“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.|"I 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." Dr. Reinoud Leenders, Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Relations, University of Amsterdam, and ex-analyst with the International Crisis Group based in Beirut|“I hope Alagha’s work will receive attention in the US, where US policy on Hizbullah is based on ignorance -often deliberate ignorance”. Prof. Graham E. Fuller, Ex-Vice Chairman of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA; Writer, Analyst, Lecturer on Foreign Affairs and Specialist on the Islamic World; Adjunct Professor of History, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada.
The Lebanese Shi‘ite resistance movement, Hizbullah, is going through a remarkable political and ideological transformation. Hizbullah was founded in 1978 by various sectors of Lebanese Shi‘ite clergy and cadres, and with Iranian backing as an Islamic movement protesting against social and political conditions. Over the years 1984/85 to 1991, Hizbullah became a full-fledged social movement in the sense of having a broad overall organization, structure, and ideology aiming at social change and social justice, as it claimed. Starting in 1992, it became a mainstream political party working within the narrow confines of its pragmatic political program. The line of argument in this dissertation is that Hizbullah has been adjusting its identity in the three previously mentioned stages by shifting emphasis among its three components: (1) from propagating an exclusivist religious ideology (2) to a more encompassing political ideology, and (3) to a down-to-earth political program.
Joseph Alagha is professor in Political Science & Intercultural Studies at Haigazian University, Beirut, Lebanon.