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Sayyed Nasrallah’s Other Side: A Caring Father Passionate about Reading

Sayyed Nasrallah’s Other Side: A Caring Father Passionate about Reading
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Fatima Salami

Beirut - The interview with Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah's son, Jawad, would not be complete without us asking about his father. We have always been captivated by a lot of the details surrounding Sayyed. The charisma of this extraordinary man – captured on screen – makes one eager to see his other side.

We often have many questions in mind. And if any information about the life of His Eminence is revealed to us, it becomes the "talk of the hour". There is no doubt that writing about His Eminence’s other side is one of the finest topics. Of course, this is no exaggeration. Who among us does not ask himself again and again about the other side of this leader? Who does not thirst for any detail about his life?

In the midst of talking about Sayyed, you get excited and curious. A lot of questions come to mind, and you wish you had more time for the answers. In any case, his son is the interviewee. It's an opportunity.

There is no doubt they shared many moments. When it comes to talking about Sayyed, you become greedy. The more you know, the more you ask. How can you not when you are delving into a character unmatched in history?

There was plenty of time allocated but it passed in the blink of an eye. There is no boredom when talking about Sayyed, the father, the companion, the backbone and the leader. Jawad talks about his father with passion and eagerness. How can he not when he is a role model!

Tell us about His Eminence’s other side – was the phrase that triggered the start of the discussion about the wise, compassionate and patient father. Usually when a son is asked about his father, he speaks with passion and love. What about when the father is Sayyed Hassan!

Jawad is confused about where to begin. Sayyed is a mass of morality and humanity. He is a man in every sense of the word. In trying to describe his father, Jawad picks his words carefully.

When talking about Sayyed as a father, Jawad gets carried away for Sayyed is compassionate and holds all the qualities of a true parent.

On the personal side, Sayyed is charming and possesses an amazing way of persuasion. It is enough for him to look at us. Sayyed has a hobby he picked up. He also has his own views regarding raising grandchildren.

Among family, Sayyed is in another world

“His Eminence loves the family very much. But we have grown accustomed to always missing him given the nature of his leadership role within the party,” Jawad says as he talks about family gatherings that bring together Sayyed, his wife, his children and grandchildren.

“During these gatherings, Sayyed is in another world. We are careful not to ask him about work and politics. The most common topic we ask him about is Saheb al-Zaman and the reappearance movement,” his son explains.

Jawad talks about Sayyed the husband. “He and my mother were the perfect and ideal model as a couple for us as children. Their relationship was based on respect. There was politeness and refinement in the way they spoke to each other. We grew up in this manner and we still see it.”

“Sometimes, my father would reminisce about his childhood when the games were completely different than today. Simplicity dominated football. The playground was still sand. The goal was made of wood. Scores were written on shirts. Such simplicity brought joy and happiness to the hearts of children during that beautiful yet tough time, unlike these days with the generation of the iPads and smart games,” Jawad says.

“Sometimes he tells us about the time he spent in Iraq and Baalbek,” Jawad continues. “Since the age of sixteen, my father has had an eventful journey, starting from the Hawza to Islamic work to taking up responsibilities within the resistance until he assumed the post of Secretary General of Hezbollah. As for his school years, we find through conversations how loved Sayyed was there.”

The wise and compassionate father

“The get-togethers with Sayyed are always rich with nice advice. It is true that my mother played an important part in our upbringing, but our compassionate, kind, wise and emotional father’s advice was always present.”

“From a young age, some things were red lines for my father,” Jawad says. “It is forbidden to interfere in people's private lives or to infringe upon the physical and moral rights of others. ‘Beware of interfering in people’s lives, talking behind their backs and spreading sedition.’ What is most important to Sayyed is respecting people in every sense of the word.”

“One of the most important things that he commended us is not to lie to people. This matter - if it happened God forbid; thank God it did not happen – has a different punishment. Of course, it is enough for him just to look at us.”

Here, Sayyed Jawad points out that His Eminence has a great deal of control over his anger. “When he gets upset or annoyed by something, you do not hear a word from him. He has a great ability to control himself. In short, he can be described as a mountain of patience holding the reins of things.”

An amazing means of persuasion!

“Sayyed has an amazing means of persuasion. He does not say it is forbidden just for the sake of saying it. The argument is always ready. This matter helped us understand what he wanted from a mere sign. When we were young, he only looked at us and we understood what he wanted,” Jawad recalls.

“I do not remember him interfering for the sake of interfering. On the contrary, he interfered with love, kindness, flexibility and smoothness. For example, when he did not like someone's hairstyle or clothing style, he would convince us with his distinctive manner saying, ‘this hairstyle is inappropriate to a son of a family keen on education.’”

