Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah

Fadlallah passed away yesterday. I would have commented on it sooner but I was in the Bay area for the weekend and didn’t get around to blogging until now. Contrary to media reports, Fadlallah was not the “spiritual guide” to Hizbullah. He did not establish the group nor did he sanction all of its activities, but he did endorse those that were in harmony with his own beliefs. His main contribution, however, was the his role in a Shi’i militant awakening in Lebanon in the 1960s and 1970s. Like Imam Musa as-Sadr, Fadlallah’s writings and sermons helped create a militant consciousness among the dispossessed and war-ravaged Shi’i of Lebanon. One of his most important writings was a book titled “The Logic of Force” which gave religious sanction to revolutionary violence. His teachings helped foster a militant environment from which Hizbullah – in tandem with the Iranian Revolution in general and Khomeini in particular – was launched and has since become arguably the most powerful resistance organization in the entire Middle East and wider Muslim world. But make no mistake about it, it was Khomeini who ordered the creation of Hizbullah and provided it with crucial guidance, financial, and military support.  In 1985, after 3 years of underground existence, Hizbullah came out into the open by declaring its existence and aims through the publication of its first communique, in which Khomeini was declared the leader of the organization, his ideology was recognized as that of Hizbullah’s, and his image appeared on the back of the pamphlet. Today, officially, Khamenei is Hizbullah’s spiritual leader.  Nevertheless, as an aspiring historian who wrote his master’s thesis in part on Hizbullah’s origins, seeing him pass is witnessing history. Read about his death here. Here’s a good obituary by The Guardian.

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