Diary note 3: Death of Sadiq al-Azm

Friday, 16 December, 2016

On the 12th of December I was told that Sadiq Jalal al-Azm had died the day before in Berlin. It is an occasion when one curses oneself for not having known a friend is ill and that it was time to say a last word of goodbye to each other.

One thinks of his loneliness. It is not as if he lacked friends, but lonely as a long-time exile from Damascus, his town of birth and his ‘Jerusalem’ to return to. For him: only after Assad and his government would have disappeared. After the Arab Spring he was optimistic that this would happen in the long run. But in these last days before the fall of Aleppo, he must have known this would never happen in his lifetime.

Yet he would have looked at his fate with an unshakable belief that the rationality of man is more important than the rationality of only one man and that this objective given, will win out in the end. He saw the war in Syria and in the Middle East as a rearguard action of religious politicians unable to adapt to the modern world. In his belief in objectivity he remained true to his great predecessor Immanuel Kant. With his view of secularity as a platform on which religious discussions should be held, he will remain a great humanist of the Islamic World.

It is now the task of each of us not to forget Sadiq.