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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A challenge for Arab apologists

A London Islamic website called "Middle East Monitor" published an article that discusses, in depth, the philosophy of the late Ayatollah Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah concerning "Palestine."

It is worth reading in full, but here are some of the highlights:
For Ayatollah Fadlallah, Palestine is a Muslim issue over and above in importance any other in the world today, from which spring all other issues affecting Arab and Muslim countries. Hence, "Our position towards the Palestinian case is a religion we believe in, and not just a political slogan we consume today to leave tomorrow."

He stressed that Palestine summarises the past century, all the pains of the nation and all the dreams of the nation: "I do not dream without Palestine, and all the dreams fall when Palestine falls… It is not a battle, not negotiations, and it is not details; Palestine is the story of the nation: to be or not to be."

Ayatollah Fadlallah called for adopting Islam as the healthiest and safest method to achieve victory over the Zionists, saying "There's an axis and that is Islam in the face of Israel... we are stronger than any day because we are with Islam. The political battle of Islam is the conflict with Israel, and there is no Islam and Islamic political movement that is outside of the conflict with Israel."

He stressed that Israel is a usurper state, "and usurping [others' rights] is forbidden just as alcohol is forbidden, and there won't come a time when usurping becomes lawful". The passing of time - even hundreds of years - does not give legitimacy to the taking of anything that is not rightfully yours. He was part of the scholarly consensus that forbids the giving up of any part of Palestine; if an individual has the right to give up part of his own home, that's one thing, but a nation does not have the right to give up its land, because the nation does not just belong to the people living at any one time, it is the sum of generations of people who have lived and died therein. "The duty of the nation's scholars, whether Sunni or Shiite," he said, "is to restore Palestine in its entirety, from the river [Jordan] to the sea, and to mobilise the Arab and Muslim conscience for its sake."

The size and seriousness of the challenge, believed Ayatollah Fadlallah, requires us to widen the conflict with the enemy and integrate all of its concentric circles: Palestinian, Arab, Islamic and humanitarian. It also imposes on us that we prepare for a battle until God wishes victory and liberation. The Palestinian issue, he said, is Palestinian in its geography and its people, Arabic in its nationality and Islamic in the depth of meanings that govern its people.

...He also claimed frequently that Israel will not be strong forever and Arabs and Muslims will not be weak forever. As such, the struggle to liberate Palestine will span generations and he invited Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims not to impose time limits for resolving the issue. Just as, he said, we face an enemy who lived for many generations until it usurped the land, we must live even more generations to recover what is rightfully ours: this "equation of freedom is truly understood only by the mujahideen [freedom fighters]".

Conflict with Zionist Jews is not just a Palestinian matter, he believed, but is related to the Arab and Muslim presence in a region where America and other Western countries have sought to secure their own interests. Hence, they created Israel and make sure that it is the strongest state in the heart of the Arab world to prevent the latter from communicating, and meddle in its economics, politics and security in war and peace.

America's support for Israel, concluded Ayatollah Fadlallah, is the reason for Arab and Muslim hatred of American policies; the US policy on Palestine is "hypocritical", giving lethal weaponry to Israel and only words to the Palestinians. America, he claimed, is not interested in peace; it wants to buy time, creating despair until Israel completes its plan to control most of Palestine and imposes its terms for an agreement.

Ayatollah Fadlallah supported resistance against the Israeli occupation and the intifada in Palestine with all his strength and said that although the intifada alone cannot liberate Palestine it can liberate our collective belief that the Israelis are unbeatable. The intifada has let it be known that the Arab is not the man who is always slain, but is a man "who kills and gets killed", a quote from the Qur'an. He issued a fatwa authorising martyrdom operations against the Israeli enemy by virtue of having no other option but to do so, even if such operations led to the killing of civilians. A martyrdom operation, he said, represents the oppressed depth of the Palestinians' conscience which stores inside it the Muslim Arab character and its aspirations and pain but which is open to spiritual values, including jihad, pride, dignity and freedom, leading to the approval of God and paradise. At that stage, said Ayatollah Fadlallah, the body has no meaning and the male or female martyrs are encompassing the pain of the nation in their actions, as though the nation is struggling through them, and as if the nation gathers to give them its strength and courage, so that they can move towards the cause and forget the body. Thus, he ruled that "martyrdom operations are jihadist first class operations, but are the highest types of jihad." He pointed out that there is no difference in martyrdom operations between men and women, but the women's movement has more reward and is more altruistic than men's.
We are always told how the opinions of the Islamists and extremists do not represent the vast majority of Arabs and Muslims, and about how Arabs really yearn for peace and would be willing to recognize Israel if it would go back to 1949 armistice lines. We are told that the Saudi "peace plan" would be accepted by the Arab world.

The challenge:

Find a single Arab Muslim who lives in the Middle East today, who would be willing to fisk this article and explain how it does not represent the opinions of the vast majority of Arab Muslims today.

Based on my reading Arabic newspapers every day for the past few years, Fadlallah's opinion quoted here seems to be exactly congruent with what the vast majority of Arab Muslims firmly believe. But I am willing to be proven wrong.