On the issue of Hizbullah and Secularism

Free_Patriot

Active Member
In my view secularism is inclusive, it should allow all citizen to practice his or her religious beliefs freely without any form of discrimination or favouritism.

Can Hizbullah be included in a secular nation that many of us long for as a true salvation? Or Hizbullah should fundamentally change itself and mutate into a more moderate organization that is able to separate religion from politics?

If the aim of the dialogue is to build trust and address Hizbullah’s concerns in order to find out a way for Hizbullah to disarm in dignity and peace, I believe all cards should be on the table. But would be realistic to say that the aim of the dialogue is to make Hizbullah change its fundamental and basic ideologies in order to make it fit in a secular nation? What would draw the line between interference in its internal affairs and an open dialogue?

Thank you
 

Dry Ice

Legendary Member
Okay, I believe that first we need to go back to the modern history of the Shiites in Lebanon and then to the birth of Hezbollah and look for the reasons why there is a Hezbollah in the first place and the goals & objectives that it was created for.

Briefly, Hezbollah is a purely Shiite phenomenon that constitutes the highlight of the Shiite renaissance in Lebanon after they have been in the shadows for too long.

The Covenant of 1943 did not take into consideration any substantial Shiite representatives and as the years passed, there was a need for the Shiite community to find new leaders.

In the 1950's, the role of two major individuals will help in reshaping the history of the Lebanese Shiites, those two men were: Sheikh Mohammad Husein Fadlallah, born in Najaf (Iraq) in 1935 from a Lebanese father and Imam Musa Sadr born in Qom (Iran) in 1929, both studied at Najaf, the wholy cited which was renowned for its Shia religious teachings.


From Martin Kramer, The Oracle of Hizbullah: Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah

When Fadlallah decided to come to his ancestral Lebanon, the eloquent and slightly unconventional cleric from Najaf knew where his art would be most appreciated. He arrived in Beirut in 1966 and selected as his arena the mixed Shi'ite-Palestinian shantytown of Nabaa in East Beirut. Nabaa was the poor relation of the neighboring Burj Hammud, one of the oldest of the city's Shi'ite communities, dating back to the 1940s, when Shi'ites first began to leave the countryside in pursuit of economic opportunity. The Shi'ites, made to feel unwelcome in Sunni West Beirut, had preferred Burj Hammud, settled between the world wars by Armenian refugees. Poorer and more recent Shi'ite arrivals squatted in neighboring Nabaa, and were joined by Palestinian refugees of war. In Burj Hammud and Nabaa, Shi'ite entrepreneurs had opened workshops and small factories. Those Shi'ites who came from the southern town of Bint Jubayl and its vicinity brought with them their traditional craft of shoemaking and established a number of shoe factories which supplied the Lebanese market. There were as many people from Bint Jubayl in Nabaa, as in Bint Jubayl itself, and the transplanted community readily accepted this brilliant native son, who had all the right credentials of descent and learning.

Community leaders welcomed Fadlallah for their children's sake as well. In the crush of the city, young people were moving away from their rural ways and even their faith. Their confusion could not be addressed by the corrupt and obscurantist shaykh who presided over the neighborhood before Fadlallah arrived.

Fadlallah immediately identified the malaise of the confused young men and women who had distanced themselves from religious belief, and set out to redeem them through a socially aware reading of Islam. He opened a husayniyya, a place of communal gathering where Shi'ites mourn the martyrdom of the Imam Husayn. There he established a social and cultural association known as the Family of Fraternity (Usrat al-Ta'akhi), which supervised clinics, youth clubs, and a middle school for Islamic studies called the Islamic Law Institute (Al-Ma'had al-Shar'i al-Islami). The best of the students went on to Najaf for further studies. The Family of Fraternity also published a journal, Al-Hikma, which gave Fadlallah's writings a wide circulation.

Fadlallah now made excellent use of the sermonizing conventions he had acquired in Najaf. He would begin his sermons with formal invocations and quotations from the Qur'an, intoned sonorously as though to cast a spell. This would draw the audience into a state of attentiveness, and confirm his authority as a master of the sacred text. Then he would introduce his general theme, discussed on a high level of abstraction in the formal cadences of classical Arabic. In many of Fadlallah's written pieces, he went no further than this, leaving the reader with an impression of a rather formal brilliance. But in sermons, a clear break would occur, signified by his passage to a more colloquial Arabic. Here came the transition from the sacred to the temporal, as Fadlallah descended from his broad theme to the trying questions posed by the present. At this point, his speech became feverish; in an arresting mannerism, he would wipe his high forehead with a handkerchief, as if to cool a mind racing past safe limits. Fadlallah performed like an artist on the pulpit, deftly weaving words into a dense and intricate carpet of quotations and allusions of immense suggestive power.

Fadlallah simultaneously developed a freer style of lecturing for youth clubs and groups. A lecture differed in many subtle ways from a sermon, but the most obvious departure came at the end, in the question-and-answer period. Not every sermonizer could think quickly enough on his feet to answer impromptu questions and summon the necessary quotations from Islamic sources. Fadlallah had that talent, and it endeared him to the inquisitive young, who were eager for dialogue and wrestled with difficult dilemmas that other clerics preferred to avoid.

Fadlallah's words derived their power from their combination of traditional Islamic themes and the fashionable rhetoric of anti-imperialist nationalism. The young generation that Fadlallah sought to touch had been nurtured on the ideas of Arab revolution championed by Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser, the paladin of pan-Arabism. These ideas revolved around the belief that, despite the coming of formal political independence, a disguised imperialism thwarted the Arab advance to true independence. Fadlallah, too, believed that imperialism remained the paramount obstacle to self-fulfillment, and he borrowed heavily from the vocabulary of Arab revolution. Fadlallah held that "imperialism cannot bear having Muslims proceed from a premise of intellectual self-reliance and it cannot bear having the Muslims act through economic and political self-sufficiency. It wants us to continue sitting at its table, feeding ourselves with the thought and consumer products it offers us."

There was nothing original in this idea of economic and cultural imperialism, sucking the lifeblood of its oppressed victims. But Fadlallah's formulations diverged from the prevailing discourse of pan-Arabism in this important respect: for the Arabs, Fadlallah substituted the Muslims, and for Arabism he substituted Islam. Imperialism had to be fought "in order to weaken it, limit its interests and break its spine, exactly as imperialism endeavors to weaken poor peoples economically, politically, militarily, by all available means."

But Arabism was a false god; only Islam could serve as the basis for a viable struggle against imperialism. Unlike some Islamic theorists, Fadlallah did not deny the values of Arab nationalism, particularly its emphasis upon unity in the struggle for Arab liberation. But the ethos of Arabism had failed to unify the Arabs. Nationalism's incapacity to stir the deepest commitment, was demonstrated by the failure to liberate Palestine. Most of the positive values of Arab nationalism had been derived from Islam in the first place, and the liberation of Palestine and the Arabs could be hastened only by returning to an Islamic conceptualization of struggle and sacrifice.

The searing issue of the early 1970s for Lebanon's Shi'ites was the emergence of a Palestinian resistance on Shi'ite ground. Expelled from Jordan in 1970, Palestinian armed organizations relocated to Lebanon and began to attack Israel across Lebanon's border. Israel retaliated with uneven accuracy, often at the expense of Shi'ite bystanders. Should the Shi'ites turn their backs on the Palestinians or demonstrate solidarity by facilitating the attacks and sharing the consequences? This dilemma confronted Shi'ites not only in the south, in places like Bint Jubayl, but also in Beirut, where their Palestinian neighbors, including those in Fadlallah's own Nabaa quarter, had also armed themselves.

Sayyid Musa al-Sadr could never give Shi'ites a straightforward answer to their own Palestinian question. While he felt the pull of solidarity, he dreaded the inclusion of the Shi'ites in the ring of suffering that surrounded the Palestinians. After all, peace had prevailed for a generation along the frontier between Lebanon and Israel. The south had been transformed into a battleground only after the emergence of an armed Palestinian resistance, which used the region as a platform for attacks against Israel. Not a few Shi'ites shared the view, widespread in Lebanon, that the Palestinians were pursuing their war of liberation at Lebanon's expense and bore responsibility for the hellish Israeli reprisals upon the villages of the south. Sayyid Musa sympathized with Palestinian aspirations because the Palestinians had been dispossessed, but did not believe that the Shi'ites, alone among all Arabs, should bear the burden of their struggle. As he said in private conversation in 1973, "Our sympathy no longer extends to actions which expose our people to additional misery and deprivation."

Fadlallah understood the dilemma differently. Formed in the Arab world of the 1950s, he knew the language of Arab unity, Arab liberation, and Arab socialism. The whole enterprise of the younger generation of Najaf clerics had been the appropriation of that language and its translation into the categories of Islam. Najaf's poets also had vied with one another in spinning words on Palestine. Fadlallah shared the Arab nationalist conviction that Israel was the instrument of a wider Western plot to dominate the Arab and Muslim worlds. The conflict to the south was not a problem between Jews and Arabs in Palestine, but between two blocs contending for the world. The Shi'ites, Fadlallah warned, could not opt out of this conflict, for they were slated for victimization. "The problem of the South is part of the Palestinian problem," he said in a lecture delivered in Bint Jubayl in 1972. "The claim of politicians and some others, that the departure of the Palestinian fedayeen from the region will solve the problem, is talk for the sake of talk, anachronistic words, a temporary anesthetic." Israel did not strike the south only in reaction to Palestinian attacks. Israel coveted the south and wished to possess it. Israel had taken territory in each of the previous three wars, declared Fadlallah, and would provoke yet another war to gain more.

Fadlallah understood the Shi'ite fear of taking a stand against Israel. "Israel frightened the entire Islamic world and appeared as the invincible element in 1967," he later said. "The Islamic world, and especially the Arab world, experienced such a psychological defeat that if any of us heard the word 'Israel' he trembled in fear, as many of us did with regard to the agents of Israel." So to embolden his listeners, Fadlallah conjured up another fear, of eventual displacement, by an Israel which would grow like a cancer unless it was excised.

This argument set Fadlallah apart from Sayyid Musa al-Sadr. Its premises lay deep in the discourse of pan-Arabism, which Sayyid Musa never fully mastered. For Sayyid Musa, the salvation of the Shi'ites lay in Lebanon's recognition of their place in the mosaic. He appealed to those who clung to their Shi'ism and preserved their faith in Lebanon. But Fadlallah spoke the young Shi'ites who were beyond the reach of Sayyid Musa, who scoffed not only at Shi'ism but at Lebanon, and who believed that by espousing causes larger than both they might lose themselves in the revolutionary mass. Seeing no reason to cling to a sectarian Shi'ism, they instead offered their services to the leftist militias and the Palestinian organizations. To the young Shi'ites yearning to identify with anything but Shi'ism, Fadlallah offered the alternative of an ecumenical Islam. Embrace the cause of Palestine, he urged, but do so in the spirit and name of Islam.

This did not mean that Fadlallah endorsed the wild fury of the Palestinian attacks on Israel. The Shi'ites, the Palestinians, and the Arabs as a whole, had to face the limitations imposed by their situation. The people had to overcome of effects of the feudal order and the quarreling Arab regimes, in order to challenge an Israel supported by the greatest power in the West, the United States.

The Arabs primed themselves to expect a quick fix, and avoided long-term planning, while the aggressors unfolded their multistage plan "to gain control of our country and our resources, and then remove us from our homelands under the slogan 'a land without a people for a people without a land.'"

The Arabs had to set aside their daydreams and begin by taking a profound look at the enemy's future plans, on the basis of present and past experience. "We should then plan our political, economic, and military life accordingly."

