REBEL PREACHERS: THE MAKING OF ISLAMIC ACTIVISM IN SHĪ‘Ī LEBANON (1960-1985)
Al-hage Ali, Nabil
Opwis, Felicitas M. M.
This study investigates the intellectual and organizational genesis of the Shī‘ī religious community that burgeoned in Lebanon in the 1970s. It demonstrates how several competing religious currents in the Shī‘ī community evolved through several overlapping phases of religious education, mobilization, revolutionization, and consolidation. Predominant academic opinions link the formation of new religious consciousness and new religious movements that succeeded the formation of Hizbullah in Shī‘ī Lebanon to Iran’s exportation of its “Islamic Revolution.” Not only does this study reopen the discussion on the transformation of forms of religiosity in Shī‘ī Lebanon, but it also elucidates the identity and origins of groups and ideas that constitute the contemporary Shī‘ī milieu that crystallized in the 1980s.This study, thus, offers a reconceptualization of present time orientations and positions in the religious field as products of an eventful past through analysis of several religious projects that appeared two full decades before the rise of Hizbullah. It looks at several religious paradigms that interacted in contexts of sectarianism, economic crises, and wars. Organizational and intellectual analysis explain the means by which the religious activists acquired legitimacy and reproduced, marketed, and delivered their views within the constraints of their social space, conditions of existence, changing political opportunity structures, and accumulating past socialization. Through analysis of religious structures, positions of activists within social structures, and religious production (ideas, discourses and practices), the study reveals how the activists developed a religious project that drew on earlier strategies, experiences and repertoires of the Shī‘ī Iranian, Iraqi, and Lebanese activists–including secular ones. This study links the eruption of religion in the Lebanese public sphere in the 1980s to a larger tide of global religious renaissance, which, in the Shī‘ī case, began around the middle of the Twentieth century in Iraq and Iran.
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