Shams al-Din and Sectarianism in Lebanon

  • Farah W. Kawtharani
Part of the Middle East Today book series (MIET)


This chapter examines a number of narratives in the historiography surrounding the historical genesis of Lebanese sectarianism, its repercussions on the viability of the state, and impact on national integration and citizenship. This discussion provides the background to Shams al-Din’s critical approach to the question of sectarianism in Lebanon and its development in the midst of the Lebanese civil war between 1975 and 1991. The chapter also discusses the Lebanese sectarian system from the perspectives of Shams al-Din and Musa al-Sadr as leaders of the Islamic Shi‘i Supreme Council, ISSC. As both were concerned about the place of the Shi’a within the sectarian system and their relationship to the state, they advanced reform plans in what came to be known as the ISSC papers. The goal of these proposals was to achieve more equality within the system and more integration for the Shi‘a within the nation-state. The chapter compares their concerns, reform visions, and collaboration with state officials and leaders of other confessional groups. The chapter also discusses the political circumstances that gave rise to Shams al-Din’s political thesis for the Lebanese system, “Consultative Majority-Based Democracy,” as a substitute for the sectarian system. It moves to explain his acceptance of the Ṭā’if Agreement, which put an end to the civil war and introduced constitutional reforms.

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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Farah W. Kawtharani
    • 1
  1. 1.McGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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