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Jabal Amel (Arabic: جبل عامل jabal ʿāmil) is a mountainous region of Southern Lebanon. The Shi'i community in Jabal Amil, according to local Shia legend, is one of the oldest in history, second only to the Shi'i community of Medina, having been converted to Shi'ism by Abu Dharr al-Ghifari, a companion of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad and early supporter of Ali. However, this belief is largely dismissed in academia, and historical sources suggest Shiism developed in Jabal Amel around the 3rd century A.H.
The region is named after the Banu 'Amilah, a Yemenite tribe who, along with the kindred tribes of Hamadan, Lakhm, and Judham, settled in Syria, Palestine, parts of Jordan, and Lebanon. The area was known in ancient times as Jabal 'Amilah, and later as Jabal 'Amil (Jabal Amel). A legendary story has it that the tribe of Banu 'Amilah migrated from Yemen to the Levant in pre-Islamic times because of a flood caused by the destruction of the Ma'arib Dam.
The inhabitants of Jabal Amel have diverse origins, but besides being of mixed Arab stock, they are descendants of the population that has lived there since time immemorial. It should also be noted that the word "Jabal Amel" has often been extended to include the Shi'a populations of the Baalbek and Hermel regions.
Besides Shi'a Muslims, other religious groups include: Sunni Muslims (Sidon, Ain al-Meir, Yarine, Marwahine, Kfar Hamam, Kfar); Druze (Hasbaya area); Jews (Marjeyoun, Bint Jbeil, Sidon, Tyre, Hasbaya area); Maronite and Greek Catholics (Marjeyoun, Aishieh, Jezzine, Bkassine, Kfar Falous, Maghdouché, Mieh ou Mieh, Ain Ebel, Debel, Rmaich, Qaouzah, and Alma Chaab); Greek Catholics (Deir Mimas, Ibel el Saqui, Kfaroueh, Marjeyoun, Markaba, Qlaia and Jezzine); Greek Orthodox Christians (Marjayoun, Deir Mimas, Rachaya Al Foukhar and Hasbaya areas); and Alawites (Ghajar village). The towns of Baraachit, Khiam, Tebnine, Safad El Batikh, and Yaroun have a mixed population of Shi'a and Christians. The predominantly Shi'a town of Nabatieh also has a substantial Christian quarter and known for its annual reenactment of the Karbala tragedy during the Ashoura Holiday.
The main cities of Jabal Amil are:
- Scientist: Hassan Kamel Al-Sabbah
- American journalist: Mohamad Bazzi
- Scholar: Hassan Al Amin (1908–2002) حسن الأمين - رحالةً وأديباً ومؤرخاً, Link to PDF Book (17)
- Miss USA 2010: Rima Fakih
Furthermore, Shi'a scholars from Jabal Amel have always had a strong intellectual presence in the religious seminaries of Iraq, Iran, and Egypt.
- Mohammad Rihan (30 May 2014). The Politics and Culture of an Umayyad Tribe: Conflict and Factionalism in the Early Islamic Period. I.B.Tauris. p. 140. ISBN 9781780765648.
- Sabrina Mervin (20 July 2005). "SHIʿITES IN LEBANON". ENCYCLOPAEDIA IRANICA. Retrieved 22 November 2014.
- قرى جبل عامل (Ẓāhir, Sulaymān) (2006). الشيخ سليمان ظاهر (Muʻjam qurá Jabal ʻĀmil - Lexicon: Villages of the Jabal Amel) (in Arabic). Beyrouth, Lebanon: مؤسسة الإمام الصادق للبحوث في تراث علماء جبل عامل (Mu'assasat al-Imām al-Ṣādiq lil-Buḥūth fī Turāth 'Ulamā' Jabal 'Āmil - Scholars' Heritage Imam Sadiq Foundation for Research in Jabal Amel).; Volume 1 at GoogleBooks, Volume 2 at GoogleBooks
- Staff (2000). "Jabal Amel: The Cradle of Knowledge and the Land of Freedom" (PDF). Noor al-Islam: Islamic cultural magazine (Beirut, Lebanon: Imam Hussain Foundation). 6th Year (71-72). Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 September 2007.