Thursday, July 30, 2015

Fr Georges Massouh: An Abundance of Sectarianism... An Abundance of Corruption

Arabic original here.

An Abundance of Sectarianism... An Abundance of Corruption

An abundance of sectarianism, an abundance of religion, an abundance of corruption. This is the state of our country today.

Yes, we have distinguished between sectarianism and religion, since sectarianism has no relationship to religious faith, but rather expresses the group solidarity that emerges between individuals who are only brought together by the sectarian identity that they acquired at birth. As for religion, what is meant here is not only faith, but the manifestations of piety, worship, and rhetoric that have noticeably increased of late.

We have distinguished between sectarianism and religion because sectarianism is the means that the temporal leaders of the sects, in collusion with religious leaders, use to exploit exploit the religious feelings of believers for their own personal interests. As for religion, it is total devotion to God, faith in His teachings, and absolute submission to the will of the Most High.

It says in the Qur'an about the difference between declared religious affiliation and true faith, "The Bedouins say: ‘We believe.' Say: ‘You do not believe. Instead you may say: “We surrender,” but faith has not entered your hearts" (Surat al-Hujurat 14). The explanation of this verse is that the Bedouins outwardly declared that they were Muslims and were outwardly led by it, but true faith did not enter their hearts. Here we may highlight that what the verse is saying about the state of some Muslims also applies to the states of Christians, Jews and followers of other religions.

It is self-evident that corruption reigns in a time of sectarianism since without corruption, sectarianism has no life and no staying power. For corruption to reign alongside an abundance of religion, this is something that should arouse surprise.

Quite unfortunately, it seems that our distinction between religion and sectarianism is purely imaginary and only applies to a conscious society capable of distinguishing between them. Our societies have not yet arrived at this consciousness that is necessary for their advancement and development.

How can religious consciousness prevail with religious leaderships who have not been freed from the authority of kings and princes and which submit to politicians and the wealthy? How can religious consciousness prevail with religious leaderships who are themselves corrupt, making suspicious deals and keeping quiet about what they, those close to them and their entourages commit and, most importantly, who keep quiet about those who hand them money, those with whom they are pleased politically and do not work to displace them?

How could corruption not prevail, with religious leaderships who have excluded from their sphere of interests the poor, the wretched, the sick,  widows, orphans, refugees, and all who are tormented on the earth and have limited their demands to being given their sectarian slice of the state, from the top of the pyramid down to the bottom? How can corruption not prevail when concern for people and the environment is absent from the minds of the religious leaderships?

There is no doubt that the spread of corruption an its acceptance in a given society is evidence of the disappearance of religious and social virtues. However, cooperation on the part of people of good will who belong to civil society organizations-- among whom are believers motivated by the principles of their faiths, just as there are those among them who are not religiously practicing and are motivated by general humanitarian principles-- will inevitably lead to putting an end to corruption. This is what we saw today in the response by civil society organizations to how to deal with the trash collection crisis.

"If the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned?," (Matthew 5:13) Jesus said to his disciples.

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