Fadlallah was too cautious to spell out a precise plan of action. He spoke instead of the necessity of individual transformation from within. "It is the individual who will grasp the gun, who will fly the plane. Tell me, by God, how will the individual advance this fateful cause, unless he possesses profound faith and moral fortitude, so that he will not yield to temptation?"

Fadlallah proclaimed Islam a theology of liberation at a moment when Arab revolutionaries and intellectuals denounced it as the paramount obstacle to an effective Arab challenge to Israel.


But Fadlallah's message did not resonate beyond a few Beirut neighborhoods. Sayyid Musa al-Sadr's voice carried much further, because he spoke directly to the strong sense of Shi'ite particularity which still gripped the community. Both men wore the same turban, but the differences were profound. The physically towering Sadr possessed an informal dignity that reflected the self-confidence of someone of the most noble descent. He relied heavily upon that pedigree, for when he spoke, his Persianized Arabic betrayed his foreign roots. Fadlallah was short and stocky, and could be readily mistaken for an acolyte. But his effortless and flowing Arabic proclaimed him the most Arab of Arabs.

The Shi'ites showed their preference. Sayyid Musa's deportment, lineage, winning manner, and message of hope captured the imagination and won the loyalty of many of Lebanon's Shi'ites. That Sadr spoke accented Arabic hardly mattered. Bereft of self-confidence, the Shi'ites of Lebanon were eager to defer to outside authority. Still strongly Shi'ite in identity, they were not embarrassed to look for leadership beyond the Arab world, to the seat of contemporary Shi'ite culture in Iran. Fadlallah had a much narrower appeal, which did not extend much past his own neighborhood. He won favor particularly with Shi'ites who shared his reading of the Palestinian problem as fateful for the Shi'ite community itself. Among these followers, young Shi'ites who had joined Palestinian organizations, and even risen to positions of some prominence, looked to Fadlallah as the cleric whose words most perfectly justified their choice.

But they were too few. Fadlallah remained in the shadows, while Sayyid Musa became the Imam Sadr, hailed by many of Lebanon's Shi'ites as leader and savior. Fadlallah used his time to cultivate his support at the most local level, and to bolster his scholarly credentials. Later, when asked what he did during these years, Fadlallah said that he spent them laying "foundations," and sharing the suffering of the poor. He also wrote his first full-length book, about methods of propagating Islam in the Qur'an, and he began work on a second, about the relationship of Islam to the use of force. The theme would soon prove timely as Lebanon began its descent into civil war.
 

Dry Ice

Legendary Member
A Logic of Power

The battle began in 1975, and in the following year the Maronite-dominated Phalangist militia began a campaign to excise the Palestinians from their armed redoubts in the eastern part of Beirut. Nabaa, it turned out, rested squarely upon Lebanon's fault line. An earthquake now began which would leave Beirut a divided city, the two halves separated by a vast chasm. The dilemma faced by the Shi'ites of the south suddenly confronted many in Beirut. The Phalangist militia laid siege to the Palestinians in Nabaa, blockading and shelling the shantytown. In 1976 the Shi'ites again found themselves caught between two ruthless opponents and subject to Palestinian demands for solidarity. Some Shi'ites would have fought for their homes alongside the Palestinians, but Sayyid Musa al-Sadr feared for the fate of the community and struck a deal with the Phalangist militia that allowed the Shi'ites safe passage out of the neighborhood. Upon their departure, the Phalangist militia overran Nabaa, crushing the remnants of Palestinian resistance.

Among those Shi'ites who favored resistance, the evacuation agreement reached by Sayyid Musa smacked of defeatism and betrayal. If Fadlallah shared this view, he did not voice it publicly. He left Nabaa with perhaps a hundred thousand others, abandoning the labor of a decade. However, he claimed to have done so outside the framework of the demeaning capitulation negotiated by Sayyid Musa. Fadlallah would not return to Nabaa. Later he received a telephone message from Amin Gemayel, the Phalangist commander who had taken Nabaa and who would later be president of Lebanon. Fadlallah knew that the overture concerned the possibility of reopening a clinic which he had sponsored in the quarter. He did not return the call.

As the shells fell during the long siege of Nabaa, Fadlallah wrote a book, mostly by candlelight. Islam and the Logic of Power constituted Fadlallah's most systematic polemic in favor of the empowerment of Islam. When Fadlallah wrote it, the militarization of the Shi'ite community was already underway; Sayyid Musa al-Sadr and his followers had taken the first steps toward the arming and training of a Shi'ite militia known as Amal. Yet the founders of Amal narrowly conceived their purpose as the defense of Shi'ite interests and lives in a Lebanon gone mad with sectarian violence. Sayyid Musa argued that the Shi'ites must no longer allow themselves to be victimized, that they must arm themselves, as did all of Lebanon's other communities. Amal sought to guarantee Shi'ite survival among the wolves and little more.

Fadlallah's book made the very different argument that the acquisition of power must serve not the ends of a sect, but those of all Islam in its confrontation with error, disbelief, and imperialism. Shi'ites must act, Fadlallah wrote, because Islam was endangered by the threat of an aggressive imperialism; Lebanon's strife was really a flash point in the global confrontation between Islam and imperialism. And so Fadlallah differed with Sayyid Musa over the uses to which emerging Shi'ite power should be put. Sayyid Musa saw the armed Shi'ite as a defender of his sect, which sought parity with other sects. Fadlallah saw the armed Shi'ite as an asset of Islam in a comprehensive confrontation with unbelief.

For many Shi'ites, Fadlallah's vision seemed to fly in the face of common sense. They thought Lebanon's Shi'ites would be fortunate to match the power of Lebanon's other sects. Was it not sheer fantasy to imagine the dispossessed and deprived Shi'ites of Lebanon mounting a defense of all Islam? In his book, Fadlallah said it was not. The power imperialism enjoyed over Islam was temporary and could be defeated, because it rested upon unbelief and exploitation. The Muslims did not have the same instruments of oppression and war that imperialism wielded, but power did not reside only in quantitative advantage or physical force. Strikes, demonstrations, civil disobedience, preaching, these too were forms of power. The precondition to such empowerment was a setting aside of fear; this in turn required that Muslims believe in the truth of their cause and have faith that martyrdom brings reward in the hereafter. Once they believed, they themselves would stir fear in the breasts of their most powerful adversaries.

At the same time, Fadlallah warned against such wanton and reckless violence as had backed the Palestinians into their pitiful corner. Legitimate and effective violence could only proceed from belief wedded to sober calculation. It had to be conceived as part of an overall plan of liberation. He repeated the warning first made in his Bint Jubayl lectures, against the surrender to emotion and impulse that underlined Palestinian violence. Fadlallah knew there were Shi'ites inspired by the Palestinians' theatrical acts of violence. But he regarded many of the actions of the Palestinian resistance as spasms of unguided emotion that produced nothing and signaled weakness.

In Islam and the Logic of Power, the dynamic tension in Fadlallah's thought found full expression. With one voice, he worked to convince the weak and doubting that they could acquire power through sacrifice. With another voice, he sought to restrain the zealous and harness their willingness for sacrifice to a carefully considered plan of action. His ideal of virtue was the achievement of a perfect balance between these two voices a seamless harmony, in politics as in poetry. This required an inner philosophical balance between persuasion and violence, logic and emotion, sacrifice and ambition, belief and skepticism. By the time Nabaa fell, Fadlallah had struck that balance. The self-master could now master others.
 

Dry Ice

Legendary Member
Starting Anew
After the debacle of Nabaa, Fadlallah briefly retreated to Bint Jubayl in the south, where he fell back upon the patronage of his mother's powerful clan and the support of his father. The natives of Bint Jubayl who had fled Nabaa did the same. The town's population swelled from thirteen thousand to twenty-four thousand. Families took in destitute relations, and the houses filled to overflowing. Some two hundred families with no place to stay lived in the schools, which had emptied for summer vacation. Many families slept out in the open. The new arrivals depended completely upon their brethren for food, and prices skyrocketed. A six-month delay in the payment for the tobacco crop by the state monopoly created a terrible shortage of cash. Only the charity of Bint Jubayl's native sons in distant Michigan and West Africa saved the town from hunger. These Shi'ites, including Fadlallah, were among the first refugees of Lebanon's civil war.

The loss of his congregation was a personal and professional setback to Fadlallah. He might have started again in Bint Jubayl, but he lacked the temperament of a provincial cleric and knew that his message of power did not resonate among the hills of the south. More important, Bint Jubayl began to empty as the war between Israelis and Palestinians overflowed into its streets. In October 1976, after a series of incidents, Israeli shells fell in the midst of a market-day crowd, killing seven people. A mass exodus began, carrying almost the entire population of Bint Jubayl to Beirut's southern suburbs, the Dahiya. Fadlallah again joined the wandering flock, eventually settling in the crumbling Bir al-'Abd neighborhood, and began to raise a congregation. Good fortune shined when a wealthy Shi'ite immigrant provided him with funds to expand an existing mosque. The Imam al-Rida mosque was a modern and spacious structure with a high ceiling and a balcony in the rear. A wall of glass admitted light. The place of worship was a much more confident structure than the self-effacing husayniyyas of the Dahiya, and its outspoken style perfectly suited its new denizen.

In making this new beginning, Fadlallah had the benefit of some additional support. Ayatollah Muhsin al-Hakim had died in Najaf in 1970, and most Lebanese Shi'ites chose to recognize the religious rulings of Ayatollah Abu al-Qasim Kho'i as binding. At that time, both Fadlallah and Sayyid Musa al-Sadr pledged their allegiance to Kho'i, whose seminary in Najaf was supported by donations from Lebanon and elsewhere in the Shi'ite world. But priorities shifted following the outbreak of the civil war in Lebanon, as increasing numbers of Shi'ites lost their homes and many children were orphaned. Now Kho'i asked that Lebanese Shi'ite clerics establish a committee to create charitable institutions in Lebanon, which would be supported with funds collected in Kho'i's name, and he named Fadlallah his representative in Lebanon. Who better to understand the sufferings of orphans and others driven from their homes than a guardian who also had lost everything? The appointment made Fadlallah trustee for the sizeable contributions made to Kho'i's Lebanese accounts. In Kho'i's name, Fadlallah established a large charitable institution (mabarra) in the neighborhood of al-Duha, which grew to include an orphanage, school, and mosque. In its first year, the school enrolled 275 students; a photograph from the summer of 1978 shows Fadlallah surrounded by youngsters, graduates of the school's first Qur'an recital class. In subsequent years, the activities of the institution broadened to include courses for teachers of orphans. Fadlallah's relationship with Kho'i gave him a base from which to rebuild his influence, this time among the inhabitants of the hard-pressed Dahiya.

At the same time, Fadlallah greatly benefited from the return to Lebanon of a group of able young theological students. Serious disorders broke out in Najaf in 1977, and the Iraqi regime tightened its grip on the seminaries by expelling many of the foreign students, including more than a hundred Lebanese Shi'ites. A few proceeded to Qom in Iran, but learning in the religious seminaries there had been disrupted by the escalating confrontation with the Shah's regime. Many aspiring clerics preferred to return to Lebanon, where a number of new seminaries absorbed them as teachers and students. Some appear as teachers in that same photograph of the Qur'an recital class in Fadlallah's school. Others found their place in the Islamic Law Institute Fadlallah founded in Nabaa, which had since moved to Bir Hasan in the Dahiya. Fadlallah now had his own proteges, whom he could reward with positions in his expanding enterprises.

