Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Fr Georges Massouh: Is Civil Strife Inevitable in Lebanon?

Arabic original here.

Is Civil Strife Inevitable?

When reason is absent and basic instinct reigns, it's useless for a person to be human. What distinguishes a human being from other creatures is nothing other than that he has the free will that God placed as a trust in human beings. As for instinct, which is possessed by all creatures, it is simply an inherent inclination, positive or negative, toward a specific behavior.

A person's humanity is complete only if he is able to tame his instincts and dominate them rather than letting them dominate him. What we are currently witnessing in our country is conclusive evidence for instinct dominating reason. What is happening now confirms that blind prejudice based on stirring up instinct has disabled reason, free will, and logic. Those who are ruled by instinct, then, have lost their humanity.

How long shall instinct control the people of this country? How long shall the children of this country fall like insects sprayed with pesticide? How long shall the people of this country wander like the beasts of the desert in search of shelter and sufficient food? How long shall they carry their homes in bags, homeless, refugees, displaced, emigrants rejecting the soil of their fathers and forefathers? How long shall they be human sacrifices and burnt offerings offered up on the altar of religious extremism?

For most people, religious or sectarian affiliation has become an instinctual affiliation, stripped of any religious values. What is wrong with this country, the cradle of the monotheistic religions, where God, the prophets, apostles, and saints and holy ones are banished-- where hatred replaces love and vengeance replaces mercy? How long shall religion remain a force for division and not for unity with us? How long shall religious affiliation be exploited in order to spread hatred and malice, the murder of innocents in the name of "divine truth"? How long shall wars continue to be stoked in the name of religion?

It is possible to say that our county has entered into a new phase. Without a doubt, it is a time of coming strife. Submission to it is submission to animal instincts that blind reason and foresight. The coming civil strife appears to be an inevitable and irreversible fate. Because it has come to be inevitable, this means that reason has been paralyzed and the heart as become nothing more than a pump for blood.

It says in the Qur'an "God does not change the condition of a people until they change what is in their hearts" (Surat al-Ra'd 11). This verse makes it unambiguously clear that humans are called to strive to use reason in order to improve their conditions and lives. Islam, as we learned and came to know it, is not a fatalistic religion. Rather, it is a religion that respects reason and respects humankind as "God's vicegerent on earth." The Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib said, "In civil strife be like the suckling camel, without a back to ride or a teat to milk." Since the two sides of the conflict belong to two sects of the same religion, and since "the believers are brothers", we call on them to imitate Abel son of Adam who said to his brother Cain as the latter was intending to kill him, "Even if you stretch out your hand against me to kill me, I will not stretch out my hand against you to kill you. I fear God, the Lord of the Universe" (Surat al-Ma'ida 28).

"Civil strife is coming." God has not allowed it. But God will allow it if some of them choose to be like the suckling camel. If they do not strive to change what is in their hearts, God will not change them. Either we shall be Abel or we shall be Cain. That is the tragedy.

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