Hezbollah Is Neither Sectarian Nor Puritanical
In truth, Hezbollah is the true army of Lebanon, as the Lebanese Army is so weak it is pathetic. Patriotic Lebanese rely on Hezbollah to defend the country.
Hezbollah is not sectarian at all. You can go into a bar in Southern Lebanon’s Hezbollah country and order a beer in a Christian town. The headscarf mandate, with is really just a preference, is not enforced in Christian and Druze villages in the area. A vast number of secular Lebanese support Hezbollah. Pro-Hezbollah demonstrations in Beirut feature many scantily-clad hot young women without headscarfs fanatically waving Hezbollah flags.
Half of all of Lebanon’s Christians are now with Hezbollah, while the other half is against them. The President Auon is a pro-Hezbollah Christian. Hezbollah is so nonsectarian that they actually have Christian, Sunni Muslim, and Druze arms of their army. These are referred to as militias and they form the Hezbollah militia in whichever ethnic region they are defending.
However, to join the main Hezbollah force, it is preferred though not necessary to be a Shia Muslim, but there have been high-ranking Druze members in the past. The Shia Mullah Fadlallah, the spiritual head of Hezbollah, is quite secular and pragmatic. He has even issued decrees allowing female masturbation on the grounds that if it is preferred that women not have sex outside of marriage, they still have a strong sex drive that needs some sort of an outlet. This may not seem like much, but it’s awfully progressive for a Muslim scholar.
Similarities: The Shia and Catholicism Versus the Protestants and Sunnism
But the Shia are a pragmatic sect. While the Sunni feel that Islam was frozen in time during the era of Mohammad and there are continuous attempts by radicals, often armed, to “get back to the old days and the true roots of Islam.” In this sense they are like the Protestant sects who claim they practice the original Christianity of the first churches. Since that would be the Syrian Orthodox Church of 60 AD (set up by Paul I believe) I doubt if they are practicing the Christianity of that church.
Both Protestants and Sunnis tend to believe in religious literalism and the sanctity of the texts, although there is a lot of leeway in the hadiths, or sayings of Mohammad which were recorded in the 200 years after he died. Scholars have ruled that many of the hadiths are “not reliable” and hence not binding. Endless debate goes on about the degree of reliability of this or that hadith. Still, they are quite as literalist as the Protestants who insist that every word of the Bible is truth.
The Shia are more like the Catholics. They have an institutionalized Church centered in Iran with the mullahs that resembles the institutional Catholicism centered in Vatican City. In recent years, the Church has ruled that “Christianity must be continuously updated to keep it in accord with the times and the constant changes on mankind’s circumstances that result. This has resulted in the Church having an official astronomer (!) and issuing rulings saying that both alien civilizations and Evolution are compatible with Catholicism. Similarly, the Shia feel that Islam must be continually updated in accord with changing times.
Although there are many liberal Protestant sects, nevertheless, the notion of the unerring nature of Biblical texts is a Protestant idea, not a Catholic one. Instead, Catholics tend to regard the entirety of Catholic Church doctrine instead of Biblical literacy as the base of the religion.
Hence Trad Catholics want to go back to the earlier and more conservative Church rulings, and the modern liberals squirm to accomodate all sorts of things, including homosexuality and lesbianism in many parishes in big US cities. The liberalism of Vatican 2 in 1964 caused a massive split in the religion, and the Trads generally see it as an abomination, whereas the liberals see it as a much-needed progressive upgrade. The Trad-liberal wars wage on in the Church.
Temporary Marriage As a Sanction for Fornication and Adultery in Islam
Iran itself has essentially legalized prostitution under the rubric of temporary marriage allowed in Shia Islam. In the religious city of Qom, the streets are full of pious young Shia men who have come there for their Islamic Studies. However, the place is swarming with young female prostitutes. A student just grabs one of these women, takes her to one of the local mullahs who preside over such ceremonies all day, and marries her for 1-3 days, a period in which he is seen as her husband in a legal sense.
Then they head off two one of the many graveyards in town. Shia graveyards are full of shrines for the dead, often elaborate and a bit underground. Money changes hands, the couple heads into an underground shrine, has sex, and then emerges and parts ways.
I think the Iranian regime feels that these men are sexually frustrated so temporary marriage is an outlet for men. There is a lot of prostitution in Tehran and although authorities crack down on it, the women are seen as more victims than criminal and they are sent off to rehabilitation centers run by sympathetic women. The regime has been toying with the idea of fully legalized brothels or houses of prostitution, apparently to be sanctioned under the rubric of temporary marriage.
I was surprised to learn that Saudi Arabia has actually allowed temporary marriage under a similar rubric for decades now. It’s used not so much for prostitution as for an outlet for men to have more than one wife, albeit one who does not live with him. Under this scheme, he is also her guardian and he is required to help support her.
Hezbollah are hardly puritans.