Sheikh Sami Abil-Muna won the uncontested election as the new Druze spiritual leader
The 64-year-old who hails from Chanay , Aley , Mt Lebanon will succeed Sheikh Naim Hassan when his mandate expires on 5 November.
President Michel Aoun was among the first to congratulate the new spiritual leader of the Druze community.
Sami Abil-Muna was the only name proposed to the Druze Community Council when the deadline for submitting candidates for the office of Sheikh Akl expired on 10 September, the day of the election. He will take office at the end of the term of his predecessor, who was elected in 2005.
Proposed by PSP leader Walid Jumblatt, Sheikh Abil-Muna’s election caused a stir within the Druze community by supporters of the other 2 Druze political leaders namely MP Talal Arslan and former minister Wahhab who preferred a leader who is closely linked to the Syrian regime
“Politically and religiously, they wanted to impose on us someone close to Syria,” said a source close to Jumblatt who requested anonymity. “We decided to stop being blackmailed, and Sheikh Sami Abil-Muna’s candidacy found its way to the secretariat of the Community Council, while the other proposed candidates were not really up to the job, and could not get the number of votes required to qualify as candidates .”
Married, father of four, including a boy who died prematurely of cancer, Sheikh Sami Abil-Muna is the secretary general of the al-Ourfan Foundation, which has the largest network of Druze schools and social services.
He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the Lebanese University (1980), and a PhD from the Faculty of Religious Sciences at Saint Joseph University with a thesis on “The Druze Vision of Islamic-Christian Dialogue in Lebanon” (2015).
He is active in all education-related platforms, and is regularly invited to international conferences centred on interfaith dialogue.
A poet, he is appreciated as a speaker and regularly invited to speak at conferences organised by the Druze community abroad.
“He is the international face of the community,” said Fr Fadi Daou, founder of Adyan, an NGO working on the concepts of “inclusive citizenship and diversity” and “spiritual solidarity”.
“He is a brother to me,” added the clergyman, “in the spirit of the fraternity which Pope Francis espouses in his encyclical, whereby we are all responsible for one other.
“He is also a man of peace, who does and will do everything to boost reconciliation on the Mountain, truly and genuinely committed to living together, while at the same time proud of belonging to his community. His election is an opportunity for his community and for Lebanon.”
It has become clear that the path of Sheikh Sami Abil-Muna, the newly elected Sheikh Akl of the Druze community would not be furnished with roses, because of the absence of the cover by some of the spiritual authorities in the Druze community
The statement of the Druze spiritual body issued by Sheikh Abu Saeed Anwar Al-Sayegh confirmed that the spiritual authorities do not fully support the election of Sheikh Abil-Muna, especially since they consider that the matter occurred at a political instigation, while electing a Sheikh al Akl should be a purely religious matter that should be decided by the religious community