Musa al-Sadr

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Musa Al-Sadr
Grand Ayatollah
Born Musa Al-Sadr Al-Charaffeddine
موسى بن صدر الدين بن إسماعيل بن صدر الدين بن صالح شرف الدين

(1928-06-04) 4 June 1928 (age 88)[1]
Qom, Iran[2]
Disappeared 31 August 1978 (aged 50)
Libya[3]
Alma mater University of Tehran
Hawza 'Ilmiyya Qom
Known for co-founding Amal Movement
Religion Islam (Twelver Shia)
Parent(s) Sadr al-Din al-Sadr
Relatives Ismail as-Sadr (grandfather)
Muhammad al-Sadr (cousin)
Sadeq Tabatabaei (nephew)

Sayyid Musa al-Sadr (Persian: Seyyed Musā Sadr ; سید موسى صدر‎‎, Arabic: السيد موسى الصدر‎‎; 4 June 1928 – disappeared in Libya on 31 August 1978) was an Iranian-Lebanese[4] philosopher and Shi'a religious leader from a long line of distinguished clerics tracing their ancestry back to Jabal Amel. Born in the Cheharmardan neighborhood of Qom, Iran, he spent both seminary and "secular" studies in Iran. He left Qom for Najaf to study theology and returned to Iran after the overthrow of the monarchy in Iraq.

Some years later, Sadr went to Tyre, Lebanon as the "emissary" of Ayatollah Broujerdi and Ayatollah Hakim. Due to the lasting influence of his political and religious leadership in Lebanon, he has been referred to by Fouad Ajami as a "towering figure in modern Shi'i political thought and praxis".[5] He gave the Shia population of Lebanon "a sense of community".[6] There in Lebanon, he founded and revived many organizations such as Jami'at al-Birr wa al-Ihsan charity, Bayt al-Fatat sewing school, The Institute of Islamic Studies, Burj al-Shimali Technical Institute, Movement of the Disinherited and Amal Movement.

On 25 August 1978, Sadr and two companions departed for Libya to meet with government officials at the invitation of Muammar Gaddafi. The three were last seen on 31 August. They were never heard from again. Many theories exist around the circumstances of his disappearance, none of which have been proven.

Early life and education[edit]

Family background[edit]

Musa al-Sadr came from a long line of distinguished clerics tracing their ancestry back to Jabal Amel.[4] His great-great-grandfather S. Salih b. Muhammad Sharafeddin, a high-ranking cleric, was born in Shahruhr, a village near Tyre (in modern-day Lebanon). Following a frantic turn of events related to an anti-Ottoman uprising, he left for Najaf[4] Sharafeddin's son, Sadreddin, left Najaf for Isfahan, which was then the most important centre of religious learning in Iran. He returned to Najaf shortly before his death in 1847. The youngest of his five sons, Ismail (as-Sadr), was born in Isfahan, in Qajar ruled Iran, and eventually became a leading mujtahid. The second son of this Ismail, also known by the name Sadreddin, born in Ottoman Iraq, also decided to settle permanently in Iran. He would become Musa al-Sadr's father. While living in Iran, Sadreddin married a daughter of Ayatollah Hussein Tabatabaei Qomi, an important Iranian religious leader, who would become Musa al-Sadr's mother.[4]

Early life[edit]

Musa al-Sadr was born in the Cheharmardan neighborhood of Qom, Iran, on 4 June 1928.[6][7] He attended Hayat Elementary School in Qom where he attended seminary classes informally; he started his official seminary education in 1941. Among his teachers he was considered a "quick learner and remarkably knowledgeable for his young age". After a while he started teaching other students "lower-level" courses. This coincided with the "liberalizing of Iranian politics", the political climate of his time was secular, so that most religious scholars "felt politically and socially marginalized". To have some influence in the "national life" he concluded that he had to become familiar with "modern science and contemporary world". As a result, he started a "full secular education" alongside his seminary studies. He moved to the Iranian capital Tehran where he received a degree in Islamic jurisprudence (Fiqh) and political sciences from Tehran University and learned some English and French.[4] He then moved back to Qom to study theology and Islamic philosophy under Allamah Muhammad Husayn Tabatabai.[6]

