''Religion and sectarianism''/ reflections by Patriarch Michel Sabbah

  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/abounaor/public_html/english/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 1113.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_field::query() should be compatible with views_handler::query($group_by = false) in /home/abounaor/public_html/english/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_field.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of content_handler_field::element_type() should be compatible with views_handler_field::element_type($none_supported = false, $default_empty = false, $inline = false) in /home/abounaor/public_html/english/sites/all/modules/cck/includes/views/handlers/content_handler_field.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_sort::options_validate() should be compatible with views_handler::options_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/abounaor/public_html/english/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_sort.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_sort::options_submit() should be compatible with views_handler::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /home/abounaor/public_html/english/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_sort.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_sort::query() should be compatible with views_handler::query($group_by = false) in /home/abounaor/public_html/english/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_sort.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_validate() should be compatible with views_handler::options_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/abounaor/public_html/english/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::query() should be compatible with views_handler::query($group_by = false) in /home/abounaor/public_html/english/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_query::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /home/abounaor/public_html/english/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_query.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_style_default::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home/abounaor/public_html/english/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_style_default.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/abounaor/public_html/english/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/abounaor/public_html/english/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 1113.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/abounaor/public_html/english/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 1113.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_field_user::init() should be compatible with views_handler_field::init(&$view, $options) in /home/abounaor/public_html/english/sites/all/modules/views/modules/user/views_handler_field_user.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/abounaor/public_html/english/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 1113.
  • strict warning: Only variables should be passed by reference in /home/abounaor/public_html/english/sites/all/modules/captcha/captcha.inc on line 61.
  • strict warning: Only variables should be passed by reference in /home/abounaor/public_html/english/sites/all/modules/captcha/captcha.inc on line 61.

Sunday 10.2.2019

Religion and sectarianism

Religion is worshiping God Who is mercy and love for all His creation, that is, for every human being in any religion. When we deal with a human being, it is with God that we deal. Religion in this sense, the sense of compassion and universal love, is the basis of universal brotherhood among all peoples of Earth, no matter how different in religion. The fundamental truth is that all human beings are the creatures of God.

Sectarianism turns religion into a human affair and strips it of its divine dimension, and of its capacity of loving all God’s children. Though, ironically, when religion becomes only a sectarian external behavior, religious feelings remain very sensitive and deeply rooted in the person. Therefore, when one's religion or religious feelings are insulted one reacts and resists that violently.

To belong to a faith community of the same religion is natural and normal, on the condition that the “faith community” continues to educate its members to praise God, to strengthen them in their love of God and of all people; it does not isolate them from others; it does not educate them to feel superior, to hate or harm others. When a faith community turns to be a “gathering” against others who are different, then religion becomes sectarianism and a danger in the society.

Monday 11.2.2019

Religion is one of the most important components of a believer’s identity. When religion is mercy and love of God and all people, it is one of the noblest human actions. Believers who understand correctly their religion, raise themselves to God and God grants them to be like Him, merciful and loving all creation. When religion is understood in this way, the believers become a brother and sisters to all their brothers and sisters in humanity, not only to people who follow their religion but to all peoples of different religions.

When religion is understood in this way, the believers rise above themselves, above their individual or collective selfishness, above human limits, and overcome tendency to harm others because they are of different religion.

Thus, God wants man to be like Him, capable of thinking and able to love, a love that includes every human being, those who are near or far, neighbors and strangers, making humanity one family created by God not to fight but to love.

Tuesday 12.2.2019

However, when religion becomes "sectarianism", it becomes a cause of discrimination between people. This change of compassion and love into discrimination, the acceptance of some and exclusion of others, is an evident sign that the believers have erred away from their own religion. Whatever their religion is, they are no more in the truth. A true believer strives to keep religion in its true significance: worship of God, and mercy and love for all people.

To be sectarian is to isolate oneself, to nurture individual or collective selfishness and to reject others of different religions. Those who are many and those who are few may equally fall into sectarianism. If they are many, they want to dominate in the name of religion; if they are few, they demand equality and the protection of the law.
The relationship between two communities of different religions is based either on the true concept of religion, that is God is merciful and loving to all his creation, or on the concept of the relation of Cain to his brother Abel, that is, rejection that could become aggression and war. The first exclusive attitude is to consider the others as strangers, "they are not one of us". Then, this attitude easily becomes hostility and aggressiveness.

