Hujjat al-Islam Syed Hasan Nasrullah
A French magazine interviewed the Secretary General of Hizbullah His Eminence, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah(HA) in November 1997 and the interview appeared on the 28th of November 1997. This is a translation from the French script:
Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah(HA), describing his life is an event that is extremely rare and could be argued as a precedent. Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah(HA) recalls his biography.
This was the first time during which Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah (the Secretary General of Hizbullah) agrees to talk about his life, expressing his satisfaction of not being totally bounded by his party, its thoughts, motivations, struggle, and politics. This is a speech that he addressed to the audience.
Charismatic is this man who has a soul made of steel. He adapts easily to any continuous threat, which would strain the nerves of any ordinary citizen, any anytime, and he is aware of this. “Israel,” if it sees it is necessary, may seek his termination along with his family, wife, and children, through shelling his residence or strike him with rockets on a countryside road, likewise his precedent Sayyed Abbas al Musawi(A).
With high spirits, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah(HA) dealt with the martyrdom of his eldest son Sayyed Hadi(A), who was martyred during a clash with "Israelis,” as a father who was happy for the martyrdom of his son, for obtaining the blessing of the martyrdom that opens the gates of the garden for a believer.
This we have seen clearly on the TV screens. Sayyed Hassan(HA) wanted to receive congratulations and not condolences, and he did not issue any particular statement concerning the funeral.
This is another attitude – according to close relations – without any allegations. The man’s belief is very strong where he received the news of his son’s death without any complaints, as if it was a general affair.
Sayyed Hadi(A) who fought a short while ago in the lines of the Islamic Resistance was subjected to such issue. His father thinks it’s a great honor, concerning humane level, for his son to fall in the field of honor while facing the enemy. However, he in particular is happy for Sayyed Hadi(A) attaining the blessing of martyrdom, but let us avoid confusions, he misses the boy “otherwise why should someone be a father”. He has visions of seeing him and the regrets of a father’s affection. However, he deepens into his belief hoping they will meet someday at the great and almighty, and due to his blessing.
He continuously resides in the shade of the "Israeli" threat that regards him as a target, exactly like the occupation of which the country is suffering, and against which Hizbullah is fighting. Therefore, anything related to the character of the Secretary General embodies an exceptional symbol within the party.
Truly overwhelmed by the picture of Imam Mousa al Sadr:
His father Abdul Karim used to sell fruit and vegetable with the help of his brothers. With a slight improvement of their circumstances, the father was able to start a small grocery shop in the neighborhood. Hassan used to visit the shop frequently in order to help, and the picture of Imam Mousa al Sador was hanging on one of the walls. The little child would sit in front of the picture and stare at it, and as he remembers, he used to drown into endless dreams. Each time he stared at the picture his adornment and attachment to Imam increased, and he hoped he could be like him someday.
Hassan did not look like the other boys of the neighborhood. Those boys played football, went to sea for swimming, whereas he went to the mosque frequently in Sin el-Feel area, Bourj Hammoud, or Nabaa, due to the lack of a mosque in Karanteena.
It was an unseen religious call the predicted nothing, as he had no relation with any of the clerics, and his family was not uniquely religious. However, Hassan, the young boy, was attached to religion, where simple practices such as praying and fasting were insufficient for him, and he would go further. His surroundings that were extensively mixed in Karanteena did not snag him, rather he would keep himself in isolation, and he was utterly attached to his inner life and knowledge, with a background fed with the picture of Imam Sadr.
At the age of nine, Hassan went down – as familiar – to Burouj, the old martyrs’ square, known as city center, in order to by second hand books, which were displayed at the roadsides or carried on wandering carriages.
He used to read anything that would fall into his hands concerning Islam. When he encountered difficulty understanding any book, he would place it aside to read it later when he grows up.
He terminated his elementary education in “Najah” School, and he was one of the last groups who obtained the “Certificate” (its public examination was canceled in 1970). After that he continued his study in the public school of Sin el-Feel. The war that ignited in 1975 forced the family to leave Karanteena and return to village, where Hassan Nasrallah terminated his secondary education at the public school of Sour.
