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Role of Media in Fueling Conflicts

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

The Religious Authority H.E. Sayyed M. H. Fadlullah delivered the two Friday prayer sermons at the Imamain Al-Hassanain Mosque, 2nd of May 2008, 26 Rabi'II 1429 H, several prominent religious scholars, dignitaries and thousands of believers attended the Jumu’a prayer.

The First Sermon

The negative Impact of fabricated news

Allah says in His Glorious Book:O you who believe, if a wicked person comes to you with any news, then you shall investigate it. Lest you harm a people out of ignorance, then you will become regretful over what you have done. And know that among you is the messenger of God. If he were to obey you in many things, you would be in difficulty. But God made you love faith and He adorned it in your hearts, and He made you hate disbelief, wickedness, and disobedience. These are the rightly guided ones. Such is the grace from God and a blessing. God is Knowledgeable, Wise. (46:6-8.)

According to the Biography Books these verses were revaluated after the following incident.

The Prophet sent an envoy to the tribe of Bani Al-Mustalak to collect alms, as he used to do with all tribes. But the person he sent was at odds with the Prophet (p.) and told him that they refused to give him the alms and that he was afraid that they were going to kill him. The Muslims got ready to attack the tribe because they considered their act as a rebellion. But the tribe who were among the faithful believers, were concerned that the Messenger(p.)’s envoy did not come to them, and came to the Messenger(p.) to enquire, asking if the Prophet(p.) was angry from them. Thus, they Messenger(p.)knew the truth of the matter.

Other stories said that it was the Messenger(p.) who sent another envoy to the tribe to learn what had happened. When they told him the truth of the matter, this verse was revealed to guide the Muslims not to believe whatever is told to them and to investigate what had actually taken place before they believe someone who might has his own motive and complications.

The characteristics of an informer

This verse tells all Muslims"O you who believe, if a wicked person comes to you with any news". If such a person comes to you telling you any news, you have not to believe him right away. Rather you have to study his personality. Is he pious and fears Allah? Or is he a wicked person who does not mind inciting strife? Is he a just person who tells only the truth or is he of the kind that does not hold the responsibility of truth and does not fear Allah? If he is of the second kind, you have to hesitate and investigate the matter: then you shall investigate it, lest you harm a people out of ignorance– because if you believe him, and act accordingly, harming the people he had informed you about, and then you will find out that they are innocent when it is too late. "You will become regretful"when remorse will do you no good.

Then, Allah tells the Muslims that the presence of the Prophet (P.) among them is the guarantee, since he does not go along with them when they are controlled by anger and emotion. On the contrary, he would lead them to the straight path of belief and how to keep away from the path of falsehood and unbelief.

When we study this verse, we find that it is talking about information and its role, whether between individuals or groups or even the whole nation. Some one might come, for example, and tell a husband that his wife has done something bad, then the husband might punish his wife without investigating the matter, or he might tell him about his brother or his relative creating trouble between them. This verse tells us that if the informer is wicked and is not known for his justice, you have to investigate the matter before coming to any conclusions or taking any actions.

News as a means of strife

The same thing might happen on a wider level, between families and tribes, where those who bring false news might incite differences that could sometimes reach the level of wars.

Even at the level of political parties, as we have seen in our community, where by some fanatic partisans who do not have a moral restriction might invent some news which could lead to internal fighting between these parties, as we have experienced.

Even at the level of the opposition and the loyalists, where we hear from this party and that a rhetoric that creates anger among their community towards the other party, leading to the fall of all realistic solutions and to the rise a fanaticism among both parties. This is what we notice in the daily comments of some of those who call themselves leaders.

If the people were fair, they would have not accepted them as such, since leadership implies securing the stability, rights and security of the society and not plunging it into turmoil.

States too turn to the media to fabricate lies to justify waging wars, as in the case of the United States when it wanted to invade Iraq or when it did not publish all the investigations regarding what happened on nine eleven…. Instead, it fabricated lies about terrorism and went on to try to control the world, especially the Arab and Muslim world, accusing all those who oppose its policies, such as the Resistance in Palestine and Lebanon, of being terrorist organizations, and the states that support them as supporting terrorism.

Thus, dear beloved, Allah, The Most Exalted, is calling on you as believers: "O you who believe", that is if you are among the believers you should not accept the news that is brought to you, by someone who does not fear Allah, and that you should not believe the stories the newspapers publish, if those in charge of them are irresponsible. You should not also believe the news of the international news channels, since some of them are controlled by the United States or by countries that are linked with Israel.

