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The power of some legends is eternal. Told by someone like Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah, such narratives evolve into an examination of the current political situation and ensuing instructions for his followers.
On 8 May, Nasrallah gave a long-awaited speech on his own TV station Al Manar, which many had been eagerly anticipating. He was confident that his words that evening would be received with interest not only in Lebanon and Iran, but also in Germany.
Having broken his fast, Nasrallah had a lot to announce from his hiding place that night: about the on-going Lebanese crisis, the deadly coronavirus that is rampant in his country, and about the ban on his followers' activities in Germany, which the German Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer (CSU) had announced the previous week.
Location of the legend: a bus station
Nasrallah used a Shia legend to illustrate these current crises and disasters: not only Hezbollah, but the entire "axis of resistance" currently finds itself in the valley of Abu Taleb, just as the beloved Prophet Muhammad himself once did. It was thus that the leader of Hezbollah described the situation of his own party in Lebanon, of his mentors in Tehran, and of his followers in Germany.
"Axis of Resistance" is a term synonymous with all Shia activists and paramilitaries worldwide. After this speech devout Shias immediately realised the gravity of the current situation – and what needs to be done.
The valley no longer exists today. Nowadays this place of Shia mythology is a bus station not far from Kaaba and the Great Mosque in Mecca. The fact that such a profane fate has been bestowed upon this sacred place, which is steeped in history for the Shia, is due to the fact that Saudi Arabia's ruling Wahhabis consider the Shia narrative to be pure nonsense – so much fake news.
As the Prophet, so are we all besieged
According to legend, the valley turned bus station, belonged to Abu Taleb, father of Ali, the first Imam of the Shia, and an uncle of the Prophet. In 617 he was called upon to save his threatened and defenceless nephew. