• Farah W. Kawtharani
Part of the Middle East Today book series (MIET)


This chapter introduces the intellectual work and political career of Shaykh Muhammad Mahdi Shams al-Din (d. 2001), a distinguished Shi‘i religious scholar and jurist of the twentieth century, and one of the most prominent and influential Shi‘i intellectual figures in modern Lebanese history and the president of the Supreme Islamic Shi‘i Council. The chapter explains the relevance of his work and links his intellectual legacy to the historical and political contexts of Shi‘i movements in Lebanon and in Iraq. The chapter introduces the three main themes in Shams al-Din’s political thought: discussion of an Islamic government and critique of Khomeini’s theory of wilāyat al-faqīh, the concept of civil government and pluralism in multi-confessional societies, and the political integration of Shi‘i citizens in their respective Arab nation-states. The chapter also outlines the biography of Shams al-Din and offers a brief history of South Lebanon in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Farah W. Kawtharani
    • 1
  1. 1.McGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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