Thus, we have not to give our ears to anyone who tells us anything. This listener should be conscious, and study if the story is rational and possible or not…

Many of the problems we face whether at homes or in the society at large, are based on the way the media tells the stories. Thus, you have to ask the rational and the responsible among you, since the story might be baseless. Thus, it is the mind that should be the judge and not the instincts or emotions, and that is why Allah says:O you who believe, if a wicked person comes to you with any news, then you shall investigate it. Lest you harm a people out of ignorance, then you will become regretful over what you have done.

The Second Sermon

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

The eradication of the Palestinian People

The American – Israeli court continues to execute it judgments, following the ruling of the Rabi that considered the Arabs as insects and snakes that ought to be destroyed… Death is taking its toll form the children, women and elderly from Gaza and the West Bankin Palestine to the city of As-Sadr in Iraq and to Somalia, where the scene of the crimes looks the same.

Houses are being destroyed on the heads of its inhabitants by American air raids or by Israeli rockets, killing women children and even infants.

Barbaric raids and starvation besieges continue while the Arabs who are watching do not dare to denounce, but only call for pacification.

They do not undertake to provide for the besieged Palestinian people the means of holding fast, since the resisting Gaza embarrasses them, as they get ready to meet Bush during the celebrations marking the sixtieth anniversary of the establishment of the Jewish entity.

As for the usurping Jews, they have declared their position in the latest opinions polls. They have declared that they are against dismantling the settlements and the isolating wall or the withdrawal from Golan.

Nevertheless, the American Secretary of State is still trying to suggest to the Palestinian Authority that a settlement can be reached within few months, the fact that the American Administrations have tried to end any Palestinian existence for decades notwithstanding…

The history of aggression of the successive American administrations and their alliance with the usurping Zionist entity prove that the international law is nothing but a cane that Arabs and Muslims are continuously hit by through the successive international resolutions.

Meanwhile, the Israel planes continue to roam our skies hitting the Iraqi nuclear reactor and other sites in Syria. The American President sends new messages to Iran and other countries claiming in a new lie like the ones that made him invade the region that Israel has hit nuclear compound on Syria.

The UN Secretary General remains silent and does not talk about the violation of the sovereignty of one of the UN member states.

The United States Palestinian policy is in fact a participation in executing daily Israeli aggressions against the Palestinians while resorting to hypocrisy in its talk about the Palestinian state that America had done its best not to make it viable.

America that has violated international law in its interrogations of the detainees continues to encourage Israel to kill more Palestinians, as the US itself is doing in Iraq, considering our peoples as guinea pigs in their death laboratories.

The world they call civilized has refused the rationale of occupation and usurpation of wealth. Nevertheless America still perceives our land as a part of its strategic project and a place it can do whatever it wants with, occupying the lands as in Iraq and Afghanistan and plundering the wealth and destroying their security and the economy. It also lets Israel continue its barbaric massacres against the Palestinian killing the mother and her children while they were eating without anyone voicing his protest including the EU which some of its officials has described Israel as the miracle of the twentieth century… Others go to Sidrot to examine the damage one of the resistance rockets did in retaliation to tens of massacres but they would not go to Gaza to see the remains of women and children that are scattered in the streets of Gaza… It is a world that does not respect itself or the laws it has issued or the revolutions it made under the banner of freedom.

Lebanon: Hindering the solution

In Lebanon, there are some Arabs who want to internationalize its crisis and consider the Arab initiative as restricted to electing a new president without discussing the other controversial issues.

In these circumstances, the Lebanese internal dialogue is not one that deals with the central controversial issues, and consequently it will not lead to any decisive results, especially that some Lebanese parties still consider that the other points in the initiative as unaccepted conditions that are imposed on the presidential elections. Thus the crisis will not find a solution and the Lebanese situation will stay in a vicious circle since the Lebanese have no role in solving their internal crisis, since it is surrounded by foreign forces which are preventing it from dealing with the ongoing meetings in a realistic way awayfrom political opinions reached by this or that party.

Moreover, some religious leaders also repeat what the politicians say since they are organically united with them, thus refraining from issuing fatwas that call to meeting on the basis of national unity, a fair electoral law and basing any judgement on citizenry instead of sectarianism.

What is alarming about this organic association between the Lebanese and the regional crises is that the inside has come to serve the outside while the latter is planning to keep Lebanon as the arena for its struggles, despite the refusal of many Lebanese politicians.

As for the Lebanese people, their role among these sectarian sensitivities is to live under the mercy of political ambitions of the sectarian politicians and the use of money to rig the popular will power in major issues of destiny. There is no problem, meanwhile, if the Lebanese continue to live in hunger, deprivation and sectarian turmoil, since this is the outcome of accepting the sectarian regime and not a citizenry system that unites the Lebanese on the basis of true freedom, sovereignty and independence. Sectarianism has and will continue to cause political and security problems with no one profiting except the sectarian leaders while the peoples themselves will sink more and move into the quagmires of fanaticism and personality cult.