Muqtada Al-Sadr

Muqtada Al-SadrMuqtada al-Sadr — Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr was born August 12, 1973 in Baghdad, Iraq. He is an Iraqi Islamic Political leader. He is one of the most influential religious and political figures in the country not holding any official title in the Iraqi government. Muqtada al-Sadr is the fourth son of a famous Iraqi Shi’a cleric, the late Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr. He is also the son-in-law of Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir As-Sadr.

Muqtada al-Sadr is of Iraqi and Lebanese ancestry. His great-grandfather is Ismail as-Sadr. Mohammed Sadeq al-Sadr, Muqtada al-Sadr’s father, was a well-respected figure throughout the Shi’a Islamic world. He was murdered, along with two of his sons, allegedly by the government of Saddam Hussein. Muqtada’s father-in-law was executed by the Iraqi authorities in 1980. Muqtada is a cousin of the disappeared Musa al-Sadr, the Iranian-Lebanese founder of the popular Amal Movement.

He is often referred to as Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr. Sayyid (Mr., Sir) is generally used among the Shi’a to denote persons descending directly from the Prophet Muhammad, through his daughter Fatimah’s marriage with Ali, which is thought to be the bloodline from which Islamic leadership must come. Thus a great deal of respect is paid by the Shi’as to the Sayyids throughout Shi’a society. The al-Sadr family has a clear and distinct lineage that can be traced directly to Muhammad. The lineage is traced through Imam Jafar al-Sadiq and his son Imam Musa al-Kadhim, the sixth and seventh Shi‘a Imams respectively.

Muqtada al-Sadr’s formal religious standing is comparatively low, at a mid-ranking Shia religious rank, and he does not claim the title of mujtahid (the equivalent of a senior religious scholar) or the authority to issue fatwas (religious edicts). However, in early 2008, al-Sadr was studying to be an ayatollah, which would greatly improve his religious standing.

Sadr gained popularity among younger Iraqis after the fall of Saddam Hussein Hussein government by the 2003. Al-Sadr is one of the most vocal critics of the U.S. occupation of Iraq. The leader of the Sadriyun Movement, Sadriun Movement, insists US troops should leave the country immediately and Iraqis should be given an opportunity to create an Islamic state if they choose.

In April 2004 he initiated a revolt against the coalition of forces occupying Iraq. He envisions a Shi’a-dominated government, much like Iran’s, but independent from Iran. After the fall of the Saddam government in 2003, Muqtada al-Sadr organized thousands of his supporters into a political movement, which includes a military wing known as the Jaysh al-Mahdi or Mahdi Army). The name refers to the Mahdi, a long-since disappeared Imam who is believed by Shi’a Muslims to be due to reappear when the end of time approaches. This group has periodically engaged in violent conflict with US and other Coalition forces, while the larger Sadrist movement has formed its own religious courts, and organized social services, law enforcement and prisons in areas under its control.

His strongest support comes from the class of dispossessed Shi’a, like in the Sadr City area of Baghdad. Many Iraqi supporters see in him a symbol of resistance to foreign occupation.

In April 2003 his followers, organized as the Sadr Bureau, began providing services throughout Sadr City. The services ranged from health care to food and clean water. Ihe residents of Sadr City elected neighborhood councils, and ultimately a district council to represent the Sadr City District later in 2003. The Sadr Bureau, aided by the Mahdi Army, attempted to remove the new District Council by force of arms and occupied the District Council Hall for several weeks. Finally, Coalition forces removed them from the premises, and the elected District Council resumed their duties. Despite this action by the Coalition authorities, the Sadr Bureau and the Mahdi Army have continued to act within Sadr City almost unhindered by US and Iraqi forces.

Some of his followers were responsible for the assassination on 10 April 2003 of Imam Abdul Majid al-Khoei in a dispute over the keys to Imam Ali Mosque. Judge Raed Juhi, after conducting the investigation of the incident, issued arrest warrants against Sadr and two dozen others, but Sadr’s warrant was placed under seal by the Coalition Provisional Authority. Muqtada al-Sadr claims that the murderers were not his followers, and that he in fact sent men to prevent al-Khoei’s murder. The al-Sadr family sent and published official condolences to the al-Khoei family.

In March 2004, Coalition authorities (759th MP Battalion) in Iraq shut down Sadr’s newspaper al-Hawza on charges of inciting violence. Sadr’s followers held demonstrations protesting the closure of the newspaper. On April 4, fighting broke out in Najaf, Sadr City and Basra. Sadr’s Mahdi Army took over several points and attacked coalition soldiers, killing dozens of foreign soldiers, and taking many casualties of their own in the process. At the same time, Sunni rebels in the cities of Baghdad, Samarra, Ramadi, and Fallujah, staged uprisings as well, causing the most serious challenge to coalition control of Iraq. On April 5, Paul Bermer, the US Administrator in Iraq, declared al- Sadar was an outlaw and the uprising by his followers would not be tolerated.

It is scowled in Iraq for clerics to actively participate in secular politics and al-sadr did not run for Iraqi elections in 2005. He instead backed the National Independent Cadres and Elites party which was close to his Mahdi Army. On August 26, 2005, an estimated one-hundred thousand Iraqis marched in support of al-Sadr and his ideals.

Muqtada al-Sadr escaped a mortar attack on him in March 2006. In 2007 the US government claimed that Muqtada al-Sadr had left Iraq and fled to Iran in anticipation of the coming security crackdown. In April 2007 Muqtada al-Sadr urged the Iraqi army and police to stop cooperating with the United States and told his guerilla fighters to concentrate on pushing American forces out of the country. The statement, stamped with al-Sadr’s official seal, was distributed in the Shiite holy city of Najaf on Sunday 8 April 2007 — a day before a large demonstration there, called for by al-Sadr, to mark the fourth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad.

On April 17, 2007, several ministers loyal to al-Sadr left the Iraqi government. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki stated that the withdrawal of these ministers had not weakened his government and that he would name technocrats to replace them soon. On 25 May 2007, al-Sadr delivered a sermon to an estimated 6,000 followers in Kufa. Sadr reiterated his condemnation of the United States’ occupation of Iraq and demanded the withdrawal of foreign forces, al-Sadr’s speech also contained calls for unity between Sunni and Shi’a. In June 2007, al-Sadr vowed to go ahead with a planned march to the devastated Askariyya shrine in central Iraq. the march was aimed to bring Shi’as and Sunnis closer together and breaking down the barriers imposed by the Americans and Sunni religious extremists.

In March 2008 during the Battle of Basra, the Sadr Movement launched a nationwide civil disobedience campaign across Iraq to protest raids and detentions against the Mahdi Army. In 2009, in response to Israeli attacks on Gaza, al-Sadr called for reprisals against U.S. troops in Iraq. On May 1, 2009 al-Sadr paid a surprise visit to Ankara where, in his first public appearance for two years, he met with Turkish President Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for talks which focused on the “political process” and requested Turkey play a greater role in establishing stability in the Middle East.

Before the Iraqi parliamentary election, 2010, on 6 March 2010, Muqtada al-Sadr called on all Iraqis to participate in the election and support those who seek to expel U.S. troops out of the country. Al-Sadr warned that any interference by the United States will be unacceptable.

On January 5th 2011, Muqtada al-Sadr returned to the Iraqi city of Najaf, in order to take a more proactive and visible role in the new Iraqi government. Thousands of Iraqis turned out in Najaf to hear his speech in which he called USA, Israel and UK the common enemies against Iraq. He then returned to Iran to continue his studies.

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