With the death on June 2 of Shaikh Sa'id Sha'ban in Tripoli, Lebanon, the Islamic Movement has lost another leading figure. He was 69. Founder and leader of Al-Tawheed Islamic Movement, his funeral procession was attended by more than 25,000 people as it made its way from his house in the Shiraa area to the Mansouri Mosque.
Shaikh Shaban was buried near a school that he founded in Qubba, in the old city. Throughout the route, mourners shouted Allaho Akbar and recited the kalima. A large number of leading figures in the Islamic Movement and political leaders of Lebanon participated in his funeral.
These included Shaikh Taha Sabounji (Mufti of Tripoli); Shaikh Mohammed Ali Al-Jouzou (Mufti of Jabal Lubnan); Shaikh Khalil El-Mays (Mufti of Bekaa); Dr Ramadan Abdallah (Leader of the Jihad Movement in Palestine); Ali Mohammed Hussein Fadhlallah (Hizbullah); Dr Zakaria el-Masri and Dr Asad Harmoush. Several members of the Lebanese parliament also attended. The absence of Shaikh Mohammed Rashid Kabbani, mufti of Lebanon, however, was noted by many in the procession.
Best known for establishing the Tawheed Movement in Tripoli in 1982, his followers fought the Nasserite and Ba'thist elements as well as communists in Tripoli, expelling them from the city. In 1985, the Syrian Ba'thists nearly wiped out his group but for the intervention of Ayatullah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, then the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, with Damascus.
Shaikh Sha'ban was a teacher and a scholar. After obtaining a degree in Islamic Fiqh from Al-Azhar University in Egypt, he worked as a teacher in Algeria and Iraq. Later, he was given responsibility to convert the Moroccan system from French to Arabic. Upon completing this task, he returned to Lebanon and established the Ibader Rahman Group in the fifties. Later it became the Jamaah al-Islamiyya.
Shaikh Sha'ban also established a radio station, The voice of Haq, and the Hilal Television in Tripoli in 1982 . These two stations remained on the air for 15 years broadcasting commentary on the Qur'an and ahadith, and news about the activities of the Islamic Movement. In 1997, both were attacked by government troops and forcibly closed on orders of prime minister Rafik Hariri.
Shaikh Sha'ban was an admirer of the late Imam Khomeini and staunch supporter of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. He was also a member of the Majma Dar at-Taqrib bain al-’ (the Organisation for bringing various madhahib closer to each other).
One of his last acts was to oppose the proposal for civil marriages in Lebanon, an idea pushed by the Lebanese president Elias Hrawi and other secular politicians. Shaikh Sha'ban organised a massive procession of 5,000 people from Tripoli to Beirut in a caravan of 300 cars and buses in support of the call by mufti Kabbani to oppose the civil marriage proposal.
Muslimedia: June 16-30, 1998