Riflessioni sul Perdono, sulla Dignità e sulla Riconciliazione

Hassan Hanafi Hassanien

Reflections of Hassan Hanafi Hassanien

I Theoretical analysis.

  1. The problem is no only political, economic or social but also ethical and religious. The political issue can be solved through balance of power or strong mediation but it may emerge again since the roots are in human consciousness. Peace in the world is first peace in the heart. How many time political agreements have been reached (Sudan, Somalia, Lebanon, Bosnia and Herzegovina, South Africa, Cuba…etc) but peace did not come. Motivations did not change.
  2. The problem is and ethical one touching human justice and dignity. Once violated, no peace will be possible. The challenge is a possible contradiction between interest and value. If interest is the norm of behavior of the two conflicting partners, there will be always conflict of interest. While moral awakeness brings back the two partners to a common ethical standard.
  3. Forgiveness does require repentance, a recognition that injustice which has been done to one partner was unethical and inhuman. However, repentance is not a simple word but a practical commitment not to repeat what has been committed before. Therefore, forgiveness is conditioned by repentance and repentance is conditioned by changing all forms of injustices inflicted to one partner including giving him back what has been usurpated from him, land, wealth, history…etc.
  4. The condition of forgiveness is to uplift injustice done to one partner, to get rid of arrogance, egoism and over-self-estimation, to recognize the universality of human rights and to repudiate all double-standard behavior.

II Practical experience: Islam and Reconciliation.

A- What is Islam?

The essence of Islam, described by a phenomenologist, may, differ from the factual Islam in the common place. Islam is usually seen as a dogmatic, ritualistic and fatalistic religion. The history of religions may be responsible for this image, given the general theoretical framework of the discipline, derived from particular religions and judging the whole according to some of its parts. Sometimes Islam is connected to violence, sectarianism, back-ward-ness, hunger, drought, and civil wars. Sociologists, anthropologists and political scientists may be also responsible for such an image, based on analogy between de facto and de jure. The factual judgement is not a value judgment. Such phenomena in the Muslim world are due to socio-political circumstances in developing societies, not to Islam as a belief system.
The term “ideology” may fit Islam better than the term “religion” in the usual sense. Islam is a system of ideas for understanding the world and changing it. It is a world view, theoretical as well as practical, oriented to conceive and to perform. It is a Universal Code of Ethics, coherent and homogeneous, describing the Ideal de scending to the Real, and the Real ascending to the Ideal, Logos actualizing into praxis, and praxis as a realization of Logos, an active dialectics between Idealism and Realism through action.

Islam can be described more geometrico, in a sketchy and schematic way, and far away from apologetics, as follows:

  1. Islam is a natural religion. Revelation and nature are identical. Revelation adds nothing to Nature and Nature reveals everything. Nature requires and Revelation responds. Nature empowers and Revelation accommodates. There is no super-natural order. All natural phenomena are subject to natural laws, uniform and permanent. Grace is also natural, the infinite energy and the unlimited possibilities in man for action.
  2. Islam is a rational religion. Revelation and Reason are identical. Nothing goes beyond human reason. The realm of the irrational, the non-rational or the super-rational denotes a lack of trust in human reason and the prevalence of passion. There are no mysteries beyond reason, subject to faith alone. Since revelation is natural and reason understands nature, Islam would be a complete identity between revelation, nature and reason.
  3. Islam is a humanistic religion. Man is the center of the Universe. Islam is a religion already modernized, from Theocentrism to Anthropocentrism, from the inauthentic to the authentic. The whole world is created for man. Man is the Vice-Gerant of God on earth. God even described Himself in Human attributes such as: science, power, life, word, and will. The humanization of God and the divinization of man reduce the distance between God and man to the minimum, a difference in Degree, not in Kind. The humanization of God is the Ideal descending towards the Real. The divinization of Man is the Real ascending to the Ideal.
  4. Man is affiliated to the Transcendence, a Universal principle which transcends time and space. Otherwise, the Universal code of ethics would be impossible. The Universal principle is epistemological, addressing the possibility of an existing and knowable truth, as an ontological principle, the cause of the existing world; and as an axiological principle, the foundation of the universal code of ethics. The universal principle manifests itself in the Good Deed itself, based on the good intention.
  5. Man is free. He can decide and choose. He is individualized by his freedom, from Divinity within. Since man is rational and there are objective attributes in human actions, making them right or wrong, reason conceives and freedom chooses. Human freedom is an experience of the affirmation of self-identity and autonomy. Other experiences of revolt, negation, protest and resistance reveal the desire for liberation, which is freedom in action.
  6. Man does not live alone. He lives with others in community. He is a part of a whole, a member in a social group. His social justice and equity would distribute the common wealth among all, in accord with work and productivity. Sharing the common wealth between all is a sign of the unity of God. Common ownership is a link between Divine and Immanent ownership. God owns everything and inherits everything. The Rulers have the right to confiscate and to nationalize private property for the benefit of the community. The common welfare comes before the individual interest. Work is the only source of value. Usury is gain without effort. Wealth does not increase by itself, but only through work and production.
  7. Islam is a religion of progress. Revelation developed in history parallel to the development of the human consciousness. Revelation pushes human consciousness, and human consciousness, on its own merits, pushes progress in history. The beginning was the distinction between consciousness and cosmos, recognition and matter, idea and object, mind and body. The cause was the liberation of human consciousness from the over-whelming power of the matter in a dialectics of success and failure for a final and accumulative experience. The end is the fulfillment of the autonomous and freed human consciousness. Progress is in the nature of things. Development is a phenomenon of life. Becoming is the essence of Being. Progress in revelation can be seen in the development, from the non monotheistic to the monotheistic religions. Within monotheistic religions, it can be seen also in the development of the Abrahamic religion from Judaism to Christianity and from Christianity to Islam.
  8. Islam is a world affirmative religion. This world is the road to the other world. Life requires work, effort and surmounting obstacles in order to achieve one’s goals. Performance in this world is the criteria of excellence in the other world, according to one’s merit. Monastic life is an individual option, not standard practice. Internal piety is exteriorized in external perfection. The moral law is not only individual and subjective, but also ontological and objective. The desire for eternity is a real human experience. Death is at the same time a limitation on the temporal life and an extension of the eternal life.