“Sayyed never threatened us, he spoke to us calmly and with flexibility. Hence, we found ourselves automatically and willingly heading in the direction he wanted. I do not remember a time when my father prevented us from something arbitrarily. The argument was always ready. He was ready to persuade us. His view was always preponderant.”

The one we refer to in consultations

When Sayyed Jawad speaks of the father that everyone refers to for advice, he points to his broad horizon as well the knowledge and logic, which he relies on in discussions. He approaches this issue with a great deal of enthusiasm.

“We always make sure to consult him. He has unmatched charm and chemistry.”

Most people consult their fathers, but what about when the father is a role model with this degree of insight and wisdom!

“I have always told my father when he tells me that I have a choice: you are by my side and you have all these qualities, is it wise not to consult you? Amir al-Muminin (Peace Be Upon Him) says, ‘He who consults other people, shares in their understanding.’ Sometimes, even though I find certain matters appropriate, I still consult him,” Jawad says.   

He gives us many examples that underscore Sayyed’s wisdom as well as his perception and ability to look into the future.

“On more than one occasion I consulted him. He would tell me, ‘do not act like this.’ Of course, I went along with him without hesitation, and as God is my witness, ten years later in one particular situation I discovered my father's delicate insight.”

Wide horizon

Jawad points out that Sayyed Hassan does not only give his opinion about matters.

“He also gives us justifications. I began to adore listening to his explanations because he has a great way of persuasion,” Jawad says.

“What distinguishes His Eminence is his very wide horizon. For example, we confine ourselves with some details. When we consult him, we are surprised at the way we thought. We think point by point. But his approach to things is unlimited. It does not matter how big the problem is, he analyzes it and minimizes it. We then discover that it is nothing.”

Jawad then delves deeper into Sayyed’s amazing horizon.

“For example sometimes I listen to news and read newspapers, so I get a certain impression. Later, I ask him about the reality of things. It seems completely different from what we have heard from some reports. More recently, I make sure to ask him about the truth when it comes to published news reports. I even ask him about the news circulating in the street. He gets very dissatisfied with some of the news that shame innocent people,” Jawad says.  

“He always tells me, ‘we have to take people to heaven. The Prophet came to get people to God's mercy. That vast mercy. I am not required to make someone pay for a mistake he committed. On the contrary, pulling him out of sin will have positive effects, not only for him but for his entire family.’"

His permanent commandments to us

“According to my father, worship has always formed a great portion in our upbringing. Sayyed was very keen to introduce us to God from a very young age. You see him using the carrot and stick method without frightening us from the Creator. He counted the graces of God to bring us to a reality that we should thank Him. He makes things closer to us. He tells us, for example, ‘God gave us all these blessings and created us in the best stature. The least of thanks to Him is prayer, which is the pillar of religion. Of course, this is for your benefit not mine. It has a lot of moral effects in this life and the hereafter.’"

His Eminence cites Hadiths of the Prophet (PBUH) to indicate the importance of prayer in cleansing the soul.

“One time in 1993, he gathered us and told us, ‘I will tell you something about prayer once.’ He pointed out that God Almighty created Paradise and Hell, and ‘you have minds to choose which path you want to take. I am not forcing anything on you. I am just telling you, if you want Paradise and God's satisfaction, you must keep on praying. Prayer saves you from destruction. Worship, my children, depends on your will,’" Jawad recalls his father’s words.

“Since then, the importance of prayer has been firmly established in our minds and hearts - although we had not yet reached the age of discernment at the time. But the intelligent and endearing style of my father has yielded this result.”

God’s satisfaction is the standard and benevolence is half the mind

“Allah Almighty’s satisfaction should be the standard for any work we do. Our father raised us according to this phrase. According to His Eminence, the relationship with God is not only halal and haram. It also extends to helping people with their religion. We humans are made up of feelings and a soul. We have to understand people as much as possible,” Jawad said.

“Sayyed was always keen that his children should not be distinguished from other kids. It was one of his commandments.

For example, he always recommended that I have a car that keeps pace with other young people, since I am no better than them,” Jawad explains.

“Understanding people is a duty for Sayyed. He used to always remind us of the Prophet’s hadith: ‘My Lord commanded me to conform with people as he ordered me to perform obligatory prayers.’"

Reading is his hobby and Al-Ahed is his favorite team

What is Sayyed’s favorite hobby?

“Reading,” Jawad answers without hesitation. “There is no one faster than my father in reading. Personally, I am fast, but I do not have 10% of my father's speed. Sayyed reads, understands and memorizes in one go.”

According to Jawad, Sayyed applies the scanning and skimming technique. It is reading based on techniques that use rapid eye movement and keywords to move quickly through the text. That is reading rapidly in order to get a general overview of the material. Sayyed surpasses all stages and can understand the book through the initial reading.

