Stands >2004 Stands >The Stand of Rajab 15 1425H / August 31, 2004 A.D.

Calls for recognizing the other

Sayyed Fadlullah: Recognizing the other includes respecting his freedoms and rights, especially the right of expression. It also means conducting an objective and purposeful civilized dialogue to reach common grounds.

Asked in his weekly seminar about the meaning of recognizing the other and the use of conducting a dialogue with the West, and especially the American Administration,

The Religious Authority, Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah, said:

This term of recognizing the other is no longer an intellectual one, but rather a political one that denotes the right of the others to exist. But it surpasses, in our view, the right of existence to include the right to think and act in a way that preserves his interests although it does not necessarily mean agreeing with him whether religiously or politically… Since multiplicity of ideas, stands and trends is a vital issue in a multiple society.

In the light of this, we should not limit it to the individual circle. Rather, we should study it in the wider social sphere that includes the cultural religious and political aspects.

In the cultural dimension, recognizing the other means recognizing a different culture and studying where you meet and where you differ with it without any attempt of one to cancel the other. Thus, a dialogue between the two cultural trends would represent something similar to the dialogue between civilizations.

In the religious dimension, recognizing the other's religion should be based on the Quranic approach of emphasizing the points the two meet on, and discussing the points of difference in the best means ethically and ideologically and trying to reach common factors. This could extend also to those who are not described as "People of the Book", as well as the secularists, with the overall concern of conducting a rational and objective dialogue.

In the political domain, recognizing the other should encompass political parties and personalities so as to avoid the politics of exclusion. And as we call for all political parties to recognize the others' right to express their opinions as a means of conducting a civilized competition and paving the way for a civilized dialogue, we also call on them to recognize the other within their party ranks. We call on them not to exclude those who differ with the opinion of the leadership. They should not be afraid of the opposition, and they should allow it to express its ideas and act on convincing the other party members, so as to become the majority and change the leadership.

Our problem in the Arab and Islamic world, as well as several countries in the Third World, might well be the culture of exclusion that have prevented the political and cultural vanguard from participating in the political process by physically or morally eliminating them. It is the responsibility of any authority to recognize and protect the freedom of all its citizens, and enable them to express their opinion especially those who do not agree with its views, so as we will not reach the stage where the security of the country is reduced to the security of the ruler, and so that he will not, along with his family and entourage, monopolize the country.

The same thing is true on the world level, where the super powers exclude other nations, by denying them their right to exist let alone the right to develop their own resources.

Thus, we believe that the talk about democracy is not based on a firm ground, since these superpowers do not have an interest in allowing other nations to be independent and masters of their own fate.

That is why we are witnessing an international attack led by the United States to cancel the others in the name of fighting terrorism. They are intimidating the Arab and Islamic World to impose a certain kind of recognition of the other (whether the American or the Israeli) that is actually accepting his political terms without any dialogue. That is why the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were waged. And that is why they want to impose the Israeli security conditions, deny the right of return and resettle Palestinians in their exiles. In short, they want to drop the international law in favor of the law of power.

This situation demands action on two levels: To promote the culture of recognizing the other in our political, ideological and religious lives on the basis of an objective and purposeful dialogue, and to confront the international offensive led by America and Israel.

In this respect, any progress on one front will have a positive impact on the other.