The complex history of Lebanese Shi`ites has traditionally been portrayed as rooted in religious and sectarian forces. The Abisaabs uncover a more nuanced account in which colonialism, the modern state, social class, and provincial politics profoundly shaped Shi`i society.
The authors trace the sociopolitical, economic, and intellectual transformation of the Shi`ites of Lebanon from 1920 during the French colonial period until the late twentieth century. They shed light on the relationship of contemporary Islamic militancy with traditions of religious modernism and leftism in both Lebanon and Iraq. Analyzing the interaction between sacred and secular features of modern Shi`ite society, the authors clearly follow the group's turn toward religious revolution and away from secular activism. This book transforms our understanding of twentieth-century Lebanese history and demonstrates how the rise of Hizbullah was conditioned by Shi`ites' consistent marginalization and neglect by the Lebanese state. 2 black & white illustrations