Hezbollah and its identity crises
Beyond any dispute hizbollah is the most organized and powerful Theo-political and military group of shi’a Islam and in any other world states in modern history which coexist, fully independent within a sovereign state. It is the only group in the world which enjoys an absolute independence from the elected official government and they possess the full authority to exercise all crucial activities; military and political, which has serious implications to the national security and integrity of the host country. In recent history Hizbollah have conducted many military operations inside Israel, and engaged the Israeli Army without the authority and the coordination of the national government of Lebanon.
Here I would like to clarify one fact that in this short essay I do not intent to attack the integrity of the struggle of hizballah in protecting their land against the continuous aggression of the Israeli Army, in the south of Lebanon, rather I am trying to raise some legitimate concerns of the nature of hizballah’s political identity, the relationship between its political philosophy and religion. And I will also touch upon how much influence religion and the sacred symbols of Islam have upon their political ambitions, and its implications and effects upon the psyche of its followers. It is important to remember here that their legitimate struggle to defend their land is absolutely not under discussion for it is their basic rights to defend their territories from any type of aggression. In fact it is a basic human right to defend homeland from aggression by invaders. And this basic right is not exclusive to Hezbollah rather it is the basic rights of all Lebanese people to defend their land from the Israeli aggression. This aspect I must reiterate here that hizbollah has certainly demonstrated an extraordinary level of loyalty to their leader and land. They have demonstrated an exceptional example of bravery, resilience and perseverance. My critical study is not directed at this aspect of their legitimate struggle rather it is only directed at the nature of their political philosophy and aspirations in respect to Islam and to allude to the impact of the negative Muslim teachings upon the overall political and religious behavior of Hezbollah. And to highlight the fine line between the basic human rights to defend the land and the true political ambitions of hizballah in Lebanon, as mentioned above. It is also worth mentioning that I am not disputing the rights of Israel to defend its people from the threat of Hizbollah and its aggression against innocent Jewish civilian people under many pretexts.
It is fair to say that Hizballah represent a double edge sword that is it poses a direct threat to the Zionist state and perhaps, also, they seriously pose a real challenge to the democratic system of Lebanon. Obviously there are two main factors which gave the rise to hizballah in Lebanon; the first one was due to the success of the Iranian Muslim revolution led by ayatulallah khomyni. And the second one was due to the Israeli occupation of south Lebanon.
The strength of Hezbollah
There is one legitimate question which present itself here that what is the secret for the strength of hizballah as a Lebanese organization in comparison to other militias in Lebanon. In my humble opinion the strength of hizballah is related to a religious factor which was fundamentally utilized to present hizballah to the political stage and to advocate its ideology. It is no secret that religion is a powerful tool to strengthen any political entity for it is already a fundamental element within the psyche of the majority of people who embrace that religion. However religion has the potential of playing positive and negative role in the struggle and legitimacy of any political movement. And the type of influence of religion upon any political movement is determined by the type of vision and religious teachings of its leaders and followers which is being employed to serve the objectives of the movement. Throughout history we find that religion has played a negative role to substantiate the ambitions and aspirations of many brutal political and religious systems; Muslim and non-Muslims.
In the case of Hizballah, in recent history we see that religion have played a negative role in propagating the ideology of hizballah, unfortunately. In order to understand the true identity and the psyche of Hizballah leadership, we simply must examine their flag and their political and military behavior.
Hezbollah official Flag and its theological conflict
In reality a flag has a positive or a negative message to influence the people it represent. Often and particularly in the Middle East and in societies where dictatorship are in control, a flag has subliminal messages to influence the psyche of people or its subjects. However, in these circumstances, in respect to a religious flag that such subliminal messages are to exploit the religious beliefs of Man in order to gain his support and to ultimately achieve the desired objectives that is to subjugate its people.
So in respect to religious groups we can see the flag along with its symbols has subliminal message to influence the psyche of their followers. This disease and phenomenon is very prevalent in the Muslim world today. Saudia Arabia’s state flag is a good example of this disease where it employs the main fundamental principle of Islam that is the statement of testimony which says”there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger” and placed underneath it a picture of a sword. The negative message that this flag presents is a subliminal notion of violence and killings, which quite frankly proves the non Muslim accusations directed towards Islam and that is the message of Islam was spread by the sword. This negative message of the Saudi flag is playing in the hands of those who unfairly accuse Islam of being spread by the sword. There are many other Muslim countries have a similar disease , such as Iraq flag which caries the name of God on it, keeping in mind the violence in Iraq is exceeded all expectations. It is worth mentioning here that during Saddam Hussain regime for many years the Iraqi flag did not have any sacred symbols nor names but it was only until Saddam’s occupation of Kuwait in 1990, he reportedly and on state television had modified the Iraqi flag by adding and writing the statement “God is great or Allah Akbar” on the flag using his own blood and using his own finger to write the sacred statement.