“As for the kinds of books, there is no specific type. Each period His Eminence chooses a particular type. For example, after 2000, I recall that he had read everything related to Imam Ali (PBUH). He has an awesome memorizing ability. Because of his great attachment to culture and his keenness to know everything, he once asked for my late aunt Zakiya’s books to read. She studied financial management and accounting at the Arab University.”

“His Eminence can multitask. I remember during the days of liberation, for example, I happened to see him at home. He was reading a report, talking on the phone, looking at me and looking at the news bar on television. Sayyed is really amazing,” says Jawad.

To describe how much he loves and cares about reading, Jawad tells us about one particular occurrence.

“Once before the war I joked with him and said, ‘If I brought a big pile of books and a pile of money, what would you take?’ He said to me without hesitation, ‘of course, the books.’ I asked why he wouldn’t choose the money? He told me ‘because it's a pile of paper that comes and goes. It will not benefit me, while books are ammunition for me.’"

Here, Jawad names three things his father does not care much about: food, clothes and money.

“Sayyed is not picky when it comes to food. His Eminence is characterized by asceticism. He does not care about the money. Most of the time, he forgets where he put the salary envelope.”

From reading, Jawad moves to football. Sayyed follows the games from a distance and whenever he has time.

What is Sayyed’s favorite team?

Jawad says Sayyed roots for Al-Ahed sports team. “All of us in the family have been rooting for the yellow club since it became the star of the new era.”

Jawad points out that the nation's concerns never leave Sayyed’s thoughts.

“On one occasion, my father and I were watching the World Cup. He asked me what flags two particular teams were playing under.

I told him, I am cheering for the team with the dark-skinned players who are playing against the other team from a country that promotes the Oslo agreement.

Of course, in general Sayyed is known for cheering for Brazil,” says Jawad.

Raising the grandchildren: "Beware not to beat them."

“On the subject of raising children, Sayyed is very keen to pass on all the good qualities. We have to approach each child according to his age. He always commends that we improve our children's education and behavior. ‘But don't beat them as a form of discipline.’ He always repeats this commandment.”

“Regarding religion, we should make our children love religion and not repulse them. We have to show softness in places and the compassionate firmness in others. We should use favorable methods to consolidate the roots of faith in the minds and hearts of our children.

He calls on us to be patient and forgiving with children. For instance, even if a child does not get a good grade in a particular subject during the school year, we should talk to him/her in a good manner. We should not beat him/her, God forbid, or humiliate him/her. It is possible that he/she likes a certain subject.

He also always tells us to be honest with our children and never to lie to them even if it was to avoid a certain topic. This is unacceptable. Lying distorts the image of the parents in the eyes of the child. Thank God our father and mother taught us honesty above all.

As for playing, my father urges us to give our children their right to play and not to take their freedom away. Sayyed has 11 grandchildren. When we get together, things get loud like in any house with children. But none of us parents raise our voice to a child. Sayyed always commends that we let them play comfortably. When a child quarrels with another, he jokes, ‘Do you see this quarrel between these two children? This is the world on a microcosm.’"

Thanking the blessing

When Jawad is asked how he feels about being the son of a leader the crowd wishes to see, he smiles and says, “First I wish to be able to thank God for this blessing. I have always asked myself what good I did so that God rewarded me with this father." On the other hand, Jawad speaks about the responsibility he carries as the son of Sayyed.

Sometimes he finds himself in the circle of lies and accusations. Being the son of Hezbollah's secretary general, he is always required to make justifications.

"Sometimes I read articles and I do not know myself in them," he says. "They put us in the form of their thoughts and demons. They accuse us of lies and slander just because we are Sayyed’s children or we belong to this person.”

Jawad seems indifferent to abandoning so many things for his father’s sake. “When we understand very well that the pride we have was made with the blood of the martyrs or when we look at the families who gave more than one child [as martyrs], perhaps all the worldly things are diminished before us and we are ashamed because we are still alive,” he said.

Jawad tries to clarify. “I cannot build my life on my father’s back. He is the one who gave to God Almighty and is sincere with Him and not me. So, God rewarded him.

This makes me value my father’s efforts, which raised me and taught me and did not fall short towards me. More importantly, he introduced me to God. After all this, how should I repay this kindness with offense or gratitude? When he meets us with all this kindness and love, how do we repay it? Is the reward for good [anything] but good?” Jawad concludes.

The discussion about His Eminence goes on and on, and it may take many parts to talk about a figure characterized by all of man’s bright and exemplary traits, and a leader who is always present in his supporters’ thoughts. He lives among them even though they only see him on screen.

In the second part, we will discuss several points, most notably:

- Sayyed and the honorable people

- This is how Sayyed Nasrallah follows social media

- The secret behind "I promise you victory always"