Shia Islam in Lebanon
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Shia Islam in Lebanon
Lebanese Shia Muslims
?
Languages
Vernacular:
Lebanese Arabic
Religion
Islam (Shia Islam)

Lebanese Shia Muslims (Arabic: ?‎), historically known as Shia Muslims or Muslims Shia (Arabic: ‎), refers to Lebanese people who are adherents of the Shia branch of Islam in Lebanon, which is the second largest Muslim denomination in the country. Shia Islam in Lebanon has a history of more than a millennium. According to the CIA World Factbook, Shia Muslims constituted an estimated 22.5% of Lebanon's population in 2020 (see below).

Most of its adherents live in the northern and western area of the Beqaa Valley, Southern Lebanon and Beirut. The great majority of Shia Muslims in Lebanon are Twelvers, with an Alawite minority numbering in the tens of thousands in north Lebanon.

Under the terms of an unwritten agreement known as the National Pact between the various political and religious leaders of Lebanon, Shias are the only sect eligible for the post of Speaker of Parliament.[1][2][3][4]

History

Lebanon religious groups distribution
An estimate of the area distribution of Lebanon's main religious groups

Origins

The cultural and linguistic heritage of the Lebanese people is a blend of both indigenous elements and the foreign cultures that have come to rule the land and its people over the course of thousands of years. In a 2013 interview the lead investigator, Pierre Zalloua, pointed out that genetic variation preceded religious variation and divisions: "Lebanon already had well-differentiated communities with their own genetic peculiarities, but not significant differences, and religions came as layers of paint on top. There is no distinct pattern that shows that one community carries significantly more Phoenician than another."[5]

Haplogroup J2 is also a significant marker in throughout Lebanon (~30%). This marker found in many inhabitants of Lebanon, regardless of religion, signals pre-Arab descendants, including the Phoenicians and Aramaens. Genealogical DNA testing has shown that 21.3% of Lebanese Muslims (non-Druze) belong to the Y-DNA haplogroup J1 compared with non-Muslims at 17%.[6] Although Haplogroup J1 is most common in Arabian peninsula, studies have shown that it has been present in the Levant since the Bronze age[7] (3300-1200 BC) and does not necessarily indicate Arab descent,[8] with the main exception being the Arabian subclade of J1-FGC12 occurring at no more than 3% among Shias and Sunnis. Other haplogroups present among Lebanese Shia include E1b1b (19%), G-M201 (10%), R1b, and T-L206 occurring at smaller, but significant rates.[9]

In a 2020 study published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, Authors showed that there is substantial genetic continuity in Lebanon since the Bronze Age interrupted by three significant admixture events during the Iron Age, Hellenistic, and Ottoman period, each contributing 3%-11% of non-local ancestry to the admixed population.[10]

Genetics aside, the population of Lebanon was mainly Canaanite who began to speak Aramaic. Under Byzantine rule, this Aramean population was Hellenized and adopted the Greek language alongside their native Aramaic. It is important to note that most villages and towns in Lebanon today have Aramaic names, reflecting this heritage. Lebanon was also a home for many other historic peoples; North Lebanon and the northern Bekaa Valley were areas of Amurru kingdom of the Amorites in the Bronze Age. Aramaeans, who formed kingdoms nearby in Damascus and Hamath, came to dominate in the Bekaa, where Hazael the Aramaean king might have been born. While Aramaic was spoken by the rural populations, Greek was spoken in the urban communities and among traders; Beirut became the only fully Latin speaking city in the whole east. Alongside the natives, minor pockets of Greeks, Arabs, Persians, and other populations from the Near East and Mediterranean world assimilated into the native population living in Lebanon, over the course of history. Among these pre-Islamic Arabs, Banu Amela has importance for the Lebanese Shia for adopting and nurturing Shi'ism in the southern population. Other famous Arabs include Tanukhids and possibly Itureans. As the Islamic expansion reached Lebanon, these Arab tribes received the most power which encouraged the rest of the population to adopt Arabic as the main language.[11]

Early Islamic history

Early Islamic period

Oral tradition attributes the initial spread of Shiism to the companion of the Prophet, Abu Dharr al-Ghifari. However, this attribution is generally believed to be more on the fictitious side by modern historians and scholars. Historically, the presence of Shia Islam in the Levant dates back to the times of The Twelve Imams. Among the companions of the Imams was Khaleed bin Awfa (fl. 140 AH/757 CE) from Jabal Amel. The spread of Shiism widely, however, took place throughout the Levant later in the 9th century.