B- What Reconciliation is about?

Given the essence of Islam, which is Nature, Reason, Man, Transcendence, Free will, Community, Progress and World Affirmation, then reconciliation is easily done. Islam is known as the religion of Tawhid, which means unity or more precisely unification. Islam is against all forms of dissociation or opposition between the two sides of any equation. Religions are usually known by their inherent dualism, even monotheistic traditions in the historical context. Manicheism became in history the religion par excellence, the common denomination in all religions and even in popular traditions.

  1. 1- Since Islam is a religion of nature, any opposition between faith and science is left aside. Nature is full of signs denoting the presence of the Global unity. As the scientist explores nature further and further, he can also discover its internal wisdom, a philosophia perennis, called in Islam the Transcendence. Faith is not against science since faith is reason and reason is nature. Likewise, science is not against faith, since science is nature and nature is revelation and revelation is reason. There is no religious authority to dictate the articles of faith or to decree scientific laws. The conflict between faith and science is actually a power struggle between two social forces, conservative and progressive. The first closes and the second opens. The first formalizes and dogmatizes and the second deformalizes and dedogmatizes.
  2. Since Islam is a religion of reason, any opposition between reason and faith is left behind. Reason is the form of faith and faith is the content of reason. The means of knowledge are: the senses, accumulative experiences, internal as well as external reason, intuition and inference, and the scriptures, which are historically authentic, linguistically understood, literally as well as metaphori-cally, and ethically performed. Any deficiency in the scriptural arguments regarding these three dimensions of historical authenticity, linguistic interpretation and ethical behavior makes them purely hypothetical arguments. Nothing in faith goes beyond reason, and nothing in reason goes against faith. Any apparent contradiction between faith and reason is solved by maintaining reason as base and faith as base. Religions are rational duties.
  3. Since Islam is a humanistic religion, any opposition between God and man, between Theology and Anthropology, between Divine Rights and Human Rights, is pushed aside. God spoke for man. Man is the partner of God and his interlocutor. Man is the intention of God, his partner in dialogue. He is the object of Divine reflection, namely revelation. He is the center of the Divine word. There is no need even for images such as “God made himself man”, or “the spirit became flesh”. The idea is enough, in order not to fall into literal and physical interpretation. Defending man is honoring God. Struggling for Human Rights is implementation of Divine Imperatives.
  4. Since Islam is a religion of Transcendence, the universal principle manifesting in the good deed, no division would occur between faith and work. Faith has no other content except affiliation to the Universal Principle. Transcendence means going always beyond, “solvitur in excelsis”. Faith without works does not save. It is merely a word without meaning, an idea without action. Likewise, works without faith lacks the good intention and the universal standard.
  5. Since Islam is a religion recognizing human freedom, any opposition between Divine will and human will is surmount-ed. The Divine will is not personalized, but materiallized figuratively in the possibilities for human actions. Man is not living alone in a docile world. He is living amidst conflicts between interacting powers and taking part in the struggle. The obstacle requires resistance. At the same time, it is valued, since it helps in sharpening and strengthening human actions. Predestination is nothing else than destination, the vocation of man on earth, his message to be fulfilled. Man is capable of saving himself by himself. He does not need an external savior. He is only responsible for his own actions. He is born innocent, since nature is innocent, free from peccatum (sin). An ethical error requires only a renewal, namely repentance.
  6. Since Islam is a communal religion, any opposition between the individual and the social is resolved by maintaining the rights of the human initiative and the rights of the community to maintain equity and social justice. Work is essentially a self fulfillment, an implementation of the common cause, a realization of man’s vocation on earth. Its value is not in production for one’s self, but in the service due to others. It is not labor in the economic sense, requiring a salary and aiming at profit. Austerity as a model of native life prevents the whole community from consumerism. National savings are used for development.
  7. Since Islam is a religion of progress, any opposition between tradition and modernity is resolved. Tradition is one phase, modernity is another. All societies go from traditionalism to modernism. Tradition without modernity generates conservatism, whereas modernity uprooted from tradition falls into secularism, antagonizing the mass culture. The process of modernization is one of change through continuity. The model of discontinuity may succeed in one phase but not in all. It implies a possible collapse back to tradition. The model of juxtaposition may also succeed in one phase, but it does not prevent dissident voices in favor of integral modernism or integral traditionalism (Japan).
  8. Since Islam is a religion of World affirmations, any opposition between the Ideal and the Real, theory and practice, wishful thought and pragmatic expediency, is lifted up. The ideal is not an utopia, but realizable. The real is not refractory to change, but “idealizable”. There is no room for despair, frustration or depression. There is also no room for naive optimism, wishful thinking and narcissism, since the gap between the Ideal and the Real can be bridged. Life is trial and error, failure and success, to do and to do again, to perform and to perfect.