Yet another development worked to Fadlallah's advantage in making his message audible. In 1978, Sayyid Musa al-Sadr disappeared while on a trip to Libya. He was quite probably murdered there, but his precise fate has never been determined. Fadlallah had his differences with Sayyid Musa, but would not air them openly. "Sayyid Musa al-Sadr was a friend and a schoolmate long before he arrived in Lebanon," Fadlallah later recalled. "I was with him for four years in Najaf, during our studies. When we did not agree on particular points or methods, this did not affect our friendship." Public airing of disagreement would have breached the etiquette of collegiality that governed Najaf's seminaries. It also would have been impolitic, given Sayyid Musa's undeniable popularity. "We hope Sadr will return," Fadlallah declared during one of the feverish rounds of rumor about Sayyid Musa's imminent return, "although there might be differences of opinion between him and us."

Fadlallah never spoke further about those differences. Yet he must have understood that his own voice could not be heard above the noisy preoccupation with the doings and sayings of the spellbinding Imam Sadr. The disappearance of Sayyid Musa, tragedy though it was, opened a gate of opportunity for Fadlallah and his message.


Revolution in Islam, Party of God

Then the "earthquake" struck. This was Fadlallah's own metaphor for the Islamic revolution that swept Iran, creating the sensation that the ground had shifted under the pillars of power and his own feet. The epicenter lay in Iran, but the shock jolted the most remote corners of Islam and affected Lebanon's Shi'ites immediately. Until Iran's revolution, the ideal of the Islamic state had been a remote abstraction, discussed only in the theoretical studies of clerics. Now men who had spent their lives in the seminaries of Qom and Najaf were swept to power on a wave of popular revolutionary fervor. In proclaiming an Islamic state, they summoned fellow Shi'ite clerics in the wider world to acclaim their revolution and apply its lessons to their own countries. Many came to Lebanon as emissaries of the Imam Khomeini, to preach the new dispensation. To the poor, they began to dispense money.

The revolution and the arrival of Iranian emissaries compelled Lebanon's leading Shi'ite clerics to choose between the battered idea of confessional Lebanon and the stirring slogan of an Islamic state. Lebanon's foremost Shi'ite clerics sought the good will of Islamic Iran and made formal obeisance to the Imam Khomeini, but balked at the prospect of jeopardizing the formal recognition of the Lebanese state for their institutions, first won for them by Sayyid Musa. Under his leadership, they had been petitioners of the Lebanese government, demanding no less and no more than their rightful share of office and privilege. A demand for an Islamic state would sever their link to the confessional system and compel disavowal of the institutional recognition accorded them by the state. Titles still meant a great deal to leading Shi'ite clerics such as the Acting Chairman of the Supreme Islamic Shi'ite Council, Shaykh Muhammad Mahdi Shams al-Din, and the Shi'ite Mufti of Lebanon, Shaykh 'Abd al-Amir Qabalan. They presided over an elaborate hierarchy of ritual and legal functionaries, whose status and income were derived from the established Shi'ite institutions of Lebanon. They naturally hesitated to forfeit tangible assets for the promise of a millennium.

But Fadlallah did not hold any title in the Shi'ite clerical establishment. Like any cleric of his standing, he was a member of the Supreme Islamic Shi'ite Council. He even claimed to have been "one of those who worked to find a consensus among the various Shi'ite scholars regarding the issue of the Council" when it was first created, mediating between Sayyid Musa and "others who differed from him." But Fadlallah played no role there: "I said I would not elect and would not nominate myself to be elected," since his philosophy was "different from the formula of religious councils." Fadlallah claimed instead that his allegiances crossed the frontiers of Lebanon, binding him to an ecumenical and universal Islam.

And many Shi'ites now felt the same way. Fadlallah had seen the spontaneous Shi'ite demonstrations that filled the streets of West Beirut in April 1979, demanding an Islamic state in Lebanon. These demonstrators answered to none of the established leaders and might be drawn to his flame if he could provide Arabic captions to the mute icons of the Imam Khomeini now plastering the walls of the Dahiya. So while the coyness of Lebanon's Shi'ite establishment exasperated the many official and semiofficial emissaries who began to arrive from Iran, Fadlallah rushed headlong into their embrace, proclaiming the moral debt of all Muslims to Iran's revolution and hailing its crucial role in the reawakening of Islamic consciousness among Lebanon's Shi'ites. He cheered the revolution as "the great dream of all those whose life is labor for Islam" and praised the early purging of revolutionaries compromised by the Western-inspired notion of "Islamic democracy." The revolution bore within it a universal message valid throughout all time: "It cannot be limited to a specific place except on a temporary basis." The spread of the revolution was the duty of every individual, the society, and the state.
 

Dry Ice

Legendary Member
Fadlallah's endorsements of the revolution and his condemnations of its enemies, all pronounced in a flawless Arabic, were music to the ears of Iran's emissaries to Lebanon. The triumph of the revolution moved Lebanese Shi'ites, but it had occurred across a linguistic and cultural divide. Its message needed to be translated and interpreted for a Lebanese Shi'ite audience. The despised of the villages and slums might be won by the symbolism of mute posters of Khomeini, or swayed by the material favors handed out by Iran's representatives.

Not so the newly literate and educated classes avid consumers of words in Lebanon's emporium of ideas. They were potentially receptive to the message, for they had grown to maturity in a civil war, and knew Lebanon as little more than a broken abstraction. Many longed for a voice to lift them out of the rubble and reconcile the claims of Shi'ite identity with their revolutionary ideals. But emissaries from afar could not fathom the depths of their dilemma, let alone resolve it. Nor could they employ Arabic with the finesse needed to sway the educated young, who demanded a particularly Lebanese sophistication in the style and content of the message.

Fadlallah understood the problem perfectly. For over a decade he had worked with the disillusioned young, refining his message of Islam to respond to each new wave of millenarian fad and ideological fashion. He had a particular way with Shi'ite students in the city's several universities, who constituted an untapped resource for the cause of Islam. Fadlallah reached out to them partly through the Lebanese Union of Muslim Students (Al-Ittihad al-Lubnani lil-talaba al-Muslimin), an organization created with the support of clerics in the early 1970s to counter the temptations of secular ideologies among Shi'ite university students. The union began by organizing conferences, seminars, and a weekly lecture series in its own hall and reading room in the quarter of Al-Ghubayri, in the Dahiya. But it reached a far wider audience through publication of an intellectual journal, Al-Muntalaq, which first appeared in 1978. Fadlallah's name figured only occasionally in the journal in its first two years of publication, but his sermons and articles appeared with greater frequency after 1980 and finally as the lead pieces in nearly every single issue. Al-Muntalaq proved important to Fadlallah in reaching students who frequented libraries rather more than mosques. But as Fadlallah became better known, he also began to speak on campus in the very citadels of secular education including the inner sanctum, the Assembly Hall at the American University of Beirut. Iran's emissaries, who well understood the value of educated cadres, grew ever more anxious to harness Fadlallah's persuasive talents to their revolutionary juggernaut.

Mutual need lay at the foundation of this partnership between Fadlallah and Iran's emissaries. The cleric brought with him his own following and a willingness to work to awaken the latent potential of Islam in Lebanon; the emissaries allowed Fadlallah the free and unencumbered use of their symbols and provided him with material support. Fadlallah did not owe his daily bread to Iranian bursars, and in an oft-repeated challenge he defied "any intelligence agency in the world to prove that I have a financial or semi-financial relationship with any state in the world, including Iran." Fadlallah did have his own resources, assuring him a degree of financial independence unique among the clerics rallied by Iran's agents. But the claim was misleading. Iran supported institutions under his control and offered him an array of important services, from personal security to airline travel. And above all, it offered him a kind of franchise for invoking the name of the revolution.

Fadlallah's franchise, however, was never exclusive. He had to share it with Iran's men on the scene, other Lebanese Shi'ite clerics, and zealous strongmen who volunteered their services as militiamen for Iran. Fadlallah lost an important battle very early in the day when he privately opposed Iran's creation of a distinct organization to bring these disparate souls together in a disciplined framework. Most Shi'ites were affiliated with Amal, and the creation of another Shi'ite organization would split the Shi'ite camp, since many Shi'ites would not or could not join a new party. Far better, Fadlallah argued, to preach the cause of Islam in an attempt to transform Amal from within rather than to create a competing organization. Fadlallah raised his objection as a matter of principle, positing a choice between building a clandestine party to seize power, a select "party of God" or appealing to a mass following through the open call of Islam. Islam, he proclaimed, "is a movement open to all, whereas a movement of a party carefully selects the people who are devoted to its idea, adhere to its teachings, and live fully as members. This requires that the party distinguish between those who meet the conditions of membership, who are then acknowledged, and those who do not, who are rejected. This contradicts the nature of religious adherence." Furthermore, in Iran, the masses, not a party, made the revolution. "The many Islamic parties in the Islamic world have never achieved a comparable result."

But by this time, Iran's emissaries had despaired of gaining a firm hold over Amal. They could break off branches, but the trunk of the movement remained firmly rooted in the ground marked off by Sayyid Musa. Fadlallah understood the determination of Iran's emissaries and finally acquiesced in the fateful decision to establish a separate party, reluctantly permitting his own closest followers to join the newly created Hizbullah. But he did so with a sense of resignation: "It is not necessary that party organization be the only technique for advancing the revolution or acquiring power, for life does not hold within it only one method for bringing about progressive change. But no one can deny the value of the party in this regard, in the successful experiences of many of the states in the Eastern and Western worlds." Hizbullah had a role to play, provided it did not seek "to abolish the traditional way of presenting Islam as religion and neglect general action for promoting Islam at the community level, in mosques and public fora." Fadlallah thus insisted that the new party respect his own role and that of others, who summoned men and women to a belief that no party could impose.

Yet Fadlallah preferred to remain formally outside the bounds of Hizbullah. Anticipating that Hizbullah's creation would fragment the Shi'ites of Lebanon, he sought to build a personal constituency on both sides of the incipient fissure within the community, and even across the long-standing divide between Shi'ites and Sunnis. Fadlallah thus repeatedly denied any formal connection to Hizbullah.

His mosque had become the great meeting ground of Hizbullah. His remarks were reported at length in Hizbullah's weekly newspaper, which eventually accorded him an interview in every issue. The movement's followers already hailed him as "the Sayyid," for they too sought to fix their gaze upon a single visible leader who would voice their aspirations. But the denial of formal position was not a bluff. Since Fadlallah did not wish to be narrowly identified with Hizbullah, Iran's emissaries felt free to withhold information from him and exclude him from the movement's inner councils. If Fadlallah preferred to remain at arm's length from Hizbullah, then Hizbullah's patrons would double that length. Fadlallah and Iran's emissaries consulted, of course, and carefully coordinated their actions and statements when they found themselves in agreement. But when they disagreed, they went their separate ways, Fadlallah stating one thing and Hizbullah often doing quite another.

Fadlallah thus preserved his independence, but at the cost of a certain intimacy with the process of decision making in Hizbullah. For Fadlallah, this was just as well, for he had already argued the necessity of resorting to force in desperate circumstances. If he were ever linked to actual decisions to employ force, he might have to bear the consequences. The safest course was to stand slightly aside to use all one's powers of suggestion, yet allow others to take and bear responsibility for operatve decisions. It was not all dissimulation when he declared: "I am not responsible for the behavior of any armed or unarmed group that operates in the arena. Whoever errs, I criticize his error even if he is one of ours, and whoever is correct, I appreciate his correctness even if he is a communist." This desire to maintain a formal distance led Fadlallah to deny not only the title of leader, but even the less decisive designation of spiritual guide. Fadlallah once refused an interview to a leading news agency because it would not promise to omit the ubiquitous tag.