After the Hamdanids took control over Aleppo in 944, Aleppo became one of the centers of Shia Islam in the region. The city prospered and was visited by many scientists, clerics and poets whom the Hamdanids invited to their court which contained Muslims, Christians and Jews alike. Other cities such as Harran, Mosul and Raqqa also contained significant Shiite populations at the time which later supported the Mirdasids of Aleppo and the Numayrids of Harran in their power after the Hamdanids.

The territorial domains of present-day Lebanon similarly became home to significant Shia populations in the south and east since at least the 800s, and also in coastal cities such as Tyre and Tripoli. Nasir Khusraw, who visited Tripoli and Tyre in 11th century (c. 1045) mentions that these two cities were mostly inhabited by Shia Muslims.[12] Tripoli was under the rule of Banu Ammar family, while Tyre was under Abi Aqil family, originally from Harran, which is unclear whether they were Sunni or Shia Muslims. In addition, Nasir also remarked that the majority of population of Tiberias were Shia Muslims.[11][12] The Bekaa valley was also home to Shia Muslims and the towns of Karak Nuh and Machghara had special importance and produced scholars early on since the early 12th century.

The earliest historical attestations of Shiite groups mention their presence in Galilee and Southern Lebanon, the Beqaa Valley as far as Homs in Syria and Tripoli and its countryside.[13][14][12][15]

Seljuk, Crusader and Ayyubid periods, and the Mongol invasions

The Seljuk and Ayyubid periods is characterized by intense promotion of Sunni Islam in the Levant. The Shia spread started to decline under the Seljuks, and later the Crusaders, Ayyubids and Mamluks. Seljuks and Ayyubids had in unison to promote Sunni Islam, and so did the Mamluks later. In 1071, the Seljuk Atsiz ibn Uwaq burned Tiberias and subsequently Shias fled north to join Jabal Amel.[11] The city of Aleppo, previously a bastion of Shiism and which had already seen a Shia influx from places in northern Syria such as Harran and even Mosul, started to slowly become a Sunni majority city again. This caused a Shia influx from around the Levant from places such as Aleppo, Mosul, Harran, Tiberias, along other places that had significant Shia populations, to join their co-denominationalists living in rural communities in the Bekaa valley, South and Mount Lebanon. A similar flux occurred in 1258 during the Siege of Baghdad when sayyed families fled the city to Keserwan and Beqaa.

The First Crusade arrived in the Levant in 1097 and swept across until it captured Jerusalem in 1099. Shias in Tripoli and Tyre resisted the Crusaders violently for years until the two cities fell in 1109 and 1124, respectively. This perhaps caused an influx to the countryside. At least since the Crusader period, Shias have also lived in the high-altitude, barren mountains of Keserwan and Dinniyeh which gave them a special immunity against their conquerors who were generally not interested in subduing the people of these mountains or to have any direct military presence there. It is suggested the region is named after a Shia group called "al zanniyyah" . This spread was possibly tied with the movement of Nusayri missionaries from Aleppo into the coastal mountains of Syria and Lebanon in 1030 and the fleeing of the First Crusade after the successful capture of Antioch and push to Jerusalem.[11]

Under the Zengids and Ayyubids, Baalbek was an emirate. Saladin's father Najm ad-Din Ayyub was the emir of Baalbek and so was his grandson Farrukh Shah in 1179 until 1182. Saladin captured Jerusalem in the year 1187, but the cities of Acre, Tyre and Tripoli were still in crusader hands. The Crusader states survived in Tripoli and Tyre until the Mamluks captured both cities in 1289 and 1291 respectively.

