The European theater had a great role in raising the awareness since the time of Aristotle and others of Greek playwrights.
The European society would never get out of its backwardness in the middle ages without the theater that started early in Britain then in France, Italy, Austria and the rest of European countries.
However, the French theater distinguished from the European theaters in facing the church’s superstitions and the clergymen’s hegemony over society with their hypocrisy.
This hypocrisy gives them multiple masks that enable them to control society in order to keep it clung to the past and to the importance of clergyman in society.
Thus, hypocrite clergymen increased and drained the nation, so theater must have had its major and crucial role to free the nation from the authority of the church and clergymen. Here comes the great French poet and playwright Molière who was born in Paris in 1622 and died in it in 1671 after his suffering from tuberculosis.
Although Molière graduated from the faculty of law, he was attached to theater; he worked in it and founded his own theater group.
His father worked asan upholsterer of the royal palace furniture and asked him many times to work with him, but Molière rejected.
Molière viewed the theater as a mean to spread enlightenment in his country, limit the church role in keeping the people underdeveloped and reduce clergymen role particularly as he toured in all the French cities and countryside through 13 years during which he expressed the French people sorrows and the clergymen’s role in their underdevelopment.
Therefore, he took the gamble and wrote the five acts (Tartuffe) play in which he unmasked the role of clergymen for people’s falling behind, their lies and hypocrisy as well as their being the worst French class ever.
As soon as the play was performed several times in 1664, the church soon banned it and decided to burn Moliere alive, unless King Louis XIV intervention who could save his life, Molière was going to be burned alive.
Yet, the church kept chasing him until he died in 1671, so clergymen refused to conduct him the funeral ceremonies.
Without the intervention of the king again, Molière would not have been buried and would not have hymns of burial ceremony.
He was buried in atheists’ cemeteries until the 19th century when his remains were exhumed to be interred in the greats’ cemeteries.
Tartuffe is a clergyman whom Molière exposed and revealed his hypocrisy, and his shameful works made the hypocrite clergymen vulnerable to people’s indignation and established foundations for the secular state in France.
The question is: is there Tartuffe among Muslim scholars?
By : Dr. Ali al-Shoaibi – Damascus