The ever-cautious Fadlallah preferred to elude all definition, since no definition did him justice, and most could do him considerable harm. In Hizbullah he was simply known as "the Sayyid."

Yet it was inevitable that Fadlallah would become identified in Lebanon and abroad as mentor of Hizbullah. And this was not so inaccurate as to be a libel. True, he did not serve as mentor to all in Hizbullah and he also had admirers beyond Hizbullah. Yet the despised and aggrieved who filled the ranks of the movement did look first to Fadlallah to interpret their own predicament. And at times he did serve Iran's emissaries and Hizbullah's clerics as adviser, jurist, strategist, tactician, spokesman, and mediator. Despite the irregular boundaries of his influence and the complexity of his role, the fact remained that his fortunes and fate were inseparable from those of Hizbullah. Partnership had evolved into mutual dependence; as the man and the movement embraced, they began a dizzying ascent to success.
 

Dry Ice

Legendary Member
Out of Obscurity


The "earthquake" of Iran's revolution was followed by the "holocaust" of the Israeli invasion in 1982. As Israeli forces rolled through the South and then into the Dahiya and West Beirut, Fadlallah experienced his most trying moments since the siege of Nabaa. His position had drawn him closer than any Shi'ite cleric to the Palestinian cause, at a time when many Shi'ites gave up even the pretence of solidarity with the Palestinians. The Palestinians by their arrogance had lost their claim to Shi'ite sympathy; the Shi'ites now refused the bill for the spiraling cycle of violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

During the months prior to the Israeli invasion, Shi'ite resentment against Palestinian hegemony in the South had grown so intense that Amal took up arms against the Palestine Liberation Organization, in the South and Beirut. And Shi'ites remained bystanders when Israel took to the roads and the skies of Lebanon in the summer of 1982, to finish off the PLO.

The message of solidarity with the Palestinians, the message preached by Fadlallah, fell upon deaf ears. Indeed, most Shi'ites dared to hope that Israel would save Lebanon in spite of itself, and restore peace and security to a liberated South. Israel's conduct in Lebanon ultimately betrayed that hope, but many of Lebanon's Shi'ites then fixed their gaze upon the U.S., which appeared as peace-broker and eased both the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel out of Beirut. The U.S. and France now seemed ready to commit their moral and material force to the solution of Lebanon's strife.

Their troops stood sentry just outside the Dahiya.


While hopes ran feverishly high in the Shi'ite community, Fadlallah remained silent. He waited for disillusionment to seep under the new order-and it was not long in coming. As the U.S. became entangled in the Lebanese web, and threw its support behind the claims of Christian privilege and Israeli security, more Shi'ites turned against it. The U.S. had become a party to Lebanon's feud. In March 1983, Islamic Jihad, the clandestine arm of Hizbullah, took the initiative against the "American occupation army," with a grenade attack against a Marines patrol. In April 1983, Islamic Jihad claimed credit for an immense explosion which gutted the U.S. Embassy in West Beirut, killing 17 Americans. Now the time had come to expose the American role for what it was.

Only a few blocks from the Marines, Fadlallah began to explain the "secret of secrets" behind the American presence. The U.S. had not "saved" Lebanon from Israel. It had unleashed the Israeli invasion to reach into Lebanon and claim it for imperialism. The Americans sought to "create new realities in the arena, to secure political gains for the purpose of complete control over the region." The U.S. had brought Israel as far as Beirut, "extending the Israeli invasion of Lebanon beyond what the Israeli plan called for." Now the plan had reached its sinister culmination. Battered by "the mad Israeli shelling," the people of Beirut placed their trust in America.

All illusion, said Fadlallah. Submission to America meant servility to that very power which guaranteed Israel's existence and used Israel to pursue its selfish ends. For Fadlallah, the Israeli invasion and its American aftermath confirmed his concept of the essential unity of imperialism. Now the eyes of others were opening to his truth. "We believe that the future holds surprises," he announced in an article published in the middle of 1983. "There is no alternative to a bitter and difficult jihad, borne from within by the power of effort, patience and sacrifice-and the spirit of martyrdom."

It was that spirit which inspired the two "self-martyring operations" directed against American Marines and French paratroopers on one morning in October 1983. In both instances, nameless youths drove explosive-laden trucks into the barracks housing the foreign forces, blasting apart themselves and their enemies in two combined acts of sacrifice and self-sacrifice. The two bombings claimed over 300 lives, and would eventually persuade the U.S. and France that the cost of patrolling the Dahiya was far more than they could bear. But the mass destruction initially provoked a feverish American and French quest for a culpable individual-a quest which irrevocably altered Fadlallah's life. For within days of the attacks, the intelligence service of the Phalangist party put out the information that Fadlallah had blessed the two "self-martyrs" on the eve of their operation. A story to this effect appeared in The Washington Post and Fadlallah achieved worldwide notoriety overnight.

The accusation could not be proved or disproved, and no irrefutable evidence ever came to light establishing Fadlallah's direct involvement in the two attacks. But it hardly mattered. If the accusation gained sufficient credence in Washington and Paris, or if demands for vengeance overrode considerations of evidence, Fadlallah would become a hunted man. In the past, his influence had rested upon his mastery of words and his aura of credibility. Now his very life depended upon them. And so Fadlallah began a campaign to sow the seeds of reasonable doubt in the minds of foreigners charged with assessing responsibility for the attacks. The task would not be easy, for the master of the word spoke no foreign language.

A meeting was arranged between Fadlallah and a journalist from The Washington Post, his first encounter with the international press. Perhaps he hoped the newspaper would retract the story, but he soon learned otherwise: "I told the reporter from The Washington Post: 'Perhaps I'll file suit against you.' He answered: 'We maintained our journalistic credibility, because we said that the information sources that published the accusations were the Phalangists'."

Fadlallah's denials would have to carry their own weight. And he made them: he professed to be mystified by the charges; he did not believe in the method of suicide bombings; he was in his apartment on the morning of the attack. The denials were enhanced by their surroundings. His American interviewer found him living in a "dank tenement," a "shabby seventh-floor walk-up in the slums." The "ambitious but obscure holy man" possessed "scant resources to counter the charges" against him, and unnamed diplomatic sources were quoted as doubting whether Fadlallah or his followers had "the skill or the resources to handle such an operation alone."

Once this seed of doubt was sown, Fadlallah nurtured it with further denials. "In my situation, could I have visited the Marines barracks, planned the operation, met the persons that prepared themselves for it, and blessed them like the Pope blesses the faithful?" His involvement was not only a logistical improbability, but a moral one as well. He announced that he had "reservations about resorting to suicidal tactics in political action," based upon his reading of Islamic law.

From his pulpit, in his first Friday sermon after the attacks, Fadlallah told his audience that he had warned the young men against "exploding the situation," for "we do not believe that our war against America or France will end this way." He urged economic and cultural resistance to imperialism, but insisted that "we are against political assassination, and we do not agree with these explosions and assassinations, because you have no monopoly on such means; others possess them as well."

Respectable friends also stepped forward on his behalf. Delegations flocked to his home to denounce the very mention of his name in connection with the attacks. A group of engineers paid him a visit. So, too, did a delegation of Muslim students from the Lebanese University, the Arab University of Beirut, and AUB. In short order, Fadlallah succeeded in throwing off the worst suspicions of the Americans and French, who increasingly looked beyond Beirut for the masterminds of the disaster-to the Bekaa, Damascus, and ultimately Tehran.

Yet the dodge was more artful still, for Fadlallah proceeded to sanction the bombings after the fact. Just as he understood the need to put a distance between himself and the attacks, he also understood the tremendous popular gratification derived from the fearsome blows dealt by the powerless to the powerful. He repeatedly proclaimed to the world that he did not play any personal role in the attacks; but he also proclaimed that the deeds deserved to be applauded.

The justification was simple. The whole plan of introducing foreign forces "was a deceptive facade hiding the intention to convert Lebanon into a strategic base for U.S. political influence in the region." The driving out of foreign forces represented a legitimate act of resistance, even if the method was controversial-"acceptable to some, unacceptable to others, or conditionally accepted or rejected by still some other groups."

The deaths of the bombers, not the deaths of the intruders, posed the only moral dilemma. The fact that they perished with the enemy hinted deeply at suicide and sacrifice, and both belonged to the realm of unholy violence, well beyond the perimeters of Islamic law. Such acts could be validated only if they were admitted by learned opinion as sacred acts of jihad. And here, too, Fadlallah provided justification. If the aim of such a "self-martyr" was "to have a political impact on an enemy whom it is impossible to fight by conventional means, then his sacrifice can be part of a jihad. Such an undertaking differs little from that of a soldier who fights and knows that in the end he will be killed. The two situations lead to death; except that one fits in with the conventional procedures of war, and the other does not." Since the Muslims had no conventional means to wage their war successfully, necessity demanded that they act outside the conventions created by the powerful.

Fadlallah denied he had told anyone to "blow yourself up"-he never neglected to establish his own distance from the attacks-but affirmed that "the Muslims believe that you struggle by transforming yourself into a living bomb like you struggle with a gun in your hand. There is no difference between dying with a gun in your hand or exploding yourself."

He made it known that while he had not issued a fatwa, this did not mean that his reservations applied to all circumstances. "I have received young persons, men and women, who have asked me to provide fatwas authorizing them to launch military operations in which they cannot escape death. When I refuse because they do not meet all t he conditions, they beg me to reverse my decision, as if they were asking a favor of me." This implied that Fadlallah's refusal to rule did not arise from a repudiation of "self-martyrdom." It arose only from the unsuitability of candidates. And while Fadlallah consistently denied that he had authorized "self-martyrdom," he consistently implied that he had the authority to do so if he wished. "Sometimes you may find some situations where you have to take risks," he said years later, "when reality requires a shock, delivered with violence, so you can call upon all those things buried within, and expand all the horizons around you-as, for example, in the self-martyrdom operations, which some called suicide operations."

While Khomeini may have taken the decision, it was Fadlallah who wound up taking the risk, and he found his reward in a subtle claim to comparable authority. It was an intellectual tight-rope act to justify the attacks as religiously valid while withholding formal religious validation. Yet Fadlallah performed brilliantly, sowing dust in the eyes of his enemies and star dust in the eyes of his admirers. All became entangled in his words. And Fadlallah now had no intention of sinking back into the relative obscurity he had known prior to the attacks. The collapse of the American and French barracks had drawn the attention of the world to the Dahiya.

Resistance Leader

Although Fadlallah parleyed with the journalists, he devoted the better part of his time to encouraging Shi'ite resistance to the Israeli occupation of the South. Israeli forces had left Beirut, but still sought a formal security agreement with the government of Lebanon, in return for further withdrawal. As the prospect of indefinite and onerous occupation loomed larger, the Shi'ite inhabitants of the South resorted first to civil disobedience and then to violent resistance. Fadlallah turned his efforts toward blocking the implementation of a security agreement, encouraging the struggle against Israel and claiming the resistance for Islam.

Fadlallah's stand against any negotiated agreement with Israel drew partly upon his understanding of Islamic principle. Time and again, he drove home the point of Israel's absolute and unalterable illegitimacy from the point of view of Islam. Israel rested upon dispossession and usurpation, compounded by the fact that the dispossessed were Muslims, and the usurped land was sacred to Islam. Israel could not be viewed "as a state with the right to security and peace just like any other state in the region. We cannot see Israel as a legal presence, considering that it is a conglomeration of people who came from all parts of the world to live in Palestine on the ruins of another people." No process could confer legitimacy on Israel. The United Nations could not do so; the PLO could not do so; and indeed, "even if the Jews should suddenly become Muslims, we would ask them to leave Palestine, which was usurped by them." If the wrongful seizure of property could not be legalized, "then how can the usurpation of an entire country be sanctioned? We as Muslims, if we wish to be in keeping with our faith, cannot for a moment recognize Israel's legality, just as we cannot deem alcohol or adultery to be legal." As in South Africa, Palestine was a case where a minority had come to dominate the majority by force-but it was worse, since the Israelis, unlike the whites of South Africa, also expelled the majority. And Israel treated those Palestinians who remained in Palestine as "fourth- or fifth-class citizens in comparison to the Jews."

