Stands >2004 Stands >The Stand of Jumada'I 4 1425H / June 22, 2004 A.D.

Reform Projects and the Debate on the Broader Middle East

Sayyed Fadlullah: The reform we want is one that relieves us from our ideological backwardness on the basis of the Islamic humanistic principles that respect man and hold him in charge of change.

Asked in his weekly seminar the following question: With all that talk about the need for reform in the Arab and Muslim World, how do you diagnose the conditions of this world? Does it really need reform? And what about the motives of those who have raised them? 

The Religious Authority Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah said:

Everybody probably knows that the reality of Arab and Islamic World is that of the autocratic regimes that would not allow any political diversity. The most they would tolerate is a tame opposition that is no more than a democratic decoration. Even in the Arab countries, that have some political freedoms, the freedom of speech is being curtailed for the dominating octopus that controls the region and the world prevents any democratic change.

Moreover, the wealth of these countries is concentrated in the hands of a small group of people that imposes its own privileges. Waste and corruption are abundant, while there is practically no accountability, rule of law or democratic processes that ensure change of governments.

As to the issue of the struggle with Israel, most regimes have either publicly or secretly begun to open up on Israel, although the latter's terror on the Palestinians is increasing, which means that the regimes say one thing in public and practice something else behind closed doors, with most if not all regimes queuing to ride the American train and follow the arrogant dictates.

But the biggest catastrophe is the on-going debate about the so-called “The Broader Middle East” which is meant to plan reform for our countries… the G8 countries and the EU have taken part in this debate, which means that they are planning for a new colonialist rule that wants to reformulate our conditions to accommodate the imperial needs, especially that of the United States. Thus, we are sure that they do not want us to establish institutions that would give our peoples the responsible freedom to conduct change, but merely certain decorative talk about freedom and human rights.

Even on the level of the people, we do not find that the individuals practice recognition of the other whether on the personal level or on the various political, social and religious levels. Freedom is missed whether at home, in school or in the society at large with no respect to human rights, justice and other humane values.

This backward state is responsible in one way or another for producing the radical trends that misinterpret Islam and practice acts of terror and violence that are not accepted by Islam. These unlawful acts include killing non-Muslim civilians who live among us and who have nothing to do with what their administrations are doing.

Such terrorist acts, like the recent killing of a hostage in Saudi Arabia and like what is daily going on in Iraq distort the image of Islam and give ample excuses for the American and Israeli aggressive policies. Consequently, those who are committing these barbaric acts are serving the arrogant interests, whether they know it or not.

On the other hand, the Arab and Islamic regimes have in general adopted the arrogant war against terrorism that targets the Arab and Islamic World. But they did not draw plans to confront this unjustified violence. On the contrary, they follow the C.I.A. instructions in all domains, whether political, military, social or even economic.

Thus, we reassert that the question is not about whether reform will be practiced form the inside or forced from the outside. It is a movement that seeks to serve both the arrogant interests and the Arab and Muslims regimes, which means that they will both agree on a certain formal democratic decoration that essentially promotes the arrogant interests.

We, in the Arab and Islamic world, need reform… But it is the reform that is initiated from our own conditions and aims at changing the ideological backwardness we live in and open up on the Islamic values that respect man. Then, we would develop our understanding of modern issues on the basis of the Holy texts that could deal with every issue in all times and places, since Allah has made change in the hands of man, and held him responsible for what he chooses whether good or evil.