Wednesday 13.2.2019

Sectarianism reduces religion to a human affair. It is no more a pure relation with God. It is no more mercy and love for all people. Religion may be reduced to a mere civilization and a way of life. It may become a political domination and a particular system of laws. Then, it loses its spiritual foundation and becomes a cause of human quarrels and wars. Though declared in the name of God, wars are a human affair; they are wars of men who lost all connection with God and God’s mercy and love.

In sectarianism, the other persons of a different religion are identified by their religion, and by their non-belonging to our faith community. Normally, anyone is first identified as a human being like every other human being who has the same dignity. Second, the other is a citizen, and all citizens are equal in rights and duties in the same society. Third, they are identified by their personal qualifications, competence and role in the society. It is not necessary to ask a person about the religion followed in a multi-religious society, which considers all citizens equal simply because they are human beings and because they are citizens. Religion or religious belonging appears in the true believers through their actions and faithfulness to mercy and love for all people.

Thursday 14.2.2019

We are all aware that sectarianism is alive in our societies. We all condemn it and fear its consequences. We try to educate ourselves to overcome all kinds of sectarianism that threaten the peace and security of individuals and society. We raise the slogan: We are brothers and sisters and one country. Yet all of us, the many and the few, have become sectarian according to our religious affiliation. Everyone should be aware that we have more or less active inner feelings of rejection towards the other.

In fact, the first attribute in which we identify the others is their religion. We feel safer in our own faith community and we may say that it is normal that people of the same faith feel close to each other. The danger is when these implicit feelings within the group turn into feelings and explicit attitude of rejection towards those outside the group.

Sectarianism in the society itself is exploited by two categories of people. The first category is dominated by Cain's complex, in varying degrees from minor harm to murder. This category often behaves not out of religious belief, but simply out of its own weakness and wickedness. Persons in this category may find a cover in or support from the faith community. In this case, sectarianism becomes a source of tension and malaise among members of the one society. The second category comprises of believers or non-believers who are interested in stirring up dissension in the society for special purposes or out of public policy in the country based on the proverb "divide and rule".

In both cases, everyone, from rulers, individuals and all believers, is responsible. The true believer does not allow oneself or anyone else to sow discrimination or dissension between brothers in the name of religion.

Friday 15.2.2019

Despite the best intentions of rulers, religious pluralism, in our societies, does not allow for full equality among citizens. Religion governs the system of society and it is the religion of the majority. It is religion and the rule of number. The concept of numerical affiliation to religion or even to the clan and tribe puts equality at the mercy of the number, although all human beings, small or big, few or many, are not mere numbers. Everyone is a human being and has the same dignity.

We all want equality but we still cannot achieve it. Therefore, in order to remedy inequality, special procedures or quotas are used as for example in elections. A fixed number of seats are allocated in parliament or in the council of ministers for those who represent the small number in society. A kind of equal sharing is guaranteed. It is a good way though not perfect.

The ideal would be that religions are lived by their followers in “spirit and truth” so they will no more be a cause of any inequality in the same society. Hence, education should change and be founded on the basic concept of creation: God created us all equal regardless of our religions.

Saturday 16.2.2019

Sectarianism, the power of death inherent in religious feelings, is also a tool of destruction that world policy makers have resorted to in these past years in our region, the Middle East. All the tragedies that we have so far witnessed in the region are based on intentions and plans which cannot claim to be conform to any faith. The West is considered to be Christian but its policymakers, especially in what they continue to do in our countries, they behave as people without faith. Their policy cannot be termed as Christian. It is a West that provokes wars and destruction in our countries. Of course, in the West there are also Christians, churches, believers, worshipers, friends and many friends of the region. We must acknowledge that the whole West is not about death policies and not our enemy.

These Western policymakers sought to stir up local religious feelings, making them a tool of effective self-destruction. They actually found, in our sectarian feelings and attitudes, ready burning materials. They set fire to them. That is how Iraq was destroyed, and Syria is still being destroyed. In Egypt, too, some religious forces are causing killing and disorder in society. Other Arab countries have suffered the same disease.

Today, we are still waiting for the ”day of life” for the whole region, where believers come to know God as a merciful and loving Creator of all His creation, and they will worship Him in Spirit and Truth, showing their true worship of God through their love for all God's creation by building all their countries and stopping all fratricidal wars.

Comment through the site Comment through facebook