Stands >2004 Stands >The Stand of Shawwal 24 1425H / December 07, 2004 A.D.

Fanaticism in the Third World

Sayyed Fadlullah:We, the people, especially the intellectuals, ought to change this sad reality of growing fanaticism so as to stop producing more dictators in the name of sects, parties and the like.

Asked in his weekly seminar the following question: How does Islam view fanaticism and its political and social effects in our contemporary world?

The Religious Authority, Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah, said:

The Problem that faces man in his religious, racial and political affiliation is being totally overwhelmed by his subjective emotions. This will lead him to fanaticism, which will make him unable to open others.

He will not care about the meaning of his commitment, and his only concern will be to side with those who are with him. He would be applying the old pre-Islamic rule of supporting one's brother whether just or not.

This would also extend to the social and political fields. The individual will thus turn into merely an echo or a shadow of others.

Such people will lose their intellectual or ideological independence.

We are not against believing in a certain ideology or becoming a member of a certain party.

This is a natural right, but fanaticism leads to an instinctual reaction which denies the right of others to believe in their ideology and leads the fanatic to refuse to engage in dialogues with the other.

There is a big difference between believing in certain beliefs and striving to realize them, while at the same time being convinced of the right of the others to believe in different ideas, and between fanaticism which cancels the others. Such fanaticism might turn into a personality cult.

In this respect, we remember that Imam Zein Al-Abideen has described fanaticism, as a negative values because it makes one see the bad among his folk better than the good in others.

He also added: "It is not fanatical to love your own people, but to help them commit what is wrong".

But the kind of fanaticism our societies are living is dangerous: There is no objective citeria to judge any individual or party. They all enjoy prior support that cancels all mistakes and does not recognize any mistake. There was some hope that political parties will constitute a forum for internal debate, but they turned into prison where members suffocate and where cult personality thrives at the expense of the institution and those who belong to it.

Minorities in our party life are suppressed, and discussions are oppressed if they involve internal matters. In contrast, we see in the West that parliament member may even vote against his own party, for he considers himself responsible before the people and not the party leadership.

We do not want to talk about the West as a role model, for they have the same sickness, especially in the United States where its president has appointed his close associates and even his lawyers as new cabinet members.

Such appointments are based on the personal relationship that does not take the required qualification into consideration.

This proves that political primitive is imposing itself on many positions in the West although its holders present themselves as messengers of change and reform in the world.

But what we have to do in our own world is to work on reforming our parties and sects, where fanaticism has become abundant and where the political parties have turned into a problem.

Our political parties have imported the illnesses of the sects, and all we have done is adding new sects to the already existing ones, but with modern names.

The problem is that our political, sectarian and party entities did not turn into institutions.

It lacks the spirit of criticism. We, the people, especially the intellectuals, ought to change this sad reality of growing fanaticism so as to stop producing more dictators in the name of sects, parties and the like.