During Mongol invasions and conquests, "Najm ad-Din ibn Malli al-Ansari al-Ba'labakki" (b. 617 AH/1195 CE), a cleric from Baalbek, is said to have gathered 10,000 men to resist the Mongols through guerilla warfare tactics, often attacking Mongols at night.

Mamluk period and 1305 campaign

The Mamluk period between 1291 until 1517 is seen as the decisive period when Shia Islam started declining in the region. During the start of the 14th century, the Mamluks were involved in a rivalry with another recently-converted Islamic power, the Mongol Ilkhanate. Specifically during the rule of Öljaitü (1304-1316), the Ilkhan was influenced by prominent Twelver theologians such as Allamah Al-Hilli and Maitham Al Bahrani which, allegedly, lead to Shia sympathies on his side moreso than the Mamluks who were interested in promoting the Sunni schools of thought. Subsequently, the Mamluks might have become wary of the loyalty of Shias living in the rural mountainous region of Keserwan. In addition, Keserwan was a rather lawless region which oversaw the strategic roads between Damascus and Beirut which meant bandits were able to raid trade caravans freely, which didn't sit well with the authority at Cairo. It is important to note that this is not necessarily indicative of directed group persecution by the Mamluks, but rather the general viewpoint and feel of the authority back then.[16][15]

The region of Keserwan had previously been observed to have had communities of multiple faiths and denominations. The most prominent faith was Shia Islam in its orthodox Twelver form and also with the presence of extremist sects. Alawites were also present in Keserwan and the "Batiniyyah" (?) as well, a name historically and Islamically used to describe Isma'ilis and Qarmatians. Since these sects are long extinct in Lebanon, it is usually considered that the adherents of these sects either fled away or reverted to mainstream Twelver Shia Islam in time. Another group that was mentioned were the Druze, or as called before, "Hakimiyya". It's likely there were Christians living in Keserwan as well.

In the year 1305, the Mamluks led a destructive campaign on Keserwan by the deputy of Damascus Jamal ad-Din Aqush in which an estimated 50,000 soldiers participated, against the people of Keserwan, which lead to the total destruction of the region, a great number of Keserwan natives killed, and a great number of them fleeing to Jezzine and possibly also to the Bekaa valley, while a humbled many stayed .[17][15]

Later on, Mamluk-era chroniclers report in 1384 about an armed rebellion led by the Shias of Beirut against the Mamluks that was peacefully settled through mediation by the Druze Buhturids.[15]

Under Ottoman rule

Keserwan began to lose its Shia character under the Assaf Sunni Turkmen whom the Mamluks appointed as overlords of the area in 1306 and in 1517 by the Ottomans. The process intensified around 1545 when the Maronites started migrating to Keserwan and Byblos, encouraged by the Assafs, who sought to use them as a counterweight to the Shia Hamade sheikhs who reemerged in Keserwan in the late 16th century. When in 1605 the Druze emir Fakhr al-Din Ma'n II took over Keserwan, he entrusted its management to the Khazen Maronite family. The Khazens gradually colonized Keserwan, purchasing Shia lands and founding churches and monasteries. They emerged as the predominant authority in the region at the expense of the Shia Hamedeh clan. By the end of the eighteenth century, the Khazens owned Keserwan and only a few Shia villages survived. The Hamade clan eventually fell out of the favor of the Ottomans and were forced to relocate to Hermel in 1773.[18]

The Harfushes were already well established in the Bekaa on the eve of the Ottoman conquest. The Harfushes of Baalbek received the iltizam concession for the Bekaa as well as a rank in the provincial military hierarchy (the district governosrhip of Homs or Tadmur) in recognition of their long-standing position of dominance within local Shiite society.[19] In the seventeenth century, the Harfushe emirate of the Bekaa valley and the Hamadas of Mt. Lebanon rivalled the territorial extension and power of the Druze emirate of the Shuf. Unlike the Druze, the Shiite emirs were regularly denounced for their religious identity and persecuted under Ebu's-Suud's definition of K?z?lba? heretics. The Harfush rule however ended in 1865 when they were deported to Edirne.

