Ayatullah Imam Moosa Sadr was born in Qum, Iran in 1928. he was among a rare few of his time to both be a religious scholar and a university graduate. from an early age he had shown a great deal of intelligence and wit, but this comes as no surprise to his family as there background was rich in historic and contemporary intellectual scholars and jurists. for he is a direct descendants of the Prophet Muhammad, bring a high level of responsibility upon his shoulders. Part of his dedication and devotion to his faith he became a “Sign of God” as agreed upon by the religious elite during his education in Iraq and Iran.
In 1960, he came to Lebanon to hold the position of the Islamic Shiite religious leader in the southern city of Tyre following the death of Sayyed Abdelhussein Sharafeddin. He began to be interested, in addition to the religious field, in the social and living conditions of the Islamic Shiite sect.
Imam Moussa as-Sadr founded many social institutions, vocational schools, health clinics and illiteracy obliteration centers. His activity gains an important national dimension as he warned of the dangers of Israeli aggressions against South Lebanon – whose majority happens to be Islamic Shiites. However, as the Imam took care that his struggle should not acquire a restricted sectarian outlook, he established in 1971 a committee that included all the Southern Lebanese spiritual leaders (both Muslim and Christian) to follow-up the political and social activities.
Imam as-Sadr was distinguished among all of his contemporary spiritual and political leaders for his openness especially towards Christians. He co-founded the Social Movement with the Catholic archbishop Grigoire Haddad (1960), participated in the Islamic-Christian dialogue in 1962, and lectured in a Capuchin Christian church during the Easter fast (1964). He mastered many languages and was a prominent intellectual. Imam as-Sadr played an all-important role in the Lebanese political life. Towards the end of August 1978 he mysteriously disappeared during a visit to Libya.
Upon setting foot in Lebanon, which was his ancestral home, he laid out a plan to put the plight of the Southerners on to the political agenda of the neglecting Lebanese government. However, his campaigning wasn’t simply to lobby the government into changing policy, but give citizens the tools to empower themselves. In addition, giving the elite and wealth to participate in uplifting the neglecting social attitudes of the rich. known for his wide travels, he traveled to the Lebanese diaspora in Africa to fund-raise and encourage an attitude of giving for social benefit, this lead to setup and establish a vocational institute in the southern town of Burj Al-Shimali, which being a hub for youth activism and women social empowerment. In addition, he founded many social institutions, vocational schools, health clinics and illiteracy obliteration centers. He reminded his beloved people that their deprivation was not to be fatalistically accepted. He felt that as long as they could speak out through their religion they could overcome their condition. As he once observed, “Whenever the poor involve themselves in a social revolution it is a confirmation that injustice is not predestined.”
In 1967 the Chamber of Deputies (or parliament) had passed a law establishing a Supreme Shi’ite Council, which would for the first time provide a representative body for the Shia the main deprived group in South Lebanon. In 1969, He was elected its chairman for a six year term, a stunning confirmation of his status as the leading scholar in the country, and certainly one of the most important social figures in the Shi’ite community. His social leadership was never aimed at benefiting his own faithful, for he established in 1971 a committee that included all the Southern Lebanese spiritual leaders (both Muslim and Christian) to follow-up the political and social activities. In 1974, and following a series of demonstrations he led to protest against the government’s negligence of the rural areas, the Imam founded the “Movement of the Deprived” that adopted the slogan of “continuous struggle until there are no deprived people left in Lebanon.” Many high ranked Lebanese Christians have always expressed there feeling of his love of faith and them. He co-founded the Social Movement with the Catholic archbishop Grigoire Haddad, participated in the Islamic-Christian dialogue. “When he speaks, one wouldn’t know his religion, only upon seeing his turban and robe” this proves his oneness in faith and sense of social cohesion, never seen before in the Middle East.
Dubbed as “The angel of Lebanon” for his belligerent and determining attitude against violence and war. after many attempts to end the fighting amongst the Lebanese people he entered into seclusion and fasting to combat the violence and disunity, making his actions and words his weapon as opposed to taking selfish political advantages over others. His role in potentially ending the civil war; meant that those who ignited it, would lose out on the spoils of war. Towards the end of August 1978 he mysteriously disappeared during a visit to Libya. It is reported that those who participated in the events that led to his disappearance, would have envisioned that he and only he can end the war. Till today the world awaits his return for “The Missing Saint” holds the passion, vision and determination to end world poverty and empower the deprived.
