Wednesday, July 07, 2010
PHOTOS: Funeral of Grand Ayatullah Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah in the Southern Suburbs of Beirut, Lebanon
I would like to write a more detailed post about the recently-deceased Grand Ayatullah Fadlallah but unfortunately do not have the time at the moment. Below are some quickly jotted down thoughts on him along with photographs of his funeral in Beirut's southern suburbs on Tuesday (July 6). Hundreds of thousands of mourners from around the Middle East and Muslim world attended.
Lebanon's most senior Twelver Shi'i religious scholar and leader, Grand Ayatullah al-Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah, passed away on July 4 at the age of 74 after suffering internal bleeding. Fadlallah had been sick for some time. Widely respected across Lebanon's 18 religio-ethnic sects, he was born in the Twelver Shi'i shrine city of al-Najaf in southern Iraq to a Lebanese religious scholar. Fadlallah was educated in that city's religious seminary system for decades before returning to Lebanon in 1966. He mixed political and social activism with a modernist view of Twelver Shi'i Islam. Fadlallah was renowned for being very approachable and open to the public for meetings and audiences, unlike many other grand ayatullahs in Iraq and Iran.
While in Iraq, Fadlallah was close friends with Iraqi Ayatullah al-Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, with whom he and other activist Iraqi Shi'is formed Hizb al-Da'wa al-Islamiyya (Party of Islamic Call). Al-Sadr was executed on the orders of Iraqi dictator Saddam Husayn in April 1980 along with his sister, Amina bint Haydar al-Sadr (Bint al-Huda).
In the 1980s, Fadlallah was a revolutionary political intellectual whose work was influential with many of the founders of the Lebanese Shi'i socio-political resistance movement Hizbullah (Hezbollah), which coalesced in the first half of the 1980s from smaller, like-minded Lebanese Shi'i groups dedicated to fighting the Israeli military occupation of southern Lebanon. His book Al-Islam wa Mantiq al-Quwa (Islam and the Logic of Force) was particularly influential.
Although he is often called Hizbullah's "spiritual leader," both Fadlallah and the party said that he had no official position within it. The party's "guide" was first Grand Ayatullah al-sayyid Ruhollah Khumayni and then his successor as as "wali faqih" (jurisconsult), al-Sayyid 'Ali Khamenei, the latter of whom only advocates of the Iranian theocratic system consider to be a "senior" Twelver Shi'i religious scholar (marja' al-taqlid; "reference for emulation")
During the 1990s, Fadlallah was often at odds with Hizbullah leader al-Sayyid Hasan Nasrallah over political and religious issues, such as the concept of wilayat al-faqih (authority of the jurisconsult) as envisioned by the father of the Islamization of Iran's 1978-1979 Revolution, Grand Ayatullah al-Sayyid Ruhollah Khumayni. Hizbullah adheres to this concept whereas Fadlallah did not.
Fadlallah was often criticized for his progressive views on women's rights and roles in Muslim societies, which I have written about in the past on several occasions; see HERE for links. He strongly condemned the "so-called crimes of honor" and said women who were abused should and could fight back. He was widely followed by lay Shi'is in Lebanon, Iraq, the Arab Gulf states, and parts of Central Asia. His death leaves only the grand ayatullahs residing in Iraq and Iran as major arbiters of religious authority.
Photographs of his viewing & commemoration before his funeral can be seen in the PREVIOUS POST.