Building the “Greatest Jihad” movement in Lebanon

University summer courses are over, but war isn’t!  Working for a better social political management in Lebanon, as well as for human rights and peace is a continuous process, a lifetime struggle paved with numerous obstacles, and especially: extremist mentality and movements characterized by bigotry and bias, occupying most Lebanese ‘spaces’ (political, social, cultural, religious, sectarian,…) and often using violent means. When I asked my 60 students about their willingness to face such an obstacle, many preferred thinking of ways to leave the country once they graduate. “What about the suffering? And isn’t this mental/physical/intellectual effort like being on a treadmill going nowhere? A never-ending cycle? We can’t change our fate. We were always at war and we will always be. We are just banging our heads against the wall”.

One of my goals was and still is to encourage young people to think alternatively and start fighting back and I don’t agree with George Carlin’s quote: “Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity”. Fighting does not necessarily mean the use of violence. By ‘fight’ I mean a “Greatest Jihad” (from ‘juhd’ = effort), the inner struggle against the false self, the effort to better manage anger, hatred, traumas and wounded memories, as individuals and communities, and the will to fuel positive and constructive spaces of dialogue and conviviality.

Dr. Pamela ChrabiehThe false self is the inner tyrant, enslaving the true self by illusion. It forbids individuals from taking action. It censors them from speaking out, and rules them by fear. Such individuals would have a weak sense of identity (national identity), and show a tendency toward guilt and absolutism (black-and-white thinking).

 In other words, our worst tyrants aren’t the so-called political leaders, nor our neighbors, Syria and Israel, but ourselves! And if we do not operate the Greatest Jihad both individually and within a large movement, we will not have the ability to combat heinous abuses, nor to prevent physical conflicts, and not even to bridge and multiply the human capital that exists in Lebanon. This Greatest Jihad would allow connecting university students across different religious/sectarian and non-religious/sectarian affiliations in massive service projects.  It would allow social movements growing differently, not by drawing lines in the sand and saying ‘we on this side are against you on that side’, but by creating inter-political/social/religious and non-religious platforms of dialogue thus applied knowledge building.

Clearly, as Lebanese, and especially for those believing in Peace, we face a long and winding road. But there are three things I do not doubt: 1) the horizon is worth it ; 2) we will be able to reach it, at some point; 3) an active responsibility for both the individual and the common goods gives greater breadth and depth to our existence. So let us all follow the path of the Greatest Jihad and celebrate the rights of all Lebanese to life and liberty, and assume the responsibility for ensuring that we extend those inalienable rights to the many. As Sondra Myers states in the preface of ‘The Pluralist Paradigm’, “The task is vast, and eternal – and it is ours!

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  1. J’ai tout simplement adoré votre emploi du terme ‘Greatest Jihad’, surtout qu’en ces temps, on n’entend parler que de jihadistes barbus qui commettent les pires atrocités, ainsi que de femmes qui font le ‘jihad al nikah’ (sorte de prostitution halal)!

  2. Hello Dr. Chrabieh, i’m pleased to read the extremely interesting variety of posts on your blog and i congratulate you for all your efforts and for you co-authors’.

    i hope many many many Lebanese will understand this crucial statement!

  4. Achkuruki ductura 3ala hal mudawina al-ra2i3a!
    allah ya7fathik wa ya7fath kul al munadilin lil 7uriya wal salam

  5. True!
    Honestly, i’m sick of listening to people wining about everything without offering alternatives. So thank you for this post and this blog. I also follow your facebook page.

  6. The Lesser Jihad = defensive effort against enemies made the Greatest Jihad disappear!
    i honestly don’t know how much effort we should invest in rebuilding our country! huge! for generations!

  7. “Jihad is misconceived today as a term that suggests violence by non-muslims and Whole world (non-muslims) and many muslim brothers and sisters thinks that there is only one type of Jihad i.e Jihad with weapon against non-muslim but in real there are 3 types of Jihad (1)Jihad-an-nafs (2)Jihad ash-shaitaan (3)Jihad al-kuffar. some scholar says 4 types of jihad and that is (4)jihad wal-Munafiqeen (hypocrites) But first 3 are main or you can say proved jihads”
    ” Jihad-an-nafs (Jihad is to struggle against one’s own self and desires)
    Jihad-an-nafs is the most important and greatest jihad in islam. The messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said “The best Jihad is for one to perform Jihad against his own self and against his desires”. Struggling against one’s self desires means forcing yourself to follow the orders of Allah and to stay away from what Allah has ordered us to stay away from. This includes performing the obligatory and the voluntary, and to abandon all acts that are Haram (unlawful) or Makrooh (disliked). This type of jihad also includes forcing oneself to behave with the best manners, the best morals, and to stay away from bad behavior at a time when our desires tell us the opposite.
    Some Hadith regarding Jihad an-Nafs:
    The Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “The best Jihad is for one to perform Jihad against his own self and against his desires” [Abu Nu’aim]
    The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Jihad against one’s own self in the Cause of Allah is the best Jihad” [at-Tabaraani]
    The Messenger (peace be upon him) said (during his farewell Hajj): “Should I inform you of who the Mu’min (true believer) is? It is he who people are secure from him with regards to their wealth and their own selves. The (true) Muslim is he who people are safe from (being harmed by) his tongue and hand. The (true) Mujahid is he who performs Jihad an-Nafs in the obedience of Allah. And the (true) Muhajir (the migrant in the Cause of Allah) is he who abandons error and sin” [Ahmed, al-Haakim and at-Tabaraani]”

    1. Jihad al kufar ? are you serious ?
      what do “they” mean by al kufar ,,,
      well I’m not a religious person or anything but I know that in ISLAM , all non- muslims are kuffar ….
      how do you guys still believe in this non sens
      please grow up guys

  8. change would not happen through the parties, it would happen through the people, and the young people of course!!

  9. We are not thinking about any violence. People are angry. But we can control our anger. We tried violence before, now we try the other way

  10. Keep up your good work Dr. Chrabieh !
    And do not listen to haters.
    As a successful woman, you will def. have to face fanatics, misogynists and warlords!

  11. According to the extremist interpretation of the islamic sacred scriptures, yes non-muslims are kuffar. but not all muslims believe in this. especially concerning the case of jews and christians, the ‘protected’.

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