By: Khaldoon Al-Saee,

Unheard Whispers – By a Patriotic Muslim

Dearest Lebanese brothers & sisters,

Honesty is the key to solving many of our social and political issues.  We have witnessed for years the political charade on our television sets by numerous of our politicians; smiles and laughs while meeting each other on this legendary roundtable of debate while under the table someone tries to stab the other in the back.  Our problem here in Lebanon is grouping of citizens politicaly through a religious basis of stereotyping.  Quite frankly these labels have caused the separation and semi-partitioning of our society.  With every generation, mounting bloodshed and scars in many of our ancesters, many parents actually raise their kids to group their Lebanese bretheren religiously.  And here my friends is where the problem exists that lags the bridge building between our communities.  This metaphoric bridge that brings us closer to one another, that many of us dream of ever night yet never believe it to be a reality.  Let’s just be honest here, not many people can be optimistic about the Lebanese dilemma and civil strife.

            What i’m trying to bring forth today is to do my part in this bridge building and i’ld be pleased if many listen and comprehend these words.  In the past few years, namely the post 9-11 era, the phrase ‘Islamophobia’ was coined.  We’ve all seen it on TV; men strapping themselves with C4 and killing innocent people; people hijacking planes and crashing into buildings; hostages and beheadings – and the list goes on.  The truth my friends is that these scenarios lead not to any progress in achieving political goals, these events actually take us backwards and into a cycle of violence.  Victims do exist yes, the first victims are those in the line of fire, those that lose their lives or limbs in these atrocious acts.  But consequensially there are more victims, there are those of us moderate muslims that lay down as hostages throughout our lives to being placed in the same category as these madmen.  One may simply ask, "Then why are you not doing anything about it?"  It’s not that simple, but here I am writing my heart out with pen and paper.  Has everyone lost the belief that the pen is mightier than the sword?

Specifically, i’ld like to speak about the Muslim-Christian ongoing tensions in Lebanon.  Those that we see physically, like the throwing of rocks on the churches after the whole Danish embassy escapade; we see them verbally with sectarian abuse from both sides; and yes let’s be frank here, we see them in our homes where family members talk among themselves and close friends about the other side.  The truth is, as a muslim myself, I see that there is a huge difference between fundemental islamic beliefs and the way muslims actually practise islam in their daily life.  By that I mean the core principles of belief, the peace and serenity, the loving of family and the caring for thy neighbour.  The problem is, many christians might assume that this is what Islam preaches and thus with the lack of communication the message does not get through.  Interestingly, I have found that there is a very similar approach taken by both sides that leads to hazardous concequences.  Starting with these madmen that kill innocent people, they use a few quotes from the Holy Quran and apply them to today’s political scene.  They never thought for one second that these quotes were actually from events that happened in the days of the prophet that can’t apply to today’s day and age.  Nowadays we have a modern life with freedoms that were never thought of in the past and thus it is unreal to apply historic examples in our life today.  Many of their acts actually contradict other verses in the Holy Quran.  Have they not heard the verse that states that if a man kills a human being it is as if he has killed the whole of humanity and that if a man saves the life of one human being it is as if he has saved the life of all the human race!  I ask openly today, where is this sense of humanity?  Are we not all descendants of Adam and Eve?  Do we not all serve the same god?  These are essential questions to reflect upon; then and only then will acceptance be attained more readily.  Then we come to the example of many Christians today.  As the muslim madmen take one quote from the Holy Book and turn it to their advantage to achieve political goals and religious acceptance, many Christians in this day also use a few quotes from the Quran to scare people in their communities from their own countrymen.  Here in itself lies the core of the problem that lags the building of our precious bridge.  Why can’t we have forums of education that bring both religions closer in analysis to see that a lot of the core principles are astonishingly close?  Education is a necessity, but the truth is, words on paper will make little difference if people don’t read. 