If we examine Hizballah flag then we can see the following points;
1- Quranic verse 5:56 “Surely the party of Allah are victorious”, is employed and written on the top of their flag and where the name “hizballah” is derived from. This reality suggest a subliminal notion that is they are a party of “God” and are divinely destined to victory, and they ought to be on the right path and Truth. This follows that they can not be disputed and their legitimacy can not be challenged because after all they are “victorious” as the chosen verse implies.
2- The name of God “Allah” is also employed in their flag. And the the first alphabet of the name Allah, which is “alif” is transformed into a human arm; perhaps, to its followers subconsciously, it most likely represent its leader’s arm. And this arm is depicted as carrying a Russian made klashinkof . Certainly there is a dangerous message in this representation that is to employ the most sacred name in Islam; “Allah” to depict their political ambitions.
3- There is a depiction of the Globe which signifies their aspirations for global domination.
Self aggrandizement of political and religious Leaders
In addition to their flag we see a portrait of their leader Mr. Nasraallah is posted everywhere in the south of Lebanon which I believe it represent the symptoms of religious dictatorship and self glorification. This aspect is also can be considered one of the terrible factors which have devastated the Muslim psyche for centuries. Muslims are often idolize their leader regardless of his character so long as he barks so loudly with some rhetoric which is designed to fuel their hate towards their perceived enemy and satisfy their ignorance and their own temporal desires. Self aggrandizement of leaders in the middle east and particularly Muslim countries have reached a disgusting level and have become a traditional phenomenon and which truly represent the poverty of our Muslim heritage and teachings. The beautiful teachings of Islam have been buried beneath the hateful philosophy of Muslims which is sanctioned by these Muslim corrupted regimes and are welcomed and digested by the majority of Muslims, because it seems to conform to the corrupted hearts of the majority.
The danger of being blinded by our hate of our perceived enemy
Even though Hezbollah is considered to be primarily as threat to the Israel military aggression nevertheless when Hezbollah ideological flaws, as mentioned above, are not recognized then their threat will not necessarily be limited to the state of Israel but beyond that and perhaps Hezbollah have become threat to Lebanon democracy. When they pursue their political ambitions through the exploitation of the sacred symbols of Islam and to employ them as vehicles for gaining political strength then it will lead to a political blindness and they will pose a real danger to their society’s political systems as we have seen that in recent events (May 2008) when they have invaded their own country as a show of force. In fact we have heard its leader Mr Nasrallah issued a warning to the Lebanese government that his armed group are capable of seizing power at any time but they choose not to do it; such statement is clear evidence of hizballah’s threat to the democracy of Lebanon.
However I must reiterate here that I am not necessarily doubting nor attacking their political aspirations rather I am rejecting their way of presenting themselves on the political stage by using some sacred religious symbols to seek worldly political advantages against other legitimate political groups in Lebanon.
Furthermore, I believe that failing to recognize these concerns would lead to the idolization of its leader because subconsciously the followers attribute a sacred status to this party and then extends it to its leader. This fact is the perfect ingredient for dictatorship. And everything the leader say and does would be seen as sacred. Consequently any political or military achievements or losses is often seen as divine or given a religious dimension; as we have seen such scenario during last year conflict with Israel where hizballah declared their military adventure and their apparent gains against the Israeli army, as a “divine victory” According to hizballah’s logic of victory, the Israeli military victories against the Muslim massive armies, for the past sixty years are also “divine victory”. And the north Vietnamese against USA mighty army is also “divine victory” ….
My perception of hizballah’s military alleged success is no difference from that of any group who is fighting for their rights and defending its land. There is no difference to me the success of North Vietnam people against the mighty army of the United states of America, and the Hezbollah fighters against the powerful army of Israel, both have a legitimate rights to defend their territories, but both should leave God alone and must not exploit religion to their own benefit.
Photo: Hezbollah leader Mr. Nasrullah is celebrating the release of the controversial figure Mr Samir Qantar who is accused of murdering 4 years old Jewish girl (1)
Very recently we have seen Hezbollah won the the release of Mr. Samir Qantar and some other Arab prisoners in exchange for two Israeli solders who were captured last year for the hope to win the release of Mr Qantar and other Arab prisoners. This adventure had triggered a devastating military response by the Israeli Army last July 2007. This conflict has cost Lebanon 5.5 Billion Dollars in economic loses and 1200 dead and several thousands injured and a devastating blow to Lebanon economy. In addition, it caused the deaths of many Israeli innocents civilians. All of these loses were for the sake of Mr. Samir Qantar who allegedly murdered 4 year old Jewish girl and her father; a charge Mr Qantar denies.
Photo: Iran’s President Ahmadi Najad is honoring Mr. Samir Qantar release and hence honoring what Mr Qantar terrorist act in July 1979.
Photo: 4 year old murdered Jewish girl and her slained father, by Samir Qantar.
It is worth noting here is that Hezbaallh unilateral military, arrogant, irresponsible, and not thought out adventure against Israel in July 2007, was not approved by the legitimate government of Lebanon.
footnote: (1) For more about the story of the allegations against Mr Samir Qantar, offered by the widow of the slain husband and the mother of the murdered 4 year old Jewish girl, please go to this link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&contentId=A2740-2003May17