LEBANON: The Forgotten Islamic Roots
[This article was published in the 14th issue of Nida'ul Islam magazine (), July-September 1996]

LEBANON: The Forgotten Islamic Roots

Much has been said concerning that blessed plot of land from Shaam called "Lebanon". Christian historians in particular have played their role in misrepresenting history with respect to Lebanon. These historians, particularly the Maronites, have succeeded through the educational syllabus to graduate generations of Muslims who are far removed from their real Islamic history since the entrance of Islam to that land, until its separation from the states of the Ottoman Khilafa fourteen centuries later.

Hence it is crucial to clarify the issue from the Islamic perspective,since national pride today is being streched to extremism whereby "Lebanon" has almost become an idol.Furthermore perceptions have been very prominent in this country. They have fashioned many arrogant Muslims to prostrate to a tree or a slightly altered French flag with was later labelled as the Lebanese flag, instead of striving to implement the law of their Lord.

This article is intended to reveal the history of that blessed region of the Islamic land, with some attention to the current situation and what we perceive to be the future which will inevitably come with the help of Allah Most High.

Lebanon, From The Islamic Liberation
Until The Downfall of The Ottoman Khilafa

It is a historical fact that Lebanon as a country appeared for the first time on the world atlas in 1920 AD. Any other bearing to the region was previously a geographic reference to a mountain stretching over the eastern shore to the Mediterranean in a distinguished position regarded as a bridge between east and west. For this reason this country has witnessed throughout its history many events characterising it as the land of opposites exploding with every important juncture in its history. The land remained an area of constant conflict that inflamed when necessary. It would be fit to present the historical development to the Lebanese entity as it is known today.

According to ancient history, the Lebanese seashore was part of the nation of the Phoenicians. Then the Roman Empire rose over the land of Shaam until the Islamic liberation in the seventh century AD. This liberation which sprung from the Arabian peninsula was to fulfil the command of the messenger of Allah (peace and blessings upon him) after his death during the reign of the rightly guided Khulafa` in spreading Islam. At that time, the last of the Byzantine forces withdrew to the wilderness of Anadol through the mountains of Dourous in 641 AD. Since that time until recent history, Shaam including Lebanon remained part of the territory of the Islamic Khilafa which was governed by the Khulafa` followed by the Sultans. The Islamic nations have ruled Shaam as follows:

Ummayyad Khilafa 661 - 750 AD with Damascus as the capital.
l Abbassid Khilafa 750 -1258 AD,with Baghdad as the capital.
l Fatimid Khilafa 908 -1171 AD, its capital was originally in Tunis, then moved to Cairo in 973 AD.
l Saljuq Sultanate 1058 - 1157 AD with Asfaghan as the capital.
l Ayyuby Sultanate 1183 - 1250 AD with Cairo as the capital.
l Mamluk sultanate 1271 - 1517 AD with Cairo as the capital.
l Ottoman sultanate 1379 - 1922 AD with its capital initially in Adarna, then was moved to Istanbul in 1453.
Since the Islamic liberation of Shaam, Lebanon as a geographic location, was a part of the Islamic nation at a time when north Lebanon became a main gathering point for Maronite Christians who lived in the 'Asy valley originally. When the English reached Shaam at the end of the eleventh century as the crusades, a large number of Maronites gathered around them. Shortly after, the Maronite church entered into an official union with the Catholic church in Rome, and at the same time, the unitarian Druz became more established in Mount Lebanon, particularly in the Western area which overlooks Beirut.

During these times the Ithn'ashary Shia resided in Kisrawan, Ba'albak, and the heights of mount 'Amel in the south, whilst most Shia had migrated from Kisrawan towards the areas with bigger concentrations. Also during these periods was the establishment of the Mediterranean cities of Tripoli, Beirut, Sidon, and Tyre. Despite this amazing human movement, the land remained under the political dominance of the Islamic Khilafa through its various stages.

