Recently, Arab Diffusion Company, Beirut, Lebanon, published a book titled “The Sectarian Issue; Reading in Sheikh AlSaffar’s Discourse” by Sayyed Ibrahim AlZaki. This book includes nine chapters besides an introduction and a conclusion, and discusses several diverse issues such as inter-faiths and inter-sects rapprochement, the necessity of political and religious reform for facing contemporary challenges and how to promote a culture that respects freedom and diversity.
Sayyed AlZaki mentions that any observant to the discourse of Sheikh Hassan AlSaffar can mark that he gives the sectarian dilemma and its issues a great deal. He confirms that such discourse by AlSaffar, who had publicly criticized the outstanding political, religious and cultural conditions, was not recent.
In the first chapter, the author writes about the features of Sheikh AlSaffar’s personality and the circumstances that lead to the emergence of his discourse. He indicates that AlSaffar is a religious leader with prominent status in society, and, at the same time, he is modest, open-minded and seeking intercommunication with the public.
He points out that nations, throughout the last years, had faced repression, marginalization, hatred incitement and religious discrimination, and were under external and internal threats. It was seriously required to address these factors and issues, and this is what AlSaffar had effectively done.
AlZaki, in the second chapter, refers to AlSaffar’s views over sectarianism. Sheikh AlSaffar believes that the issue of sectarianism is promoted by two substantial factors; political and religious. The political factor represents in adopting the policy of sectarian discrimination between citizens for political objectives whereas the other one represents in the approach of religious discourse that aims fueling sectarianism and intolerance.
In another chapter, the writer discusses the efforts which were made by Sheikh Hassan AlSaffar for achieving rapprochement. He indicates that AlSaffar had worked hard for promoting the culture of rapprochement and intercommunications through making initiatives and having productive dialogues between followers of different religious groups.
In the chapter which is titled “Issues over Intolerance, Tyranny and Freedom”, AlZaki notes that AlSaffar had tackled the history of intolerance and tyranny, and how he had confirmed that there are no religious texts in Islam that legalize ruling people by force. He emphasizes that Islam promotes freedom of expression and religion.
The author, also, mentions that AlSaffar believes that transformation can be achieved by political reform first and, then, by enforcing the principles of dialogue, unity, citizenship and freedom of expression as well as by rejecting sectarian incitement and approving cultural, political and religious diversity.
Moreover, Sayyed AlZaki states that AlSaffar believes that the region is in a critical situation which provokes concerns because there are several dangerous foreign projects for dominating the region. For dealing with this situation, AlSaffar confirms the necessity of focusing on two essential factors; addressing deficiencies and weakness by persisting on reform and development, and strengthening the national unity.
In the last three chapters, AlZaki clears Sheikh AlSaffar’s views over the Issue of sectarianism from three aspects religious reform, intellectual reform and the figures’ responsibility. AlSaffar believes in the importance of reconsidering history and objectively criticizing heritage to eliminate all factors to incitement and intolerance. He stresses the significance of protecting the society intellectually and promoting its awareness in order to prevent the spread of extremism culture and radical attitudes. Moreover, it is necessary to make practical steps and effective programs after dialogue conferences and meeting in order to apply their recommendations; otherwise, they will be just unproductive, useless speeches.