Jabal Amel


Jabal Amel

Jabal Amel ( _ar. جبل عامل) is a hilly region in southern Lebanon named after the Banu 'Amilah tribe. It is an integral and essential part of Lebanon. The Banu 'Amilah were a south Arabian tribe who, along with the kindred tribes of Hamadan, Lakhm, and Judham, settled in Syria, Palestine, parts of Jordan, and Lebanon. The area was known anciently as Jabal 'Amilah, and later as Jabal 'Amil (Jabal Amel).

This region is synonymous with the northern part of Galilee (Arabic: "al-Jalil") and historically has been used to denote the homeland of Shi'a Muslims in southern Lebanon. It also includes the Shi'a Muslim communities between Sidon and Beirut such as Joun, Wardanieh, Rmaileh, Sibleen, Jieh, Qmatieh, and Kaifoun. Furthermore, places in the western Bekaa valley such as Yohmor al-Bekaa, Sohmor, Maidoun, Zillaya, Libbaya, Mazraat Dallafeh, Ain al-Tineh, Qillaya, and Mashghara are also usually included under the designation "Jabal Amel." But overall, Jabal Amel is primarily the area south of Sidon and extending from the mountains of Jbaa and Rihane to the southernmost frontier with Palestine. It includes the cities of Tyre, Sarafand, Nabatieh, Tibnine, Bint Jbeil, as well as hundreds of villages and hamlets scattered across a stretch of hills and mountains. It is believed that the inhabitants of Jabal Amel were converted to Shi'a Islam by Abi Dharr al-Ghifari, an early companion of the Prophet Muhammad and Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib, during the 7th century A.D. In fact, early schools were established by him in Mays al-Jabal and in Sarafand, where his tomb is located today.

The inhabitants of Jabal Amel have diverse origins, but along with many Arab tribes, they are primarily descendants of the original autochthonous population that has existed there since time imemmorial. In fact, Shi'a Muslims are one of the oldest communities in Lebanon--- it must be remembered that Shiism was once very widespread in other parts of Lebanon, such as the Kisrawan, Matn, Jbeil, and Zawiyeh areas. It should also be mentioned that the word "Jabal Amel" has, throughout history, been extended to include the Shi'a populations of the Baalbek and Hermel regions. As an example, the village of Karak Nouh near Zahle once housed a prestigious Shi'a Islamic school, producing many Ameli scholars who traveled far and wide to spread the doctrines of Shi'a Islam.

Today, Jabal Amel is predominantly Shi'a Muslim, with Sidon, Tyre, Nabatieh, Bint Jbeil, and Tebnine being the most populous towns. There are over five hundred towns, villages, and farms in this part of Lebanon. Some of the main towns and villages in the area include: Deir Qanoun al-Nahr, Bazourieh, Abbasieh, Bourj Rahhal, Bourj Shmali, Teir Dibba, Debaal, Mansouri, Qlaileh, Hannawey, Shaaitieh, Jbal al-Botm, Zebqine, Seddiqine, Jwaya, Maarakeh, Chehour, Srifa, Qana, Deir Ntar, Naqoura, Teir Harfa, Ayta al-Shaab, Maroun al-Ras, Aynata, Aytaroun, Yaroun, Yater, Baraachit, Khirbet Silm, Ayta al-Jabal, Soultanieh, Shihabieh, Majdel Silm, Ghandourieh, Beit Yahoun, Beit Leef, Kounine, Tiri, Haddata, Kfar Dounine, Chaqra, Blida, Meis al-Jabal, Houla, Markaba, Qabrikha, Bani Hayyan, Rabb Tlatine, Taybeh, Kfar Kila, Khiyam, Blatt, Dibbine, Yohmor, Arnoun, Nabatiet al-Fawqa, Kfar Tebnit, Kfar Roumman, Jibsheet, Ksaybe, Doueir, Sharqieh, Habboush, Ebba, Harouf, Zebdine, Kfar Sir, Qaqaaieh al-Jisr, Kfour, Deir al-Zahrani, Ansar, Zrarieh, Adloun, Sarafand, Saksakieh, Insarieh, Numeyrieh, Marwanieh, Touffahta, Anqoun, Ghazieh, Haret Saida, Kfar Melki, Kfar Hatta, kfarfila, Jbaa, Ain Qana, Arab Salim, Houmine al-Tahta, Houmine al-Fawqa, Jarjouaa, Kfar Houna, Soujod, Rihane, Louaizeh, Roum, and many others. Historically, Jabal Amel and southern Lebanon also consist of the Seven Villages, the villages that Israel usurped in 1948: Malikieh, Quds, Nebi Youshaa, Tarbikha, Salha, Hounine, and Ebel al-Qameh. Furthermore, the currently occupied Shebaa Farms area is also an essential and historical part of Lebanon.

Alongside Shi'a Muslims, other religious groups include: Sunni Muslims (Sidon, Ain al-Meir, Yarine, Marwahine, Kfar Hamam, Kfar Shouba, and Shebaa areas), Druze (Hasbaya area), Maronite and Greek Catholics (Marjeyoun, Aishieh, Jezzine, Bkassine, Kfar Falous, Maghdouché, Mieh ou Mieh, Ain Ebel, Debel, Rmaich, Qaouzah, and Alma Chaab) Greek Catholic Christians (Deir Mimas, Ibel el Saqui, Kfaroueh, Marjeyoun, Markaba, Qlaia and Jezzine), Greek Orthodox Christians (Rashaya al-Foukhar and Hasbaya areas), and Alawites (Ghajar village). All these religious groups have coexisted peacefully. The towns of Baraachit, Khiam, Tebnine, Safad El Batikh, and Yaroun have a mixed population of Shi'a and Christians. The Shi'a town of Nabatieh also has a substantial minority of Christians and is well-renowned for its annual reenactment of the Karbala tragedy during Ashoura.

Jabal Amel's scholars are credited with converting the Safavids in Persia to mainstream Jaafari Shi'a Islam during the sixteenth century. By the invitation of Abbas the Great, Sheikh Ameli and his family moved to Isfahan to establish religious schools and train Persian scholars in Twelver Shiism. They became spectacularly successful and left a lasting influence in Shiism stretching to the present day. Over the centuries, Jabal Amel has produced a long line of heroes and scholars, who travelled wide and far to preach Jaafari Islamic doctrines, such as Shahid al-Awwal, Shahid al-Thani, Sheikh Hurr al-Amili, Sheikh Muhsin al-Amin, the renowned scientist Hassan Kamel Al-Sabbah, the late Sheikh Ragheb Harb, the late Sayyed 'Abbas al-Musawi, the late Sheikh Muhammad Mughniyeh, Imam Musa al-Sadr, the late Sheikh Muhammad Mahdi Shamseddine, Sheikh Abdel Amir Qabalan, Nabih Berri, and respected Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah.

Furthermore, Shi'a scholars from Jabal Amel have always had a strong intellectual presence in the religious universities of Iraq and many other places in the Islamic world, where many seek the guidance of Jabal Amel's Ayatollah Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah.

References:

Noor al-Islam, "Jabal Amel: The Cradle of Knowledge and the Land of Freedom" [http://www.nooralislam.org/last/7172/pdf7172/nor1.pdf link title] , No. 71-72, 6th Year

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