When he lived in Karanteena, neither he, nor any member of his family belonged to any party, despite of the existence of many organizations – some of which are Palestinian – in that region. However, after he returned to his village “Bazouriya”, he joined the lines of Amal Movement, and it was a natural choice for him since he was affectionately attached to Imam Mousa al Sadr. At that time he was 15-year-old, and Amal was known by the name of “the movement of the deprived.” However, his choice was a bit flashy, in a village that was controlled by Socialism, Marxism, and in particular the Lebanese Communist Party.
Anyhow, his brother Hussein and he became members of Amal Base, where he punctually became the representative in his village despite his young age. During those times, and within a few months, he decided to travel to Najaf Ashraf in Iraq, the sacred place of Shiites, in order to study Quraanic divine sciences. At that time he was below the age of sixteen, and he lacked the methods. In the mosque of Sour, he met a cleric who was sayyed Muhammad al Gharawi, who used to teach in the name of imam Mousa al Sador, and Hassan spoke to him about his wish to go to Hawza (Islamic Seminary) in Najaf, the village and Shiite religious school, wherein students chose their teachers, and lived a communal life. Al Gharawi, who had a relation of friendship with great master Sayyed Muhammad Baqir al Sadr in Iraq, sent with “Hassan” a letter of recommendation to the latter.
Therefore, the young man gathered some things, some money, along with the help of his father and friends, and flew to Baghdad, then traveled by bus to Najaf. When he reached he had no money left with him, not even one penny. However, there is always – as he said – a supportive helping hand. What is more important is that he could bear the life of modesty. His food was bread and water, and his bed was a simple mattress of sponge.
As he arrived, he met some Lebanese people and asked them about the possibility of delivering a letter of recommendation to Ayatullah Sayyed Muhammad Baqir al Sadr, who was one of the Hawza magnates, and they replied saying that Sayyed Abbass al Musawi is capable of doing so. At the first instance, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah thought that al-Musawi, dark colored, was an Iraqi, and therefore he spoke to him in classical Arabic, and he replied saying: “don’t bother yourself, I am Lebanese, and I come from Nabi Sheeth in Biqaa." This was the beginning of a strong relationship.
Sayyed Abbas Al-Musawi became to Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah “a friend, brother, teacher, and companion,” and he lost him sixteen years later at the time of the "Israeli" aggression that resulted in the death of the former Secretary General of Hizbullah. According to the request of Sayyed Muhammad Baqir al Sadr, Al-Musawi was appointed to the custody and teaching of the new arrival. After receiving him and reading the letter of recommendation from Sayyed Muhammad al Gharawi, the Iraqi religious pioneer asked him: “doe you have any money?” And he replied: “not even one penny.” Then Sayyed Muhammad Baqir al Sadr turned to Sayyed Abbas al-Musawi and told him: “provide him with a room, be his teacher, and take care of him.” After which he gave Nasrallah some money to buy clothes and books, in addition to a monthly outlay.
Al-Musawi gave attention to the mission assigned to him, he found him a room nearby his residence in Hawza, where Sayyed Abbas was married, and married people were the only persons entitled to a residence, whereas singles are entitled to one room, which may be shared with other people. Each student was entitled to simple aids, which did not exceed five Iraqi Dinars per month, granted by the accredited magnate clerics such as Imam al Khouei, or Imam Muhammad Baqir al Sadr. The sponsorship of a student by a young man is not out of the ordinary inside Hawza, because it implemented a very distinguished system.
After that, intermediate stage known as “surface stage” was commenced, and later came the final higher stage known as “the outside research”, because it required a research into the opinions of the master clerics without referring to some definite and accredited books. As it is to some western academies, the student who receives a degree can in his turn pass his acquired knowledge to those who are younger than him. Therefore, Abbas al Musawi who finished his preparatory stage and commenced with the intermediate stage was able to receive a class including beginners, which included Nasrallah.
Al-Musawi was serious and firm. Due to his firm teaching, his students were able to finish five years of education in the Hawza within only two years. In fact, they used to learn fast, and deprive themselves from the holidays of Ramadan and Haj, and even the weekends (Thursdays and Fridays). They would study without any interruption or halt.
