Hezbollah's Rhetorical Construction of a Divine Resistance: God, Satan, and the Will to Die

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Title: Hezbollah's Rhetorical Construction of a Divine Resistance: God, Satan, and the Will to Die
Author: Alter, Jacob
Advisor: Velji, Jamel A.
Department: Haverford College. Dept. of Religion
Type: Thesis (B.A.)
Issue Date: 2011
Abstract: In this thesis, I will identify and explicate the rhetorical methods used by Hezbollah's leadership to justify its uniquely Islamic resistance posture, one pitted against "imperialist invaders" and a "tyrannical, arrogant world." Using familiar Islamic tropes, the movement's leaders unflinchingly align its struggle with religious ideology. This thesis will argue that Hezbollah's rhetoric, steeped in Islamic symbolism, is completely dependent upon this divine narrative and the perpetuation of an evil enemy to legitimize its violent struggle. In making this argument, this thesis is divided into three chapters, each covering a different element of the architecture behind Hezbollah's divine resistance posture. Chapter one examines Hezbollah's self-defined divine origins, which place its struggle on the side of God. In so doing, the movement's aims are immediately justified. God's cause is synonymous with the cause of Islam, and, therefore, Hezbollah's aims take on global implications. In the second chapter I investigate the process by which the enemy is demonized, thus ensuring popular support for an uncompromising resistance movement. In this sense, not only does its association with what is right and just justify Hezbollah's struggle but so does its stark opposition to what is considered evil and wrong. Reliant upon this dichotomization, the movement's leaders espouse and celebrate its "firm ideological, religious, and political stance." In the third chapter, I delineate how prominent Muslim and specifically Shi'i symbols of past and present support the divine narrative and both help legitimize and condone a violent struggle epitomized by a culture of martyrdom. This thesis concludes with a discussion of Hezbollah's 2009 manifesto known as the 'Rebirth' of Hezbollah. Despite assertions made regarding the politically and pragmatically oriented transformation of Hezbollah, a brief examination of this document will once again showcase Hezbollah's persistent portrayal of its resistance posture within a divine narrative.
Subject: Hizballah (Lebanon) -- Language
Subject: Hizballah (Lebanon)
Subject: Jihad -- Lebanon
Subject: Martyrdom -- Islam
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Alter, Jacob. "Hezbollah's Rhetorical Construction of a Divine Resistance: God, Satan, and the Will to Die". 2011. Available electronically from

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