Fadlallah, Shaykh Muhammad Husayn (1935–)

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Prominent Shiʿite Muslim scholar and spiritual head of the Hizbullah movement in Lebanon. Fadlallah was born in Najaf, Iraq, and studied with Ayatollah al-Khuʾi, whose representative in Lebanon he later became. In Najaf he also met Baqir al-Sadr, who recommended that he combine his religious beliefs and training with political and social activism. Following further studies in Qom, Iran, Fadlallah went to Lebanon in 1966 at the invitation of the ulama and Usrat al-Taʾkhi (family of fraternity). He settled in Nabʿah, an impoverished community at the periphery of Beirut, where he created youth organizations and free clinics. After the destruction of Nabʿah in 1976, during the civil war, Fadlallah moved to southern Lebanon with other Shiʿite refugees. He founded the Islamic Legislative Institute, responsible for the training of ulama. In 1982, after a schism developed within AMAL, Fadlallah called for all movements to embrace his program for an Islamic revolution in Lebanon, on the model of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's successful overthrow of the Shah in Iran. Hizbullah was established in 1982 and by 1987 was the second most important Shiʿa political group in Lebanon, after AMAL. Fadlallah became its leader. After the death of Ayatollah Khomeini, an intense power struggle developed within the leadership of the Iranian government and Muhammad Fadlallah found himself opposing Ayatollah Ali Khameneʾi for presidency of the Marjaʿiya, a Shiʿite clerical magisterium. Shaykh Fadlallah vigorously advocated resistance to the Israeli occupation of South Lebanon, denounced Yasir Arafat's willingness to negotiate with Israel, and rejected the accords signed between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, claiming that the concept of land for peace was a betrayal of Palestinians.

Fadlallah's positions on internal affairs are moderate and distinguish him from other Shiʿa ulama. Differences include his commitment to social and charitable organizations and to women's participation in public life. Although his status increased, especially among radicals, when Ayatollah Khomeini allowed him to collect khums (religious tax) from his followers in 1982, Fadlallah's views have changed and he now calls for a multicultural Lebanon instead of an Islamic republic. Fadlallah, who is referred to as Ayatollah Fadlallah, denounced the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, describing them as "barbaric crimes" that "do not serve those who carry them out, but rather the victims who will reap the sympathy of the whole world. . . . Islamists who live according to the human value of Islam could not commit such crimes."

SEE ALSO Alim;AMAL;Hizbullah;Land for Peace.