Do not be a blind follower

السيد علي محمد حسين فضل الله

The first Sermon

 Do not be a blind follower

Allah says in His Glorious Book: And similarly, We did not send before you any warner into a city except that its affluent said, “Indeed, we found our fathers upon a religion, and we are, in their footsteps, following.”. Allah, the Most Exalted speaks the truth.

 This Ayat points out to the logic the prophets suffered from when they called to what Allah has revealed to them … When the prophets said to the people “Come to what Allah has revealed and to the Messenger,” they say, “Sufficient for us is that upon which we found our fathers.” Even though their fathers knew nothing, nor were they guided. They used to follow the logic of their fathers and forefathers, and they were not ready to reflect on what the prophets brought them even if it was the truth and was for their own good. That is why the Quran responds by saying: Even though their fathers knew nothing, nor were they guided. And: “Even if what I brought you is better guidance than what you found your forefathers practicing.

This logic is not restricted to following the forefathers, it extends to all those who follow the social, political and religious parties or those who follow the traditions and norms of the society or those who adopt what other people say or do without any thinking. That is why Allah called on His Messenger   to say to all those who confronted him:  Say, “I only advise you of one [thing] – that you stand for Allah, [seeking truth] in pairs and individually, and then give thought.” The prophets faced this blind following, because they wanted the people to give thought and let their minds be the judge and not to be an echo of others. This is what the Messenger of Allah explained when he advised the people against being an Umaa :do not be an Umaa, which is to say I am with the people and I am like any of them. There are two spheres that of Good and that of evil. Don’t make the realm of evil be more to your likening than that of the good. According to the Messenger’s logic, man should not adopt what the people say or do. There are two roads: one is the road of good and right and the other is the road of falsehood. And the believer ought to be with the right even if all the people were against him and he should be against falsehood even if all people supported it. The Holy Quran asserted this when it considered each individual responsible for his/her acts and choices. And it will not be accepted from him/her to say:  I took this stand in accordance with my family’s or party’s stand. Allah says in the Holy Quran:when˺ every soul will come pleading for itself. And:  And all of them are coming to Him on the Day of Resurrection  And Read your record[It will be said], “Read your record. Sufficient is yourself against you this Day as accountant… That is why the Holy Quran has conveyed to us what will happen when the followers will meet the followed on the Day of Judgment: And they will come out [for judgement] before Allah all together, and the weak will say to those who were arrogant, “Indeed, we were your followers, so can you avail us anything against the punishment of Allah?” They will say, “If Allah had guided us, we would have guided you. It is all the same for us whether we show intolerance or are patient: there is for us no place of escape.” In another Ayat, the Quran quotes those who will be punished by the Hellfire when they are asked about what they have done to enter Saqar( a deep valley in Hell)  “What put you into Saqar?” They will say, “We were not of those who prayed, Nor did we used to feed the poor. And we used to enter into vain discourse with those who engaged [in it].  Here, the following question might be posed: If Islam is against the blind following of others, how do we explain its call to follow the prophets and the religious scholars without any discussion? Allah does not want us to follow them blindly. He presented all the evidences that indicate their prophethood and empowered them with miracles and sent with them the convincing messages. And the one who has brought the truth and those who embrace it—it is they who are the righteous.    

Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered prophet, whom they find written [i.e., described] in what they have of the Torah and the Gospel, who enjoins upon them what is right and prohibits them from what is wrong and makes lawful for them what is good and forbids them from what is evil and relieves them of their burden and the shackles which were upon them. So they who have believed in him, honored him, supported him and followed the light which was sent down with him – it is those who will be the successful. And He said:There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. That is why there is no emulation in issues of faith. As for emulating the jurisprudent, it should be based on being convinced with his knowledge and ability of deducing rulings, in case the Mukallaf cannot deduce them from the Quran and the Sunnah on his/her own. It is useful to say in this respect that emulation is restricted to juristic issues and does not extend to doctrinal, political, social and daily life issues.

That is why, although it is natural to belong to a family or to a political and social group, it does not follow that one should not think and devise his/her own conclusions, decisions and convictions. If they meet with those of the others, he/she would join them. If not, they would adopt the decision they see right, away from every emotion or fanaticism.