            From a muslim standpoint, i’ld like to look at Jesus Christ as described in the Holy Quran.  I see that he has been mentioned numerous times and even the miracles that he has performed through a blessing of God are also dictated in detail.  To muslims, he is another prophet sent from god in a time a few hundred years before the prophet Mohammed.  He was a great man in both his actions and his words that as a muslim, I admire with all my heart.  I fully recognize that Christians are the followers of Jesus Christ, the prophet that our god has sent to earth hundreds of years before the prophet Mohammed, but i’ld like to ask "How can we be so tense towards each other if we are sincerely and fundementally on the same side?"  Have muslims these days actually forgotten the verse in the Holy Quran about Jesus Christ from the Chapter called (Maryam – or the Virgin Mary) that states:

[19.15] And peace on him on the day he was born, and on the day he dies, and on the day he is raised to life.

Does this not show that muslims and christians both believe similarly on a very important aspect of religion?  Another interesting aspect of the Islamic religion, namely Shiites and many Sunnis that there will be a saviour before the day of judgement.  Shiites believe firmly that this saviour will be the 12th descendant (Imam) of the prophet called Al Imam Al Mahdi and that he will appear along with Jesus Christ.  They will walk side by side and gather the forces of good against evil and henceforth the day of judgement will arrive.  Knowing that and believing in that firmly, i’m extremely astonished by the attitude of people in both our religions towards each other.  I’ve been listening on and on to whispers by many of us moderate muslims too scared to speak out openly against these terrorsts and madmen, but truly enough is enough and the time has come for change.  On behalf of many of us moderate, tolerant muslims, i’ld like to separate myself from these people that have been spreading hate in the name of Islam, and opposing the word of god from the Holy Quran, and recite this Chapter from the Holy Book:

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

[109.1] Say: O unbelievers!

[109.2] I do not serve that which you serve,

[109.3] Nor do you serve Him Whom I serve:

[109.4] Nor am I going to serve that which you serve,

[109.5] Nor are you going to serve Him Whom I serve:

[109.6] You shall have your religion and I shall have my religion.

            The final issue i’ld like to tackle, is the issue of identity. I fully understand through the experience of Lebanon’s civil war that many christians are against the whole concept of arabism and maintain that they do not identify themselves as Arabic.  The truth remains whether people accept it or not, that the Lebanese come from many different cultures and heritages.  Lebanese are not of all from one bloodline or ancestor and that we all need to accept.  Some identify themselves as Arabs and some as Phoenecians.  I myself would like to express that the whole concept of Arabism has no relation whatsoever with the Islamic religion as god states in the Holy Quran that "God sees no difference between an Arab and a Persian except by their devotion to God."  This basically means in the broader sense that there is no difference between nationalities and bloodlines except with their devotion to god.  Thus those that relate Arabism to Islam are staunchly mistaken as it is absolutely false.  It may be that most people that are Pro-Arabism are also Muslims but it has no relation to the core of religion and actually creates racism which contradicts Islamic belief!  In truth what has Arabism given us except a lag in modernization and ruthless dictatorships that have tortured and robbed from the people’s pockets.  It is time to proceed to democracy and tolerance and I praise many of my Christian brothers and sisters for going that step further in modern day Lebanon.

            There are other means to survival than violence and hatred, we need to stay close because we might have our differences but we all remain under the same banner called Lebanon and the Cedar Tree.  We must be the ones actually setting an example to our neighbours in the middle east to follow our paths and echo the calls of moderation and tolerance to all corners of the globe.  Let us remember that the act of a few should not be seen as representative of a whole community and that if one muslim or christian does something violent, then the whole community should suffer.  One verse in the Quran actually explains that we should not react towards an unjust action by punishing others, as was seen after the cartoons scandal in Denmark and the events thereafter in Ashrafieh, Lebanon.  I advise all the Lebanese from both sides to start mingling with each other and actually learning their own religion’s principles and share this knowledge with one another.  I assure you that through this the day will come that us Lebanese will actually stop using the word ‘sides’ or east and west beirut.    One hopes that the god-given flame of love and peace that burns in most of us will remain in us all.  Long live a free, sovereign, independent and most importantly – United Lebanon

"The human voice is different from other sounds. It can be heard over noises that bury everything else, even when it’s not shouting, even if it’s just a whisper. Even the lower whisper can be heard over armies when it’s telling the truth." – Pope John Paull II

By: Khaldoon Al-Saee