Venues for Integration: Religion and Education

  • Tamara Chalabi


Shi’i religious leadership lacked the institutional structure that existed for the Maronite community and to a lesser degree for the Sunni community. However, one can argue that the ’Amilis did exert pressure during the Mandate period to seek religious equality that led to the development of institutions, initially the Ja‘fari Court. The success of this can be viewed through a trajectory that began with the official recognition of the sect in 1926 and led in 1961 to the creation of the Higher Islamic Shi’i Council (al-Majlis-al-Islami al- Shi‘i al-A’la). The latter was achieved predominantly through the efforts of Sayyid Musa al-Sadr, who clearly understood the nature of Lebanese communitarianism. This trajectory includes the institutionalization of religious posts (judges, muftis, teachers), making Sunni and Shi‘i religious officials’ salaries equal, as well as the establishment of Shi’i funded schools such as al-Ja‘fariyya in Tyre. The establishment of this Council marks the concluding phase of official Shi’i communitarian integration modeled on the Maronite Church. The progression was made from a purely community-based religious title to sectarian religious leaders.


Religious Leadership Muslim Community High Commissioner Funded School French Authority 
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  1. 4.
    Cf. Ali al-Wardi, Lamhat Ijtima‘iyya min Tarikh al-’Iraq al-Hadith (Baghdad, 1969); as well as the work of Luizard, La formation de l’Irak contemporain, which provides a detailed and discerning analysis on the nature of Shi‘ism in Iraq and its role in that state. 5. Jabir Al Safa, Tarikh; Muhammad Kurani, al-Judhur al-Tarikhiyya lilmuqawama al-Islamiyya fi Jabal’Amil (Beirut, 1993); Jihad Bannut, Harakat al-Nidal Fi Jabal Amil (Beirut, 1993); Hasan al-Amin, Sarab al-Istiqlal fi Bilad al-Sham 1918–1920 (Beirut, 1998).Google Scholar
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© Tamara Chalabi 2006

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  • Tamara Chalabi

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