Theft of the land constituted the first count against Israel. But there were those in Lebanon who were prepared to forgive Israel its original sin-committed, after all, against Palestinians-in exchange for a negotiated, final settlement which would restore tranquility to the South. To the seekers of a settlement, Fadlallah submitted the second count of his indictment. In his Bint Jubayl lectures, before Israel's systematic incursions into Lebanon, he had argued that Israel was inherently expansionist. Few then believed his claim that Israel coveted the South. But now Israel occupied the South and had no clear plans to leave.

Claiming vindication, Fadlallah returned to his argument that the Shi'ites were next in line to be dispossessed by an expanding Israel, and that no agreement could prevent it. Peace with Israel was impossible, since "peace for Israel represents only a transitional stage preparatory to jumping to another stage," in which Israel would fulfill its "ambitions to extend from the Euphrates to the Nile." Muslims had to understand that Israel did not simply seek to displace the Palestinians; it was "not merely a group that established a state at the expense of a people. It is a group which wants to establish Jewish culture at the expense of Islamic culture or what some call Arab culture." The very purpose of Israel was to bring "all the Jews in the world to this region, to make it the nucleus for spreading their economic and cultural domination." From Israel's expanded territorial base, the Jews would then proceed to their ultimate objective: the complete subordination and eradication of Islam. "We find that the struggle against the Jewish state, in which the Muslims are engaged, is a continuation of the old struggle of the Muslims against the Jews' conspiracy against Islam." There existed a "world Jewish movement working to deprive Islam of its positions of actual power-spiritually, on the question of Jerusalem; geographically, on the question of Palestine; politically, by bringing pressures to block Islam's movement at more than one place; and economically, in an effort to control Islam's economic potential and resources, in production and consumption." In this light, only the naïve believed that Israel would be satisfied with an agreement over the South. Regardless of the terms of any security arrangement in the South, Israel would "find justifications for reviving this problem in the future," to continue its further expansion.

The third count in Fadlallah's indictment cited Israel's role in the service of American imperialism. The "connection" between Israel and the United States was "aimed at turning the entire region here into a U.S.-Israeli zone of influence, as required by the strategic, political, and economic interests of the United States." The relationship, according to Fadlallah, functioned in this manner: "America acts diplomatically and tells Israel to move militarily. . . . America suggests peace and leaves Israel to suggest war, so that if anyone rebels against the American peace, he is threatened with an Israeli war."

Although the U.S. had greater interests in the Arab world, that world was unstable. Israel served to keep it in line, assuring America's access to oil. And so it was a fantasy for Arabs to believe they could drive a wedge between Israel and the U.S.. "We believe there is no difference between the United States and Israel; the latter is a mere extension of the former. The United States is ready to fight the whole world to defend Israel's existence and security. The two countries are working in complete harmony, and the United States is certainly not inclined to exert pressure on Israel." As long as Israel existed, it would continue to act in the interests of imperialism, to dominate and oppress the region as a whole.

Fadlallah offered only one answer: the strategy of jihad, which "insists that the presence of Israel in Palestine is illegal and that it is an imperialist base which represents a great danger to the Arab and Islamic worlds. It mus t, therefore, be removed from the map completely. This is what the slogan of liberating Jerusalem represents, since Jerusalem is the Islamic symbol for all of Palestine." Following the eventual dismantlement of Israel, Jews who were indigenous to Palestine could remain, but those who had come from elsewhere-the Soviet Union, the United States, Iraq, Yemen, wherever-would have to leave.

In this panoramic perspective, negotiation with Israel over the South was worse than useless. The only solution was to "confront the problem by converting ourselves into a society of war. We must not view the question as merely incursions on the South, but must rather consider the whole Israeli presence as illegitimate."

But what could Lebanon's pathetic Shi'ites, who possessed no nuclear weapons, jets, or artillery, do about a conspiracy on so massive a scale? Fadlallah heard people say that there was no point in resisting Israel, which had defeated so many Arab armies, both collectively and individually. To resist would be akin to "stoning a mountain." Better to speak the language of diplomacy with Israel, and get the U.S. to somehow satisfy Israel and bring about a withdrawal. Fadlallah answered by claiming to have uncovered Israel's weak point. Israel was unprepared spiritually to make the sacrifices demanded by its own ambitions and its American-assigned role. Israel's resolve in Lebanon could be undermined by Israeli casualties that even primitive resistance could inflict. To force Israel out, Lebanon's Shi'ites did not need sophisticated weapons or strategic parity. They needed only to banish their fear.

This was the message Fadlallah carried in an endless round of speaking throughout the Shi'ite community. Fridays were reserved for preaching from his own pulpit in the Imam al-Rida Mosque in Bir al-'Abd, an event recorded by the audio tape vendors. But during the week Fa dlallah often spoke several times a day, from mosque pulpits and lecterns, or in the open air through microphones and bullhorns. Consider the range of audiences he addressed during ten days in November 1984, at the height of his campaign:

As the week begins, Fadlallah presides over a rally in his own mosque to protest Lebanon's negotiation of a security agreement with Israel. The Shi'ite crowd is young and eager to demonstrate its anger and resolve. A banner with the Star of David is spread on the portal of the mosque, to be trampled by those entering and leaving. Fadlallah is seated with a group of clerics; he speaks last, condemning any measure that might be construed as recognition of Israel.
<SUP></SUP>
A few days later, Fadlallah addresses an evening lecture at the invitation of the Islamic Committee for Prisoners of Ansar. The occasion is a year since the death of four detainees held by Israel in the Ansar prison camp in the South. The setting is a well-lit university lecture hall on the campus of the Arab University of Beirut. An audience of intent students is seated behind the clerics who fill the front row. A few photographs of Khomeini temporarily adorn the walls for the occasion, but this is no rally. Fadlallah again speaks against a security agreement with Israel, but dwells at length on America's behind-the-scene role. Despite the occasion, the students are more preoccupied by America than by Israel, and want to know about the precise relationship of the Israeli occupation to American imperialism. Fadlallah obliges: Henry Kissinger fomented Lebanon's civil war, he tells them; Israel's entry into Beirut was "more an American than an Israeli affair."

But a week later he omits this theme in addressing a gathering in the mosque attached to the Islamic seminary in Baalbek. The event is organized by the Islamic Resistance, Hizbullah's arm in the struggle against Israel, and it is from here that the fight ers go forth to operations in the South. The audience and Fadlallah are seated in an intimate circle on the floor. In the circle are turbanned clerics, rural notables in white headdresses, and bearded young militiamen in flak jackets. The walls are plastered with banners, posters, and photographs of young men killed in battle. Among the speakers is a renowned commander of the Islamic Resistance, who later will be killed in an Israeli raid.

The Islamic Resistance has little time for theory, and Fadlallah does not distract them with the discourse on American imperialism which he has just employed at the university. Instead he emphasizes to his front-line audience that it is Israel which is pitted against Islam, and urges them to rise up against the occupation of the land.
<SUP></SUP>
Many of the occasions on which Fadlallah spoke were contrived for the purposes of mass mobilization. But Fadlallah did not neglect the opportunities provided by the Shi'ite religious calendar. Ashura, the day of mourning for the martyrdom of the Imam Husayn at Karbala, outstripped all of these commemorations in releasing the pent-up force of ritual fervor. There were some whose zeal for ritual self-flagellation on Ashura landed them in hospital, especially in Nabatiyya in the South, where the practice had the longest tradition in Lebanon. Fadlallah now sought to harness this spirit of self-immolation to the cause of resistance to Israel. On the occasion of Ashura in 1985, he called upon self-flagellants to desist from the practice and join the Islamic Resistance:

Do you want to suffer with Husayn? Then the setting is ready: the Karbala of the South. You can be wounded and inflict wounds, kill and be killed, and feel the spiritual joy that Husayn lived when he accepted the blood of his son, and the spiritual joy of Husayn when he accepted his own blood and wounds. The believing resisters in the border zone are the true self-flagella nts, not the self-flagellants of Nabatiyya. Those who flog themselves with swords, they are our fighting youth. Those who are detained in [the Israeli detention camp in] Al-Khiyam, arrested by Israel in the region of Bint Jubayl, they are the ones who feel the suffering of Husayn and Zaynab. Those who suffer beatings on their chests and heads in a way that liberates, these are the ones who mark Ashura, in their prison cells
 

Dry Ice

Legendary Member
Fadlallah not only knew how to speak the modern rhetoric of resistance, but possessed a complete mastery of the peculiarly Shi'ite symbols of martyrdom, which he invoked whenever the calendar of religious observance made it advantageous to do so.

Not only did Fadlallah call for struggle, but he also sought to fashion the strategies and even the tactics of the Islamic Resistance, whenever these had implications for his reading of Islamic law. Fadlallah therefore sanctioned the tactics of "self-martyrdom," which were employed in the South against Israel after they were used successfully against the U.S. and France in Beirut. "What is the difference between setting out for battle knowing you will die after killing ten [of the enemy], and setting out to the field to kill ten and knowing you will die while killing them?" The artist of fine distinction saw no real distinction at all.

Yet after an initial spate of successes, it soon became clear that this minimum ratio of ten to one could not be guaranteed, as Israeli forces took prudent counter-measures. After a time, such operations were more likely to produce few Israeli casualties or none at all. Still, there were those in the Islamic Resistance who felt that such operations had value even when they failed, for they demonstrated a willingness to sacrifice young men on the alter of the struggle. Fadlallah strongly opposed this transformation of a failing military tactic into a sacrificial rite. Already in the spring of 1985, he openly expressed doubts. "The self-martyring operation is not permitted unless it can convulse the enemy," Fadlallah declared. "The believer cannot blow himself up unless the results will equal or exceed the [loss] of the believer's soul. Self-martyring operations are not fatal accidents but legal obligations governed by rules, and the believers cannot transgress the rules of God."

By late 1985, he did not hesitate to opine that the day of the "self-martyrs" had passed. Fadlallah deemed past operations against Israeli forces "successful in that they significantly harmed the Israelis. But the present circumstances do not favor such operations anymore, and attacks that only inflict limited casualties (on the enemy) and destroy one building should not be encouraged, if the price is the death of the person who carries them out."

It was a view which largely carried the day, and demonstrated Fadlallah's determination not only to fuel the Islamic Resistance, but to guide it.
Fadlallah's own daunting persistence and his seemingly limitless energy did a great deal to fire the Islamic Resistance. He remained in constant touch with the clerics and commanders who led the fight, and inspired them with the words they used to gather recruits. Gradually the Islamic Resistance began to claim success, wearing down Israeli forces through ambushes, road-side bombs, and the threat of suicide bombs. Fadlallah described the process by which the weak demoralized the strong:
The Israeli soldier who could not be defeated was now killed, with an explosive charge here, and a bullet there. People were suddenly filled with power, and that power could be employed in new ways. It could not be expressed in the classical means of warfare, because the implements were lacking. But it employed small force and a war of nerves, which the enemy could not confront with its tanks and airplanes. It appeared in every place, and in more than one way. Thus our people in the South discovered their power, and could defeat Israel and all the forces of tyranny.​
Fadlallah's contribution to the growing resistance to Israel could not be isolated and measured with any precision. Yet no one in Hizbullah could match his sheer ability to conceptualize conflict. For many of those in the Islamic Resistance, he had become an infallible moral and political compass.
Yet Fadlallah never deceived himself or others about the meaning of the successes of the Islamic Resistance in the South. Even as he argued that Israel coveted the South, he understood that Israel's consensus ended at the border, and that from the moment of Israel's entry into Lebanon, Israelis began to look for a way out-a timetable, a security plan, guarantees. This made mighty Israel vulnerable to the comparatively small resources the Islamic Resistance could muster. But Fadlallah understood that Israel would stiffen over the defense of its heartland. The obstacles on the remaining road to Jerusalem were far greater than anything the Islamic Resistance had overcome.