The best-known Shiite taxlordship in Jabal 'Amil was that of the 'Ali al-Saghirs, of the Wa'il clan, ancestors of the modern Asa'ad family, who entered Jabal Amil with Salah al-Din, took over local leadership in the early thirteenth century. They controlled most of the land south of the Litani River, collectively known as the Bilad Bishara for much of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.[20] According to 'Amili tradition, 'Ali and Husayn al-Saghir, reputed descendants of a leading Shiite tribe from the past, went on to eliminate rival families in 1639 and 1649 respectively, and therewith established a single-family Shiite reign over the entire southern Jabal 'Amil that would last until the tyrannical rule of Cezzar Ahmed Pa?a in the eighteenth century.[15] In the 18th century, the most powerful Shia sheikh in the South was Nassif al-Nassar. Nassif inherited the leadership of the 'Ali al-Saghir clan in 1749/50 after his brother Zahir Nassar.[15] Nasif and Zahir challenged the authority of the Ottoman governors of Sidon and Damascus and their Druze allies who dominated Mount Lebanon. When this coalition of Ottoman forces launched an offensive against Nasif and Zahir in 1771, the forces of the latter two routed them in Lake Hula.[21] After the Battle of Lake Hula, Nasif's forces, who numbered some 3,000 horsemen, decisively defeated a 40,000-strong Druze force under Emir Yusuf Shihab,[22] killing some 1,500 Druze warriors.[21] According to Baron Francois de Tott, a French mercenary of the Ottoman Army, Nassif's cavalry "put them to flight at the first onset".[22]

This prosperity, however, ended with the Ottoman appointment of Ahmad al-Jazzar as governor of Sidon province (1775-1804). Jazzar crushed the military power of the Shia clan leaders and burned the libraries of the religious scholars. Many are said to have been killed in the process, and villages burnt, especially during the battle of Yarin in 1781. He established a centralized administration in the Shia areas and brought their revenues and cash crops under his domain. By the late eighteenth century, the Shias of the Jabal 'Amil lost their independent spirit and adopted an attitude of political defeat. Al-Jezzar was nicknamed "the butcher" and a big population of the Shia were killed under his rule in Lebanon.[15]

Relations with Iranian Shias

During most of the Ottoman period, the Shia largely maintained themselves as 'a state apart', although they found common ground with their fellow Lebanese, the Maronites; this may have been due to the persecutions both sects faced. They maintained contact with the Safavid dynasty of Persia, where they helped establish Shia Islam as the state religion of Persia during the Safavid conversion of Iran from Sunni to Shia Islam. Since most of the population embraced Sunni Islam and since an educated version of Shia Islam was scarce in Iran at the time, Isma'il imported a new Shia Ulema corps from traditional Shiite centers of the Arabic speaking lands, such as Jabal Amil (of Southern Lebanon), Bahrain and Southern Iraq in order to create a state clergy. Isma'il offered them land and money in return for their loyalty. These scholars taught the doctrine of Twelver Shia Islam and made it accessible to the population and energetically encouraged conversion to Shia Islam.[23][24][25][26] To emphasize how scarce Twelver Shia Islam was then to be found in Iran, a chronicler tells us that only one Shia text could be found in Isma'il's capital Tabriz.[27] Thus it is questionable whether Isma'il and his followers could have succeeded in forcing a whole people to adopt a new faith without the support of the Arab Shia scholars.[28]

These contacts further angered the Ottoman Sultan, who had already viewed them as religious heretics. The Sultan was frequently at war with the Persians, as well as being, in the role of Caliph, the leader of the majority Sunni community. Shia Lebanon, when not subject to political repression, was generally neglected, sinking further and further into the economic background. Towards the end of the eighteenth century the Comte de Volmy was to describe the Shia as a distinct society.[]