In Iraq[edit]

Following the death of his father in 1953, he left Qom for Najaf to study theology under Ayatollah Muhsin al-Hakim and Abul Qasim Khui.[6] There he had teachers such as: Ayatollah Mohsen Hakim, Shaykh Morteza al Yasin, Ayatollah Abulqasim Khu'i, Shaykh Hossein Hilli, Shaykh Sadra Badkubahi, and others, some of whom became Marja after Ayatollah Broujerdi's death. Musa al-Sadr became a mujtahid in Najaf. In 1955 he traveled to Lebanon where he met Abd al-Hossein Sharafeddin. He had met him previously in 1936 when his family had hosted Abd al-Husayn in Iran. The same year he left Iran and returned to Najaf and, in the autumn of 1956, he married the daughter of Ayatollah Azizollah Khalili.[4]

Return to Iran[edit]

After the 1958 Iraqi coup d'état, and the overthrow of the monarchy in Iraq, Sadr returned Iran. There, he accepted the request of Ali Davani, who was sent by Ayatollah Shariatmadari, and became an editor of Darsha'i az maktab-e Eslam, also known as Maktab-e Eslam, a journal published by Hawza of Qom which was endorsed by Ayatollah Broujerdi. He began writing in the journal's third issue focusing on Islamic economics, "a novel subject at the time". His articles in this field were then published as a book. He soon became the journal's "de facto editor-in-chief". He left the journal in December 1959 along with some of its original founders.[4]

Musa Sadr also took part in devising a new scheme for Hawza called "Tarh-e Moqddamati-ye eslah-e howzeh", which was then withdrawn, in cooperation with Mohammad Beheshti. In 1959, Sadr founded a private high school which provided an alternative to the state educational system for "observant parents".[4]

Departure to Lebanon[edit]

Musa Sadr with Gamal Abdel Nasser in the 1960s

Musa al-Sadr declined Ayatollah Broujerdi's request to go to Italy as his representative and instead left Qom for Najaf where Ayatollah Muhsin al-Hakim urged him to accept an invitation[4] to become the leading Shi'a figure in the city of Tyre, succeeding the city's former Shi'a leader Abdul Hussein Sharif Al Din, who died in 1957. He left Najaf for Tyre in late 1959.[6] According to Foad Ajami, Sadr went to Tyre as the "emissary" of Ayatollah Broujerdi and Ayatollah Hakim.[5] At the request of some clerics, he later made several trips to Iran delivering several lectures such as "Islam is a Religion of Life" and "The World is Ready to Accept the Call of Islam." The latter included presenting his experiences in Lebanon and emphasizing the need to work "towards the betterment of Muslims."[4]

Sadr, who became known as Imam Musa, quickly became one of the most prominent advocates for the Shia population of Lebanon, a group that was both economically and politically disadvantaged. "[Sadr] worked tirelessly to improve the lot of his community - to give them a voice, to protect them from the ravages of war and inter communal strife," according to Vali Nasr.[8] Sadr soon impressed the Lebanese people "by providing practical assistance," regardless of their sect.[6] He was widely seen by a large number of people as a moderate,[9] demanding that the Maronite Christians relinquish some of their power, but pursuing ecumenism and peaceful relations between the groups.[10]

In 1969, Imam Musa was appointed the first head of the Supreme Islamic Shi'ite Council (SISC), (Arabic: المجلس الإسلامي الشيعي الأعلى‎‎) an entity meant to give the Shia more say in government. For the next four years, he engaged the leadership of the Syrian ‘Alawīs in an attempt to unify their political power with that of the Twelver Shia. Though controversial, recognition of the ‘Alawī as Shi'a coreligionists came in July 1973 when he and the ‘Alawī religious leadership successfully appointed an ‘Alawī as an official mufti to the Twelver community.[11][12]