Fadlallah expressed this sobering thought just as Iran's emissaries recklessly promised the imminent redemption of Jerusalem. He did not object to their conjuring up images of Jerusalem, but this had to be done responsibly and realistically. Certainly it was important in mobilizing resistance in the South. "Demand to go past the border," he said, "in order to reach the border; if you demand only to reach the border, you won't reach the Zahrani," the Lebanese river that demarcated the South.

But the Islamic Resistance, despite its victories, had not thrown open the door to Jerusalem. The struggle of the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon was meant to "make confrontation with Israel possible in the future on the grounds that Israel is not an irresistible power even if it is supported by the United States " But Fadlallah saw "a difference between the liberation of Palestine and the liberation of South Lebanon as far as the method of operation is concerned." The liberation of Palestine, where a tenacious Israel had struck root, required the emergence of an Islamic resistance in Palestine itself, as well as a broad "Arab-Islamic plan for confrontation." Without such a plan, operations against Israel from Lebanon would become "mere acts of self-martyrdom. That is why we think differently about the post-Israeli withdrawal phase, differently from the way of the resistance in South Lebanon."


The ultimate liberation would take much more time. Just how much more became a point of disagreement between Fadlallah and Iran's emissaries. Iran's emissaries feared that promising too remote a redemption might create despair, and they believed what they preached: that Iran's revolution had put Muslim history on fast-forward. But Fadlallah was more concerned with encouraging persistence, since hopes of quick victory had always been the bane of the Arabs. At times, his ambiguity accommodated those short of patience: "When we say that Israel will cease to exist, this does not mean tomorrow or the day after."

But usually he spoke of years, decades, generations, even centuries. Israel's elimination could not be achieved in "one, two, or ten years," but might require "one hundred years if necessary." Or perhaps fifty years, "just as the Jews sought to reach Jerusalem, even if it took fifty years." Fadlallah did not wish to "take from the public its dream and aspiration of destroying Israel"-a dream he shared-but the liberation of Jerusalem would be done "only in future generations." "In this connection," he admitted, "we think of great periods of time." There was now "no strategy in the operational sense for the liberation of Jerusalem."

Fadlallah did not expect to enter the promised land. Instead he sought to purify the young generation and steer them from the worship of false gods, so that they or their children might regain lost Jerusalem. And because Fadlallah did not become intoxicated by the early gains of the Islamic Resistance, he did not become discouraged once Israel dug in its heels in 1985, establishing a security zone in the South. He continue to preach against Israel with an even resolve. But as the Islamic struggle against Israel entered a stalemate, Fadlallah's audiences began to pay closer attention to his vision of Lebanon itself.

Balm of Lebanon

How did Fadlallah envision the Lebanon left behind by Israel's retreat, and how precisely did he expect Islam to resolve the country's deadlock? It was difficult to say. No clouds obstructed his discourse against Israel, for the conflict in the South represented a battle of absolutes. But the rest of Lebanon was a different matter, for there were no foreign intruders to expel, only interested parties whose claims had to be reconciled. These included Shi'ite Muslims, Sunni Muslims, Maronite Christians, Greek Orthodox Christians, Armenians, and Druzes, living and often warring in a hopelessly small country. In addressing the question of Lebanon, Fadlallah brought his talent for advocacy into brilliant play. It was obvious, he declared, that neither the existing confessional system nor any other confessional formula could ever reconcile the claims of these different religious groups. But they could all be accommodated with equity through the implementation of Islam as a comprehensive political, social, and legal order. Islam, declared Fadlallah, constituted a framework in which all Lebanese could live in harmony, regardless of their religious affiliation.

Yet when pressed to explain how Islam would achieve this, Fadlallah let ambiguity reign. At times, it seemed as though he predicated Islamic redemption on the dissolution of Lebanon itself. Fadlallah believed that "Lebanon was created by great powers in artificial borders, as the result of a political deal." Lebanon's borders were tailored in an arbitrary fashion to create a bastion from which the West could continue to dominate the surrounding Muslim world. Lebanon "came into being to perform a specific mission for the West . . . to be a stage on which all the plans propounded for the region would be tested." And so there was nothing "eternal" about Lebanon, an entity that only existed thanks to those "international political interests" which had a stake in its preservation. Fadlallah held out the ultimate promise of Lebanon's disappearance: "If the political situation in the region changes, not only is Lebanon unlikely to survive; neither will many other entities in the region." In this respect, Lebanon as an idea did not differ significantly from Israel as an idea. Both were foisted on the Muslims from the outside; both were destined to disappear. This was certainly the tack adopted by Iran's emissaries, who promised Lebanon's disappearance into a "great Islamic state."

But Fadlallah did not believe in the immediacy of Lebanon's demise. Too many obstacles, within the country and beyond its frontiers, stood in the path of its absorption into a great Islamic polity. The likelihood that such a polity might ever emerge was slim; in Fadlallah's view, "modern developments with which the Muslims now live . . . have made the single world state irrelevant from the point of view of objective possibilities."

Iran's emissaries had sought to create the illusion that parts of Lebanon had been incorporated into Iran, but illusion was one thing, reality another. The best that Lebanon might hope for was the separate implementation of an Islamic state.

Yet even this limited goal could not be achieved immediately, for confessionalism constituted the hard soil of Lebanon, and the idea of an Islamic state was a vulnerable transplant. While Iran's emissaries dwelt upon the similarities between Iran and Lebanon, Fadlallah saw profound differences, which arose primarily from Lebanon's confessional diversity.

In Iran, there was "a population composed of Muslims only, which accepts the line of Islam, and a regime that had become an obstacle in the way of Islamic rule. The only solution was to fight this regime." But such homogeneity did not obtain in Lebanon, and no revolution could alter that fact. "Sometimes there are obstacles that a revolution cannot eliminate."

The first obstacle lay in the fact that the Muslims of Lebanon were not of one school, but were divided between Sunnis and Shi'ites. And among the Sunnis, there were many with a vested interest in the existing confessional formula. Their fortunes had declined since the outbreak of the civil war, but plummeted following the expulsion of their Palestinian allies in 1982. Now the rising demographic and political tide of Shi'ism threatened to sweep away their privileges. And privileged they were, in comparison with the Shi'ites. They had profited from their mediation between the surrounding Sunni Arab world and the West, in commerce, education, and the professions. Shi'ites could see this themselves: most of the prospering industries and warehouses in the Dahiya were owned by Sunnis. The confessional system also guaranteed Sunnis a share of the state that their numbers could no longer justify. Now assertive Shi'ites began to argue that the primacy of the Sunni community on the Muslim side of the confessional equation had no legitimacy.

But the idea of an Islamic state could never win a majority if the Muslims split , and unity could only be achieved by alleviating Sunni anxieties. As Fadlallah noted, "the majority of the armed elements within West Beirut are Shi'ites, and there is no real Sunni armed presence. When people who are unarmed are faced with armed people, especially when infractions and violations of the law occur, they are bound to feel insecure." And so Fadlallah set out to dispel the growing mistrust which separated Shi'ites and Sunnis. The first step was to admit that the problem existed, to avoid the denial that prevented dialogue.

The inner sectarianism of Islam, he announced, had left "a profound effect on the emotional content of the view held by Muslims of one another." It had now reached the point of gross exaggeration, where Muslim openly accused Muslim of unbelief and polytheism. Instead of seeing sectarian differences as matters of marginal disagreement over law or the interpretation of certain theological "details," Muslims regarded them as fundamental differences in belief. "The sectarian reality has divided Muslim societies into two, Sunni and Shi'ite, in which each takes stands independent from the other and finds that its interests differ from the interests of the other." Fadlallah offered no precise solution to these differences. But while others magnified them, he sought to minimize them. They were not theological but philosophical, he declared; they could be transformed into "an intellectual problem, to be examined by researchers in a scholarly way so as to reach a solution."

Fadlallah offered no ecumenical magical formula, but his ecumenical style did build a measure of Sunni trust. His own discourse was remarkably free of Shi'ite symbolism. He did employ a Shi'ite rhetoric on the anniversaries and commemorations set by the Shi'ite religious calendar, and before exclusively Shi'ite audiences. Such rhetoric, he explained, was intended only to motivate people. But given a choice between an allusion to the Qur'an or to the Imam Husayn, he usually chose the former. It was often difficult to tell from the texts of his regular sermons that they were spoken by a Shi'ite cleric. He also appeared in person before Sunni audiences, in order to give his assurances the weight of his personality. In a typical instance, Fadlallah lectured before alumni of a prestigious Sunni Muslim school; the audience was comprised of lawyers, doctors, and engineers. In attendance were a former prime minister, parliamentary deputies, and the head of Beirut's Chamber of Commerce. A photograph shows an audience of respectable older men of means, mustached, white-haired or bald, arms folded across their jackets and ties.

These were the pillars of the Sunni professional and commercial establishment, who felt most threatened by the encroachment of the masses of Shi'ite poor on West Beirut. Fadlallah read his prepared remarks from a seat on the dais. In measured tones and without passion, he worked to assuage their fears, speaking about the need for the unity of Shi'ites and Sunnis and the common ground on which they stood.
<SUP></SUP>
Such performances were augmented by personal efforts to defuse sectarian powder kegs. Members of the Lebanese Sunni elite, who had built personal fortunes from their Saudi connections, shuddered when Lebanese Shi'ites sacked and burned the Saudi consulate in Beirut in 1984, in protest against a Saudi refusal to issue them pilgrimage visas. Fadlallah was quick to condemn the violence: "We regard this as an act of mischief, and believe it might have been the result of misplaced zeal."

That same year, he sought to prevent the extension into West Beirut of the Shi'ite Ashura processions, marking the martyrdom of the Imam Husayn. The observance commemorated the opening of the chasm within Islam, and while it played an essential role in the ritual universe of Hizbullah, it also bore within it the potential for sectarian strife. Fadlallah worked to confine the processions to the Dahiya, out of Sunni sight: "During Ashura I worked for two consecutive nights to prevent the holding of a procession in West Beirut, and I am still having contacts to remove the slogans and pictures from the area, since this is undesirable."

The understanding which Fadlallah promoted was fragile, and the mistrust between Sunnis and Shi'ites simmered. But if the two communities were to form a coalition in favor of an Islamic state, Fadlallah had the best chance of any Shi'ite cleric to emerge as linchpin of that coalition, as guide to Shi'ites and Sunnis alike. "My views have had an impact in Lebanon, among Sunnis as well as Shi'ites," declared Fadlallah in an unusually boastful moment. "I do not work on a Lebanese level alone but also at the level of the Islamic world. We have excellent relations with the Hizbullah group and with most of the Amal members, as well as with Islamic non-Shi'ite groups and the Sunnis in Tripoli and Beirut."
<SUP></SUP>
But Fadlallah could never be certain that any Sunnis-even those impressed by his ecumenism-would follow him down the road to an Islamic state. They saw how Iran's revolutionary constitution had declared Twelver Shi'ism to be the religion of state, despite the presence of a large Sunni minority. Were not the Sunnis better off remaining one confession among many, rather than a minority in a predominantly Shi'ite Islamic state? Again, Fadlallah sought to banish one fear by evoking a greater one.

