The Shi’a in Lebanese History
The cornerstone of Lebanese Shi’a historiography is the image of a community which has been Arab since time immemorial and whose Shi’ism is said to have been initiated by Abu Dharr al-Ghifari, the famous companion of the Prophet Muhammad. Lebanese Shi’a society, in particular, suffered more than its Sunni counterpart for its physical insularity, its legal invisibility, and the exclusion of the community from participation in the theater of European power politics of the nineteenth century. The Shi’a attitude toward the Arab nationalist government, the French mandate, and the state of Greater Lebanon, and even toward the Lebanese Republic during its formative years, reflected a specific orientation. The growth in the size of the ‘Alid community and, consequently, in the number of rival ‘Alid claimants to the mantle of the Prophet, deeply divided them and their followers.