A man of faith

Sheikh Muwafak Tareef has been the spiritual head of the country's 125,000-strong Druse community since 1993.

Sheikh Muwafak Tareef (photo credit: courtesy)
Sheikh Muwafak Tareef
(photo credit: courtesy)
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
I arise early every day for my religious duties, and to deal with the issues of the Druse community in Israel – the relations between them and their brethren of other communities and religions, and those among themselves – and to continue taking care of the burning matters of my people in Israel, especially pursuing our rights and realizing the full equality in relation to the rest of the people of Israel.
What keeps you up at night?
The proliferation of evil in our lives, in every hour of the day and every topic; in general, the wars and instability in the world, the innocent who regularly perish, the poverty that afflicts so many regions, the peace between Israel and its neighbors that is failing to arrive. Every delay in reaching peace brings more victims and suffering, and distances it even more.
More specifically, regarding my community – a call in the middle of the night to deal with an emergency situation of a bereaved family, a sudden quarrel between people, problems of violence against women and the powerless. The police and welfare services on occasion turn to me in the middle of the night to help solve such issues, and I do the utmost to resolve them or help as much as possible.
What’s the most difficult professional moment you’ve faced so far?
There are quite a few such moments, and unfortunately I cannot relay them, due to the element of secrecy in the Druse religion.
But I can hint that these are the types of sensitive topics in which the temporal experience of our lives clashes with the foundations of our religion’s spirituality, and I feel trapped in the middle, without the ability to accommodate or compromise, and it is difficult, so difficult to live with that.
How do you celebrate achievements?
As a person of faith who believes, fulfills commands and missions, I am regretful over any case in which I couldn’t help or bring forth a change. But every solution or assistance is God’s achievement, who helped and aided us in reaching that result.
We should not take pride in our achievements, and woe to us if we celebrate them; the celebration is in one’s heart, that the creator of the universe helped us.
If you were prime minister, what’s the first thing you would do?
Of course a prime minister is a political position and distant from the desire of a spiritual person of faith. I wish and hope that our honorable prime minister will succeed in bringing peace, and solve the country’s burning problems in education, health, employment and many other fields, first and foremost equal rights to the members of the Druse community, those loyal citizens who give their lives to the state. I hope the prime minister has success in this, since the fruits of his success will be enjoyed by all of the country’s citizens.
Which Israeli should have a movie made about him/her?
 I don’t follow cinema, but I think many of the state’s leaders are worthy of acclaim, in the past and present, people who gave their souls for the country – and I won’t get into naming any of the many examples so that I don’t forget to mention anyone, since they are all important and distinguished.
Essentially, I’d suggest making a documentary on the character of the daring Israeli, that Israeli quality of producing results and reaching internationally acclaimed achievements. That is to my mind what is praiseworthy.
What would you change about Israelis if you could? T
he contempt and lack of respect that is shown primarily to the other, but also to oneself – a kind of heightened desire for self-destruction. Thus the good name of a person who gave his entire life for the state, and risked his life many times for it, will be besmirched for a small thing, he and his family will be mercilessly attacked, without taking into consideration his contribution and deeds to the state.
Additionally I’d change the “balagan” culture – the disregard of order, obeying traffic laws and keeping public order. I’d like to see the relevant state institutions acting to promote education for a different public culture than what exists in many countries in the world.
Do you use an iPad, a BlackBerry or pen and paper?
In the 21st century, one must strive for a thorough technological education. I personally have no problem using a computer or a pen and paper; these are elementary things that this generation has a duty to master and utilize for our benefit.
If you had to write an advertisement to entice tourists to come to Israel, what would it say?
Naturally, advertisements for tourists is not my field, but as an Israeli, I invite visitors from abroad to see how in such a small country so many different ethnic and religious groups of varying streams live together, despite the differences of opinion and outlook, while maintaining a status quo and mutual respect.
This state knew how to safeguard the freedom of religion and worship of all the other religions, preserved the holy sites and places of prayer of all its citizens. You can show in one broad view the sites revered by the Jews, the famous churches in Nazareth and Jerusalem, the mosques in Acre, Jaffa, Jerusalem and elsewhere, the international Baha’i center and the burial site of Nebi Shua’yb (Prophet Jethro), may he rest in peace, for the Druse – an image of “brothers living together in unity.”
Overall, we have a beautiful country, advanced in every field, and we are very proud of it.
What is the most serious problem facing the country?
Without going into political and diplomatic issues or territorial disputes, I yearn for peace, support it and pray for it. Within the country, we have a severe culturaleducational problem, the generation gap, the relation between secular and religious people; the spirit of sacrifice and the will to contribute demand a reassessment.
How can it be solved?
Mutual concessions are necessary to achieve peace. As for as the social realm, the state must allocate special funds to put more into education and welfare. Through correct investments and learning how to respect one another, the state will be able to bridge the gaps and lead an egalitarian, successful and flourishing society.
In 20 years, the country will be...
In an optimistic tone, I will say a regional power – in industry, economy, science and technology. I hope that the outlook of the nation’s leaders will change on issues such as equality between citizens, a change in the system of government and the efforts to reaching peace with our neighbors.
I would rather not speculate on negative, apocalyptic thoughts.