He revived the Jami'at al-Birr wa al-Ihsan charity, originally founded by S. Salih b. Muhammad Sharafeddin and gathered money for The Social Institute (al-Mu'assasa al-Ijtima'iyya), an orphanage in Tyre. In 1963, Sadr established a sewing school and nursery named The Girls' Home (Bayt al-Fatat). The same year, he established The Institute of Islamic Studies (Ma'had al-Dirasat al-Islamiyya). In 1964, Sadr started Burj al-Shimali Technical Institute whose funding was provided by Shi'a benefactors, bank loans, and the Lebanese Ministry of Education.[6] In 1974, he founded the Movement of the Disinherited (Arabic: حركة المحرومين‎‎) to press for better economic and social conditions for the Shia. He established a number of schools and medical clinics throughout southern Lebanon, many of which are still in operation today.[9] Sadr attempted to prevent the descent into violence that eventually led to the Lebanese Civil War by beginning a fast in a Beirut mosque. There he was visited by Lebanese from all factions - both Muslim and Christian. Yasser Arafat and Syrian Foreign Minister Abd al-Halim Khaddam, also visited him. Formation of a national unity cabinet resulted from the meeting and Sadr's attempt to establish peace was a temporary success.[6]

During the war, he aligned himself with the Lebanese National Movement[13] and Movement of the Disinherited and in cooperation with Chamran[14] developed an armed wing known as Afwāj al-Muqāwamat al-Lubnāniyyah (Arabic: أفواج المقاومة اللبنانية‎‎), better known as Amal (Arabic: أمل‎‎ meaning "hope"[15]),[6] which assembled youth and educated generation of Husaynis and Mousawis families.[16] Shia was the only major community without a militia group in the lands of militias, so militia Amal was created by Sadr for protecting Shia rights and interests.[15]

However, in 1976, he withdrew his support after the Syrian invasion against the Lebanese Front.[17] He also actively cooperated with Mostafa Chamran, Sadegh Ghotbzadeh, and other Iranian Islamist activists during the civil war.[18][19] Sadr and Chamran had an important role in the Islamic Revolution of Iran. They were involved in protests against the Shah out of Iran. According to Amal diputy, Ali Kharis, "Musa Sadr and Chamran were the backbone of the Iranian revolution and how one can not speak of the Iranian revolution without mentioning these two people."[14]

In addition, Sadr was instrumental in developing ties between Hafez Assad, then Syrian president, and the opponents of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Shah of Iran.[20][21]

Personal life[edit]

Musa al-Sadr maintained strong family relations with political leaders in Iran, Lebanon and Iraq. Musa al-Sadr is related to noted Iranian individuals namely Sadeq Tabatabaei (his nephew),[4][22][23][24][25] as well as Mohammad Khatami (his wife was a niece of Musa al-Sadr),[26][27] and Ayatollah Khomeini's son Ahmad Khomeini (his wife was another of Musa al-Sadr's nieces).[4][21][26] Sadr’s son was married to Khomeini’s granddaughter.[21]

Sadr was "tall, flamboyant and elegant and fluent in stylish Arabic".[6]

Disappearance[edit]

On 25 August 1978, Sadr and two companions, Sheikh Muhammad Yaacoub and journalist Abbas Badreddine, departed for Libya to meet with government officials[3][28] at the invitation of Muammar Gaddafi. The three were last seen on 31 August.[3] They were never heard from again.[3]