In 1978, Hassan Nasrallah terminated his first stage successfully. First of all, he wanted to make sure that he would not loose the master who became a friend. However, on the same year, the Iraqi Regime began a strangling process against the religious students, and it deported a group of them with various nationalities. Above all, Baghdad seemed apprehensive to the Lebanese students, because not all of them came from the familiar and traditional religious environments, this is because the sons of the clerics were the ones who would arrive to the Quraanic schools, only in the middle of the seventies, it encountered the arrival of young educated men who did not belong to religious families. Since the war started in Lebanon, the Lebanese men were used as a scapegoat, and therefore they would be accused of belonging to Amal Movement on time, and another to “al Da’awa Party” or “Syrian Baath.” The matter would reach to the extent where they would be accused of being employed by the Syrian intelligence.
Therefore, in 1978 some Lebanese students (detained for several months) were deported from Iraq, likewise other foreign students, by the authorities.
Pursued by the men of Saddam, returned to Lebanon:
At one time, the men of Saddam broke into Hawza, a time during which Sayyed Abbass al Musawi was in Lebanon, and the soldiers found his family only. Therefore, his students informed him that he should consider avoiding any attempt of returning to Iraq, since he was wanted. Within a short period, the young men were also deported. When luck smiled at Hassan Nasrallah, the raid of the police that targeted Hawza coincided with his absence as he was outside the domain of Hawza. When he returned he was informed about the detainment of his peers, and therefore he departed Najaf immediately, and the order of his arrestment was not circulated yet in other areas, and his name was not listed at the border, and therefore he was able to return to Lebanon quietly, but before anything else, he had a desire to finish his religious education.
His wish was fulfilled when al Musawi started a school with a group of tutors from the religious school of Baalbeck, and which still operates until now. Nasrallah used to study and teach at the same time. After that he returned to his activities with the lines of Amal, which elected him as its political delegate in Biqaa in 1982. With this title, he became a member of the central political office. At the same year he finished his second stage, meaning the intermediate stage. In 1982, the great "Israeli" invasion took place, and that year changed into an initial U turn within the existence of Hassan Nasrallah as well as his colleagues.
Due to the "Israeli" occupation of Beirut, the “National Salvation Front” was formed, in which president Nabih Birri had a desire to share a part. However, the religious extremists of the movement objected the issue, and conflict arose, and the group of the religious people dissented from the movement. This was an acceptable issue since there were many arguments earlier, which made them, take a stand against Mr. Birri because of the argument about interpreting the guidance left behind by Imam Mousa al Sadr.
However, at that time these events did not seem highly risky to execute the dissension. But when the believing young men saw that the head of the movement Birri wanted to join the National Frontier for Salvation, headed by Elias Sarkees, along with Walid Junblat, Rasheed Karami, and Bashir Jumaeil, they considered the issue as a dangerous deflection. They in fact saw that the frontier aimed particularly at delivering Bashir Jumaeil the presidency of the republic, an issue they utterly rejected; because they believed that the president of the “Lebanese Forces” represented a symbol of normalization with the "Israeli" enemy, and making a truce was unacceptable, and so was shaking the hand of the enemy.
Due to these reasons, they abandoned “Amal” in order to establish “Hizbullah” with other members outside the movement. There, the old activists conducted communications with the cadres of the active cultural and charitable organizations in the neighborhoods in general, and at the congregations inside the mosques. Some of the members came from “Islamic al Da’awa Party”, and this secret organization dismissed itself before the formation of “Hizbullah”, which was joined by other independent religious ranks, and its slogan was “resisting "Israeli" occupation.”
The eye catching issue was that when Hassan Nasrallah abandoned “Amal” his brother “Hussein” did not follow him, and he until this moment belongs to the movement, and sometime in the past he took the responsibility of Shiyah Sector. However, it seemed that health problems forced him to leave this responsibility. Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah is the eldest son of the family of nine boys and girls, where Hussein comes second, then Zeinab (Married), then Fatima who lives with her parents, then Muhammad who practices a different occupation, and Jaafar who is an official employee, and the rest are Zakia, Ameena, and Suad, the three are married.
Initially the family was not very religious, as we indicated earlier, but as time went by the situation improved, Sayyed Hassan said.
