Sunday, February 05, 2006

My Name is Fouad

My name is Fouad. I was born and raised a Christian. Growing up, I never missed a Sunday mass, I sang with the church choir, I helped Father Hanna collect and count the church's weekly offerings, I read passages from the bible to church attendees during ceremonies. I was baptized in an orthodox church, I got my catechism in a maronite church, I served and sang in a catholic church, and I attended mass in all.

My name is Fouad. My baptism name is Jacob, my middle name is Mohammad. I was born in a muslim neighborhood, my best friends are practicing Muslims, I know coranic verses by heart, I walk around with "ayat al koursi" in my bag, I can and sometimes do sing the "athan", the call for prayer, and I get goose bumps as I listen to its gripping sound breaking through the tangerine sunset skies of a calm and fasting Beirut.

My name is Fouad Mohammad Jacob B. Yes, I am a Christian by chance and by choice. I am also a Muslim if you choose to trust my muslim friends who heard me say "I believe that there's no God but God and that Mohammad is the prophet of God".

Yet today, as I stand faceless in a world shrouded by a burka and stabbed by a crescent and a cross, as I watch blinded angry people wrecking, burning, destroying lives in the name of religion, prophets and God, I can't help but wonder.

Wonder if God knew what he was doing when he sent us the prophets and their books.

Wonder if the world would have been that much worse if we didn't have a sacred justification for hatred, destruction and death.

Wonder if I would still be Christian if I wondered whether there really is a God to begin with who accepts what is being done in his name, or if that be the case, whether there should be a God at all.


My name is Fouad Mohammad Jacob B, and today, Christian or not, Muslim or not, as a believer, I am taking a break.


Blogger Ramz said...

I always said that religion is at the root of our problems... it doesn't matter which religion... as long as someone can interpret something and assign it to god, people will do stupid things in the name of their god(s) and their prophet(s)...

sad but true.
Welcome to the dark side, F.

5:41 AM  
Blogger Raja said...

A jewish professor of mine commented: is it a coincidence that all the major religions came to life after man learnt the art of writing on paper?

I think not.

Fouad, I respect your religiosity. I also acknowledge that life is a mysterious force that none of us can grasp. However, to claim that "God sent prophets" and "created religions" is a little bit naive on your part.

Man creates prophets and religions. Man also creates god in his immage - as opposed to what religious folk like to think (i.e. visa versa).

With that, let me conclude by saying that I am also worried. I worry about our world, and about hatred and violence.

Let us hope that these horrendous incidents teach people a lesson. Let us hope so!

7:08 AM  
Blogger Fouad said...


Like you said, there are things that can hardly be ever grasped by our feeble human minds, and I don't think it is entirely naive to choose to believe them if they can afford you a certain element of peace.

In my mind, and following the path I was put on as a child, the power and extent of major religions and their following speaks against a entirely man made phenomenon. Add to that a number of personal and family occurences which I cannot get into right now that would make the hairs on the back on your neck stand, whether you choose to believe them or not.

So far, I had chosen to believe the life and words of Jesus and Mohammad because they largely rang true to my ears and put me in a place where I've always longed to be. That, however, never shut down my critical questioning mind. And now, the fact is, and a sad fact it is, when the little peace I've won is a single minute drop vis-a-vis a sea of suffering, I don't know what to believe anymore except that, even the purest and most eternal of truths, turn flawed and deciduous in our flawed, greedy, ungrateful, and murderous human hands.

9:03 AM  
Blogger [ j i m m y ] said...

i love your sincerety.
don't let the behavior of a bunch of ignorant rioters ruin the image of god that you have always tried to defend.

i'm an atheist and sometimes i envy belivers.
i envy them because they still have that thing deep down inside. that thing that comforts them when they're tired and lonely.

you have that thing fouad.
don't lose it.

sometimes it feels damn lonely on this earth.

3:08 PM  
Blogger Jamal said...

I understand the importance of GOD and it's positive effect on some aspects of life. The presence of GOD in our culture makes it possible for me to walk in the poorest parts of Beirut at 2 am and not fear for my life.

GOD for me is the concept of good.

I do have trouble trying to understand tribal religions' GOD though and the mechanism of people who follow blindly GOD's chosen human representatives.

4:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:39 PM  
Anonymous ghassan said...

