Stands >2004 Stands >The Stand of Zu elkoada 27  -1424H /January 20 2004A.D.


Renewed calls for dialogue with France and the West

Sayyed Fadlullah: Although we might sometimes have certain objections or reservations on certain issues, we want to be balanced in our reactions towards France and other European powers by showing gratitude to those who have taken independent positions based on their better understanding to our culture and issues

Asked in his weekly seminar the following question: Reflecting on the Islamic adamant rejection of certain Western ideas, especially in the aftermath of the opposition to the French position concerning the veil, many in the West are asking about the use of dialogue. Some are even asking the following question: Does the Arab “street” want to lose even the opportunity of a dialogue with France to let the American Administration gain additional cards in the region?

The Religious Authority Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah said:

When we, as Muslims, talk about dialogue, we mean the rational objective dialogue, which does not compromise our practice on the ground, for we are not calling for a dialogue that contains any aggression to the others. At the same time, we would continue to adhere to our Islamic principles and values, although we know very well that in many cases we are not welcomed as a partner in this dialogue unless we are ready to forego them.

In the case of the veil in particular, it was interesting, to say the least, that some found a contradiction between our objection to certain Western positions, and our readiness to engage in a dialogue on all issues including that of the veil, which could well be one of the essential issues the dialogue should focus on, since certain culturally rooted misunderstandings, might be a result of being not acquainted with the cultural background of the other. That is why we have said repeatedly that our objection of the French position regarding the question of the veil does not offend France just as the French criticism of certain negative aspects in our Muslim and Arab society does not offend us.

Therefore, as we continue to oppose the French position towards the veil, we call on all Muslims to engage in a rational and objective dialogue with the French state. We also call on the French Muslims in particular to discuss the issue with the French government with an open mind, while holding to their Islamic principles on the hand and showing full respect to their French citizenship and its obligations on the other hand, especially that it calls for freedom of faith and respect of social and cultural diversity. We want the Muslims in France, and the West in general, not to have a complex towards the other, but we want them at the same time not to stop demanding their rights.

On the other hand, we find that certain Western parties and as a result of subjective or political complications rule out any dialogue and try to impose themselves on the Islamic world… They declare frankly that they are not ready to engage in a dialogue about the definition of terrorism or its motives and the developments that forced some to adopt it. This is what we notice in America’s policy of pressure and compelling, a policy that led to political economic and security devastation.

Moreover, the Arabs and Muslims-American relations deteriorated even further when the ideological theoreticians of this administration considered these complications as a result of the Islamic civilization that is inherently aggressive.

That is why we do not agree with those who talk about a general difference between the Islamic and Western cultures in all political and religious aspects, and even the issues of freedoms. The problem of the American Administration is not restricted to its aggression against Muslims. However, it also includes its attempt to subjugate Europe and the entire world. We also believe that certain Western countries and France in particular, have been able to emerge as distinct powers with a European personality that is able to understand the Arab and Islamic question. Therefore, as we might sometimes have certain objections or reservations on certain issues, we want to be balanced in our reactions by showing gratitude, on the basis of the Islamic rule that states: He who seeks the right but does not reach it is not equal to he who seeks falsehood and finds it.