Stands >2005 Stands >Zu Elqi'da 23 1425H /January 04, 2005 A.D.

The role of opposition in Islam

Sayyed Fadlullah:We believe that the opposition has an important role to play, but it should keep in mind the overall political climate it is acting in.

Asked in his weekly seminar the following question: Regarding what is going on in our region, some are asking about the Islamic view towards the opposition and the limits it should not surpass.

The Religious Authority, Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah, said:

Islam has accepted the opposition and gave the opinion of the other the full opportunity to express itself in an Islamic state and even if it were confronting the Islamic rulers, including the Messenger (p.) who did not express his own opinion but was conveying what was told to him by God {Nor does he speak out of desire. It is naught but revelation that is revealed}. Although the Messenger (p.) was not responsible before the people but before God, yet he addressed the Muslims in one of his speeches and told them that they could not hold anything against him, for he did not made lawful or unlawful except what the Quran did. Imam Ali (a.s.), on his part, used to encourage people to practice their right in criticizing the ruler and asked them not to stop saying what they believed to be right or counseling to what is just and maintained that he too might make mistakes.

But Islam stipulated that the opposition’s criticism should be objective, one that has the interests of the nation in mind and that it should not be seeking only to sit in the place of the rulers. It should resort to use acceptable methods and present alternatives. Moreover, it should prepare its political economic and social policies, so to be ready in advance when it replaces the sitting government.

Any opposition has the right to object to the practices and policies of the government especially if these practices contradict the very slogans the ruler claims to adopt, but it has to be very cautious and careful in its positions and actions. If the opposition presents itself as the conscience of the people, it has to make sure that its actions safeguard the major Islamic and national causes. It should keep always in mind the general atmosphere its movement is interacting with, and do not provide the regional and international players with a chance to exploit the state of internal anarchy to destabilize the country while posing as saviors.

Based on this, we say to all oppositions in the Arab and Islamic world that they bear a national and religious responsibility of keeping in mind the nation's big causes and not look at the local political scene only.

Protecting the nation's strategic positions against the external enemy has the utmost priority. And the nation's vital interests gain precedence on other interests. They do not cancel the local interests but they may call for a freeze of the internal demands.

This does not mean that the responsibility lies on the opposition only; those in power too ought to be more concerned in preserving the general interests and keep away from any abuse of power especially those that involve using the major interests as a pretense to destroy the opposition… Political differences of view are the natural method to monitor the success and failures of the ruling party. It also provides the nation with viable alternative policies in case the adopted policies proved to be unworkable.

Nevertheless, we are in a stage that could neither withstand any adventurous step by the opposition nor any neglect of the grand responsibilities that the government shoulders. The plans that are being drawn to confiscate whatever positions against the arrogance we still possess are far more dangerous than the trivial political differences in our everyday local political life.

We are not saying that those who are calling for reform should forego their slogans, or change their opposition positions, since one of our biggest problems is the lack or the taming of the opposition, but they, the opposition parties, should strike a balance between what could be achieved inside and the need to face the external arrogant offensive being a major one that is far more critical than all sectarian or party demands.

The situation in Palestine will witness new American-Israeli attempts to force the Palestinians to yield and to make the new leadership accept the never- ending concessions imposed by Bush's and Sharon's agenda. We expect the Israelis to adopt even bloodier practices in the coming months to force the Palestinians to surrender while claiming that they wish to implement the Road Map.

The Situation in Iraq too is heading towards a further acceleration of the already existing state of chaos. The American Administration wants all the parties in Iraq and around it to sink in the political and security quicksand. It is not thinking about the Shiite or Sunni interests, but rather in the way that promotes the execution of its strategic goals that were draw long before the invasion of Iraq and that aim to subjugate the entire nation.

We, as a nation, and whether on the ruling side or the opposition, have to uphold our unity away from all sectarian or political divisions. The threats and dangers we are facing and those we are about to confront are far more important and more reaching then the illusions and sand castles that we envisage…And they will make the temple fall on the heads of all of us if we do not cement our national and Islamic unity.