Immediately after the battle of Marj Dabeq in 1516 AD, the Ottomans extended their sovereignty over Shaam and appointed governors over the Shaam provinces including parts of Lebanon from the states of Damascus and Tripoli, and then Sidon and Beirut. The governor of Mount Lebanon administratively followed the governors surrounding his province. The rebellion of Fakhruddin, Alma'ni the governor of Shawq, failed in its confrontation with the Ottoman authorities. Fakhruddin links with the Christian princes were revealed as were his attempts to separate from the Islamic government. Fakhruddin was executed and sovereignty returned to the Ottoman sultanate which enjoyed at the time the peak of its supremacy from the Atlantic in the west to Persia in the east, and from the heart of Europe in the north to the Pacific in the south. The 19th century, particularly after 1840, witnessed the creeping of Western habits to the various aspects of life, which led to the overturning of local order affecting the loyalty of the Muslims to the Ottoman Khilafa. Then the Shaam markets were exposed to an invasion of European products which led to tensions amongst the citizens and the prominence of contradictions which exploded sectarian conflict at the outset of the fourth decade of the 19th century between the Druz and the Maronite. At that time the Beirut conference of the representatives of European countries was held which endorsed the Paris agreement of 1856. One of the results of this conference was what is named the basic system of mount Lebanon giving a distinct system to the Mount under the Ottoman empire which became known as the province of Mount Lebanon.

At this time the larger Imperialist organisations were working to pounce on the lands of the Muslim Khilafa with what was referred to as the Eastern Issue. Waves of evangelists invaded the various states within the Ottoman sultanate under the guise of science or education at times and civilisation at others. This evangelism took various forms. The strategy worked to implement the plans and programs as a service to the interests of the larger imperialist countries. In particular, France and England went in a competition to carefully allocate roles for maximum personal gain in the land of Shaam. The most dangerous of these conspiracies was what small groups of Arabs did to rebel against the Ottoman government during the first world war. Overlooking our evaluation to the role of these Arab groups in the war, their movement under the leadership of the Sheriff of Mecca led to a shudder in the interior stability which assisted the English and the French to invade Shaam and eliminate the Ottoman army.

The Arabs were driven by enormous desires and ambitious promises which were programed by the English in order to gradually lead them to a battle with the Islamic government where imperialism would be the sole winner. This is actually what occurred, the western countries reneged on the promises which they had earlier affirmed, and the secret agreements began to surface, thus dividing the Muslim countries and the Arabic ones in particular. The most important of these agreements was the Sykes - Piko. The Arab leaders awakening as a result of this jolt was a little late, and their attempts to pick up the pieces were doomed to humiliating failure. The English then reneged on their promises and agreements leaving the French to dominate Syria and Lebanon with arms after the battle of Mislon against the Arab militias. This event also recorded bitterly the victory of the imperialist ideology with its Christian and Zionist content. Then the Balfour agreement began to fruit as Palestine was invaded to make a home for the Jews, and the Imperialist organisations began in their roles to strike the unity of Muslims through nourishing the spirit of nationalism and tribalism and granting religious minorities distinct rights in various establishments in order to guarantee their future imperialist interests, regarding these minorities as the spearhead of the Western imperialism in Muslim lands. France worked to establish tribal organisations in Shaam and created various tribal and dynastic provinces and declared the emergence of the "Country of the Great Lebanon" in 1920 in response to pressures applied by the Maronites over their French masters. It included various parts of the Ottoman states which previously belonged to Beirut or Damascus now becoming part of the Lebanese province thus establishing greater Lebanon with its current boundaries. This declaration led to a violent reaction from the Muslims who resisted the division of their towns from Shaam. This in turn led the French forces to impose superficial pressures on the Maronites in order to reduce the rage of the Muslims who felt that the French presence came to impose on them the rule of the minority and make them second class citizens. This is what indeed happened through the Lebanese constitution declared in the year 1926.

This led to the rise of the Lebanese problem as one of the most important issues facing the contemporary world with what it carries of ideological meanings. It is regarded as an extension of the decay of the political facet of the Islamic world and the victory of the sectarian imperialist ideology with its Christian - Zionist identity.

Thus the Lebanese regime with its tribal composition and sectarian distinctions became susceptible to the disputes because of the contradictions in its basic composition that was established upon a concocted model drawn in the Western Imperialist. The model created a type of an imaginary dream for a symbolic entity established on the surface and on sectarian harmony in the shade of a sectarian rule where a particular sect practises its hegemony over the other sections under the banner of the multi sectored civilisation. From here, Lebanon went through very difficult tribulations which reached the point of fighting with open interference from the external forces that eventually became the effective controlers of the events which occur in the country. Thus, since the interference of the ambassadors of the big countries in 1840 in creating the entity of a Lebanese nation, the external element had the effective role in fuelling the internal conflict, and Lebanon became obliged to accept the sovereignty of the ambassadors in its practical political situation