The second sermon

Worshippers of Allah, The Most Exalted, I advise you and myself, on the occasion of the birth of Sayyida Zainab on the fifth of this month, to follow her example when she met Yazid . As tired and exhausted she was, she wanted to tell the tyrant who was jubilant with his “victory” the truth of the matter, and that he should be certain that the future will not evolve in the way he planned. She stood there, empowered by the might of belief, unafraid by the tyrant’s might to say:   You may contrive and try however much you can. By Him who honored us with revelation, the Book and Prophethood, you cannot achieve our status, nor reach our position, nor can you effect our mention, nor remove from yourself that shame and dishonour that is now your lot because of perpetrating excess and oppression on us. Your word now is weak and your days are counted. Beware of the day when the announcer would announce the curse of Allah on the oppressors and the unjust.

 This is the image we should always draw in our mind for Zainab, so that she will not be portrayed, as some do, as a humiliated and defeated woman…   She was a free and courageous believer who confronted falsehood and tyranny and a role model for all those who face challenges.

We begin by Lebanon, where the economic social and living crises continue to aggravate, and they will aggravate even more when the government decides to lift the subsidies for the basic commodities, even if it calls it an act of rationalizing. When this happens it will not only affect the living and health conditions of the citizens, but also their security and stability. And this is what we are witnessing nowadays as the theft crimes and the aggressions against private properties increase, which might end up in violating the sovereignty of the country and its free decision, due to the interrelation between the security and the politics on the one hand and the economy on the other.

  In the meantime, the political parties that are concerned with forming the government continue to be overwhelmed with their rows and conflicts, that have nothing to do with relieving the country from its suffering by forming a government that is able to run its affairs in these difficult times. Instead, they differ about the share of each party in this government without taking into account that this country cannot be built except on the basis of consensus and mutual agreement not on the shares and gains of each party, but on how to resolve its crises.

In this respect, we hope that the on-going meetings and contacts would help in reaching a solution although this does not seem imminent.

 Faced by this reality, we warn, yet again, the political parties from the repercussions of continuing to turn their backs to the Lebanese sufferings and pains and marking time. We warn them about the anger of the Lebanese people who will not continue to wait indefinitely.

 We say to these parties that you are still able to gain the support of the people, provided that  they feel that you are truthful and earnest in relieving them from their sufferings, and that you have abandoned your individual and private calculations and interests and gave utmost priority to those of the people.

It is shameful to see that there are some who are waiting for the French president to end the sufferings, or for the new American president to be inaugurated, as if the country can afford to wait, or as if the Lebanese cannot run their own affairs.

They all have to know that nobody can help them if they do not help themselves and that foreign states are not welfare organizations. They give something to take something else in return. And they take a lot.

As for the port blast, the Lebanese, especially the victims’ families and those whose properties were damaged, are still waiting to know what happened and who is responsible.

In this respect, we have called on the judiciary to shoulder its responsibility and reveal the facts. But this will not take place unless justice is fully done. The investigation should include all those who were successively in charge of running the port or overseeing it, respectful of any political or sectarian considerations.  

With all this clamor about the judiciary, we renew our call to preserve the integrity of the judiciary and to ensure that justice is done … So that we would not witness, as we did, a selectivity in charging, or a violation of the normative procedures that made the judiciary a tool in the political struggle.

 The judiciary should be kept away from politics and sectarianism and it should not succumb to any pressures regardless of their sources, for the country cannot thrive without a just and honest judiciary. All should be equal under the law, lest we would face the fate the Messenger talked about in this regard:  O people! Those who came before you were only destroyed because when one of their nobles stole, they let him off, but when one of the weak people among them stole, they would carry out the punishment on him.

We would also like to renew our warning from using sectarian incitation in the political struggle, for if the sectarian struggle erupts, it will hit all parties and no one will remain safe.

Lastly, we renew our call to abide by the prevention measures towards the coronavirus, especially with the big increase we witnessed in the last few days. We call on the government that is opening new sectors to be stricter in enforcing them, so that we will not be forced to go back to the lockdowns the Lebanese do not wish to return to and face a catastrophe the health sector is not prepared to deal with.