Monday, July 12, 2010

Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah: Some Sense at Last

In the last week the UK ambassador to Lebanon as well as an CNN Middle East Editor have been censured for their positive comments in relation to Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah since his death on the 4th July (the latter lost their job altogether).

The first part of this excellent blog by Andrew Exum is well-reasoned and addresses the issue in a manner that somewhat been missing in the last week:

Two Quick Thoughts on Unrelated Topics

July 8, 2010 Posted by Abu Muqawama - 11:22am 68 Comments

A CNN editor trying to express her admiration for Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah on Twitter is just silly. (The name and title alone are 42 characters!) One should not try and explain what seems to have been a nuanced opinion in a text message. Firing her for it, though, also seems silly. Also silly, though, is continuing to describe Fadlallah as Hizballah's spiritual mentor. That may have been kind of true in the 1980s but has probably not been the case since then. My guess is that the young and relatively undistinguished religious scholars who formed Hizballah's leadership in the early 1980s -- Musawi, Tufaili, Nasrallah, etc. -- needed someone of high religious stature like Fadlallah to beef up their Islamic bona fides.* Fadlallah, in turn, benefited from his relationship with Hizballah within civil war-era Lebanon. By the 1990s, though, both groups more or less outgrew one another. Fadlallah no longer needed Hizballah's support, and Hizballah no longer needed his blessing. Both Fadlallah and Hizballah had enough stature to stand on their own. Even Martin Kramer, who once wrote a long monograph on the man titled "Oracle of Hizballah", is highly sensitive to the way in which Fadlallah's stature and relationship with Hizballah has changed over time. Personally, I think Hizballah and Fadlallah are best understood as separate if overlapping phenomena within Shia Lebanon. Fadlallah's ministry and activities, for example, long precede those of Hizballah.

*I should add here that I am hardly the only person who has come to this conclusion. I do not have any citations handy, but I do not want to be accused of plagiarizing someone else's research either. So let me just say, again, that my take on this is not unique

It can be seen in its original format at:

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