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Jabal Amel or Jabal 'Amil (Arabic: جبل عامل, romanized: jabal ʿāmil) is a mountainous region of Southern Lebanon. According to local legend, the Shia community in Jabal Amil is one of the oldest in history, second only to the Shia community of Medina, and were converted to Islam by Abu Dharr al-Ghifari, a companion of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and an early supporter of Ali. Although there is frequent occurrence of this account in many religious sources, it 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 Saleh Al Amel Banu 'Amilah, a Christian Yemenite tribe who, along with the kindred tribes of Hamadan, Lakhm, and Judham, settled in Syria, Palestine, parts of Jordan, and south Lebanon. The area was known in ancient times as Jabal 'Amilah, and later as Jabal 'Amil (Jabal Amel) or Belad Bechara. A legendary story has it that the tribe of Christian 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 are mainly descendants of the population that has lived there since time immemorial, such as the Phoenicians who began speaking Aramaic. In addition, some families are descendants of the Southern Arab tribes that assimilated with the native population before Islamic conquest (most importantly Banu Amela). At such times, the majority who were Aramaic speakers also lived alongside small pockets of Greek, Arabic, and Persian speakers. This would form into the population of Lebanese known today.
Besides Shi'a Muslims, other religious groups include:
- Sunni Muslims
- (Hasbaya area)
- Maronite and Greek Catholics
- Greek Catholics
- Greek Orthodox Christians
- (Ain Ebel)
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:
- Twelver Shia scholar, Al-Hurr al-Amili (1624–93)
- Scholar, Hassan Al Amin (1908–2002)
- Miss USA 2010, Rima Fakih
- Cardinal, Anthony Peter Khoraish (1907-1994)
- Shi'a Islamic scholar, Abd al-Husayn Sharaf al-Din al-Musawi (1872-1957)
- Ottoman-era Shia leader, Nasif al-Nassar
- Secretary General of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah,
- Scientist, Hassan Kamel Al-Sabbah
- 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.
- W., Harris, William (2012). Lebanon : a history, 600-2011. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195181128. OCLC 757935847.
- 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
- Abisaab, Rula (2007). "JABAL ʿĀMEL". Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol. XIV, Fasc. 3. pp. 305–309.
- 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.