By Dr. Khaled Merheb, Tripoli - Lebanon

The Civil War & The Latest Political Developments

It is not possible to understand this Crusade against the Muslims unless we review the history of Lebanon which had been stripped of its natural form represented in Shaam geographically, and Islam as a creed. We see that the Maronites have abused the nature of Islamic law in its forgiving and forbearing nature, welcoming them when they entered the northern shore of the state of Tripoli, in flight from the Roman crusaders who had unleashed on them a very violent war because of the various creedal differences amongst them. At that time, the Muslims did not give much attention to these new refugees on the political front. This is mainly because they concentrated on their rituals and their agriculture with little concern for general politics administered by the governors under the orders of the Khalif of the Muslims. Instead of acknowledging the favour of the Islamic government which rescued them from annihilation at the hands of the crusaders, they worked through history to deny the assistance vetted to them and to plot against the interests of the Islamic Ottoman government. This was their state with all the invaders.

They also worked to inflame conflict to the benefit of the Christian west in order to pave the way for them to invade into the heart of the Muslim nation symbolised by Shaam. This is indeed what occurred when the Ottoman government was defeated by Christian - Zionist conspiracies, who applied their energies to divide the main body of the Muslim world, politically, religiously, and geographically. Then the Christian French occupied various parts of Shaam and divided the Shaam coast by tearing away the provinces of Tripoli, Beirut, and Sidon which they had included with Mount Lebanon to create Lebanon which the French had established as a state for the Maronite minority whom they gave complete national rights and distinctions.

The Civil War in Lebanon

In 1973 Lebanon entered a new episode in the conflict between the various groups. The causes of this conflict centred on the fear of the Maronite sect from losing their dominance over the executive authority they inherited since the Lebanese independence.

This was a time when the Muslims realised the importance of protecting their presence in this Muslim plot and to protect their Palestinian brothers and the demand of their rights within the frame of the Lebanese government.

Then the Lebanon war slid into hollow battles as the regional forces entered into the conflict, each attempting to look after its personal interests overlooking all else. The Maronites sought assistance from the Western organisations, so the common interests met to eliminate any armed Palestinian existence and to obstruct the Muslims from realising their rights in their own land. Therefore when that malignant battle began, the Muslims were not prepared to face the Christian forces which were sponsored by the West and Israel, so they sought assistance from the PLO which provided them with training and arms in order to safeguard its personal interests and its position in Lebanon within the frame of the sectarian game. Then the work of the Islamic movement began to flounder in the southern and northern regions as most of the Muslims were tricked by the mottoes of the secular militias around the defence of the nation and the rights of the people, etc.

Within these calculations, the Islamic movement did not have a role politically in this battle, so its activities were restricted to defending some of the northern and southern towns under the authority of the PLO. Then the position of the Islamic movement evolved and it began to form a fundamental force in the balance, particularly in coastal and northern areas, and in Tripoli, in addition to the normal force in Sidon and its surrounding districts.

The Role of The West

The Western forces took advantage of the Lebanese war to safeguard Maronite interests firstly, and to prepare for the execution of their conspiracy with respect to ending the Palestinian issue, and to sever any hope of assistance to the Palestinian fighters.

So, the West poured financial assistance on the phalange first, then the Lebanese forces following that, then it gave them modern weapons either directly through Israel or through other groups. Fierce battles ensued with the Maronites using various modes of killing based on the birth certificate until they believed that they would eliminate all Muslims, and that Lebanon would become a purely Christian state as had been planned.

However, the situation did not continue in their favour, as the Arabic / Palestinian forces were able to turn the balance in the battle, and the situation of the Lebanese forces which were defeated on all fronts. Therefore there was no escaping direct interference from Israel, whereby Israel invaded Lebanon in 1979 to increase their incursion in 1982 when they entered the Muslim extremities of Beirut and committed with their Lebanese allies the ugliest of atrocities of today in Sabra and Shatila. Then they forced the PLO to leave Lebanon thus eliminating its military power and dispersing its members amongst the Arabic countries in accordance with their plans.

The Arabic Role in The War

Naturally, the apostate Arabic regimes had no role in the defence of the rights of the Muslims, as they would not interfere on most occasions except through words and blame, whether there were Christian atrocities or Israeli atrocities, and they did not offer any tangible effort to assist the Muslims.

Finally, they resolved to send the Arabic armed forces to enforce a peace agreement between the disputants, then they gradually changed to Syrian armed forces working to serve the interests of the Syrian regimes in Lebanon with the support of the body of Arab countries.

