Thursday, June 26, 2008

Fadlallah's argument for saying an absolute "no" to Bush (Updated)

Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, religious leader of Lebanese Hizbullah, issued a fatwa on Sunday June 22, in which among other things he paid special attention to Iraq and the American attempts to obtain security and other agreements with the government of Iraq before the end of the term of the current US administration.

He laid out the historical context like this: The US administration, which has been engaged in more than one war in the region without success, is now in its final months "trying to suggest to those resisting it that it is confronted with two options: Either an escalation, and everyone knows how it launched wars in the region, in order to obtain control over the sources of oil and strategic points, and not for the purpose of toppling dictatorships and fostering democracy. Or--the second option--it would like a truce is order to provide the occasion for forming agreements, that will obligate others to affirm its own (the US administration's) interests, and those of Israel, at the expense of our people, who have already paid in the blood of our young and old, women and children, more than has ever been paid by any other countries or people...
And for this reason we warn states and governments and people against responding favorably to what the American administration is attempting at the present time under the guise of making peace, and which it was unable to achieve by war.

And from this point of view it can be seen that it is not permitted in law (shariah) for any government or authority to work toward facilitating matters for the current American administration in the realization of any political victory on the ruins of its failed wars, because that [meaning any such agreement] would only create further economic, political and cultural destruction, which [destruction] has already extended its effects beyond the borders of the region.
I do not know this for a fact*, but some say that Fadlallah is an--or the--authority looked to by Maliki and his branch of the Dawa party (perhaps we will be enlightened about this), and certainly such a connection to Iraq would explain the careful attention he pays to Iraq in this fatwa.

*Actually I do. We have a nice range of authorities for the fact that Fadlallah is looked to by many members of the Iraqi Daawa party as an object of emulation: The folks at GorillasGuides (see comments to the prior post) and Reidar Visser (see the comment to this post). Thanks to both of them.

In any event, the fatwa is interesting because it is an example of a third way of arguing for an absolute rejection of any agreements with Bush. (1) Sadr and AMSI have argued from the common-sense standpoint that a country under occupation isn't autonomous and therefore doesn't have the qualities or the status that would be required to enter into any long-term agreement freely and of its own accord. (2) The "mainstream" Sunni group whose fatwa-issuing authority is Abdul Malik alSaadi has a more erudite and tradition-based argument, starting with examples where the Prophet himself shows that you can make certain types of agreements with non-Islamic groups, but it is not permitted to form a security agreement with a power that is occupying your territory. (3) Fadlallah has more of a contemporary-history approach. He says this American administration has demonstrated its inimical aims and objectives via having launched more than one war in the region during its administration, so it is clear that any exit-period agreements that it is inviting regional governments to sign are merely an extension of that, and an attempt to achieve by political pressure what it has failed to achieve by war. So signing any such agreement would in effect represent capitulation and submission to further destruction.


Anonymous Shirin said...

Fadlallah is absolutely right.

12:01 AM  
Anonymous Reidar said...

Fadlallah remains important as a source of emulation for many Daawa members. He has been critical of the concept of a single wilayat al-faqih model for the entire Shiite world (as per the Khamenei pattern) and because of his advocacy of a more pluralistic system has been heavily criticised by supporters of the Khomeini tradition like Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim and Kazim al-Haeri, who have attacked his very status as a mujtahid scholar.

9:12 AM  
Anonymous C. said...

Fadlallah is not the religious leader or "spiritual guide" of Hizbu'llah. The party's guide is 'Ali Khamenei, though the rank-and-file members are free to follow a marja' of their choosing. Although data is not precise, it seems roughly 50-60% follow the rulings of Grand Ayatullah Sayyid 'Ali al-Sistani and the remainder follow Fadlallah. Additionally, relations between Fadlallah and the Hizbu'llah leadership have been rather limited and even at times testy due to differences in opinion on the Lebanese political situation.

5:06 PM  

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