Friday, September 29, 2006

Where is my late father on all this? The other day, I had a pressing question for my mother. It has been on my mind for a week, if not more. I needed to know. It became pressing, the more I thought about it. I was wondering what my father's political stance would have been had he been alive. How would he have reacted to the developments in Lebanon? My father was quite (personally if not intellectually) secular and non-religious (he was not an atheist though), and really enjoyed earthly pleasures--every one of them. Politically, he was hard to categorize; and if I elaborate on this matter I may anger my sister. Certainly, he disliked the traditional feudal za`ims, like Kamil Al-As`ad. He knew them too well, and could not respect them when he saw them up close. So when I asked my mother that question, she first paused. My sister in the background was offended. "He was a leftist" I could hear her say. (He was not a leftist, but my sister has a habit of projecting her own politics on people she loves). And then my mother stated that he would be sympathetic with Hizbullah's current political position. He always disliked Rafiq Hariri she assured me, although my father died before Hariri became prime minister. But I asked her whether he would be more sympathetic to the Amal movement--the movement often attracts less (and non-) religious Shi`ites. She said no. She also said that he became more aware and proud of his Shi`ite identity in his last years, although he was always proud of his Shi`ite identity. He kept `Ali's legendary sword, Dhul-Fiqar on the wall (as much as my mother and sister wanted it down). `Ali's macho personality greatly appealed to my father, and he took pride in it, in a secular way. But his Shi`ite identity, was not religious nor was it sectarian. The people of Tyre, I always felt, were non-sectarian. Or they were the least sectarian of the people I knew in Lebanon. My grandfather's house in Tyre was close to the Christian quarter, and the AbuKhalils of Tyre had friendships with Christians which I did not see among the Sunni Beirutis (or among Christian Beirutis). He went to school in a Christian area (Hikmah) and then studied in Egypt. My father never entered a mosque. I never saw him pray. He probably fasted one day in his life, and I am not sure that he made it for the whole day. There is a dispute in the family over whether he completed the fast or not "that day." I don't know why I was curious. But that would help me understand the complicated position of many non-religious and non-sectarian Shi`ites toward Hizbullah and its weapons.