The situation continued between attacks and retreats until the Ta`if agreement was implemented. This agreement aimed to end the Lebanese war, with a guarantee to some of the rights of the Muslims on their land, and to realise what was labelled at that time as the return of the meat between the various sections of the Lebanese people. Then the Syrian government dominated completely the Lebanese government, and they pursued policies which would serve their personal interests during that time.

Lebanon in The Shade of The Politics of The New World

Lebanon entered a new phase of its new history after the Ta`if agreement, the military activities ceased between the combatants and elections were staged where those with the white sheet with the Syrian government were victorious. The stage of rebuilding began without any real solution to the disease which led to the outbreak of the Lebanese war, and without an answer to the question of what is the Lebanese government? All that was agreed on was that Lebanon is an Arabic country, without any recognition of its historic identity which states that it is an indivisible part of the Muslim lands.

Further, what had been achieved can only be described as a temporary treaty perhaps it may last for a long time or a little time, it was never intended as a solution to the Lebanese tragedy.

The Lebanese war led to a reshuffle of the cards within the Lebanese entity, so new powers emerged on the scene which worked to change the situation to what suits their own interests and the interests of those forces which sponsor them.

The Sunnah Muslims were the biggest losers behind this bloody war, as their forces were dispersed and they were placed under puppet and secularised leaders who have no connection with Islam, and who are not concerned with securing the rights of the Muslims, rather they strove to secure their own personal interests, and the interests of those around them.

This situation emerged very clearly in the coastal towns with the high density of Sunnah Muslims, such as Beirut, Tripoli, and Sidon, particularly after the weakening of the Islamic movement as a result of the painful strikes which were directed against it.

The Reality of the New World was reflected by the USA becoming the single lawgiver. The Lebanese government went to Madrid to resolve the disputes with the usurping country (Israel) after the failure of the first resolve of the negotiations with the breach of the May agreement. Negotiations between the Lebanese government and the Jewish government, are now attached to the developments between Syria and Israel.

Islamic resistance entered a new stage in its operations against the Israeli forces and their supporters, and caused heavy losses to them which exceeded several multiples what the Arabic forces had inflicted in their earlier wars. Thus, they felt that they must strike back, and this is what Israel attempted to achieve through its attacks, including the most recent attacks on Southern Lebanon which were labelled as the April understanding under the guardianship of Syria, France, and the USA.

Naturally this understanding which aimed at stopping the economic and security hemorrhage which Israel was experiencing along with its puppets in the south of Lebanon led to the highlighting of the Lebanese problem and the necessity of solving this problem in accordance with the American solution through speeding up the Lebanon / Israel negotiations and separating this from the Syrian issue.

Lebanon & The Peace Talks

Lebanon is the weaker party in the current negotiations, this is for many reasons which can be summarised as follows:

1 - Syrian political and military dominance and control over the country.

2 - The area which is occupied, the negotiations, and the final solution.

3 - The results of the Lebanese war and the internal weakness.

This is what led to the prominence of the resistance as a pressing issue in the negotiations and pressuring Israel to recognise Lebanese demands to withdraw from the south in accordance with United Nations resolutions which Israel does not recognise.

Following the electoral victory of Netanyahu it appears that the opportunities for further negotiations with respect to Lebanon have been postponed until agreement is reached between Syria and Israel.

The question remains hanging: What's after peace between Lebanon and Israel?

The Solution

The future of Lebanon is tied to understanding its history and the developments on the Shaam arena in the overwhelming tide to acknowledge the Jewish state from one side, and the Islamic revival which is increasing in our Muslim world from another side.

That is because the success of the Arabic regimes in recognising the state of Israel on our land will not change anything from the situation itself, because our Muslim people will not accept the current situation which is imposed upon it by the despotic regimes.

The Lebanon of the future is not far from the fact that it is a part of the land of the Islamic Khilafa.

This is because the unnatural situation which has been imposed upon us through French imperialism can not and will not remain forever as it is contrary to the demography, geography, and ideology of the area.

This is not impossible with the current Islamic revival and shake-up rejecting secularism, and with the permission of Allah, these developments will complete their natural cycle to return the rule of our illustrious Shari'a.

So however much time it will take, and however many conspiracies may be engaged on the international, regional, or local arenas, Lebanon will remain a part of the land of Islam and will return to its origin Insha Allah Most high n

By Abdul Rahman At-Tarabulsi

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