Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah (b. August 31, 1960, Bourj Hammoud, Beirut, Lebanon) is the current Secretary General of the Lebanese Islamist party and paramilitary organisation Hezbollah.
Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah was born the ninth of ten children in East Beirut's Bourj Hammoud neighborhood on August 31, 1960. His father, Sayyed Abdul Karim, was born in a small village near the city of Tyre in Jabal Amel in South Lebanon. Although his family was not particularly religious, Nasrallah was interested in religious studies. He attended Al-Najah school and later a public school in Sin el-Fil, Beirut.
In 1975, the civil war in Lebanon forced the family to move to their ancestral home in Bassouriyeh, where Hasan Nasrallah completed his secondary education at the public school of Sour (Tyre). Here he joined the Amal Movement, a political group representing Shiites in Lebanon.
Sayyed Nasrallah and Lebanese religious leader Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah studied at a theological college in the Beqaa Valley town of Baalbek. The school followed the teachings of Iraqi-born Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Sadr, who founded the Dawa movement in Najaf, Iraq during the early 1960s. Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had Sadr executed in 1980. After a period of Islamic study in Najaf, Nasrallah returned to Lebanon in 1978 when Iraq expelled hundreds of Lebanese religious students. He studied and taught at the school of Amal’s leader Abbas al-Musawi, later being selected as Amal's political delegate in Beqaa, and making him a member of the central political office.
Sayyed Nasrallah joined Hezbollah after the Israeli invasion in 1982. His fiery sermons drew the admiration of Shiite followers who joined Sayyed Nasrallah in organizing HezbollahIn 1991, Musawi became secretary general of Hezbollah and Sayyed Nasrallah returned to Lebanon. Nasrallah replaced Musawi as Hezbollah's leader after the latter was martyred with his wife and child by Israeli forces. Nasrallah lived in South Beirut with his wife Fatimah Yasin (who comes from the Lebanese village of Al-Abbasiyah) and five children: Muhammad Haadi (d. 1997), Muhammad Jawaad, Zainab, Muhammad Ali and Muhammad Mahdi. In September 1997, his eldest son Muhammad Haadi was martyred by Israeli forces in Jabal al-Rafei in southern Lebanon.
In the mid-1970s he moved to a Shiite Hawzah (Islamic Seminary) in the Iraqi holy city of Najaf to study the Qur'an, completing the first stage of his studies in 1978 before being forced to leave by the Iraqi authorities.
Sayyed Nasrallah believes that Islam holds the solution to the problems of any society, once saying, “With respect to us, briefly, Islam is not a simple religion including only praises and prayers, rather it is a divine message that was designed for humanity, and it can answer any question man might ask concerning his general and private life. Islam is a religion designed for a society that can revolt and build a state.”
Leadership of Hezbollah
Nasrallah became the leader of Hezbollah after Israel assassinated the movement’s leader Abbas al-Musawi in 1992. Hezbollah's military campaigns of the late 1990s were the main factors that led to the Israeli decision to withdraw from Southern Lebanon in 2000, thus ending 18 years of occupation. This move greatly increased Hezbollah's popularity in Lebanon and across the Islamic countries.
Consequently, Nasrallah is widely credited in Lebanon and the Arab world for ending the Israeli occupation in Southern Lebanon, something which has greatly bolstered the party's political standing within Lebanon.
Nasrallah also played a major role in a complex prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hezbollah in 2004, resulting in hundreds of Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners being freed and the dead body of his son with many more returning to Lebanon. The agreement was described across the Arab world as a great victory for Hezbollah with Nasrallah being personally praised for achieving these gains.