Mythology has always played a prominent role in lending meaning to life and helping humans place themselves in the cosmos. But it is equally essential not to mistken myths for facts. The world was not created on Sunday October 23, 4004 BC . It has been around for over 3 billion years and life emerged from a single cell. I am not sugesting that one should question the historisty of Jesus or the prophet Mohamad (pbuh) but reason does demand that we recognize that religion , all religio; is a story. But above all we have to come to terms with the fact that the story needs to be retold. The modern sensibilities dare not served anylonger by the old story of creation and of our place in the universe.To go on believing, and what is worse acting, as if the world was created for us is the height of arrogabce. Anthropocentrism is the major and arguably the only reason for environmental degradationand destruction. We desperately need a new story whereby we become part of the web of life, where we act as ecological egalitarians and restore the sacredness to all creatures and all things. WE need a story that will instill in us respect for nature, love for each other and the humility to recognise that homo sapiens are under an ethical and moral obligation to extend the circle of ethics to all. Judeo Christian ethics and Islam have fostered a spirit of anthropocentrism that has not served us well.

11:09 PM  
Blogger Delirious said...

Chapeau bas.

6:28 AM  
Blogger Fouad said...

Jimmy, don't worry, I won't. It's become a part of me, and I couldn't get rid of it if I wanted to.

Jamal, a lot of people are incapable of grasping and keeping up with abstract concepts without a solid anchor into their daily perception and reality. That's where representatives come in and that's where the slippery slope starts.

Amen to that Samer..

Ghassan, Man is intrinsically anthropocentric. Religions tried to change anthropocentrism (while somehow preserving it) into theocentrism, which unfortunately is a big part of the problem.

Del, you're always sweet and encouraging :)

7:30 AM  
Anonymous Sissy said...

Fou, j'ai eu la chair de poule en lisant ton article...

C'est peut-être pour ça que je ne regarde plus les infos depuis une bonne semaine...

Je crois en Dieu, en tout prophète et en mon Prophète, et je n'ai pas envie de m'abandonner à la haine ambiante.

J'espérais que ça ne durerait pas plus de 3 jours, je crois que l'heure de rallumer ma télé n'a pas encore sonné !

Désolée pour les anglophones ;)

Grosses bises à toi,


7:51 AM  
Blogger DA said...


An artist, philosopher and good writer. You are a true renaissance man without regard to religion.

I feel sorry for men of any religion that see no other way but agression and violence. In the end we all are one..

11:49 AM  
Blogger La La said...

Breaks are good fouadi. I took a break myself. Then I bounced back. There's a bigger picture to all of this. It's just a matter of figuring it out. Ok maybe that didn't help you, but I'm sending you e-hugs. (((Fouad)))

2:31 PM  
Blogger Kathleen Callon said...

Hadn't been here in a while and am very moved by your post.

My ancestors are Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, and Jew. My full name is Kathleen Margaret Elizabeth Turner-Callon... but I am Kat, and even though I cringe at what others say and do in the name of our God (Muslims, Christians, and Jews all share Abraham's God) I make sure my relationship with Him is solid because at times it is all that seems real. Hope you come back soon.

7:27 PM  
Blogger Fouad said...

Grosses bises a toi aussi, sissy

Indeed we are Dimitri, but no one seems to understand..

awwww lala, e-thank you xoxo :)

Isn't it weird Kat, how we tend to hang on to that which we cannot grasp? Always good to see you..

9:54 PM  
Anonymous ghassan said...

You are right if you are suggesting that it would be impossible for humans not to have anthropocentric thoughts. Let me suggest that the problem lies in the degree of anthropocentricity. The Judeo- Christian story, and also the Moslem story, stresses that the world was created for the human race to exploit use rule and yes plunder. No other specie is deserving of ethical protection. Furthermore , it would be impossible to refute that the highest manifestation of anthgropocentrism are the Abrahamic religions. Budhism and animism respected all creatures and even non living things because each of them had a god. Not so in any of the three religions in question. Each of them is a chosen people and each has a monopoly on truth. This fragile plant of ours has had enough of this destructive philosophy, what we need is a new story a la St. Francis of Asissi ,Albert Schweitzer and Chardin. We need a cosmic Christ if you will , a belief that we are part of a creation story that is still unfolding and that we have no right whatsoever to act as imperialists. We must respect the mountains, the animal, the plants and the critters. This world is not ours , we are of this world.

