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Sayed Hassan Nasrullah

24 Apr 2008 - 7:12

Hassan Nasrullah (b. August 30, 1960, Bourj Hammoud Beirut, Lebanon) is the current Secretary General of the Lebanese Islamist party Hezbollah. He is also a Shi'a cleric.      Personal life   Hassan Nasrullah was born the ninth of ten children in East Beirut's Bourj Hammoud neighborhood on August 31, 1960. His father, Abdul Karim, was a vegetable vendor in a small village near the city of Tyre in Jabal Amel in South Lebanon. Although his family was not particularly religious, Nasrullah was interested in religious studies. He attended Al-Najah school and later a public school in Sin el-Fil, Beirut.   In 1975, the civil war in Lebanon forced the family to move to their ancestral home in Bassouriyeh, where Hasan Nasrallah completed his secondary education at the public school of Sour (Tyre).   Nasrullah studied at a theological college in the Beqaa Valley town of Baalbek. The school followed the teachings of Iraqi-born Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Sadr. After a period of Islamic study in Najaf, Nasrallah returned to Lebanon in 1978 when Iraq expelled hundreds of Lebanese religious students. He studied and taught at the school of Amal’s leader Abbas al-Musawi, later being selected as Amal's political delegate in Beqaa, and making him a member of the central political office.   Nasrullah joined Hezbollah after the Israeli invasion in 1982. His fiery sermons drew the admiration of Shiite followers who joined Nasrallah in organizing Hezbollah. In 1987, Nasrullah traveled to a seminary in Qum, Iran for religious studies. He returned to the war in Lebanon in 1989 and later that year, went back to Iran to represent Hezbollah.   In 1991, Musawi became secretary general of Hezbollah and Nasrallah returned to Lebanon. Nasrallah replaced Musawi as Hezbollah's leader after the latter was killed with his wife and child by Israeli forces. Nasrallah lived in South Beirut with his wife Fatimah Yasin and five children: Muhammad Haadi (d. 1997), Muhammad Jawaad, Zainab, Muhammad Ali and Muhammad Mahdi. In September 1997, his eldest son Muhammad Haadi was killed by Israeli forces in Jabal al-Rafei in southern Lebanon.   In the mid-1970s he moved to a Shiite Hawzah (Islamic Seminary) in the Iraqi city of Najaf to study the Qur'an, completing the first stage of his studies in 1978 before being forced to leave by the Iraqi authorities. Despite his ongoing commitment to Hezbollah, in 1989 Nasrullah resumed his efforts to become a religious jurist by moving to the Iranian city of Qom to further his studies. Nasrullah believes that Islam holds the solution to the problems of any society, once saying, “With respect to us, briefly, Islam is not a simple religion including only praises and prayers, rather it is a divine message that was designed for humanity, and it can answer any question man might ask concerning his general and private life. Islam is a religion designed for a society that can revolt and build a state.”     Leadership of Hezbollah   Nasrullah became the leader of Hezbollah after Israel assassinated the movement’s leader Abbas al-Musawi in 1992.Hezbollah's military campaigns of the late 1990s were believed to be one of the main factors that led to the Israeli decision to withdraw from Southern Lebanon in 2000, thus ending 18 years of occupation.   Consequently, Nasrallah is widely credited in Lebanon and the Arab world for ending the Israeli occupation in Southern Lebanon, something which has greatly bolstered the party's political standing within Lebanon.   Nasrullah also played a major role in a complex prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hezbollah in 2004, resulting in hundreds of Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners being freed and the dead body of his son with many more returning to Lebanon. The agreement was described across the Arab world as a great victory for Hezbollah with Nasrullah being personally praised for achieving these gains.      

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