French mandate period

Following the official declaration of the French Mandate of Greater Lebanon (Le Grand Liban) in September 1920, anti-French riots broke out in the predominantly Shia areas of Jabil 'Amil and the Beqaa Valley. In 1920 and 1921, rebels from these areas, led by Adham Khanjar and Sadiq Hamzeh, attacked French military bases in Southern Lebanon.[29] During this period of chaos, also several predominantly Christian villages in the region were attacked due to their perceived acceptance of French mandatory rule, including Ain Ebel. Eventually, an unsuccessful assassination attempt on French High Commissioner Henri Gouraud led to the execution of Adham Khanjar.[29] At the end of 1921, this period of unrest ended with a political amnesty offered by the French mandate authorities for all Shi'is who had joined the riots, with the intention to bind the Shia community in the South of Lebanon to the new Mandate state.[29]

Education

During the 1920's and 1930's, educational institutions became places for different religious communities to construct nationalist and sectarian modes of identification.[30] Shia leaders and religious clergy supported educational reforms in order to improve the social and political marginalization of the Shia community and increase their involvement in the newly born nation-state of Lebanon.[31] This led to the establishment of several private Shia schools in Lebanon, among them The Charitable Islamic mili Society (al-Jam?iyya al-Khayriyya al-Isl?miyya al-??miliyya) in Beirut and The Charitable Ja?fari Society (al-Jam?iyya al-Khayriyya al-Ja?fariyya) in Tyre.[31] While several Shia educational institutions were established before and at the beginning of the mandate period, they often ran out of support and funding which resulted in their abolishment.[31]

The primary outlet for discussions concerning educational reforms among Shia scholars was the monthly Shiite journal al-'Irfan. In order to bring their demands (mulabiyya) to the attention of the French authorities, petitions were signed and presented to the French High Commissioner and the Service de l'Instruction Publique.[32] This institution - since 1920 headquartered in Beirut- oversaw every educational policy regarding public and private school in the mandate territories.[33] According to historian Elizabeth Thompson, private schools were part of "constant negotiations" between citizen and the French authorities in Lebanon, specifically regarding the hierarchical distribution of social capital along religious communal lines.[34] During these negotiations, petitions were often used by different sects to demand support for reforms. For example, the middle-class of predominantly urban Sunni areas expressed their demands for educational reforms through petitions directed towards the French High Commissioner and the League of Nations.[35]

Ja'fari shar'ia courts

In January 1926, the French High Commissioner officially recognized the Shia community as an "independent religious community," which was permitted to judge matters of personal status "according to the principles of the rite known by the name of Ja'fari."[36] This meant that the Shiite Ja'fari jurisprudence or madhhab was legally recognized as an official madhhab, and held judicial and political power on multiple levels.[37] The institutionalization of Shia Islam during this period provoked discussions between Shiite scholars and clergy about how Shiite orthodoxy should be defined. For example, discussions about the mourning of the martyrdom of Imam Husain during Ashura, which was a clandestine affair before the 1920's and 1930's, led to its transformation into a public ceremony.[38]

On the other hand, the official recognition of legal and religious Shiite institutions by the French authorities strengthened a sectarian awareness within the Shia community. Historian Max Weiss underlines how "sectarian claims were increasingly bound up with the institutionalization of Shi'i difference."[39] With the Ja'fari shar'ia courts in practice, the Shia community was deliberately encouraged to "practice sectarianism" on a daily basis.

Sub-groups

Shia Twelvers (Metouali)

Shia Twelver (Metawali) woman in the Bekaa Valley in traditional clothes, 1950s

Shia Twelvers in Lebanon refers to the Shia Muslim Twelver community with a significant presence all over Lebanon including the Mount Lebanon (Keserwan, Byblos), the North (Batroun), the South, the Beqaa, Baabda District coastal areas and Beirut.

