Lebanon's Shia Muslim Leader Dies

Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, Lebanon's most influential Shia Muslim leader, has died in Beirut at the age of 75. Hospital sources in Beirut confirmed his death on Sunday after being admitted last month suffering from internal bleeding. Fadlallah was born in 1935 in Najaf, the centre of Shia scholarship in Iraq. He spent more than two decades studying Islam there before moving to Lebanon, where he spent most of his adult life. He attained the status of marja, or "source of emulation," the highest level of authority amongst Shia clerics. Fadlallah had a wide following, not just in Lebanon but among Shia Muslim communities in the Gulf and Central Asia. Many of his sermons, widely distributed on audiotapes in Lebanon the 1980s, helped to spark increased political awareness among Lebanon's Shia Muslim population.