Saturday, September 24, 2005

Ad-Da`wah Party: reading the encyclopedic book Hizb Ad-Da`wah-l-Islamiyyah: Haqa'iq wa Watha'iq by Salah Al-Kharsan, I came up with those conclusions.
1. Hizb Ad-Da`wah, as other Islamic-oriented political parties in the Middle East benefited from the Leninist organizational experience (I wrote an article in the late 1980s in Middle Eastern Studies about Hizbullah in Lebanon, subtitled, The Islamization of Leninist Organizational Principles).
2. Ad-Da`wah was an extremely effective and extensive political organization.
3. The ideology (and organization of the party) reflected the conflicts and disagreements of the various marji`s in Shi`ite Islam.
4. There was always a tension between an Arab-oriented and an Iranian-oriented trend in the party.
5. Iranian influence was always present and politically salient in Shi`ite political culture and organization in Iraq.
6. `Ali Kurani is a name that most people have not heard of, but this man has been influential in forming and leading Hizb Ad-Da`wah, and later Hizbullah in Lebanon.
7. Saddam Husayn's intelligence apparatus penetrated deep into the organization and had extensive intelligence about its members and leaders (secret intelligence reports that were later captured indicated that Saddam's mukhabarat even knew a lot about Ad-Da`wah members in Iran, and street names, and building numbers.
8. There was no limits to the brutality or savagery of the Iraqi regime in fighting Ad-Da`wah, and that later shaped and influenced the Shi`ite political culture in post-Saddam Iraq. In one directive by Saddam, he promised (he lied as this was violated) to reduce death sentences of confessed members of Da`wah if they pledged to: 1) shoot other members of Da`wah, 2) if they write long essays on the Ba`th Party relying exclusively on Saddam's speeches as sources. The second article is no less cruel than the first of course.
9. Ayatollah Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah is quite influential among Iraqi Shi`ites. He in fact was invited after the fall of Saddam to relocate to Iraq (as a counter-weight to Sistani) but has refused. I had met him several times in the late 1980s, and but have not seen him in recent years. I saw his son and his grandson (who look like him) when I was invited by his apparatus to give a talk in the southern suburbs of Beirut.
10. Hizb Ad-Da`wah was early on (like most Iraqi religious-oriented parties, and this was confirmed to me by Fadlallah who was born in Najaf and spent his early years there) influenced by the success of communist organizations in appealing to poor Shi`ites (among other Iraqis at the time).
11. The ideology of the party is not characterized by fixity. It has evolved over time.
12. Muhammad Baqir As-Sadr's role extended well beyond Iraq.
13. People joined the party in large number despite the tremendous risks to them, and to their families.
14. Coke Zero is much better than Pepsi One.