9:56 PM  
Blogger Fouad said...

I beg to differ my friend, not with your admirable solution, but with your premise. Religions, for the most part, do put us on a pedestal, but only a small one, one that is supposed to teach us responsibility rather than egocentricity and arrogance. Especially when our utter insignificance vis-a-vis the "Lord our Creator" is incessantly emphasized, as is the absolute need for us to be loving, giving and forgiving. So I really don't think the problem lies in religions fueling our proprietary claim over the world (religions or not, with the impact humanity has and will have, I really can't see how we wouldn't), the problem is the very presence of a system that is "divine"/infallible AND open for interpretation, the latter part being an inevitable consequence of anything expressed with words rather than numbers. Which is another one of our human tragedies. But that would be taking the discussion a little further than I intended to in the first place..

10:42 PM  
Blogger AM said...

Great writing style! I like the way you approached the subject ...

11:05 PM  
Anonymous ghassan said...

Genisis does not teach responsibility it gives Adam "dominion" over everything in the world. This , most historians and theologians agree, was the justification for the duality. Homo sapiens became apart from the world when they should have been a part of the world.
Anyway, this is a discussion that we cannot resolve over the internet lol. My only point for this brief exchange is that faith is constructive as long as the one who has it does not confuse its mythological foundations with reason. That is when it turns deadly.

12:07 AM  
Blogger DA said...

Dear Ghassan,

Please allow me to reply on you comment:

"Budhism and animism respected all creatures and even non living things because each of them had a god."

The first part is true because of compassion to every living being but Buddhists do not believe in Gods as you suggest. In fact it is not a religion but more a kind of philosophy. And for as the Buddha part, that would be an enlightenend human being. Could be you and me for as far as Buddhists are concerned. There is a difference between modern Buddhism as wel as between old and modern religious streams as well.

I think any religion or philosophy with emphasis on respect for living creatures and helping other humans is a good religion. I have studied many (allthough I do not claim to be an expert on this at all) and found good parts in every religion. It's all about the way of interpretation of ancient and over and over copied old handwritings.

It is time to develop a new world wide modern belief for the non fundamentalists. That would balance things out and make the world more peaceful..

I still have faith..

What about you?

1:01 PM  
Blogger a h m a d said...

I think it is a great blessing that in Lebanon we can have friends from other sects and religions...

Yet, for some devilish reasons, every now and then, this "blessing" is used by some hidden hands to disturb the situation in Lebanon...

6:44 AM  
Blogger Ramzi said...

My 2 cents:

Most of what you accounted Fouad has to do with your personal Faith. Religion is built on faith, but goes beyond that to impact social and cultural facets of life. And though they overlap at the center, it is at the fringes where the main 3 religions of this age diverge. If all believers held their faith to themselves, as you do, we would not be troubled today.

Organized religion is the root of many evils, and personal faith does not a "holy war" make.

9:11 AM  
Blogger Fouad said...

I absolutely agree with you ramzi, and that is part of the message I was trying to convey.

10:49 PM  
Blogger Kathleen Callon said...

I also agree with Ramzi.

Fouad, hope you are well.

12:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i lived an experience and would like to share it.
I'm a christian and fell in love with a druze guy, he says he's atheist.
We both did not care in the beginning about the differences as we do believe in the freedom of choice, but when it came to having children and raising them we found that it will be conflicting so we broke up.
So u see we are emprisonned by our religious beliefs whether we want it or not...
it's true all religions are good in their ways but each one tends to believe and want his children to be raised on the same beliefs.
so now i know why they say inter-religious marriages do not work well.

8:26 AM  
Blogger Fouad said...

Yes anonymous. More often than not that is unfortunately the case. I wish we could reach a level of maturity where by we would teach our kids all religions and let them choose the one that speaks to their soul.

8:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fouad you are correct we should help our kids when we mature and teach them the lesson of god. Also,
we should teach them not to hate and be ful of devilish things and be with the lord our God.

4:15 PM  
Blogger Voice_of_Reason said...

You are a very impressive person Fouad, I am actually honoured that you took the time to comment on my poetry......Yes, religion is the cause of many evils. But, I often wonder, is it really relgion or the mask that we use to cover what is basically a part of human nature - greed, corruption and power. We all have these traits in us, whether we choose to use them is our 'choice'. Unfortunately, God is usually the victum in our choices.... Josette

9:14 PM  

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