Prominent Lebanese moderate Shiite scholar dies of coronavirus complications

An author with several publications to his credit, Sayyed Al Amin was a supporter of religious dialogue

Sayyed Mohammad Hassan Al Amin. Wikimedia Commons
Sayyed Mohammad Hassan Al Amin. Wikimedia Commons

Prominent Muslim scholar Sayyed Mohammad Hassan Al Amin, widely known for his moderate positions and criticism of Hezbollah’s hegemony on the Shiite scene in Lebanon, has died of Covid-19 complications. He was 75.

An author with several publications on Islamic law, secularism and women’s role in Islam, Sayyed Al Amin was a fervent supporter of religious dialogue and cultural rapprochement and a vocal critic of the Iran-backed armed Lebanese group Hezbollah.

In 2005, he played a prominent role in founding the Lebanese Shiite Gathering, which brought together independent Shiite scholars and personalities in the wake of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Though the Shiite Gathering failed to gain political momentum in the years that followed, Sayyed Al Amin continued to criticice Hezbollah’s policies and later the party’s involvement alongside Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces in quelling Syrian opposition groups.

In recent years, Sayyed Al Amin repeatedly called on Shiites of the Arab world to uphold their national identity and to distance themselves from regional political conflicts.

Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, the son of the slain premier, described the death of Sayyed Al Amin as a great loss for the Lebanese people.

“With the departure of scholar Sayyed Mohammad Hassan Al Amin, we lost an enlightened mind who devoted his life to the unity of Muslims and the wellbeing of the Lebanese,” Mr Hariri said on Twitter.

Sayyed Al Amin had been admitted to a hospital in the southern coastal city of Sidon where he was being treated over the past three weeks before succumbing to complications arising from Covid-19.

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Born in 1946, the Shiite cleric left the country in the early 60s to study at Najaf’s School of Theology in Iraq, one of the most important seminaries for Shiite clerics, before returning to Lebanon in the 1970s.

Upon his return, he was appointed as a Jaafari judge in Tyre and later in Sidon where he presided over the Jaafari court until 1977.

Sayyed Ali Al Amin, a Lebanese Muslim scholar and former Tyre Jaafari mufti, also known for his moderate views and a member of the Muslim Council of Elders, described Sayyed Al Amin as a pioneer scholar in a Facebook eulogy of his cousin.

Mohammed Ali Mokalled, a moderate Shiite activist and writer, lamented the loss of such a unifying figure during the current times of crises.

“He was an example for courage in the face of tyranny practised by the militias and forces who in reality control the region [south Lebanon]. He was also a personality that attracted all the enlightened clerics who called for a civil and secular state,” Mr Mokalled told The National.

Imam Sheikh Abdul Amir Qabalan, head of the Supreme Islamic Shiite Council, also extended his condolences.

“Scholar Al Amin was a man of knowledge and thought and a proponent of dialogue and openness … who was committed to addressing the issues and concerns of the nation, particularly the Palestinian cause,” Sheikh Qabalan said.

Sidon MP Osama Saad praised the scholar’s journey, describing him as a moderate intellectual who was committed to the Palestinian cause.

Updated: April 12, 2021 10:22 AM

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