The modern nation of Lebanon has a heritage that goes back to the very dawn of human history. Its geographical position at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea has guaranteed its status as a cosmopolitan and multicultural center. In the Bible, Lebanon is mentioned as the source of cedar for the building of Solomon’s Temple, and as a land of abundance and beauty. To understand Lebanon’s current turmoil, we need to look at the history of the land; its people, religions and politics.
One of the basic tenets of the Islamic religion is the belief in the Last Day. Like Christians, Muslim people also believe in a Day of Judgment that leads to an eternal heaven or an eternal hell. They believe the Day of
Judgment will be foreshadowed by a variety of signs to warn the world of impending judgment. Some of the signs are general. They include moral decay, religious sectarian violence, religious apathy, hypocrisy, world fires
and smoke, and major landslides. The major signs include the rise of the sun from the west, as well as the rise of three major Islamic figures: Ad-Dajjal, Isa Al- Masih and Al-Mahdi.
Behind the veil, beneath the constricting cloak covering Islam, exists a muted minority that dares not show itself or allow its utterances to be heard. Declared members face death, ostracism and wrenching loss. Exposure costs all, bringing with it the burden of isolation; anguished individuals carom from shame to death’s edge to clandestine flight, grateful to find solace in a world of pseudonyms and assumed identity. In Islam, this is a world of incalculable risk, with exposure tapping the vein of Islamic sharia law. In Islam, this is the domain of the muted minority, the forlorn and abandoned. This is the domain of apostasy.
Bones, Stones, and the Hearts of Men: Compiling the Quran
His fame as a novelist came attached with a hefty price tag. More accurately, his fame came manacled to virulent strains of fundamental Islam. Until 1988 Salman Rushdie, with his heavy-lidded, pedestrian features, was an unlikely candidate for fame outside of literary circles. However, with the 1988 U.K. publication of The Satanic Verses, containing two controversial chapters relating to the Qur’an and Muhammad, Rushdie’s name became a conduit of Islamic rage.
Popular or folk religion always claims a connection, or even loyalty to the orthodox position — the practitioners sensing no disparity in their deviance. Thus is the paradox of our Muslim friends who petition a “saint” to intercede with Allah on their behalf or on behalf of a deceased family member. Orthodox Islam teaches there is one God, and no mediator between God and man — no one can take another’s place. Yet, when we observe the behavior of ordinary Muslims around the world, we see that the actual practices are quite different than the advertised rituals.
I was about twelve years old when I first saw the saint whom the Murids of Senegal call master, savior, and even god. I was just a city block away from our house, on my way to school, when out of nowhere, a crowd of Muslims rushed toward the Murid mosque nearby. I learned later that word had gotten out that the spiritual leader of the Murid Muslims had unexpectedly come there for prayer.