Certainly Muslims had their differences, but their shared belief, law, culture, resources, and security, were threatened by unbelief. That threat demanded that the Muslims "strive for the establishment of a state, any state, which will counter these threats from the position of Islamic thought." The great Shi'ite clerics and the leaders of Sunni movements had to find a formula which would guarantee the freedom of believers in such a state, by drawing upon the Qur'an as its constitution. The state would have to locate the common ground shared by the schools of Islam, and tolerate the long-standing differences among them. For the alternative to an Islamic state was "subjugation to unbelieving tyranny, which will extend its injustice to Islam as a whole, and to all Muslims."

Unbelief would establish its rule, its law, its complete control. "And that would not be agreeable to any Islamic logic, opinion, or school." To accommodate Lebanon's Sunnis, the implementation of an Islamic state in Lebanon would have to differ fundamentally from its implementation in Iran. Concessions would have to be made to Lebanon's diversity.


But that diversity hardly ended with Lebanon's Sunnis. Fadlallah knew that Lebanon's Christians would resist any attempt to substitute the rule of Islam for the tattered confessional order which guaranteed their privileges, which were even more extensive than those of the Sunnis. Fadlallah also understood that they had an identity and an ethos of their own, largely formed in opposition to Islam, and he had seen them at their most tenacious and ruthless in Nabaa. Unlike many of Iran's emissaries, Fadlallah never underestimated the Christians of Lebanon. Like the invading Jews, they were unbelievers; but unlike the Jews, they were rooted in the soil of Lebanon, and would not flee in the face of car bombs and ambushes. They would simply return the same with a vengeance. As he once put it, "Lebanon is a country in which both Muslims and Christians live. Neither can remove the other; that is why we must stop losing ourselves in conjecture."
<SUP></SUP>
Fadlallah's straightforward advice to his adherents was not to tangle with the Christians, if such entanglement could be avoided. As Israel retreated, he urged that Shi'ite rage against the Christians be displaced upon the Israelis, with the argument that Israel represented the "head," and Lebanon's Christians constituted the "tail."

Once he was asked whether liberation of all Beirut from the Christians should not take precedence over the liberation of the South. "I would prefer that you set such slogans aside. Palestine is with you when you walk through Junya, Palestine is with you when you walk through the alleyways of the Dahiya, in every village in the South and in every Beirut street. Confront Israel and leave the 'tail' aside. For if you defeat Israel, if you chop off the 'head,' where will the 'tail' be?" This was an astute shift of grievance, since the Islamic Resistance could not break the resolve of Lebanon's Christians. But it could break the overextended Israelis, who were already looking for every possible exit from the Lebanese labyrinth.

Yet Fadlallah believed that the Christians, and especially the Maronites, were growing weaker. The Maronites had been a European project, at a time when Europe pursued a policy of cultivating minorities. But America, the heir of Europe, had penetrated the entire Islamic world, and had no need of a small minority at odds with America's more numerous Muslim friends in the region.

Fadlallah believed that in the long term, this made Lebanon's Christians insecure-and susceptible to persuasion. The Christians could not yet be forced into submission, but perhaps they could be cajoled, coaxed, seduced.

Fadlallah understood that they were afraid, and that fear stiffened their will. But if that fear could be alleviated, might not their will be eroded?
Thus began Fadlallah's remote dialogue with Lebanon's Christians-remote, because at first Fadlallah conducted it through the Lebanese media.

Fadlallah went out of his way to grant interviews to the newspapers and magazines which were published and widely read by Christians. The journalists for these publications inevitably pressed Fadlallah on the status of Christians in any future Islamic state. Right through the Ottoman period, they had lived under Islam as protected inferiors, bound by the provisions of a pact, or dhimma. Christians remembered the dhimma as a discriminatory system of subjugation, and portrayed it as a kind of religious apartheid.

Fadlallah still upheld the dhimma as an ideal arrangement between Muslim majority and Christian minority, and argued that on close examination, it was not "the oppressive or inhumane system that some people imagine it to be."

But he suggested an alternative: a treaty, or mu'ahada, between majority and minority. The Prophet Muhammad, on coming to Medina, had concluded precisely this kind of treaty with the Jews. Unlike the dhimma, which was a concession by the Islamic state, the mu'ahada constituted a bilateral contract. The Islamic state could conclude such a treaty with any kind of minority-with Christians and Jews, but also, for example, with Kurds or Turks. Such a treaty would guarantee cultural rights, customs, and traditions, while leaving politics to the Islamic state. Pressed still further, Fadlallah could also envision an additional pact, or mithaq, between the state and its religious minorities, which could be negotiated within the broad lines of Islam. All offices in the state would then be open to members of the religious minority, with the exception of the highest decision-making authority. "Because of the Muslim majority in Lebanon," he announced, "the president should be a Muslim."

But at the same time, "if the president is a Muslim, but a supporter of infidel regimes and arrogant powers, in our view he is not acceptable." The president would have to be both a Muslim and an Islamist. In late 1987 a handbill circulated in West Beirut naming Fadlallah as a candidate for the presidency of Lebanon. Fadlallah saw no reason why a man of religion could not hold such an office, but he denied any connection with the handbill, and denounced the floating of his name as an attempt to harm him. With the presidency still reserved for a Maronite, he could hardly do otherwise.

Fadlallah thus offered a comprehensive Islamic solution, but he assured Christians that he did not seek its imposition by force. He distanced himself from the demand of Iran's emissaries that the "regime" be "toppled." The people of Lebanon, he averred, had the right to decide their own future. Any solution would have to be acceptable to a majority. It was Fadlallah who prevailed upon the drafters of Hizbullah's programmatic "open letter" of February 1985 to include a passage which called for "allowing all of our people to decide their fate and choose the form of government they want with complete freedom." Muslims were duty-bound to present the alternative of Islam, not to impose it.

Fadlallah did not imagine he could persuade all of Lebanon's Christians, for that would have been a labor of Sisyphus. But he did seek to build a reservoir of Christian trust, which might be tapped later to build a multi-confessional majority in favor of an Islamic state.

His growing reputation certainly piqued Christian interest. He eventually had "many long discussions" with a long list of Christian figures whom he met in Damascus. His interlocutors included the patriarchs of the Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic, and Syrian Orthodox churches, as well as papal nuncio and the cardinal who presided over the Vatican's Secretariat for Non-Christians. "I never felt there was any problem during our talks," claimed Fadlallah. "It was as though I was conversing with Muslim scholars." In Lebanon itself, however, no religious dialogue took place, and Fadlallah admitted that politics posed "serious obstacles to any attempt at a frank discussion."

Still, this did not prevent him from conducting a monologue. One Christmas he gave a lengthy interview devoted to Muslim-Christian relations, arguing that "fundamentalist Islam" was far closer to Christianity than Lebanon's "confessional Islam." One Easter he gave a mosque sermon commemorating "the sufferings of Jesus," one of Islam's prophets, even though "we may not concur with Christians on certain details of theology." As with Sunnis, so with Christians, Fadlallah sought to talk the differences away.

And if, despite Fadlallah's efforts, the majority of Lebanese still rejected the creation of an Islamic state? In these circumstances, Fadlallah did not rule out a compromise solution. Above all, Fadlallah sought social and economic justice for the oppressed. Perhaps Lebanon's diversity made it impossible to create a state led by a Muslim and based on Islamic law. That was no reason to despair. "If we as Muslims fail to achieve an Islamic state for everyone, we should not stop in our tracks. Instead, we must call for a humane state for everyone." Such a state could never be just in an Islamic sense, but it could be humane, provided it alleviated the distress of the despised and downtrodden. To those who insisted on a Muslim head of state, Fadlallah noted that were other states headed by Muslim kings, princes, and presidents, "who steal the funds of the Muslims, and the treasury of the nation and its future." To those who demanded the implementation of Islamic law, Fadlallah pointed out that this did not automatically guarantee justice. In a veiled allusion to Saudi Arabia, Fadlallah decried Arab regimes that practiced theft and then cut off the hand of the thief, practiced fornication and then stoned the adulterer. Fadlallah held that rule by Muslims and the implementation of Islamic law did not by themselves create a state of justice.

And if these two attributes of an Islamic state were beyond reach, then perhaps another solution could be found. This opened Fadlallah to some criticism in Hizbullah. "Some brothers imagine I have substituted the slogan of a humane state for that of an Islamic state," he revealed. "I do not present it as an alternative, but as an interim step, to break down the wall that surrounds people."
<SUP></SUP>
Fadlallah did continue to talk about the necessity of an Islamic state, but he actively pursued more attainable objectives. And if Fadlallah sometimes asked for more than was reasonable, it was usually in order to get something reasonable. Demand Jerusalem, but settle (for now) for the South; demand an Islamic state, then settle (for now) for a "humane" state. In his plea for the despised, Fadlallah remained both pragmatic and principled. Of course there were Christians and Sunnis who viewed his vision as a piece of deceit, meant to lure them to a feast where they would constitute the main course. But Fadlallah concealed nothing. He expected them to sacrifice privilege-political, social, economic-in return for the protection afforded by his Islam. They could accept his offer now, or gamble losing everything in a future upheaval by a less forgiving Islam. Thanks largely to Fadlallah's subtle advocacy-and implicit threat-the idea of an Islamic state provoked a lively intellectual debate, among adherents of all confessions.
 

Dry Ice

Legendary Member
Based on everything that was stated above, do people still consider me as crazy when I speak of Hezbollah and Sheikh Mohamad Husein Fadlallah as longing to an Islamic State?

How can we get them out of this idea? How can we make them comprehend that demanding "an Islamic State, then settling for a humane State" should stop right there, at the humane level and that they should abandon the idea of Islamization of the Republic?
 

Dan7

Active Member
Dry Ice said:
Based on everything that was stated above, do people still consider me as crazy when I speak of Hezbollah and Sheikh Mohamad Husein Fadlallah as longing to an Islamic State?

How can we get them out of this idea? How can we make them comprehend that demanding "an Islamic State, then settling for a humane State" should stop right there, at the humane level and that they should abandon the idea of Islamization of the Republic?

Malgré l’énorme score du Hezballah, il faut savoir que la majorité des chiites sont :

- Contre un état Islamique
- Pour l’unité du Liban
- Contre l’ingérence de la Syrie et de l’Iran
- Pour la liberté ( presse, les mœurs , la politique, la culture, musique ….)
- Pour une armée forte
- Pour le désarmement des milices libanaises et palestiniennes
- Pour le droit de retour des palestiniens (pour ne pas dire contre le droit de rester au liban)
- Contre l’ingérence autoritaire des religieux sur la masse (lire les posts du El Horr qui je crois est d’accord avec moi sur ce point)

Mais tout ça , tous ces bonnes choses s’effacent complètement si les chiites se sentent en danger , si ils se sentent nus vis-à-vis des israéliens, si ils se sentent trahis par leur propre citoyens ( Joumblatt) , si on les accuses de préparer les voitures explosif ….

