The Shifts in Hizbullah's Ideology: Religious Ideology, Political Ideology, and Political Program (Amsterdam University Press - ISIM Dissertations)

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9789053569108: The Shifts in Hizbullah's Ideology: Religious Ideology, Political Ideology, and Political Program (Amsterdam University Press - ISIM Dissertations)


As the recent war in Lebanon demonstrated, an understanding of the Lebanese Shi‘ite militant group Hizbullah remains an important component of any attempt to solve the problems of the Middle East. The Shifts in Hizbullah’s Ideology provides an in-depth analysis of the group’s motivations, tracking the changes it has undergone since Hizbullah’s founding by Lebanese Shi‘ite clergy in 1978. Joseph Alagha demonstrates that Hizbullah, driven at its founding chiefly by religious concerns, in the latter half of the 1980s became a full-fledged social movement, with a structure and ideology aimed at social change. Further changes in the 1990s led to Hizbullah’s becoming a mainstream political party—but without surrendering its militarism or willingness to use violence to advance its ends.
            In tracking these changes, The Shifts in Hizbullah’s Ideology covers such disparate topics as Hizbullah’s views of jihad, suicide and martyrdom, integration, pan-Islamism, anti-Zionism, and the relationship with Israel and the United States. It will be necessary reading for both scholars and policymakers.

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About the Author:

Joseph Alagha is assistant professor of Islamic studies at the Lebanese American University.

Review:

“Joseph Alagha conducted a thorough research on Hizbullah and derived in his analysis historical patterns, shifts in policy and organization of Hizbullah. Alagha’s book is essential to any scholar hoping to understand the situation in the Middle East, the sectarian patterns of Lebanon and the conflict there... Only with the work of Alagha do we have a chance to constructing policy that can realistically respond to Hizbullah’s presence in Lebanon and the Middle East.” —Kathleen Barry, Professor Emerita, Penn State University.

(Kathleen Barry)

“I have read this book as the most intricate sketch of the transformation Hizbullah went through. It answers a lot of questions, but also it raises new questions, I hasten to add, as a good book should do... It is a very well written book and highly recommended.” —Prof. Dr. Johan Ter Haar, Chair of Persian Studies at Leiden University

(Johan Ter Haar)

“The reviewer was particularly impressed by the wealth of new primary sources Alagha collected and researched, causing large components of the book to present novel insights into Hizbullah’s political thought and evolution. This particularly applies to the book’s discussion of the Shi‘ite notions of taqiyya and ta‘bi’a and the extent these notions have guided the thought of Hizbullah and related political thinkers, the detailed and excellent discussion of the notion of jihad in Shi‘ite thought, the exploration of Hizbullah’s stand on political Maronism which has no equivalent in the English-language literature on Hizbullah, and the discussion of Hizbullah’s ideology and political program generally which appears to be more exhaustive than most works on the subject this reviewer is familiar with.”—Reinoud Leenders, Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Relations, University of Amsterdam, and ex-analyst with the International Crisis Group based in Beirut

(Reinoud Leenders)

“I have rarely known a scholar who managed so well to reconstruct knowledge entirely on the basis of empirical observation and completely free from a priori assumptions or biases. The merit of Alagha is that he did not confine his research to the study of the ideology as such, but also remarkably analyzed the social practices and political behavior of Hizbullah in the Lebanese context... the author’s work has become indispensable for comprehending the mysteries of Lebanese politics. Alagha’s considerable contribution to the concrete knowledge of Lebanese and, consequently, Iranian Islamism promises an extremely productive future.” —Emeritus Professor Paul Vieille, ex-Director of research at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, CNRS, Paris

(Paul Vieille)

“I appreciated very much this book in which Alagha exposes Hizbullah’s change through time as well as its autonomy towards Iran... I found the author’s discussion on the Hizbullah ‘martyrs’ remarkable... Alagha’s assertions are based on empirical work and a full knowledge of the Arabic literature on the subject.” —Prof. Farhad Khosrokhavar, Director of Sociological Research at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociale (EHESS)- Cadis, Paris. Author of Suicide Bombers: Allah’s New Martyrs (2005) and Inside Jihadism: Understanding Jihadi Movements Worldwide (2009).

(Farhad Khosrokhavar)

“I have admired your work on Hizballah, and I found your recently published book The Shifts in Hizbullah’s Ideology fascinating.” — Daniel L. Byman,Director of Georgetown’s Security Studies Program and the Center for Peace and Security Studies and Associate Professor in the School of Foreign Service

(David L. Byman)

“My conclusory opinion is that Joseph Alagha has contributed a description of Hizbullah’s internal trajectory that will be useful to scholars of Middle Eastern politics and to scholars of religion. His level of detail on how a religious ideology evolves into a political ideology and then to a complete political program is invaluable. Some of the primary-source documents, translated and reprinted whole, are wonderful. I suggest the volume for library collections on Islam and the Middle East and for graduate courses and some upper-level undergraduates.”  —Cynthia Keppley Mahmood, associate professor of anthropology at University of Notre Dame, Indiana). The Journal of Religion 88.4 (October 2008): 550-551

(Cynthia Keppley Mahmood The Journal of Religion)

“Worthy of note however is that the book is not just a monograph on Hizbullah (many such monographs are already available), it is also a contribution to Middle Eastern Politics, to the relations between Iran and Shiite communities in the World, to the literature on suicide bombing, and to transnational Islam. It breaks many stereotypes concerning the so-call irrationality and fanaticism of Islamist movements. It is clearly written, and well argued. Select chapters could be used for teaching graduate and undergraduate courses on Islamism, Middle Eastern politics, and Shiite doctrine. The first chapter of the book stands on its own as the history of Hizbullah. The book also provides a wealth of useful documents such as a glossary, a chronology of events, releases by Hizbullah officials, and statements of its political program... The book shall be useful to academics, as well as policy makers and anybody interested in contemporary social movements in the Middle East.” — Ousmane Kane, Associate Professor of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University, Arab Studies Quarterly 30.2 (Spring 2008): 68-70

(Ousmane Kane Arab Studies Quarterly)

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