It is widely believed, at least by Lebanese Shia Muslims, that Gaddafi ordered Sadr's killing,[29] but differing motivations exist. Libya has consistently denied responsibility, claiming that Sadr and his companions left Libya for Italy.[30] How ever, supporters of the missing cleric pointed out that al-Sadr's baggage was found in a Tripoli hotel and there was no evidence of his arrival in Rome.[30] Airline crews could not confirm that al-Sadr had ever flown to Italy from Libya.[30] Sadr's son claimed that he remains secretly in jail in Libya but did not provide proof.[31] Sadr's disappearance continues to be a major dispute between Lebanon and Libya.[32] Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri claimed that the Libyan regime, and particularly the Libyan leader, was responsible for the disappearance of Imam Musa al-Sadr, London-based Asharq Al-Awsat, a Saudi-run pan-Arab daily, reported on 27 August 2006.[33][34][35]

According to Iranian General Mansour Qadar, the head of Syrian security, Rifaat al-Assad, told the Iranian ambassador to Syria that Gaddafi was planning to kill Sadr.[8] On 27 August 2008, Gaddafi was indicted by the government of Lebanon for Sadr's disappearance.[36] Following the fall of the Gaddafi regime, Lebanon and Iran appealed to the Libyan rebels to investigate the fate of Musa al-Sadr.[37]

In an interview, political analyst Roula Talj said that Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, told her that Imam Musa Sadr and his aides, Mohammed Yaqoub and Abbas Badreddin, never left Libya.[38] According to a representative of Libya's National Transitional Council in Cairo, Gaddafi murdered Sadr after discussions about Shia beliefs. Sadr accused him of being unaware of Islamic teachings and of the Islamic branches of Shia and Sunni, following which Gaddafi became enraged and ordered the murder of Sadr and his delegation.[39] According to other sources, Gaddafi had Musa al-Sadr and his companions murdered at the request of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. At the time, the Shias and the Palestinians were involved in armed clashes in Southern Lebanon.[40][41] According to a former member of the Libyan intelligence, Sadr was beaten to death for daring to challenge Gaddafi at his house on matters of theology.[42] In an interview with Al Aan TV, Ahmed Ramadan, an influential figure in the Gaddafi regime and an eyewitness to the meeting between al-Sadr and Gaddafi, claimed that the meeting lasted for two and one-half hours and ended with Gaddafi saying "take him". Ramadan also named three officials who he believes were responsible for the death of Al Sadr.[43][44][45]

Prophecies[edit]

According to Mashregh News, Ayatollah Mohammad Shah Ababdi, son of Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Shah Abadi, has seen Musa Sadr alive in Libya through a Kashf and he said that Sadr will return to Iran after Qaddafi is overthrown. Ayatollah Mohammad Shah Ababdi said that Kashf did not necessarily come true but he prayed for the return of Sadr. It is also said that Ayatollah Bahjat had similarly verified that Sadr was alive.[46]

Reception[edit]

Musa al-Sadr has been referred to by Fouad Ajami as a "towering figure in modern Shi'i political thought and praxis."[5] According to him, even American diplomats effusively described Musa Sadr after meeting him. He supports his claim by referring to a cable sent home by George M. Godley, a U.S. ambassador to Lebanon: "He is without debate one of the most, if not the most, impressive individual I have met in Lebanon. . . . His charisma is obvious and his apparent sincerity is awe-inspiring".[29] In Lebanon, he had garnered significant popularity "due to his good rapport with young people."[6]

Imam Musa al-Sadr is still regarded as an important political and spiritual leader by the Shia Lebanese community. His status only grew after his disappearance in August 1978, and today his legacy is revered by both Amal and Hezbollah followers.[47] In the eyes of many, he became a martyr and a "vanished imam." A tribute to his continuing popularity is that it is popular in parts of Lebanon to mimic his Persian accent.[8] The Amal Party remains an important Shia organization in Lebanon and looks to al-Ṣadr as its founder.