All girls are activists in Hizbullah. With respect to the boys, they were all members of Amal in the beginning, but now Hussein is the only one that is left. Muhammad does not practice any politics, but he respects Hizbullah without being one of its members. On the other hand, Jaafar, as Hassan Nasrallah revealed, is unaware of his present trends, because he did not arrange any discussion with him recently.
With respect to the young men who believed in Imam Mousa al Sadr, to them he was not the establisher of “Amal” only, rather he, in addition, was somehow the establisher of Hizbullah as well. He was everyone’s guide, and they all regarded him as their father. However, after his disappearance, differences revealed while applying the methods of his teachings.
Hizbullah is developing today, because it is willing to accompany the modern age, especially on the Shiite level.
As always, according to Nasrallah: one must not think that one man, regardless of his sacredness, can monopolize thought, religious knowledge, and political awareness.
The members of Hizbullah believe that the greatest personality of this century without any match is Imam Khomeini. After his death, they started searching for another alive spiritual resource. It was natural to pledge their allegiance to the elected guide and successor of Imam Khomeini, Imam Khamenei. To them, the opinions, thoughts, and views of the past religious resources still hold great values.
When Hizbullah saw the light, Hassan Nasrallah (22-year-old) was not a member of the leadership called “Consultative Council,” He was promoted within the party, and he himself created many jobs. He was a participant in a group that calls up resistants, and then he took the responsibility of Baalbeck sector, and at last al Biqaa sector.
Sometimes he used to head for Beirut with Sayyed Abraham Ameen Sayyed, who was assigned as responsible for Beirut area, and Nasrallah was his deputy. After a short period, the party decided to separate the political jobs from the organizing formations on ground, Sayyed Abraham chose the political road, and therefore Nasrallah took his position in Beirut Area. After that a position for general executive official was created, which was assigned to apply the decisions of the “Consultative Council”, and Nasrallah occupied it.
His best wish is becoming a student again:
Despite his commitment to the party, which takes most of his time, Sayyed Hassan is still insisting on continuing his religious education to become a religious jurisprudent. This is the highest grade where a cleric can depend on his special abilities of knowledge and thoughts to analyze the scripts, and create the religious rules without referring to other religious resources. These clerics are the selective group, which is considered as a spiritual entity within the “Hawza.” After the "Israeli" invasion Nasrallah was forced to utterly cease his study in order to dedicate his self, body and soul, for the party and the resistance. But after 7 years, in 1989, he decided he was able to resume his education. Given the green light from the party, he headed for Qum, the sacred Iranian city, in order to continue his studies, which he started in Najaf. Many rumors took place due to his leave, where it was said that Nasrallah had arguments with other cadres in Hizbullah.
With the continuation of the arguments between Hizbullah and “Amal Movement,” which changed into a military confrontation in Iqleem el-Tuffah area, Nasrallah decided it was his obligation to return, and the party requested it as well.
Therefore, he again lost his chance in continuing his religious education, and today he still confirms that there is no better wish for him than finding someone inside the party, who would replace and relief him from the responsibility of the “Secretary General” position, in order to become a student again.
He received the leadership of the party and the position of the Secretary General after "Israelis" assassinated Sayyed Abbass Musawi.
In the past, while he lived in Qum, his assistant Sheikh Naeim Qassim occupied the executive responsibility assigned to him from the Higher Council. After his return, Nasrallah maintained his membership in the leadership, only without any defined responsibility. When his guide Sayyed Abbass Musawi was elected later as Secretary General, he assigned Qassim as his deputy, and Nasrallah restored his actual assignments.
In 1992, “Israel” directed a harsh strike to Hizbullah when it assassinated Sayyed Musawi. Nasrallah, his student, and friend, cried for him, and so did the Consultative Council that held a meeting to elect a successor. Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah was chosen despite the fact he wasn’t the deputy Secretary General, and despite his young age if compared with other members of the leadership. However, sentimental considerations reigned, and as a form of expressing respects towards Musawi, to whom Nasrallah was the closest person, it was said within the party: “Abbas and Hassan or two sides for one coin, they are the same thing.” Furthermore, the executive official, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, had broad relations with the base, and he had the ability to consolidate the union of the party after the harsh strike it received.