Pour moi ce Mais , il y a qu'une politique modératrice comme celle de Aoun qui peut l’enlever, et je peux t’assurer que si ceci arrive, le Hezb et Amal seront obligé au mieux de changer complètement leur politique et au pire donner leur place à d’autre mouvements ( soit chiites modérés soit laïques comme le Tayyar )
 

Dry Ice

Legendary Member
Dan7 said:
Malgré l’énorme score du Hezballah, il faut savoir que la majorité des chiites sont :

- Contre un état Islamique
- Pour l’unité du Liban
- Contre l’ingérence de la Syrie et de l’Iran
- Pour la liberté ( presse, les mœurs , la politique, la culture, musique ….)
- Pour une armée forte
- Pour le désarmement des milices libanaises et palestiniennes
- Pour le droit de retour des palestiniens (pour ne pas dire contre le droit de rester au liban)
- Contre l’ingérence autoritaire des religieux sur la masse (lire les posts du El Horr qui je crois est d’accord avec moi sur ce point)

Mais tout ça , tous ces bonnes choses s’effacent complètement si les chiites se sentent en danger , si ils se sentent nus vis-à-vis des israéliens, si ils se sentent trahis par leur propre citoyens ( Joumblatt) , si on les accuses de préparer les voitures explosif ….

Pour moi ce Mais , il y a qu'une politique modératrice comme celle de Aoun qui peut l’enlever, et je peux t’assurer que si ceci arrive, le Hezb et Amal seront obligé au mieux de changer complètement leur politique et au pire donner leur place à d’autre mouvements ( soit chiites modérés soit laïques comme le Tayyar )


Est-ce que la majorité des Iraniens était en faveur d'un état islamique quand la république islamique d'Iran a été déclarée?

El Horr confond Religion avec Etat.

J'accuse le Hezbollah et Fadlallajh de toujours vouloir un Etat Islamique et farouchement, c'est juste qu'ils sont en dissimulation pour le moment mais ils n'ont jamais abdiqué.

Il ya quelque chose que tu as oublié de dire la, il faut developper le pays equitablement du Nord au Sud, de cette façon les gens auront plus de coeur à défendre leur pays, leur vrais pays, un pays laïque, uni, non le pays de l'état Islamique (plan du Hezbollah) ou le pays communautaire (couramment).
 

kappa273

Well-Known Member
i am not going to argue with if hizbullah and fadlallah want a secular country or not.. .

i will go with you and consider that they don't want a secular country... they are sectarian.. they want a country built not on the najaf ideology of shiism but on the iranian revolution...
with the supreme commander of the state being a cleric...

do u suggest FPM not to ally with them?

who do u suggest FPM should ally with?

Hariri and the sunni of beirut?


please answer me quickly so that i can continue my discussion...

kappa
 

Dry Ice

Legendary Member
kappa273 said:
i am not going to argue with if hizbullah and fadlallah want a secular country or not.. .

i will go with you and consider that they don't want a secular country... they are sectarian.. they want a country built not on the najaf ideology of shiism but on the iranian revolution...
with the supreme commander of the state being a cleric...

do u suggest FPM not to ally with them?

who do u suggest FPM should ally with?

Hariri and the sunni of beirut?

please answer me quickly so that i can continue my discussion...

kappa


Who am I to suggest to the FPM in such critical times?

This is not a message to the FPM only but to all Lebanese.

We have radicals in our midst. Not sectarians, no seculars, no sectarian Lebanese who claim that they are nationals while playing the trump 1943/Taef card, we have officially radical SECTARIAN people in Hezbollah and their religious guru, I will never fail to remind people of that in the hope that we do no witness another HAMAS in Lebanon or another IRI.

Please take the time to read the article on Moh'd Fadlallah.

The truth hurts.
 

kappa273

Well-Known Member
if u restrict the problem of secularism/sectarianism to hizbullah,
let me draw some points from the past...

assafir august 19,1975..
a letter from hussein alkawtali (i am not sure if it alkawtali or alkouwatli or alkoutli... my book is in arabic with no ti7rik)...

all in all, this person was the first secretary of the mufti of the republic at that time..

his letter published in assafir was directed towards the christians and maronites more precisely. in this letter he started by saying that the lebanese entity was created to replace the muslim authority by a christian one.
then according to mr kouwatli, the sunnis of lebanon went against their own religion in accepting a christian ruler and he warned the christians of blasphemy in case they demand establishing secularism..
and the solution according to his letter is to accept a supreme sunni rule with the christians as subjects of the state..

at the time of this letter, the wasiqa al doustouriyyah was proposed and in general it called for a similar picture as in al TAEF accord 14 years later. Dar al Fatwa was one of the staunchest opponents for this wasiqa and were prime reason for its failure later.. in addition to others...

so the problem of secularism is not an issue of fadlallah and hizbullah.. it is a major problem with the clergy..

i may sound sectarian or trying to divide people however, this letter was published in assafir at that time..

one more point, the author forget to stress about in ur text...
imam mussa al sadr who gave a sermon in St george church in beirut and who prayed in bkerke (salat al zahr) to show solidarity between different lebanese communities..

kappa
 

Dry Ice

Legendary Member
kappa273 said:
if u restrict the problem of secularism/sectarianism to hizbullah,
let me draw some points from the past...

assafir august 19,1975..
a letter from hussein alkawtali (i am not sure if it alkawtali or alkouwatli or alkoutli... my book is in arabic with no ti7rik)...

all in all, this person was the first secretary of the mufti of the republic at that time..

his letter published in assafir was directed towards the christians and maronites more precisely. in this letter he started by saying that the lebanese entity was created to replace the muslim authority by a christian one.
then according to mr kouwatli, the sunnis of lebanon went against their own religion in accepting a christian ruler and he warned the christians of blasphemy in case they demand establishing secularism..
and the solution according to his letter is to accept a supreme sunni rule with the christians as subjects of the state..

at the time of this letter, the wasiqa al doustouriyyah was proposed and in general it called for a similar picture as in al TAEF accord 14 years later. Dar al Fatwa was one of the staunchest opponents for this wasiqa and were prime reason for its failure later.. in addition to others...

This guy is a feather weight compared to Hezbollah today.

And who told you that I would agree with the Theocracy of Saudi Arabia or of other places? But look at it like this: Who do you feel has more chances of proclaiming their "vision" of a state in the mid-term future?

The Sunni (sorry for the word but I needed to pinpoint them just for differentiation) radicals of Dinniyeh who were crushed by the Lebanese Army when they tried to flex their muscles in 2000?

OR

Even still the Lebanese Forces and GoC who were marginalised to the point of marginalisation during the last 15 years

OR

The Hezbollah?



kappa273 said:
so the problem of secularism is not an issue of fadlallah and hizbullah.. it is a major problem with the clergy..

It is the problem of the clergy, but it is our problem too because we tend to support the clergy too much *hint for everyone*


kappa273 said:
i may sound sectarian or trying to divide people however, this letter was published in assafir at that time..

one more point, the author forget to stress about in ur text...
imam mussa al sadr who gave a sermon in St george church in beirut and who prayed in bkerke (salat al zahr) to show solidarity between different lebanese communities..

The author did stress that mussa al sadr wanted the good of the shiites in lebanon and was more worried about forging a place for them in this nation (Lebanon) while Fadlallah (and inherito Hezbollah) did not believe in Lebanon but in the Islamic Nation.

The Islamic Nation.

Mussa Sadr died because he wasn't radical enough, he died because he still put Lebanon in a respectable view and wanted the Shiites to attain their real position in the Nation - a true and balanced partner with all the others, the Lybians killed him because he went against their interests in Lebanon, he went against pure hatred and blind killing, Mussa Al Sadr and Fadlallah/Hezbollah are different.
 

kappa273

Well-Known Member
hi,

from magazine attamadon...

في هذه الايام يجري الحديث عن تشكيل تيارين سنيين في طرابلس المدينة السنية الاكبر في لبنان، احدهما يضم السلفيين وبعض من كانوا في «جند الله» وكوادر عسكرية كانت سابقاً في حركة التوحيد، وهو موالٍ للسعودية وممول من النائب سعد الحريري ومن أهدافه الوقوف بوجه سوريا وشيعة لبنان وتحديداً حزب الله، والآخر يضم جناحي حركة التوحيد الاسلامي وبعض العلماء والمشايخ والقوى السنية الاخرى، ومن أهدافه مناصرة سوريا.


do u think they will eventually call for a secular state?

(i mean the saad hariri backed party)

kappa
 

joseph_lubnan

Legendary Member
Dry Ice said:
Based on everything that was stated above, do people still consider me as crazy when I speak of Hezbollah and Sheikh Mohamad Husein Fadlallah as longing to an Islamic State?

How can we get them out of this idea? How can we make them comprehend that demanding "an Islamic State, then settling for a humane State" should stop right there, at the humane level and that they should abandon the idea of Islamization of the Republic?

I doubt many read the volumes that you wrote above!!! This is a forum discussion not a dissertation.. try to be more brief ;)
 

Dry Ice

Legendary Member
kappa273 said:
hi,

from magazine attamadon...

في هذه الايام يجري الحديث عن تشكيل تيارين سنيين في طرابلس المدينة السنية الاكبر في لبنان، احدهما يضم السلفيين وبعض من كانوا في «جند الله» وكوادر عسكرية كانت سابقاً في حركة التوحيد، وهو موالٍ للسعودية وممول من النائب سعد الحريري ومن أهدافه الوقوف بوجه سوريا وشيعة لبنان وتحديداً حزب الله، والآخر يضم جناحي حركة التوحيد الاسلامي وبعض العلماء والمشايخ والقوى السنية الاخرى، ومن أهدافه مناصرة سوريا.


do u think they will eventually call for a secular state?

(i mean the saad hariri backed party)

kappa

No I don't think so, if you need rankings, I will give them to you:


Most able (and willing) to create an anti-secular state

1. Hezbollah

2. Hariri

3. Jumblat / Lebanese Forces


I hope that answers your questions.
 

Dry Ice

Legendary Member
joseph_lubnan said:
I doubt many read the volumes that you wrote above!!! This is a forum discussion not a dissertation.. try to be more brief ;)

Those are not volumes, you can read it in 10 minutes + I wouldn't have been able to portray the whole idea without starting from Najaf.

Try reading the bold/red/itallic if you can't read all.

Cheers
 

kappa273

Well-Known Member
Dry Ice said:
No I don't think so, if you need rankings, I will give them to you:


Most able (and willing) to create an anti-secular state

1. Hezbollah
2. Hariri
3. Jumblat / Lebanese Forces

I hope that answers your questions.

it is going to be a long and hard trip for secularism...

kappa
 

Kasparov

Well-Known Member
Orange Room Supporter
Free_Patriot said:
In my view secularism is inclusive, it should allow all citizen to practice his or her religious beliefs freely without any form of discrimination or favouritism.

Can Hizbullah be included in a secular nation that many of us long for as a true salvation? Or Hizbullah should fundamentally change itself and mutate into a more moderate organization that is able to separate religion from politics?

If the aim of the dialogue is to build trust and address Hizbullah’s concerns in order to find out a way for Hizbullah to disarm in dignity and peace, I believe all cards should be on the table. But would be realistic to say that the aim of the dialogue is to make Hizbullah change its fundamental and basic ideologies in order to make it fit in a secular nation? What would draw the line between interference in its internal affairs and an open dialogue?

Thank you

In my opinion , Secularism and any religon are not friends , even in france when secularism was 1st implemented in 1905, lots of problems and Riots occured , in the United states the same thing happened , so expect that as long as extreme islamic or christian party's exist in lebanon , Secularism would be a hard task to obtain , in my opinion , can only be achieved by force (having a majority of lebanese supporting it)

I am a supporter of GMA and the FPM , but the battle will be a long one to achieve the goals .

and please Dry Ice summarizing will allow us to read what u said, its not healthy to read that amount on a PC screen , will cause nervous eye movement.
 
Top