According to Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr,

Works[edit]

He wrote a "long" introduction to Henry Corbin's History of Islamic Philosophy.[48]

  • Religions in service of human beings

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ سيرة سماحة الإمام القائد السيد موسى الصدر Arabic
  2. ^ Ende, W. (2012). "Mūsā al- Ṣadr". Encyclopedia of Islam. Brill. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Lebanon FM to interview Muammar Gaddafi's top spy about Sadr's fate". Ya Libnan. 3 September 2012. Retrieved 4 March 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Chehabi, Hussein; Abisaab, Rula Jurdi (2006). Distant Relations: Iran and Lebanon in the Last 500 Years. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 978-1860645617. 
  5. ^ a b c Nasr, Seyyed H. (1989). Expectation of the Millennium: Shiʻism in History. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, Albany. p. 425. , chapter 26
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Samii, Abbas William (1997). "The Shah's Lebanon policy: the role of SAVAK". Middle Eastern Studies. 33 (1): 66–91. doi:10.1080/00263209708701142. Retrieved 21 August 2013. 
  7. ^ ʻAlī Rāhnamā. Pioneers of Islamic Revival Palgrave Macmillan, 1994 ISBN 978-1856492546 p 195
  8. ^ a b c Nasr, Vali. The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 9780393066401. Retrieved 26 May 2016. 
  9. ^ a b Rihani, May A. Cultures Without Borders. Author House. ISBN 9781496936462. Retrieved 26 May 2016. 
  10. ^ "Islam Times - Imam Musa Al Sadr – his life and disappearance". Islam Times. 
  11. ^ "Syria's Alawis and Shiism - Martin Kramer on the Middle East". 
  12. ^ Talhamy, Yvette (Autumn 2009). "The Syrian Muslim Brothers and the Syrian-Iranian Relationship". The Middle East Journal. 63 (4): 561–580. doi:10.1353/mej.0.0088. Retrieved 29 July 2013. 
  13. ^ Staff writers. "The Imam Musa Sadr". almashriq.hiof.no. Al Mashriq. Retrieved 27 June 2016. 
  14. ^ a b Shaery-Eisenlohr, Roschanack. Shi'ite Lebanon: Transnational Religion and the Making of National Identities. Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231144278. Retrieved 2 July 2016. 
  15. ^ a b Esposito, John L. The Islamic Threat: Myth or Reality?. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199826650. Retrieved 27 June 2016. 
  16. ^ Roy, Olivier. The Failure of Political Islam. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674291416. Retrieved 26 June 2016. 
  17. ^ Aronoff, Myron Joel. Religion and Politics. Transaction Publishers. ISBN 9781412832915. 
  18. ^ Ostovar, Afshon P. (2009). "Guardians of the Islamic Revolution Ideology, Politics, and the Development of Military Power in Iran (1979–2009)" (PhD Thesis). University of Michigan. Retrieved 26 July 2013. 
  19. ^ Badran, Tony (8 September 2010). "Moussa Sadr and the Islamic Revolution in Iran… and Lebanon". Now Lebanon. Retrieved 28 July 2013. 
  20. ^ Badran, Tony (22 June 2010). "Syriana". Tablet. Retrieved 4 August 2013. 
  21. ^ a b c "Musa al Sadr: The Untold Story". Asharq Alawsat. 31 May 2008. Retrieved 5 August 2013. 
  22. ^ Ataie, Mohammad (2013). "Revolutionary Iran's 1979 Endeavor in Lebanon". Middle East Policy Council. Retrieved 2 June 2016. Another pro-Amal figure in the provisional government was Musa Sadr's nephew, Sadeq Tabatabai (...) 
  23. ^ "Funeral ceremony held for late Sadeq Tabatabaei". Ettela'at. 1 July 2016. Retrieved 2 June 2016. Sadeq Tabatabaei was born on December 12, 1943 in the city of Qom. He was son of Ayatollah Mohammad Baqer Tabatabaei and nephew of Imam Musa Sadr. 
