Stands >2005 Stands >The Stand of Rabi' II 29 1426H /June 7, 2005 A.D.

The Islamic view towards citizenship

Sayyed Fadlullah: If we want to build the country, we ought to build an institutional state that is based on the principle of citizenship in which each individual is equal to all others before the law.

Asked in his weekly seminar the following question : How do you view the issue of citizenship in the light of Islam?

The Religious Authority, Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah, said:

The meaning of citizenship is belonging to the country and the duties and responsibilities that come with it towards the homeland. But it is not merely a commitment towards the land; it rather involves all the dimensions that the concept implies.

Yet the value of the homeland or the land is measured by how much it secures for the citizen a space to live in both physically and spiritually… How much freedom it gives to the citizen to introduce his thoughts to others and make a healthy future for himself and his country. Citizenship is the basis of man's relations with the political system and the state, regardless of all other considerations whether religious, racial or political… Each citizen is equal to the others in all the rights and duties he is entitled to. Therefore, the sectarian regime kills the concept of citizenship turning the homeland into heterogeneous sectarian states, and the people into divided and hateful fanatic individuals.

The concept of citizenship has failed to be adopted in our country, despite all what we talk about in our political discourse. This prospect was the result of considering the mentality of division as sacred: We did not try to find the common factors that join it. Instead, each group went back to its sectarian trenches, seeking protection for itself only. We could have all found mutual guarantees if we sought to cling to the common factors that are based on the concept of citizenship that bonds us together.

Moreover, had we sought to rid the country of political confessionalism which has been well guarded by foreign and regional powers, we would have eliminated all elements of division that these powers are making every effort to cement.

We have spent decades cursing the arrogant West, or certain individual countries accusing them of being responsible of dividing us into countries and sates. Yet even these states are now threatened as we have lost any felling of belonging to them, and bean to feel that we only belong to sects. Such a tribal attitude prevents us of being equal before the laws and consequently provides a safe haven for all forms of corruption and plunder.

Therefore, I believe that we need a real cultural revolution that changes the prevailing mentality and portrays the image of a modern state that is based on the principle of giving and taking, and not this confessionalist mentality that has even invaded the political parties and movements which gains supporters on confessional grounds, thus preventing any kind of criticism for their practices.

If we want to build the country, we ought to build an institutional state that is based on the principle of citizenship in which each individual is equal to all others before the law. This can only reached through the emergence of new youth leaders who have not been educated on sectarian attitudes, and who are sincerely looking for ways to build the future… Leaders who do not live the mentality of hatred towards the other, whoever he might be.

Finding individual protection by resorting to the sects will only deepen the existing divisions, which we are in a dire need to put on end to.

We should accept the existing social and political pluralism that paves the way for a mutual understanding through constructive dialogue that aims at a general consensus on how to build the citizen, this nation and the state.