AbstractThe objective of this study is to outline the principal forces that have served as catalysts to the politicization of the Shi'ite community in Lebanon, and to uncover the causes of Hizbu'llah's emergence. Though the chief determinants of Shi'ite politicization have been the same social, economic, and political circumstances that have propelled Third World radical and populist movements to action, Hizbu'llah's emergence was not the inevitable byproduct of these conditions. Yet despite the fact that the elements spurring Shi'ite communal mobilization are clearly distinct from those for Shi'ite religious activism, their study is necessary for tracing the roots of Hizbu'llah insofar as the of the community's mobilization along religious lines was anchored in the decades of political participation that preceded it. As such, Hizbu'llah's genesis can be attributed to a unique composite of both indirect factors (such as modernization and political marginalization) and direct ones (such as foreign intervention and external assistance).Social mobilization and economic development are two aspects of modernization that are conducive to political mobilization. In line with this premiss of social-movement theory, the political mobilization of the Lebanese Shi'ite community was in large part the product of the discrepancy in pace between the Western-inspired model of economic development pursued by the Lebanese state and the social mobilization it engendered. The ensuing radicalization of the Shi'ites was exacerbated by the low level of political institutionalization characterizing the Lebanese political system, with particular reference to the Maronites' hegemony over it.Though these catalysts were essential for the political awakening of the community, Hizbu'llah's birth was directly attributable to the Israeli invasion of 1982 and the Iranian revolutionary paradigm. Moreover, the movement's military capability and organizational development owed itself to the political, financial, and logistical support provided by Iran with Syria's approval.
Journal of Islamic Studies – Oxford University Press
Published: Sep 1, 2003
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