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What is Hezbollah?


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147706Defining Ideas:



The Party of God, brought to you from Beirutor Little Tehran.

Fouad Ajami



The controversy begins with the name Hezb Allah, Arabic for the Party of God. And the controversy is further deepened by what is implied by the name: the others, the ones who dont belong to the movement of fire and brimstone, are Hezb al-Shaytan, the Party of Satan.


In the theology and practice of Hezbollah, there can be no mercy shown for other Muslims, let alone infidels beyond the boundaries of Islam. In a country like Lebanon, with eighteen religious communities, the theology of Hezbollah must be terribly problematic. The theology must twist and bend. There is a large Shia community, perhaps the countrys largest, but no one can be sure. The Shia are Hezbollahs people, but what is Hezbollahits doctrine and its peopleto make of a strong Sunni presence in Beirut, Sidon, and Tripoli who vie for Islam itself, and return Hezbollahs favor (and fervor) by considering Hezbollahs warriors heretics carrying out Irans project in Lebanon? What can Hezbollah make of the Christian churchesthe Maronites, the Greek Orthodox, the Greek Catholics, etc?


The tribunes of Hezbollah equivocatethey are good at that. They are brigades of wilayat al-faqih (the realm of the jurist), the Iranian notion that in the absence of the Twelfth Imam, the leader of the Islamic Republic claims sovereignty over the believers, and Lebanese citizens at the same time. No room for ambiguity is left here; wilayat al-faqih takes precedence. The pre-eminent leader of Hezbollah, the cleric Hassan Nasrallah, is bound by religious obligation (and old-fashioned ties of money and power) to render his loyalty to Irans Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Wilayat al-faqih skipped borders and the Mediterranean to find its way into a worldly country that had not been known for its religious zeal. Lebanon laid down the foundations of a sister republic.



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