Lebanon Religious Sects

As a part of the old world, Lebanon takes pride in its rich history. Throughout the years, the country had been a home for many cultures, ethnics and different religious groups who in return remained loyal and faithful to this third world country.

However, even until now, Lebanon’s vast population, which is made out of many different sectors, is considered somehow unique among the Arabic speaking regions.

These different cultures contribute a lot in forming Lebanon’s distinctive culture and ideals. In addition, Such sectors have always seemed to play a significant role in unifying the nation, all while having a huge part in dividing the country and its citizens.

Moreover, Lebanon’s political system has currently turned the innocence of faith and religion into a lethal political tool within the government’s hand.

The religious factions

The 18 officially recognized religious groups in Lebanon are divided into 4 Muslim sects, 12 Christian sects, the Druze sect, and the Judaism sect.

The Muslim sectors include Shiites, Sunnis, Alawites, and Ismaili and they make 50% of the entire population.

On the other hand, the 12 Christian sectors are Maronite, Chaldeans, Greek Catholics, Syrian Catholics, Armenian Catholics, the Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, Jacobite, Nestorians Assyrians, Protestants, Chaldeans, Copts and Latins (Roman Catholic). Christians make up 44.4% of citizens.

As for The Druze, they are a religious group who refer to themselves as al-Muwahhideen, or “believers in one God”. They consist of 5.4% of the population.

Finally, the Jews sector has the smallest population with barely a couple of hundred individuals.

Lebanon’s secular system

Even though Lebanon is a secular country, the country also follows an overall confessionalism political framework. Officially, the government does not interfere with their citizen’s religion all while the religion does not interfere in the country’s affairs.  However, due to the confessionalism framework policy, all the high-ranking offices are reserved for a certain secular.

Thus, a Maronite Christian must fill The President position, The Speaker of the Parliament must be a Shi’a Muslim and a Sunni Muslim can only fill The Prime Minister position. In addition, All the Seat Allocation of Lebanon’s parliament are divided according to the following:

Maronite Catholic: 34

Eastern Orthodox: 14

Melkite Catholic: 8

Armenian Orthodox: 5

Armenian Catholic: 1

Protestant: 1

Other Christian Minorities: 1

Sunni: 27

Shi’ite:27

Alawite:2

Druze: 8

Furthermore, with less than 0.1% of the population, the jews sector isn’t entitled to any of the parliament’s seats. 

This division was made not only to ensure that every sect is properly represented but to also warrant a safe coexisting between all of the different groups. So that the government is mirrored by its citizens and population.

Then again, such division has been playing a significant role in pitting the Lebanese against one another ever since it was implemented. Instead of voting for the most competent, the citizens are playing favorites and choosing their “own” instead of the worthy.

Candidates are not chosen due to their skills or efficiency but due to their popularity and the status which they uphold in their own community. Moreover, no matter how skilled, wise or effective an officer is, they are simply not allowed to reach a higher seat because of their religion and personal opinion.

Add to that, if a high officer fails in their duties, the failure is blamed on his entire sector in the eyes of the public. It is hard to differentiate between a religion and an individual when that individual is playing the role of its representative. Hence, tension and unease feelings between the communities are created.

On one hand, the government is supposedly hearing all the voices and different demands of its nation. However, on the other, a person will always be most loyal to his community’s benefits, which in turn will cause bias in taking action. 

The 1975 civil war and the most recent protests against the government have proven the dire need to change this political framework that is suppressing the country’s overall advancement.

Family matters

Even though the country follows a secular system, family-related matters including marriage, divorce, and inheritance are still handled by the religious authorities of which represents a person’s faith. Thus contracting the secular system’s policies. In addition, requests for civil marriage are still rejected and shut down by religious authorities. However, Lebanese civil authorities recognize civil marriages held in another country.

In brief, Lebanon’s vast variety of sectors was the main reason behind choosing its political system and framework, even though it is not currently reaping any positive results. Truth be told,  Such variety is a two-edged weapon that can be used to either empower and unify or to divide and create tension within the different communities. Finally, in order to achieve sustainable development, the country has to choose a new political system that promotes equality and fairness between all of the sectors.

References:

(2020). Retrieved 5 April 2020, from https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/lebanon/religious-sects.htm

Henley, A. (2020). Religious Authority and Sectarianism in Lebanon. Retrieved 5 April 2020, from https://carnegieendowment.org/2016/12/16/religious-authority-and-sectarianism-in-lebanon-pub-66487

priority, H., years, L., Two), L., One), L., students, P., & Medicis, B. et al. (2013). The Lebanese and Their Sects. Retrieved 5 April 2020, from https://monthlymagazine.com/article-desc_772_

Religion in Lebanon | Arabic Pages. (2017). Retrieved 5 April 2020, from https://arabicpages.com.au/article/religion-in-lebanon.html

What is Secularism?. (2020). Retrieved 6 April 2020, from https://www.secularism.org.uk/what-is-secularism.html

LibGuides: Lebanese Civil War: 1975-1991: Home. (2020). Retrieved 6 April 2020, from https://aub.edu.lb.libguides.com/LebaneseCivilWar

(2020). Retrieved 6 April 2020, from https://www.123rf.com/stock-photo/family_matter.html?oriSearch=different+religions&sti=mg1pj9wcaxaugj5mkz|

Tracey Shelton, T. (2014). Why Lebanese politics are so messed up. Retrieved 7 April 2020, from https://www.pri.org/stories/2014-02-22/why-lebanese-politics-are-so-messed