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Sadr, Rabab al- (1946–)

Sadr, Rabab al-

Rabab al-Sadr is a Lebanese social and human rights activist and philanthropist.


Born in 1946 in Iran to a Lebanese Shi'ite Muslim family, Rabab al-Sadr (also Rabab al-Sadr Sharaf al-Din) moved to Lebanon at the age of fifteen. She adopted and promoted the social vision of her brother, Imam Musa al-Sadr, who encouraged her to join the Imam al-Sadr Foundation in Lebanon around 1960 and devote herself to social work and humanitarian aid. Meanwhile, she completed a B.A. in arts and an M.A. in philosophy in Lebanon.


Name: Rabab al-Sadr

Birth: 1946, Iran

Family: Husband, Husayn Sharaf al-Din

Nationality: Lebanese

Education: BA in arts and MA in philosophy


1978: After the disappearance of her brother, Imam Musa al-Sadr, in Libya, in 1978, becomes president of the Imam al-Sadr Foundation


After the disappearance of her brother in 1978 during a visit to Libya, Rabab became the president of the Imam al-Sadr Foundation, which consists in 2007 of six vocational schools and an orphanage. Al-Sadr oversees the girls' section of the foundation, providing much-needed economic assistance and social guidance to orphaned and dependent girls, regardless of their religious background. The foundation faced particular financial and organizational challenges after the dramatic increase in orphans due to the Lebanese war (1975–1991), the Israeli occupation of South Lebanon (1982–2000), and brutal attacks on civilians. She helped obtain a license for the foundation as a nonprofit organization in the U.S. in order to help gather contributions for widows, orphans, and poor children, mostly from South Lebanon. The schools sponsored by the foundation use modern technology and advanced educational methods and equipment.

Al-Sadr remains critical of the Lebanese government for abandoning South Lebanon and marginalizing it in state development policies. Following the Israeli withdrawal from South Lebanon in May 2000, the foundation launched two mobile medical clinics, which traveled to remote villages with no health facilities in order to offer preventive and curative medical services. Nearly 10,000 people benefited from these services. The foundation works to increase the attendance of orphans at primary schools, trains women for jobs, and runs daylong health centers. Al-Sadr strongly believes in the central role of education for women as a means for social change and personal growth.


During numerous regional and international conferences on women's issues, she called on policymakers to acknowledge the need for gender equality and cooperation between men and women in the pursuit of a harmonious society. Her foundation is known throughout the Middle East, and her admirers and supporters urged her to run in parliamentary elections in Lebanon. However, she has expressed her aversion to politics due to the restrictions it places on social and family life.


Rabab al-Sadr is still active, and it is too early to assess her historical legacy.


"Exclusive Interviews with Rabab al-Sadr." Al-Sadr Foundation. Available from Middle East News and World Report (11 December 2002).

Sadr, Sitt Rabab al-. "Islam and Peace in the Fifteenth/Twenty-first Century." Center for Global Peace and Nonviolence International, The American University Center, Washington, D.C., 6-7 February 1998.

"Sadr on Southern Lebanon." Washington Report on Middle East Affairs 20, no. 4 (May/June 2001): 90-91.

                                            Rula Jurdi Abisaab
                         Updated by Michael R. Fischbach

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