Intellectuals and political power in social movements: the parallel paths of Fadlallah and Hizbullah

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This article examines the intellectual impact of Ayatollah Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah (1935–2010) on Hizbullah's political behaviour. Many depicted Fadlallah as the ‘spiritual guide’ and ‘oracle’ of Hizbullah, while others accentuated his socio-political independence and the potential he represented as an ‘alternative’ to Hizbullah and Iran. This study argues that Fadlallah directly influenced Hizbullah's political worldviews, but the Islamic movement's socialisation in Lebanon, its dependence on Iran and its war with Israel have led it to pursue a separate path from Fadlallah. But despite the separation, the Ayatollah shared a common world vision with Hizbullah and the Islamic Republic, and would not have formed an alternative. The article is divided into two sections. The first examines the socio-political origins of Fadlallah and Hizbullah as an intellectual and a political movement, respectively, and conceptualises the discursive and political fields that motivate the behaviour of the two actors. The second section assesses the impact of Fadlallah's ideas on Hizbullah by focusing on three main themes: (1) Islamic liberation and resistance against injustice; (2) the Islamic state and Lebanon; and (3) Wilayat al-Faqih and Islamic Iran.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2
Pages (from-to)97-116
Number of pages19
JournalBritish Journal of Middle Eastern Studies
Volume 41
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Apr 2014


  • Intellectuals
  • Social movements
  • Hizbullah
  • Fadlallah


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