The Tehran-based Imam Musa Sadr Cultural-Research Center -led by Sadr’s daughter Hura is to publish four books of the 10-volume collection in the near future.-“Religion in the Modern World”, which contains speeches delivered by Sadr at Beirut’s universities, is the title of one of the four volumes. Arabic texts of these speeches have previously been published in the Lebanese Al Hayat newspaper.
-Sadr’s speech “Muhammad, the Idol-Breaker Prophet” published in the September 1960 edition of the Al Nahj journal, and also his lecture “Zahra (SA), a Chapter of the Prophethood Book”, published in a work by prominent South African scholar Sulaiman Katani, are other items in the publishing schedule.
-“Fasting Morals”, which includes several of Sadr’s speeches on the theme of fasting, is also to be included in the project.
Mehdi Firouzan is well known for those concerned about Imam Sadr’s fate. Besides being a nephew, he is Imam’s son-in-law. Mehdi Firouzan has done many efforts to disclose Imam Sadr’s fate. Contemplating on Imam’s thoughts, he is now after publication of a collection of his works. He welcomed us upon perceiving our curiosity for Imam Musa Sadr and his fate. He is now CEO of Book City. The following is IRDC Website’s interview with him.
What is your latest news on Imam Sadr’s fate?
In the name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful. Whenever we put pressure on Libyan government, whether during Qaddafi’s reign or now, to prioritize pursuit of the case, they temporarily have pursued the case more enthusiastically, but these attempts have faded after a week or more. As an important news, during the Lebanese Foreign Minister’s first visit to Libya that was taken place lonely to follow Imam Musa Sadr’s fate, several agreements were made: 1) Libyan transitional government promised to gather all information and documents available in the offices of Qaddafi, Senussi, Seif al-Islam, and also Intelligence Departments and concentrate them in a place easily accessible for study and research. 2) It was decided to designate a procurator for the case of Imam Musa Sadr that Mr. Abdul Jalil, Libyan Attorney, was designated. 3) It was appointed that Abdul Jalil on behalf of Libya and Judge Hassan Shami on behalf of Lebanon exchange their information and corporate to locate the prison in which Imam Sadr has been imprisoned. The same was happened in practice; in other words, Lebanese delegation informed the other side of all its information and the Libyan delegation, as well, dispatched two envoys to Lebanon to negotiate with Imam’s family and some Lebanese officials. They also visited all experts dealing with Imam’s case during last 33 years, whether in Libya or Italy, and promised to provide us with more detailed information upon their return. It was also appointed to interview with some gaolers and gather their statements. In the meantime Seif al-Islam was apprehended and they decided to collect his information as well. Then, Senussi was apprehended. There were many questions for the Libyan delegation to which Senussi must provide answers. But after a while and despite new Libyan officials’ emphasis on priority of Imam Sadr’s destination in their foreign policy, the case was unfortunately marginalized. Thanks to pressures imposed by his family, Lebanon’s government, and some Arab leaders, and especially given to Iran’s pursuits through its ambassador, Libyan government was convinced to hand over the results of its investigations to the Lebanese side and host the Lebanese delegation for further efforts on this case. Now Lebanese delegation is in Libya. Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour, Heisam Joma, and Judge Hassan Shami are now negotiating and exchanging the information obtained during this period with Libyans. As far as I have been informed, Libyans have presented some new information during these meetings that are scrutinized by Lebanese side. We hope we may erelong declare good news on Imam Sadr’s survival.
Is there any region in Libya uncontrolled by the transitional government that you still speak of other jails?
Since I accompanied the Lebanese delegation in their first visit and also met the Interior and Defense ministers as well as Libyan Attorney, all these three have admitted that there are still plenty of regions uncontrolled by the transitional government. There exists a kind of undeclared ceasefire with Qaddafi’s advocates or with some groups of nomads who still evade to corporate with the transitional government. For instance, Bani Walid district is not under complete control of the transitional government; some districts in the vicinity of the borders of Niger and Chad have the same status. It must be mentioned that the minister of justice related in that meeting, “Since the case of Imam Musa Sadr is the case of kidnapping, it is of priority for us and we do not allow any hesitation in this regard.” That trip yielded good results, but I came to this conclusion that given the circumstances the transitional government has been entangled, the more one pursue the more his demands are met. So we resolved to pursue the case constantly, hoping to find in aforementioned regions the jail Imam has been imprisoned in.
