Martyr Ayatullah Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim, The Shiite cleric and political leader, who has been assassinated. He headed the Supreme Council of the Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), probably the largest opposition group in the country.
Ayatullah Seyyed Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim, was born in 1939. He was the son of the late Grand Ayatullah Seyyed Muhsin al-Hakim who was the spiritual leader for the Shia world in the period 1955-1970.
The Al-Hakim family is a well known religious Iraqi family loved and respected by millions of Shia Muslims in Iraq and throughout the Muslim world. Seyyed Al-Hakim, was born, brought up and studied religion in Najaf, Iraq (the holy city for Shia in the world). He was a distinguished scholar and the personal religious/political representative of the late Grand Ayatullah Muhsin al-Hakim in Iraq.
In addition to his political activities, Seyyed al-Hakim was a leading member of several Islamic associations. Sayed Al-Hakim was a co-founder of the Islamic political movement in Iraq established in the late 1950s, along with the late distinguished leader Ayatollah Sayed Mohammed Baqir Al-Sadr and other scholars. He was also the author of many books on Islamic and political thoughts.
He was arrested and tortured for his beliefs by Saddam's forces in 1972. Five of his brothers and another dozen or so relatives were martyred by the Baathist regime.
Ayatullah Hakim was a co-founder of the Islamic political movement in Iraq established in the late fifties, along with the late distinguished leader Ayatullah Seyyed Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr and other scholars.
Seyyed al-Hakim's association with Ayatullah al-Sadr continued after his release in 1979 when Ayatullah al-Sadr was put under house arrest. At this point Seyyed al-Hakim assumed the responsibility of conducting clandestine contact with Ayatullah al-Sadr until April 1980 when Ayatullah al-Sadr was brutally martyred by Saddam's regime. Seyyed al- Hakim then decided to leave Iraq and finally went to Iran in 1980 shortly after the eruption of war between Iraq and Iran.
In 1972 Ayatullah Hakim was arrested and tortured by the Saddam's Baathist regime. He was released after a wide spread popular pressure on the regime. In 1977 he was re-arrested following the people's uprising in February 1977 in Najaf, and immediately sentenced to life imprisonment by special court without any trial. He was released in July 1979 following huge public pressure on the regime.
Ayatullah Hakim played a prominent role in the deliberations leading to the establishment of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Resistance in Iraq (SCIRI) in November 1982, the largest opposition group in the country. Saddam's regime reacted violently to Ayatullah Hakim's prominent political activity of SCIRI and arrested the number of his family in 1983.
Subsequently 18 members of his family were executed. Despite this ordeal and the assassination of his brother Seyyed Mahdi al-Hakim in Sudan in January 1988, Ayatullah Hakim continued his political activities against Saddam's regime.
At the time in Iran, Imam Khomeini founded Islamic Republic in Iran. Ayatollah Hakim spent more than two decades in exile. From Iran, he not only guided Supreme Assembly for Islamic Revolution in Iraq but also controlled the group's armed wing, the "Badr" brigade, which had estimated 10,000-15,000 Islamic combatants.
Ayatullah Hakim returned to Iraq in May 2003. Millions of Muslims welcomed him back in various cities and towns of southern Iraq.
As he crossed the border and drove to Al-Basrah on 10 May 2003, the returning ayatollah was greeted by thousands of supporters. In Al-Basrah, up to 100,000 people packed a stadium to listen to him address them for the first time in 23 years. In a speech interrupted several times by chanting, he thanked Iran for its support and rejected any US efforts to name a government for Iraq.
Ayatullah Hakim advocated a modern Islamic state that rejects religious extremism and is independent of foreign powers in Iraq. He also favoured free elections for the country. The US administration had long been wary of Ayatollah Hakim.
In May 2003, at a rally in "Al-Nasiriyah", he portrayed the occupation as a danger to Iraqi national identity. "Do the Americans accept it if the English govern their country, even though they share a similar culture? How can we accept a foreign government whose language is different than ours, whose skin is different than ours? Oh brothers, we will fight and fight so that the government we have is independent, that it is Iraqi," he said.
Ayatullah Hakim spoke out against American rule of Iraq. "They gave the justification that they came in the name of liberation, but now they are an occupying force", he said in June 2003, adding ominously: "If the people lose their patience, there will be social uproar."
In 29 August 2003, Ayatullah Hakim had just finished a sermon on the need for Iraqi unity and was emerging from the gold-domed shrine of Imam Ali when he and the number of worshipers were hit by a massive car-bomb explosion and they were martyred.