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LEBANON: Hezbollah spiritual mentor Fadlallah dies at 74

Lebanon-fadlallah2One of the most revered clerics in the Shiite Muslim faith and a spiritual mentor to the Lebanese political organization Hezbollah passed away Sunday in a southern Beirut hospital, the nation’s official news agency reported.

Ayatollah Mohammed-Hussein Fadlallah was 74.

He had been ill and frail for years. In hospital, he had been bleeding internally for days, the official National News Agency reported.

Once considered the unquestioned spiritual leader of the powerful Iranian-backed Shiite militant group Hezbollah, Fadlallah has been steadily drifting away from radical Islamist politics for years, instead espousing relatively progressive views on gender relations, women’s social role and family life.

He spoke out against domestic violence – including verbal abuse -- and in favor of women in the workplace.

His death highlights a vacuum of spiritual leadership within Lebanon’s Shiite community and likely will spur a power struggle within the religious establishment and soul-searching among the faithful. 

In addition to followers and influence, high-ranking Shiite clerics compete for funds, and Fadlallah’s mostly middle-class supporters lavished his charitable organization with cash, analysts say.

Lebanon's Shiites have been in spiritual turmoil since the 1978 disappearance of the Shiite cleric Musa Sadr. Some worry that more radical elements will step in.

Hassan Nasrallah, political leader of Hezbollah, is a mid-ranking cleric unqualified to issue religious edicts, though he is revered as a quasi-spiritual figure by many Lebanese Shiites. Within Hezbollah’s political and social orbit, many officially choose Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, as their marja, or source of emulation.

Fadlallah is best known to Americans as the black-turbaned cleric accused of masterminding the bombing of a United States Marine barracks in 1983. He has strenuously denied any connection to the attack, which killed 241 Americans. Though he was critical of U.S. foreign policy, he had also begun speaking out against Iranian policies.

"I think the current Iranian president lacks diplomatic skills, and I think he creates problems for Iran," he said of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a 2008 interview with the Los Angeles Times.

Fadlallah was born to Lebanese parents in the Iraqi seminary and shrine city of Najaf in 1935 and moved to Lebanon in the 1950s. 

-- Borzou Daragahi in Beirut

Photo: Ayatollah Mohammad-Hussein Fadlallah. Credit: AFP / Getty Images

Comments () | Archives (20)

he was a great leader and a scholar.The world needs more men like him willing to reach out across faiths, acknowledging the reality of the modern world. He was a great academic and religious scholar and this great missionary pioneer. he used to tell all people "Love each other, for love is what authenticates and enables one to be creative and productive… Join us in love away from personal, regional, partisan and sectarian considerations… Let us all meet and gather under Allah's shadow instead of disagreeing in His name…" I wish people(especially in the West) instead of forming a negative opinion, learn to read more about him, and what his accomplishments were; espciallay towards the ophans, and the physically-disabled. He will be missed, not forgotten!

Ha! This tedious old fart took too long to die. But happily, now that he's deep in the dirt and all the snacks at the reception have been eaten and all his dumb-as-dirt followers have gone back to their hardscrabble farms, the memory of him will slowly fade to nothing. And he will be forgotten. A blank. And that is as it should be.

benja75 and B. Berkson: Fadlallah was a nasty piece of work but he didn't have anything to do with the Munich Olympics killings. The terrorist who planned the attack, Mohammed Oudeh, coincidently died yesterday. For the good news see http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/03/AR2010070302864.html

This loser was a mean spirited pathetic excuse of a man.The World would have been better off if he had never lived.BTW, religion is poison.It causes many of the Worlds major problems.It's just fairy tales made up to control people.

Yes, that well know political organization Hezbollah. What an effing joke.

Good riddance. He was a terrorist who killed many with no justification or punishment...

There's a lesser known story recorded in Luke 16: A rich guy dies, goes to hell, and pleads with Abraham to warn the living that hell is AWFUL!!! However, Abraham says that even if he did warn them, they wouldn't listen. Looks like this guy softened his stance as he aged. Perhaps, he even confessed Jesus as Lord. Either way, up or down.........have a nice eternity Fadlallah.

Feel sorry for this man. An eternity of pain and suffering for him. It is a shame he did not know Jesus.

May God have mercy on him.

Not a word about his being a terrorist who masterminded the Berlin Olympics?

I read the headline and saw the words "hezbollah" and "spiritual mentor" in the same sentence. Now that's an oxymoron if ever there was.

He now will get his 20 virgin goats in HELL

Fadlallah? You mean the same Fadlallah who declared callously that there "are no civilians in Israel". Enjoy the brimstone big boy.

No mention of Munich from the Times. That was this guy's idea. Typical liberal Times leaving out facts to create a false peace, and in so doing breeding resentment and misunderstanding.

Pity

God Bless his soul. A man often blamed for terror was actually a peaceful figure to many around the world. Yes he did object to the occupation of the Lebanese and Palestinian land. He has only been "accused" of terror acts yet nothing was ever confirmed. He spoke against domestic violence and gave women their right to fight back against abusive men. For many years he has been a spiritual scholar seeking better understanding of today's world and religion.

Good riddance...now if only allah will recall the rest of these lunatic fringe fanatics

fanta

Any prominent figure in the Middle East who publicly speaks/spoke against domestic violence is a godly man. When he says he had nothing to do with the bombing of the barracks , I believe him. Allah Yerhamo.

Known fact: Hezbollah, "a political organization," shoots missiles into sovereign Israel from apartment building rooftops.

he was a great man who wants to bring the peace for this world

Good riddance, Terrorist!


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