Chronicle of the Middle East and North Africa
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Hezbollah, which literally means ‘Party of God’ in Arabic, was formed in the wake of the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979 and the Israeli invasion of South Lebanon in 1982. It has both a military wing, which is designated as a terrorist organization by a broad coalition of countries and a non-military wing,  represented in the Lebanese government.

Hezbollah follows a distinct Shia Islamic theology called Valiyat al-Faqih (‘the Guardianship of Islamic Jurists’), which was developed by Ayatollah Khomeini, the leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Although Hezbollah’s original aim was to transform Lebanon into a formal Islamic republic, this goal was later abandoned in favour of a more pragmatic approach.

The party’s roots date back to the Shiite revival in the 1960s and ’70s, which is largely attributed to the Lebanese-Iranian cleric and philosopher Sayed Musa al-Sadr. He moved to Lebanon as an emissary of Ayatollah Boroujerdi, who led the Marja (religious authority) in Iran from around 1947 until his death in 1961.

Al-Sadr, who came from a long line of distinguished clerics, had a lasting influence on Lebanese politics and religion. He is often referred to as the ‘towering figure in modern Shia political thought’ who gave Lebanese Shiites a sense of purpose and community in the country’s complex sectarian landscape. In doing so, he laid the foundations for Hezbollah’s emergence.