why there are some reservations about them owning real estate on the pretext that they don’t belong to any state. In my opinion, this would not effect the Lebanese position on the naturalisation of Palestinians, as there is a difference between the political and humanitarian issues at stake.