Thanks to western propaganda, the Hizbullah are often projected as masked men bradishing submachine guns, not unlike those in the movie, Man in Black. Few people are aware of the Hizbullah’s broad range of activities including social and cultural. The other side of the Hizbullah coin demonstrates the holistic nature of the religion (deen) of Islam.
The Lebanon-based group Hizbullah - meaning ‘Party of Allah’ - follow the Qur’anic verse, ‘Let there arise from amongst you a band of people who enforce the common good and forbid evil.’ (Surah Ale-Imran , ayat 104), as the fundamental pillar of their constitution. The name Hizbullah itself is a Qur’anic term which is used for the true believers in order to distinguish them from Hizbu-Shaitan, the Party of the Shaitan (Satan).
‘To enforce the common good’ embodies the mobilisation of forces to create conditions for the benefit of entire society. ‘To forbid evil or wrongdoing’ would entail eradicating all forms of oppression. This also includes exploitation, illegal usurpation of land and honour as well as the trampling of widows and orphans’ rights. The recent victories achieved by the Hizbullah against the zionist occupiers in South Lebanon once again highlight their self-sacrificing spirit and glorious record.
Other evils must also be prevented in society by ensuring that basic physical needs are fulfilled. Sometimes the only means of protecting land and honour is by taking up arms. This , too, is permitted by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
Hizbullah, as a revolutionary organisation, emerged after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in June 1982. They were from the camps in the southern suburbs of Beirut, housing predominantly the Shia refugee population from South Lebanon. This area was known as ‘The Belt of Misery.’ There was immense poverty there. The population lived in makeshift homes with no electricity or regular water supply. The government of Lebanon was too engrossed in the pursuit of naked power to concern itself with the refugee problem.
Unlike the Christian, Druze and Sunni populations, the Shi’ites did not have anyone to reflect their grievances. Due to the indifference of the Lebanese government, Hizbullah took it upon itself to address the situation. This explains why the organisation is so successful.
During the early history of the Ikhwan al-Muslimoon in Egypt (1928-1966), they also carried out social welfare programs. The Ikhwan functioned under the leadership of Imam Hasan al Banna. Following Syed Qutb’s execution in August 1966 by the Nasser regime and with many of its leaders either killed or exiled, the Ikhwan splintered into several factions. Lack of leadership left the organisation in tatters and much of its social work was seriously undermined.
All these groups shared the same Islamic vision which is founded on the premise that Islam is a way of life i.e. it is a comprehensive system embracing all aspects of an individual’s life; be it religion, social welfare, politics or economics.
Initially, the Hizbullah set about to create an organised network of social and welfare programs. It is also assisted by the general population, who pay their zakat (process of wealth purification) and khums (tax on net income). This is given to the Marja-e Taqlid (a religious leader) who then forwards it to the Hizbullah. This network comprises a construction company, health, and relief committees. The latter is a social welfare operation that now has eight branches. The Relief Committee aims to enable families to reach a level of self-sufficiency.
This committee carries out charitable, humanitarian and social works as well as business ventures, health and educational programs for the masses and subsequently eradicating poverty and sickness. It is licensed to construct clinics, hospitals, schools, institutions for higher learning, research institutes, orphanages and centres for the physically disabled. It provides bursaries for school and university.
Young couples are given financial aid to pursue a business, while others are taught a trade in handicraft, agriculture or some technical field. There is an elaborate procedure to ensure that the truly deserving receive the aid. Those who are poor, needy, orphaned, widowed, sick, divorced or handicapped, all benefit from this service. Hizbullah members personally visit the families concerned to hand over to them their monthly payments. The organisation also provides food, household supplies and clothing.
At the height of the civil war, when the Lebanese government failed to provide any assistance to its civilian population, the Hizbullah managed to provide water to thousands of families. Between 1990-1994 more than 20 million litres of water was delivered to the suburbs of Beirut at a cost of US$960,000. The Hizbullah have also been actively involved in digging wells, repairing sewers, collecting garbage, building power stations and laying electricity cables.
Lebanon does not have a national health service and there are few government hospitals. Medical aid in Lebanon is only for the very wealthy. Hizbullah’s Health Committee has opened more than 40 health centres and clinics in and around Beirut. In the village of Jebaa, in South Lebanon, a major health centre was opened in 1987. This was to provide medical assistance to the villagers who were under constant attack from Israeli occupation forces.These clinics also dispense free medication. Some of these centres and clinics are better equipped than most private hospitals in the country.
Hizbullah has refuted allegations that its humanitarian assistance is only given to the Shias. Their services are available to the entire local population, regardless of religious denomination or even religion. They follow the Qur’anic injunction, ‘There is no compulsion in deen’ (Al-Qur’an 2: 256).
The zionists mistakenly assumed that by causing economic disruption, the civilian population would turn against the Hizbullah. In fact, in July 1993, then Israeli prime minister Yizhak Rabin admitted that the bombing of Lebanese villages was part of a plan to force the Lebanese government and civilians to disrupt Hizbullah operations. This was a clear case of zionist State terrorism. Although many Hizbullah leaders were martyred by the zionists, others have taken over. Their perseverance in the face of adversity as well as the consistency of their services have actually caused their numbers to swell.
The Hizbullah have never denied their primary aim as a resistance group. They have consistently resisted zionist expansion into South Lebanon. Armed only with light weapons but with far superior iman, the Hizbullah have put the zionists to flight. After the Hizbullah attack their army posts, the zionists resort to indiscriminate shelling of defenseless Lebanese villages, killing innocent civilians.
The Hizbullah have placed the zionist occupiers in a quandary. Many soldiers refuse to serve where they may come face to face with the Hizbullah, and also in the Ghazzah Strip, where Palestinian women and children armed with nothing but stones attack them.
Now that the zionists have been thoroughly defeated and demoralised by the Hizbullah, they have decided to flee from South Lebanon but are seeking a face-saving formula (see Muslimedia International December 16-31, 1998 - Zionists mull over Lebanon quagmire). This, however, is unlikely to be provided to them. They deserve no mercy with so much innocent blood on their hands.
Muslimedia: January 1-15, 1999