  24. ^ Marjai, Farid (2011). "Musa Sadr in Libya?". Payvand. Retrieved 2 June 2016. Sadeq Tabatabai of the Provisional Government in Iran was a nephew of Imam Sadr 
  25. ^ "Imam Grandson, Iranian President Condole Tabatabai's Passing Away". en.imam-khomeini.ir. 2015. Retrieved 2 June 2016. Late Seyed Sadegh Tabatabai , who recently passed away, has been brother in law of late Hajjat al-Islam Seyyed Ahmad Khomeini, son of the founder of the Islamic Republic and nephew of Imam Musa Sadr. 
  26. ^ a b Savant, Sarah Bowen (2014). Genealogy and Knowledge in Muslim Societies: Understanding the Past. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. p. 147. ISBN 978-0748644971. 
  27. ^ Mallat, Chibli (2015). Philosophy of Nonviolence: Revolution, Constitutionalism, and Justice Beyond the Middle East. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 272. ISBN 978-0199394203. Sadr was born in 1928 and grew up in Iran. He was a widely respected personality both in Iran and in Iraq, in addition to Lebanon, with strong family relations with various prominent leaders in both countries, including former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami (who married his niece). 
  28. ^ Dakroub, Hussein (3 September 2012). "Mansour, Lebanese judge to question Sanousi on Sadr's fate". The Daily Star. Retrieved 4 March 2013. 
  29. ^ a b Ignatius, David (June 1986). "The vanished Imam: Musa al Sadr and the Shia of Lebanon". Atlantic: 77. Retrieved 1 June 2016.  – via General OneFile (subscription required)
  30. ^ a b c Norton, Augustus R. Hezbollah A Short Story. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2007. Print.
  31. ^ Staff (31 August 2010) "Imam Sadr and companions still alive in captivity of Libya, son tells news agency" The Daily Star (Lebanon).
  32. ^ "BBC NEWS - Middle East - Court in Lebanon summons Gaddafi". 
  33. ^ بري يحمل النظام الليبي ورئيسه مسؤولية «الجريمة المنظمة» في اختطاف موسى الصدر ورفيقيه, أخبار
  34. ^ المجلس الشيعي في لبنان يدعو ليبيا إلى «كشف لغز» اختفاء موسى الصدر, أخبار
  35. ^ Libya is responsible for Musa Sadr’s disappearance: paper
  36. ^ "Gaddafi charged for cleric kidnap". BBC News, 27 August 2008.
  37. ^ Saeed Kamali Dehghan. "Lebanon and Iran urge Libyan rebels to probe 33-year-old mystery". the Guardian. 
  38. ^ Imam Moussa al-Sadr never left Libya
  39. ^ Gaddafi has martyred Imam Mousa Sadr
  40. ^ Fouad Ajami (17 May 2011). "Fouad Ajami: Gadhafi and the Vanished Imam - WSJ". WSJ. 
  41. ^ "Is the Missing Shi'ite Cleric Imam Musa Sadr Alive in Libya? - TIME". TIME.com. 25 February 2011. 
  42. ^ Worth, Robert F. (25 September 2011). "Qaddafi's Never-Neverland". The New York Times. p. 26. 
  43. ^ Mousa, Jenan. "احمد رمضان يكشف اسماء الاشخاص الذين قاموا بتصفية موسى الصدر". Akhbar Al Aan. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  44. ^ "Lebanon Shiite leader was 'liquidated' in Libya". Yahoo Maktoob. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  45. ^ "Lebanon Shiite leader was 'liquidated' in Libya". France24. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  46. ^ "Prophecies regarding Imam Musa Sadr's fate". Mashregh News. 2011. Retrieved 5 June 2016. 
  47. ^ "As Gaddafi Teeters, Will the Mystery of Lebanon's Missing Imam Be Solved?". TIME Online. 22 February 2011. 
  48. ^ ""Shia Muslims in Lebanon", 1st Work Published in Iran on Imam Musa Sadr". 

External links[edit]