Op-Ed by Hamad Al Sanan at Al-Watan Daily: "Taking Pride in Being Muslim"

I understand the author's concern with ensuring unity and not creating secterianism, although I think, on a theoretical level at least, that a country's diversity can be its strength, not its weakness, and that unity must not equate conformity or denying ones' identity--and identity has many rungs of allegiance, not necesarily mutually exlusive. A person defines themselves in different ways relative to their context. In my home region I define myself by my town, in my home country, by my region, in the world by my nationality. We define ourselves as many things: mothers, sons, bosses, Hindus, conservatives, A positive, students, Kuwaitis, Failakers, men, women, citizens, brothers, sisters. We are all these, all at the same time.

Nonetheless, reading this article got me seriously reflecting on the meaning of "pride". Does pride infer superiority, or a belief that you are "better" than others? This never factored into my definition, and I began to start double-guessing myself. Read the op-ed and find below the dictionary answer of "pride". Also, the magnefying glass of scrutiny that has been given to the female MPs has been astounding, belittling and targeting their personal lives in a way that flabbergasts me and is utterly devoid of any sort of reflection on what they should be judged for: their policy and performance.

When a Muslim says that he is proud of being a Muslim, it means that he believes that his religion distinguishes him from the followers of other religions. It is also normal for a man to say that he is proud to be a Kuwait or Emirati because he believes that his country is distinguished from other countries on certain issues. But I cannot understand how a female MP could dare say: "I''m proud of being Shiite" while she holds a PhD degree and represents her people who elected her because she doesn''t support sectarianism.

This statement means that the MP actually meant to say that she belongs to a sect which is better all other sects. Some people resort to flattery to hide a certain fact for a while but soon the facts appear on the surface. This fact shocked colleague Fuad AlـHashem who wants Kuwaiti citizens to be just Kuwaitis without any sectarian or tribal affiliations. I think that AlـHashem also wonders how a graduate from the Colorado University who has specialized in political science can issue such a statement. What sort of reactions can we expect from the general public? Has this statement got anything to do with patriotism?

This female Shiite MP might have the right of being proud of being Shiite but I think that announcing this in public only strengthens sectarianism. A friend of mine has told me that his son''s classmate in the second grade asked him: "Where do you place your hands when you perform prayers?" I wonder how such an innocent child can ask this question. Ali AlـMatouk has published a statistical report which shows that there are 700 million Shiites in the Islamic world. He had earlier published a study indicating that Shiites represent 60 percent of the Kuwaiti population. I don''t actually care about such inaccurate statistics, but the question is: "What is the aim behind publishing such statistics at such a volatile time?"

When a certain community introduces exaggerated statistics they aim at proving that they are not a minority and thus demand more rights or even selfـgovernance as the case of the Chinese community in Malaysia. I don''t think that Ali AlـMatouk considers himself belonging to one of such communities. This talk also strengthens sectarianism.

I''m not calling for Shiites to become Sunnis or vice versa but I''m calling for an end to the conflict existing between the two doctrines because such conflicts weaken Islam. Let us all agree on how to differ but not how to fight each other. We should strengthen our sense of belonging to this land. Let us be proud of being Kuwaitis and not for belonging to the Sunni or Shiite sects.

Superiority is a corrupted form of pride, just as opportunism is a corrupted form of assertiveness perhaps, but to turn to Merriam-Webster:


1 : feeling or showing pride: as a : having or displaying excessive self-esteem b : much pleased : exultant c : having proper self-respect
2 a : marked by stateliness : magnificent b : giving reason for pride : glorious est moment in her life>
3 : vigorous, spirited
4 chiefly British : raised above a surrounding area

I like the idea that proud just means a proper self-respect. And remember, its only until you respect yourself that you can get respect from others.

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