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From Tyre to Tehran: Transnational Links Amongst Lebanese Shi‘a Clerical Families

From: Journal of Shi'a Islamic Studies
Volume 6, Number 3, Summer 2013
pp. 307-322 | 10.1353/isl.2013.0028



The contemporary Western view of Lebanese Shi‘a transnational links generally focuses on the political relationship between Hizbullah and Iran. However, while Lebanon and Iran have historical links, Lebanese Shi‘a transnational links are not limited to Iran. In particular, the relationship between Lebanese and Iraqi Shi‘a has been of great significance amongst the elite clerical families; however, this link has been little examined. Due to the extended periods of time spent by Lebanese in Iraq to acquire the knowledge necessary to return to Lebanon and teach the religious sciences, Lebanese religious students sometimes married into the families of their Iraqi teachers, or members of other Lebanese clerical families in Iraq, and on occasion became representatives for their Najafi mentors. Some members of these extended Lebanese families never returned to their country of origin and remained in Iraq, or in at least one notable case moved to Iran. These links have proved resilient over time, but the opaque nature of these interpersonal connections has disguised the depth of the ties that some traditional Lebanese Shi‘a families retain with Iraq.

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