C- How Reconciliation occurs?

Given the essence of Islam as the theoretical basis of reconciliation, and given the resolution of religious duality in Islamic unity, reconciliation occurs from the inside world to the outside world, from the self to the universe. Reconciliation is the purpose of creed. Shari’a offers the modes as follows:

  1. Reconciliation in the inside world occurs in the self, by realizing the unity between thought and feeling, words (internal) and deeds (external). Any dislocation between the internal and the external leads to hypocrisy and duality in personality. Thinking without feeling is abstraction and lack of sincerity. Feeling without thinking is emotionalism and ephemeral passion. Saying without doing is hypocrisy and pretension. Doing without saying is a practical silence, lacking the power of utterance and the declared testimony. Thinking and feeling without saying and doing betrays fear and anxiety; it may create incapacity for action. Saying and doing without thinking and feeling is mere noise, tumultuous and hazardous action.
  2. Once unity in the Self is maintained, the unity of the first social cell, the family, comes next. The unity of the husband, wife and children is an extension of the unity of the self. The wife is a part of the husband and the children are parts of both. Peace and reconciliation in the hearts of the individuals are the basis of peace and reconciliation in family life. The man protects, sustains and educates. The woman shares responsibilities, supports and cares. Both have equal rights and duties as human beings in spite of a partial division of labor. Privations are due to history, to the development and the education of mankind. Family Law developed from the matriarchal to the patriarchal age. The sense of development and its direction can be used to minimize all privations till they disappear.
  3. Once reconciliation occurs in the individual and in the family it shines out in society. Classes in societies are like extended families, including relatives. Since the husband is the first responsible in the family, the ruler Imam, freely chosen by the society is also responsible for the whole community. He is the last to eat, to drink, to dress and to dwell, after satisfying the needs of all the members of his society. He implements the law. He is only an executive power, not a legislative or a judicial one. The sovereignty is for the law. The source of sovereignty is the people. The judiciary is independent of the executive. It is the high court which supervises the application of the law and the maintenance of social cohesion. Mass supervision through teaching and predication offers a daily critique of the performance of society and its powers. Then if open critique and admonitions do not succeed in correcting the errors and the arrogance of power, a revolt led by the judges and the teachers is launched, in order to recover the harmony and the unity between power and society.
  4. Once reconciliation is fulfilled in the individual, in the family and society, it floods over the whole world, through intercommunity relations. Complete equality in rights and in duties is assumed among all nations. All nations are equal in front of the universal principle, irrespective of religious denomination, of race and color, of degree of development, whether from the center or from the periphery. Racial discrimination is abominable and against the unity of mankind. Wars between nations, domination, exploitation and occupation by a nation against another. All are against the image of the unity of God reflecting on mankind. Liberation for all the oppressed individuals, families, social classes and nations is the only road for reconciliation. In this regard, Islam is not different from any other religion. What matters is reconciliation in human life, individual and social, in time and history. But a purely subjective reconciliation, without changing the status quo is illusory. An objective reconciliation is the way to salvation.

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