The Supreme Islamic Shi'a Council of Lebanon
The Supreme Islamic Shi'a Council of Lebanon (Arabic: المجلس الإسلامي الشيعي الأعلى), the first official institution of Shi'a in Lebanon was established by Imam Musa al-Sadr in the summer 1389/1969. Al-Sayyid Musa al-Sadr was its president since its establishment until he was kidnapped (in September 1978). After him, Mohammad Mahdi Shams al-Din became the president of the council until 2000 and then Abd al-Amir Qabalan was chosen as its president.
Different educational, religious and charity centers and institutions have been established by the Supreme Islamic Shi'a Council of Lebanon including the Religious Propagation Organization, Islamic Technical School (now Islamic University of Lebanon), Imam al-Sadiq (a) Mosque and the Charity Community of Lady Zaynab (a).
The Supreme Islamic Shi'a Council of Lebanon began its activities in the summer of 1389/1969 with the election of a committee of nine Shi'a scholars and an executive committee with twelve members. This institution is considered as the first official center for Shi'a in Lebanon.
This council was established by Imam Musa al-Sadr with the goals of defending the rights of Shi'a and bringing about unity among them. Before its establishment, all groups and tribes in Lebanon, including Sunnis, Druzes and Christians had councils and centers recognized by the government and the heads of the mentioned councils were considered the official representative of their tribes. Although the Supreme Islamic Shi'a Council of Lebanon had a superior position in managing the affairs of Shi'a in Lebanon, according to some researchers, its position gradually descended after the formation of political groups such as Hizbullah and Amal Movement. However, Graham E. Fuller and Rend Rahim Francke, the authors of "the Arab Shi'a" considered the Supreme Islamic Shi'a Council of Lebanon, the most important Shi'a institution of Shi'a in Lebanon which had close cooperation with the Sunni community during the directorship of Mohammad Mahdi Shams al-Din.
Imam Musa al-Sadr was elected as the president of the Supreme Islamic Shi'a Council of Lebanon on May 23rd, 1969. His presidency term was determined six years and was later extended until he was sixty five years old. According to the approval of the Parliament of Lebanon and the president of Lebanon at that time, the president of the Supreme Islamic Shi'a Council of Lebanon should have the same legal rights as the leaders of other religious groups and manage all the affairs of Shi'a.
At the beginning of the directorship of the Supreme Islamic Shi'a Council of Lebanon, Sayyid Musa al-Sadr mentioned some of his plans and goals as follows:
- Regulating tribal roles of Shi'a
- The unity among Muslims and cooperation with all religious tribes of Lebanon
- Guarding the unity of Lebanon
- Observing national responsibilities and guarding the independence and freedom of Lebanon and guarding the borders
- Fighting the poverty, social oppression and moral corruption
- Supporting the resistance of Palestine and also cooperation with Arab states for the freedom of lands usurped by Israeli regime.
After disappearance of Imam Musa Sadr in 1978, Shaykh Mohammad Mahdi Shams al-Din became the president of this council and after his demise in 2000, Shaykh Abd al-Amir Qabalan who was the vice-president of the Supreme Islamic Shi'a Council of Lebanon, became its president, but he was never officially announced as the president of the Supreme Islamic Shi'a Council of Lebanon.
Elements of the Council
The Supreme Islamic Shi'a Council of Lebanon is comprised of three committees: the general assembly which includes representatives from different groups of Shi'a, the legislative committee which is comprised of twelve religious scholars of Lebanon elected for six years by Lebanese clergies and the executive committee including Shi'a members of the Parliament of Lebanon as well as the twelve members elected by the general assembly.
Affiliated Centers and Institutions
The Supreme Islamic Shi'a Council of Lebanon supports centers and institutions providing different educational, charity and religious services. The directorship of all these institutions, except the religious propagation organization, is upon Ibrahim Shams al-Din, son of Sayyid Mohammad Mahdi Shams al-Din. These centers and institutions are: Religious Propagation Organization, the Cultural Charity Community, Islamic Technical School (now Islamic University of Lebanon), al-Duha High School, Makassed Khadija Al-Kobra College, al-Ghadir Educational Complex in Bekaa, Islamic University Of Lebanon in Khalde, Imam al-Sadiq (a) Mosque in Shatila in Beirut, Technical school of Beirut, Medical services complex and the Charity Community of Lady Zaynab (a).
Financial resources of the Supreme Islamic Shi'a Council of Lebanon are supplied by religious taxes including khums, zakat and financial aids of Shi'a in the United States, Canada, Australia, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
- The material for this article is mainly taken from مجلس اعلای اسلامی شیعیان لبنان in Farsi WikiShia.