|Reception of a western student delegation|
Fadlullah: We are open to any kind of dialogue, especially among nations
His Eminence, the Religious Authority Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah, received a delegation of European and American students who study at Canadian, American, German, Italian, Brazilian, and Slovakian universities. The meeting was organized by Mideastwire.com in the framework of the Beirut Exchange program.
During the meeting, the students discussed with the Sayyed the importance of dialogue amongst nations, scientific and cultural exchange, as well as the concept of freedom and its reality in the Arab and Islamic region in comparison with the West and the West-Islamic relations and other developments in the region.
Sayyed Fadlullah reiterated that since the outset, the Western administrations have insisted to deal with Islam from a mere political perspective, thus overlooking the civil and cultural wealth of Islam and its spiritual capacities which the West and the entire mankind can benefit from at various levels. He stressed that it is the responsibility of everyone to work hard in order to raise generations – both in the East and the West – that look after mankind in general, because we should learn how to embrace human unity with all our national and ethnic diversities. God wanted us to live in accordance with the human values, and to work hard to ascend these values in order to reach a point where people think as human beings, aside from their backgrounds –be it eastern or western. Great thinkers and innovators and scientists have managed to bypass their geographical borders and national identities. Thus, they entered to every small house in this huge world thanks to their contribution to mankind.
He added: We welcome all the calls for dialogue emerging from the West, namely those calling for a dialogue between the Muslims and major countries and political entities. At the same time, we affirm that the broader and more comprehensive dialogue is the one taking place amongst the nations, such as the dialogue between the students from Western universities and our students, as well as the dialogue between research centers, unions, journalists, and academics.
We believe in a dialogue that is not bound by any restraints, and which cannot be put in certain frameworks that serve certain political agendas. We reject a dialogue that is kicked off and ceased according to the interests and plans of some administrations. For this reason, we have also repeated that we support the human-human dialogue which is not restricted by any boundaries. After all, dialogue to us is a bridge which the nations cannot do without; for only via this bridge nations can cross to one another.
He continued: We are looking for a dialogue that transcends the superior political speeches made by the leaders to address the issues that pertain to the interest of the people, whether these interests are cultural, ideological, scientific, or religious ones. One the one hand, there are no sacred issues when it comes to dialogue and on the other hand, everyone needs everyone. In other words, the people in the West and the east enjoy certain peculiarities which they can offer to others through a dialogue that consolidates understanding and cooperation.
We do not reject a dialogue with anyone, unless with the tyrants and beasts and criminals who do not believe in dialogue itself and with whom we cannot engage in any sort of dialogue for their first and last project is that of crime.
Responding to a question, the Sayyed said that Islam does not refuse criticism; rather, it rejects the policy upon which others are held as traitors or their images are defamed. Islam is open to those who cast doubts over its ideology and calls them for dialogue over the creed, the religions, and legislations, provided that they abide by the general guidelines of objective and scientific criticism and that they are seeking the truth.
In response to another question, Sayyed Fadlullah said that the velayat-e faqih [the guardianship of the jurisconsult] is a mere jurisprudence issue over which many Shiite scholars disagree. It is not an issue that has to do with the creed, as many scholars do not believe in the absolute guardianship. However, the situation in Iran should be examined through pondering over the entire experiment and challenges that accompanied the Islamic Revolution ever since its rise. Many challenges were posed, all of which aimed at undermining the Islamic regime. Today, Iran has proven its ability to offer a dynamic pattern that takes into account the people’s political participation and freedom of expression.
He also stressed that we should study the situation in an objective and scientific manner, because we cannot judge the situation in Iran through the reports presented by the media, namely the western media which had covered up for the carnages perpetrated by Israel during its war on Gaza. This media is not reliable and credible vis-ŕ-vis the situation in Iran.
He continued: We do not have a precise judiciary investigation of what had happened, one that shows who is attacking who, and whether a fifth column has something to do with what had happened. This is all being investigated now. In return, we have seen the concern of the Islamic regime to give space for the people to express their opinion and take to the street, to the extent that protests reached a dangerous level and the safety of the protestors has become jeopardized.
Responding to a question on the issue of freedom, Sayyed Fadlullah said: The entire world has come to agree that freedom should be responsible and restrained, especially if it undermines the public order of any society. This also applies to the drug addiction and smoking in public places or airplanes. This kind of freedom is also rejected by the western democratic states. For example, spying for some countries and movements is forbidden. On its part, Islam underlines the concept of freedom, and rejects the irresponsible freedom that threatens the public order and the interests of the people and the society. In this sense, Islam allows holding demonstrations within certain limits, but it rejects any attempts that might sabotage or threaten the security of the people and the state.