It has been rumored that a short piece of videotape has been sent for the late Ayatollah Seyyed Reza Sadr showing a man similar to Imam Sadr walking in a small yard watched over by two soldiers. The late Ayatollah Sadr believed that the figure shown in the film was the exact Imam Sadr. Tell us about this videotape and is it now available?
Since I was, and still am, directly involved in the case, I watched the videotape. We had received some information during these 33 years that a portion of it is much more reliable than this videotape, but we have not made it public as liable citations lest be accused of having simplistic and emotional approach to the case. However, from all information we have gathered during this period, whether before or after the Islamic Awakening, we have concluded that Imam Sadr has been kidnapped in Libya and now is alive in a prison in the country. During my visit to Libya I met an individual named Quileh. He was the very same guy whom was forced by Qaddafi to perjure himself that Imam Sadr has left Libya. I interviewed with him. He provided us with precious information and confessed to his perjury and expressed his willingness to compensate his past. The information he handed over to us, inclusive of the locations Imam has been transferred to, is of great values, and for sure the Libyan side is aware of them. For instance as you see, Mr. Senussi has admitted in a saying, “Qaddafi confided Imam to me to carry him to Southern Libya and deliver him to another person; his name is not now in my memory but as mentioned in the documents he was the most confidential security agent for Qaddafi.” Abdullah Senussi, the Intelligence Chief of Qaddafi’s government, carries Imam Sadr away from Tripoli and delivers him to that guy. We have found the clue. That guy is now fugitive, but we don’t know where he is despite extensive efforts. I use the opportunity provided by you now and solicit him to contact Imam’s family in case of receiving my call through your website. It is now safe for him to hand his information on Imam Sadr over to us and I use your tribune to invite him to do so. Hence, based on received overt and covert information, our absolute conclusion is Imam Sadr’s being alive. I watched that videotape and reiterate that it wasn’t a justifiable witness to be presented in the court, but it sufficiently confirmed previous evidences on Imam’s presence in Libya. The tape showed an upstanding clergy from behind who was walking in a yard and was in a single room. As you see, nobody can confirm that clergy was the very same Imam Sadr. We have far more reliable evidences that Imam is still alive.
Who are after clarification of Imam Sadr’s fate?
Imam Musa Sadr has been brought up from Qom Seminary. He’s from an Erekat family with a luminous background in Lebanon, Iran, and Iraq. In Iran, Shia clergies have advocated our efforts. They have always supported the case. Given to political considerations, the governments have not pursued the case constantly, but as it was revealed to me subsequent to my meeting with Ayatollah Khamenei, he is strenuously interested in the case. I can never forget his saying that “Tell Mr. Khatami (the then Iranian President) to follow the issue even at the expense of relation cut off with Libya or even worse.” I myself hear this saying, so my interpretation is that Ayatollah Khamenei, the highest ranking official of the country, is serious in this regard. At lower levels of government, political considerations intervene. I exactly remember that in a period that Libya was the President of the Security Council our government withdrew from its demands on Imam Sadr in favor of its nuclear case, but in the following periods the issue of pursuit became better. I mean political considerations, whether domestic or foreign, have affected the case of Imam Musa Sadr during all these years. But it has been of priority at the level of leadership, Marjas, and people. Foreign Ministry is now considerably helpful. I use the opportunity provided by your website to express my gratitude towards Deputy Minister of Asia, Deputy Minister of the Middle East and Northern Africa, its General Manager, and our ambassador to Libya.
Mr. Senussi admitted in a saying, “Qaddafi confided Imam to me to carry him to Southern Libya and deliver him to another person; his name is not now in my memory but as mentioned in the documents he was the most confidential security agent for Qaddafi.” Senussi, the Intelligence Chief of Qaddafi’s government, carries Imam Sadr away from Tripoli and delivers him to that guy. We have found the clue. That guy is now fugitive, but we don’t know where he is despite extensive efforts. I use the opportunity provided by you now and solicit him to contact Imam’s family in case of receiving my call through your website.