The protests that have erupted around the Muslim world in support of the Muslims of Lebanon and in protest at the Israelis’ war on the country have been dominated by placards of Hizbullah’s leader, Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah.
Muslims have always looked for symbols of their struggle against Western imperialism and hegemony. In the past, figures such as Gamal Abdul Nasser and Yasser Arafat have filled this role, only to be exposed as offering nothing of substance to the Ummah. Imam Khomeini filled this position for some short years after the Islamic Revolution, and unlike secular leaders was never discredited. Unfortunately he died in 1989, and his position as an icon of Islamic leadership and anti-western resistance gradually faded. Usama bin Laden filled it for a while, but too many Muslims were too ambivalent about the problems in the salafist-jihadist approach, and elements of his methodology, to be influenced by Western attempts to promote it as the real (and deeply unpleasant) face of the Islamic movement.
The sight of Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah being accepted as a symbol of the Islamic struggle by Muslims around the world is welcome for many reasons. For one thing, it proves that most Muslims remain unaffected by the poison of sectarianism that has been spread in the Ummah. Beyond that, Shaikh Nasrallah and Hizbullah offer models of Islamic leadership, methodology and struggle that are genuine examples for all Muslims, unlike some of those whom they have taken as symbols and leaders in the past. We can only hope and pray that Muslims will make the most of his leadership and example; if so, the US may come to regret rallying Muslim support for Shaikh Nasrallah and Hizbullah while trying to destroy it.