In addition, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah was the best candidate to invest his friend’s testimony sentimentally for the sake of the cause and the party on a public level.
He said, on the day he was elected inside the Consultative Council he encountered great confusion because he was the youngest, and also he did not have any crucial interception regarding the foreign affairs aspect since his mission was only of an internal organizational description. “However, they insisted.” After his first rejection, his election was confirmed by the “wise men” via a second vote.
The word “Sayyed” is a popular epithet used in Northern Africa to indicate that the person called by this epithet descends from the prophet’s progeny via his father or mother, or if he descends from the children of Hashim. This address separates between those who belong to this progeny and other religious clerics who are addressed by the epithet “Sheikh.” Al Sada (plural for Sayyed), are clerics who wear a black turban as a distinctive sign, and this costume does not express any religious rank.
Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah is a father with a family since 1978. He is married to Fatima Yassin (35-year-old) who comes from “Al Abbasiyee village” (district of Sour). They have three children remained after the martyrdom of the elder son Hadi, who at the age of only 18 was killed, during a fire engagement with the enemy last September. These children are: Muhammad al Jawad (17-year-old), Zeinab (12-year-old), and Muhammad Ali (7-year-old), who celebrated his birthday on November 22, he asked for “Gateau” and they brought it for him. “The school pampered him,” the father said smiling before adding, “it is not bad, it is good for a child to celebrate his birthday.”
After the “memoirs of Sharon” he will read the book of “Netanyahu”:
When Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah returns home, he leaves his burdens at the “doorstep,” in order to become a caring husband and father, but also a man who lives his private life and faith.
He reads enormously, especially the memoirs of the political personalities. He has been reading the “memoirs of Sharon” for sometime, and intends to read Netanyahu’s book soon “A Place Under the Sun.” This indicates that he considers the importance of knowing the enemy very well.
Concerning him, the party is not a resistance only. Nowadays, it carries a general political thought that naturally depends on Islam: “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.” However,Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah added – to be sincere and logic with himself – he cannot deny that Hizbullah has an ambition concerning ideological and theological level to build “an Islamic republic” someday. This is because the party believes that the Islamic state represents the solution for the society, even though the country included multi-social ethnics. However, he clarifies the matter punctually saying it is not our proposal to impose an Islamic republic by force, adding, giving people a chance to decide does not concern only the 51%, rather it must concern almost everyone, such as 90% of the votes. And therefore, establishing an Islamic republic is not proposed at this time.
With respect to Hassan Nasrallah, and according to Islam belief, there are two worlds. Death is nothing but a gate that separates the two worlds. Some will cross it while suffering, whereas others will cross it easily. Martyrdom is the highest example of form to cross into the other world, because it is a different sacrifice. When man dies as a martyr, it would be as if he enters heaven carrying with him one of the most precious gifts, and this is the reason for receiving him differently. Anyhow, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah gives a note saying that even other nations who do not believe in God hold a special respect for those who give their lives for their people or the cause they serve.
He also clarifies that he, today as any father, misses his elder son Hadi, and that he feeds his courage on his absolute conception that the young man is within the most purified goodness of the almighty.
The father indicates that before the martyrdom of Hadi, his picture was hanging in his house only, and now it hangs in each house, “there are many.” And Hassan Nasrallah seems happy to the way in which the life of his elder son ended. He concludes this point clarifying that he lost a dear human being, but he knows that they will meet someday.
With respect to the “charisma” with which they described him he said: naturally he is not in a position to give his opinion, and the judgment is that of others. He clarified that the charisma in general, of the character which one can use to influence others is a divine gift, and can be developed via education and experience. However, education and experience cannot make a person charismatic since this is a talent, Hassan Nasrallah naturally does not seem to lack this magic, and definitely he has high capabilities of the mind.
Perhaps he will return someday to take a seat inside the Quraanic School to become a religious jurisprudent, learning the rules. But until that moment comes, he resides within politics more than religion, in addition to fighting for liberation, and he tries to energize the party. Some might say: “give him democracy” or develop him. However, these meanings do not carry in this case its ordinary indications concerning western inspiration, because Hizbullah remains Islamic, this is its nature, it will remain a resistance, and this is its obligation.