The Sectarian Mentality

By: Dr. Sarbast Nabi


The sectarian mentality has nothing to do with reason and mind at all; it arrogates the name of rationality to destroy and undermine it from within.

Sectarian mentality is merely a mentality of primitive function that recognizes nothing but ways of inferiority and extremism. It recognizes itself and confirms its existence only by belonging to a certain collective doctrine. So, it is a collective and gregarious mentality, reflected often through an individual behavior; it is always identified with collective and common mentality in which someone finds his identity to achieve tranquility and consistency. The one who adapts and belongs to such collective mentality feels as ‘certainly’ superior to others, he is to achieve this not by himself but through this belonging which puts him in the face of others, trying to transcend and reject them from this point. He lacks independence and self-existence by such behavior.

The sectarian mentality claims having both truth and virtue as its very nature. It is a normative mind that carries preconceived ideas and stances toward the other. Therefore, it considers every opposing mind as rogue, wicked and false, threatening its existence. So, the only main purpose for it to survive is destroying the other.

Since sectarian mentality lacks independence and self-existence, it easily surrenders through accepting all illusions of its sectarian clan on self-existence. It is enthusiastic about illusions to believe it as an absolute truth in its higher and unmatched levels. Thus, it does not accept the uncertainty through checking and scrutiny. It’s a mind based on the abolition of free thinking, criticism, questioning and debate; it tends to submission and blind obedience. On the other hand, it tends to disbelieve all facts or dissent ideas to its beliefs.

Considering what mentioned above, the sectarian mentality is coward as it cannot stand alone, it lacks the virtue of courage, as Aristotle pointed out; mental courage that makes humans superior and deserve dignity. It is afraid to think independently or doubt its inherited beliefs. Thus, it remains unchanged in permanent need of its doctrine to shelter in, it approves fanaticism through which assuring its self-existence, so to do finding tranquility and peace. It’s a gregarious mentality that does not have the courage to stay or continue outside its collective angle, and does not feel safe without it.

Cowardliness and hesitation are the core of its bondage and inferiority under domination of others. Here it stops searching the need to decide or draw its own future. Bowing to the authority of others, though it is of good and well being, is not commensurate with human dignity as being free and aware. It is only fitting for restrained mind which has taken inertia a way to existence.

Since this mentality is restricted and inferior, it lacks the freedom of thinking, therefore it does not think about what it believes in, it only accepts everything as it is. At the same time, it does not have the freedom to choose its own beliefs too. It inherits this common belief and finds itself holding it as slaves to inherit shackles of their ancestors as if they were something natural!

Approving self-existence in a pagan way, a distorted awareness for individual and collective dignity, deviant reactions, duplication of ethical standards and the lack of consistency in the collective conscience, free chivalry, silly obstinacy and resisting advancement, an ‘arrogant noise’ and squawking reckless caused by false jealousy. Moreover, the extremist collective hysteria accompanied by a desire for revenge, the selective memory, the tendency of hypocritical and superficial faith; all are aspects of sectarian mentality in the Islamic and Arab crisis, where you can find them clearly in demonstrations on the Arab arena nowadays. 


Dr. Sarbast Nabi is a lecturer of philosophy – University of Salahaddin, and lecturer of ‘philosophy of science’- (PhD students) University of Zakho, Iraqi Kurdistan.

 Translated by: Abdul Ilah Ibrahim


Opinion articles do not necessarily reflect the view of ARA News

Source: ARA News


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