The jurisdiction of the Ottoman Empire was merely nominal in the Lebanon. Baalbek in the 18th century was really under the control of the Metawali, which also refers to the Shia Twelvers.[40] Metawali, Metouali, or Mutawili, is an archaic term used to specifically refer to Lebanese Twelver Shias in the past. Although it can be considered offensive nowadays, it was a way to distinguish the uniqueness and unity of the community. The term 'mutawili' is also the name of a trustee in Islamic waqf-system.

Seven Shia Twelver (Mutawili) villages that were reassigned from French Greater Lebanon to the British Mandate of Palestine in a 1924 border-redrawing agreement were depopulated during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and repopulated with Jews.[41] The seven villages are Qadas, Nabi Yusha, al-Malikiyya, Hunin, Tarbikha, Abil al-Qamh, and Saliha.[42]

In addition, the Shia Twelvers in Lebanon have close links to the Syrian Shia Twelvers.[43]

Alawites

Large mosque with tall minaret
Alawite El-Zahra Mosque in Jabal Mohsen, Lebanon

There are an estimated 40,000[44][45][46] Alawites in Lebanon, where they have lived since at least the 16th century.[47] They are recognized as one of the 18 official Lebanese sects, and due to the efforts of an Alawite leader Ali Eid, the Taif Agreement of 1989 gave them two reserved seats in the Parliament. Lebanese Alawites live mostly in the Jabal Mohsen neighbourhood of Tripoli, and in 10 villages in the Akkar region,[48][49][50] and are mainly represented by the Arab Democratic Party. Bab al-Tabbaneh, Jabal Mohsen clashes between pro-Syrian Alawites and anti-Syrian Sunnis have haunted Tripoli for decades.[51]

Isma'ilis

Isma'ilism, or "Sevener Shi'ism", is a branch of Shia Islam which emerged in 765 from a disagreement over the succession to Muhammad. Isma'ilis hold that Isma'il ibn Jafar was the true seventh imam, and not Musa al-Kadhim as the Twelvers believe. Isma'ili Shi'ism also differs doctrinally from Imami Shi'ism, having beliefs and practices that are more esoteric and maintaining seven pillars of faith rather than five pillars and ten ancillary precepts.

Though perhaps somewhat better established in neighbouring Syria, where the faith founded one of its first da'wah outposts in the city of Salamiyah (the supposed resting place of the Imam Isma'il) in the 8th century, it has been present in what is now Lebanon for centuries. Early Lebanese Isma'ilism showed perhaps an unusual propensity to foster radical movements within it, particularly in the areas of Wadi al-Taym, adjoining the Beqaa valley at the foot of Mount Hermon, and Jabal Shuf, in the highlands of Mount Lebanon.[52]

The syncretic beliefs of the Qarmatians, typically classed as an Isma'ili splinter sect with Zoroastrian influences, spread into the area of the Beqaa valley and possibly also Jabal Shuf starting in the 9th century. The group soon became widely vilified in the Islamic world for its armed campaigns across throughout the following decades, which included slaughtering Muslim pilgrims and sacking Mecca and Medina--and Salamiyah. Other Muslim rulers soon acted to crush this powerful heretical movement. In the Levant, the Qarmatians were ordered to be stamped out by the ruling Fatimid, themselves Isma'ilis and from whom the lineage of the modern Nizari Aga Khan is claimed to descend. The Qarmatian movement in the Levant was largely extinguished by the turn of the millennium.[52]

The semi-divine personality of the Fatimid caliph in Isma'ilism was elevated further in the doctrines of a secretive group which began to venerate the caliph Hakim as the embodiment of divine unity. Unsuccessful in the imperial capital of Cairo, they began discreetly proselytising around the year 1017 among certain Arab tribes in the Levant. The Isma'ilis of Wadi al-Taym and Jabal Shuf were among those who converted before the movement was permanently closed off a few decades later to guard against outside prying by mainstream Sunni and Shia Muslims, who often viewed their doctrines as heresy. This deeply esoteric group became known as the Druze, who in belief, practice, and history have long since become distinct from Isma'ilis proper. Druze constitute 5.2% of the modern population of Lebanon and still have a strong demographic presence in their traditional regions within the country to this day.[52]

Due to official persecution by the Sunni Zengid dynasty that stoked escalating sectarian clashes with Sunnis, many Isma'ilis in the regions of Damascus and Aleppo are said to have fled west during the 12th century. Some settled in the mountains of Lebanon, while others settled further north along the coastal ridges in Syria,[53] where the Alawites had earlier taken refuge--and where their brethren in the Assassins were cultivating a fearsome reputation as they staved off armies of Crusaders and Sunnis alike for many years.

