Lebanon: Fadlallah calls for gender equality, independent thought
BEIRUT,(Daily Star): Lebanon’s Senior Shiite cleric Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah stressed the need for equality between men and women, adding that no religious rulings forbids women from acceding to top posts.
Speaking during an iftar banquet for the women’s section of the Al-Mabarrat Foundation, Fadlallah said women should be able to make it into the government “if they have the necessary merits,” adding that some women are much more knowledgeable than men.
The Shiite cleric gave the example of Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s recent nomination of three women to join his cabinet, “which called for the issue to be referred to higher references to decide on the matter.”
Fadlallah said that women and men were partners in political as well as religious responsibilities. “If a woman is knowledgeable enough she can become a religious reference,” he added.
The cleric said the oppression of women in the East was a source of “ignorance and backwardness,” adding that “a woman should get an education and realize the importance of education so that her mind can generate thought.”
Fadlallah called creating “an advanced, civilized and open Arab world.”
He also criticized Arab leaders, saying they acceded to power “through partisanship rather than qualifications.”
The Shiite cleric said the Arab people have yet to come up with their own ideas, principles and thought.”
“We remain hostages to Western thought, he said
“We should make our voices heard rather than echo what our selfish leaders and the West have to tell us,” he added.
The Sayyed stressed the importance of the mind in shaping the human being.
“Men and women should build their minds through contemplation, experience, reading and actions rather than words,” he said.
Fadlallah urged Lebanese to “enter the world of the mind in order to make life and justice.”
He also warned against “rigid minds,” that “in turn paralyze the life and society around human beings.”
“Therefore,” the cleric added, “people should have independent minds and should think for themselves.”
Fadlallah also called for an innovative and creative approach to life, and warned against “blind dependence.”
He said that most of the time religious, sectarian, political and social traditions were a result of inherited conventions, “rather than the fruits of creativity.”
“We think that human freedom [is linked to] free thinking and free will,” he added.
Fadlallah explained that falling victim to traditions, the environment, and dependency denied people of free thinking.
“You are no longer thinking or creating; you are living on the margins of someone else’s thinking,” the cleric said.