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Integrating Shi'a in the Modern Nation-State: Shaykh Muhammad Mahdi Shams al-Din, Hizbullah, and Engagement in Lebanese Politics

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This article addresses one aspect of the political thought of Shaykh Muhammad Mahdi Shams al-Din, head of the Islamic Shi'i Supreme Council in Lebanon between 1978 and 2001. It examines his call for Shi'a to politically integrate into their respective nation-states. This was a political position Shams al-Din contextualized in his examination of Shi'i doctrine's historical approach to unjust rulers, which led him to infer the permissibility of cooperation with modern governments. Shams al-Din's conviction of the necessity of national integration stemmed from his concern about the development of sectarian militancy among Lebanese Shi'a, especially his perception of Hizbullah's pursuit of an independent political agenda. In his opinion, Hizbullah's approach alienated Arab Shi'a from their societies and posited a threat to their ability to live in multiconfessional or Sunni-dominated societies.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2016

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