One of things that makes Lebanon so beautiful, is definitely it’s diversity… Although it has been the cause of some turmoils in the past and still is at times to a certain level, most people see above their differences and actually embrace them. They manage to live together in peace and harmony, having their Lebanese culture and values as common ground.
I am saying beautiful because truly the world we live in these days mesmerizes me by its lack of humanity and ability to be respectful and accepting of difference. Whether it be by our religion, our goals and opinions, our character, our ethnic background, our physical appearance or so on, being different from one another is something we can all find strength and knowledge from.
Lebanon shelters many religions, and here are the ones you may come across if you go there.
Religious beliefs in Lebanon
There is no dominating belief there, nevertheless there is a Muslim-Christian dichotomy and they are the prominent faiths in Lebanon.
Most people’s relation to faith comes from their bringing up and the family belief. But actually Lebanon has a growing number of mixed faith marriages, so usually the children chose one or the other of their parents’ religion.
Different well-known Lebanese
The Lebanese religious population is represented as follows:
- A bit more than 50 % are Muslim Shias and Sunnis, but also relating to the Islamic belief there is the Alawite and Ismaili faiths. Worship infrastructure: mosques
- There are also the Druzes minorities which you may not know too much about, and are designated as being connected to Islam, although Islamic institutions reject that.
- Then there are 12 Christian beliefs: including Maronite Catholic, Greek Catholic and Orthodox, Melkite catholic, Protestant, Armenian apostolic, all representing about 40% of the population and a few more Christian minorities exist as well. Worship infrastructures: churches, monasteries, saints’ sanctuaries.
- Lastly a very small, but existent, population of Jews, Buddhists, hindus and Mormons.
Non-religion is not recognized by the state, but there are some agnostics of course living in the country although they represent a minority.
What’s interesting is that Lebanon is the only country in the Middle East where the diversity of beliefs are actually represented in the politics, it’s consideration into the economic and social aspects are also highlighted. For instance, the President of the country must be a Maronite, the Prime Minister must be a Sunni, and the Speaker of Parliament must be a Shia.
Why does Lebanon have so many religions?
Geographically, Lebanon is at the border between West and East, and was highly popular for it’s strategic value in the region. So, the presence of such proportions of different faiths is mainly due to the historical movements that occurred and the country absorbed parts of the cultures and religions that crossed or encountered the land.
People often forget or don’t even know for the most, that the monotheistic religions all come from the Levant, so Christianity for instance is in perfect harmony in the region.
Is religion a topic you should avoid talking about?
It’s not a problem to talk about it but be careful your talk stays neutral without being offensive in any regards. It could also be considered as impolite to ask someone which faith they relate to.
A few facts:
- Lebanon observes Christians and Muslims holidays.
- You’ll be able to witness churches and mosques side by side, as sisters holding hands.
- If you are from the West, you might be surprised at how practicing and attached Middle Eastern Christians are to their faith. I’m mentioning this as it is something that has highly decreased in the past 50 years in many Western countries.
I’ll be coming up soon with additional articles on the subject, where you’ll be able to read a bit more about these religions. I’d be happy to receive any questions or hear about your experiences in the comments.