The Shi'a of Lebanon: Clans, Parties and Clerics by Rodger Shanahan

By Rodger Shanahan

The Shi'a of Lebanon have emerged within the final two decades to develop into an enormous strength in Lebanese politics having lengthy been a marginalized political neighborhood. Rodger Shanahan's ebook examines the explanations at the back of this change from a principally rural inhabitants ruled through a handful of elite households, to an assertive sectarian strength whose new chanced on strength is exemplified by way of the emergence of Shi'a events akin to Amal and Hizballah.

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Consequently Shi‘a participation in the negotiations was limited to the presence of the deputy ‘Adil ‘Usayran. 92 The final distribution of parliamentary seats was set at a Christian:Muslim ratio of 6:5 (meaning all parliament sizes were multiples 32 THE SHI‘A OF LEBANON of 11), based on the results of the 1932 census. There was little outcry over the disadvantage this posed for the Shi‘a, because the powerful Shi‘a families with their virtual monopoly on the community’s parliamentary representation understood that their leadership aspirations could be fulfilled with the number of seats allocated to the community.

This was because religious disputes were resolved according to Sunni jurisprudence. 73 Following the outbreak of sectarian violence in 1860 which resulted in the massacre of over 15,000 Christians in Mount Lebanon and Damascus, the Great Powers together with the Ottoman government imposed what became known as the Reglement Organique in 1861. Under this Statute, Mount Lebanon was to become a single governorate (mutasarrifiyat); the governor (mutasarrif) was to be a non-Lebanese Christian, selected by the Sultan and approved by the Great Powers;74 and Lebanon was to be sub-divided into six qa’im maqamiyat, each further divided into districts and sub-districts.

Yet even these scholars have not concentrated on the Shi‘a zu‘ama. As a result, the reason for the rise and subsequent decline of the Shi‘a zu‘ama as a political force is not well understood. Their decline stands in contrast to many zu‘ama from other communities, who continue to play an influential role in Lebanese politics. Certainly zu‘ama from all communities faced similar challenges as internal societal and external political forces transformed the existing order within which they operated.

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