Muhammad Baqir Al Hakim
Ayatollah who headed the largest opposition group in Iraq after the American occupation.
Ayatollah al-Hakim was a high-ranking cleric who advocated a form of pluralism in his society after the illegal occupation of Iraq by American and British forces. He was a pragmatic critic of America who opposed the US occupation of Iraq but was ready to wait for new shaping of Iraq rather than confront US forces.
Ayatollah al-Hakim fled to exile in Iran, in 1980, at a time when the US was giving tacit support to Saddam Hussein. In 1982, he proclaimed the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), an umbrella group. He had his 8,000-strong paramilitary wing, the Badre Corps, well trained, armed and commanded to fight Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq war.
After returning to Iraq in May 2003 after 20 years' exile in Iran, Ayatollah al-Hakim distanced himself from the ruling clerics in Iran. He was aware that he owed his presence and political future in Iraq to the US forces.
Ayatollah al-Hakim was a great scholar and author of 33 books on Islamic philosophy, theology, politics, history and logic. He enjoyed political and philosophical debate and had an academic and open-minded approach. He believed in independence, justice and freedom.
Ayatollah al-Hakim had just finished a sermon on the need for Iraqi unity and was emerging from the shrine in his hometown Najaf when he and at least 75 others were hit by a massive car-bomb explosion.
Compiled by:M. Nauman Khan