BEIRUT: As Lebanon celebrated Eid al-Adha over the weekend, religious leaders called on top officials and politicians to focus their efforts on dialogue and promote national unity in the country.
Grand Mufti Mohammad Rashid Qabbani led Adha prayers at Mohammad al-Amin Mosque in Downtown Beirut Sunday.
Education Minister Hassan Diab attended on behalf of Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Beirut MP Imad Hout was also present.
While Future Movement lawmakers boycotted Qabbani’s Eid al-Fitr prayers in late August, Future Movement MP Ammar Houri attended Sunday on behalf of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Sidon MP Fouad Siniora was also in the audience.
During the Adha sermon, Qabbani said that Lebanese should avoid using the terms of “minority and majority,” except when referring to Parliament and Cabinet.
“We have to drop these repulsive terms from public life because they are a source of worry … and make the other feel that he’s inferior to people … we are all Lebanese,” Qabbani said.
He also said that Lebanese groups do not need to turn to outside powers for protection from each other, as each group in the country guarantees the safety of the others.
“This can only take place by closing ranks and prioritizing national interest away from partisan or outside interests, for outside powers care only for their interests,” he said, adding that Israel was Lebanon’s only enemy.
“We will not accept that Lebanon hold only one group of the Lebanese. Lebanon is for all its people,” he added.
Qabani said that the country is not in need of a “new spring,” as the Lebanese people achieved their spring when they established Lebanon and agreed that it would be a nation for all Lebanese.
“What we need is only to uphold Lebanon as a country – now more than ever – and for a cool summer breeze … to bring us together and lead us to abandon disputes,” he said.
For his part, Vice President of the Higher Shiite Council Sheikh Abdel-Amir Qabalan said during an Eid sermon that Lebanon was witnessing “difficult and dangerous days.”
“We have to meet, agree and close ranks; we have to preserve Lebanon through dialogue, communication, cooperation and love,” he said.
Qabalan said that the Lebanese should engage in dialogue to protect the country from conspiracies designed to spark strife.
Speaking at the council’s headquarters in Beirut’s southern suburbs Monday, Qabalan also called for forming a religious astrological committee to determineone date for Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. This year, Qabbani announced that the Eid would begin on Nov. 6, while Qabalan declared its start to be Nov. 7.
In a similar vein, Druze spiritual leader Sheikh Naim Hasan voiced hope that Lebanese leaders and politicians would sense the “pressing necessity” of using dialogue.
In his sermon after leading prayers, he called for resolving disputes through “a spirit of understanding” and for acting in the interest of the country.
In parallel, Hasan called for bolstering the capabilities of the Lebanese Army and spreading the culture of resistance against Israel.
In Sidon, Sheikh Salim Susan, the mufti of Sidon and the south, led prayers at Hajj Bahaeddine Hariri Mosque, where MP Siniora and a host of local figures gathered.
The sheikh called on officials to promote civil peace and stability and provide job opportunities. He also said that Sidon was waiting for a clear position from the Cabinet in support of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s funding.
In Tripoli, Sheikh Mohammad Tarek Imam led Adha prayers in the Grand Mansouri Mosque.