Once far more numerous and widespread in many areas now part of Lebanon, the Isma'ili population has largely vanished over time. It has been suggested that Ottoman-era persecution might have spurred them to leave for elsewhere in the region, though there is no record or evidence of any kind of large exodus.[54]

Isma'ilis were originally included as one of five officially-defined Muslim sects in a 1936 edict issued by the French Mandate governing religious affairs in the territory of Greater Lebanon, alongside Sunnis, Twelver Shias, Alawites, and Druzes. However, Muslims collectively rejected being classified as divided, and so were left out of the law in the end. Ignored in a post-independence law passed in 1951 that defined only Judaism and Christian sects as official, Muslims continued under traditional Ottoman law, within the confines of which small communities like Isma'ilis and Alawites found it difficult to establish their own institutions.[55]

The Aga Khan IV made a brief stop in Beirut on 4 August 1957 while on a global tour of Nizari Isma'ili centres, drawing an estimated 600 Syrian and Lebanese followers of the religion to the Beirut Airport in order to welcome him.[56] In the mid-1980s, several hundred Isma'ilis were thought to still live in a few communities scattered across several parts of Lebanon.[57] Though they are nominally counted among the 18 officially-recognised sects under modern Lebanese law,[58] they currently have no representation in state functions[59] and continue to lack personal status laws for their sect, which has led to increased conversions to established sects to avoid the perpetual inconveniences this produces.[60]

War in the region has also caused pressures on Lebanese Isma'ilis. In the 2006 Lebanon War, Israeli warplanes bombed the factory of the Maliban Glass company in the Beqaa valley on 19 July. The factory was bought in the late 1960s by the Madhvani Group under the direction of Isma'ili entrepreneur Abdel-Hamid al-Fil after the Aga Khan personally brought the two into contact. It had expanded over the next few decades from an ailing relic to the largest glass manufacturer in the Levant, with 300 locally hired workers producing around 220,000 tons of glass per day. Al-Fil closed the plant down on 15 July just after the war broke out to safeguard against the deaths of workers in the event of such an attack, but the damage was estimated at a steep 55 million US dollars, with the reconstruction timeframe indefinite due to instability and government hesitation.[61]

Geographic distribution within Lebanon

Lebanese Shia Muslims are concentrated in south Beirut and its southern suburbs, northern and western area of the Beqaa Valley, as well as Southern Lebanon.[62]

A map of the distribution of Shia Muslims in Lebanon

Demographics

Lebanese Shia Muslims (CIA est.)[63][64]
Year Percent
1932
19%
1985
41%
2020
22%

The last census in Lebanon in 1932 put the numbers of Shias at 20% of the population (200,000 of 791,700).[64] A study done by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 1985 put the numbers of Shias at 41.247% of the population (919,000 of 2,228,000).[64]

Twenty seven years after their 1985 estimate, a 2020 CIA study reports that the Shia Muslims constituted an estimated 22% of Lebanon's population--nearly half as much as CIA's own estimate in 1985. (Sources provided do not support the claim stated in this popflock.com resource article or the purported 22%. One of the sources provided states otherwise at over 30%). [63]

In 2020 the CIA World Factbook stated that Shia Muslims constitute 22.5% of Lebanon's population.[65] (Sources provided do not support the claim stated in this popflock.com resource article or the purported 22%. One of the sources provided states otherwise at over 30%).

Notable Lebanese Shia Muslims

See also

References

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