Tuesday, July 06, 2010

PHOTOS: Viewing & Commemoration for Grand Ayatullah Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah in 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 viewing following his death on July 4.

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 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.

Al-Sayyid Hasan Nasrallah (left-center) views the body of Grand Ayatullah al-Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah as it lies in state.

Nabih Berri, leader of the AMAL movement (second from right), sits with Hujjat al-Islam 'Ali Fadlallah (next to him). AMAL is the second large Lebanese Twelver Shi'i political party.

After years of sponsoring polemics against Grand Ayatullah Fadlallah, Iran's supreme leader Al-Sayyid 'Ali Khamenei dispatched regime ayatullah Ahmad Jannati (in white turban) as his representative at Fadlallah's funeral.

Ayatullah Ahmad Jannati views Grand Ayatullah Fadlallah's body as it lies in state.

Ayatullah Ahmad Jannati views Grand Ayatullah Fadlallah's body as it lies in state.

Lebanese Sunni religious scholars ('ulama) pay their respects to Hujjat al-Islam 'Ali Fadlallah and other members of Grand Ayatullah Fadlallah's family and associates at his viewing and commemoration.

Members of Lebanon's General Security services pay their respects at the viewing & commemoration for Grand Ayatullah Fadlallah.

Members of the Lebanese police pay their respects at the viewing & commemoration for Grand Ayatullah Fadlallah.

The publisher of the Lebanese daily newspaper Al-Safir, Talal Salman, pays his respects to Grand Ayatullah Fadlallah's son 'Ali, who is himself a Twelver Shi'i religious scholar.

Future Movement representative Ahmad al-Hariri (in white shirt) pays his respects to Hujjat al-Islam 'Ali Fadlallah.

General 'Imad Qahwaji (Kahwagi), head of the Lebanese Army, pays his respects to Hujjat al-Islam 'Ali Fadlallah.

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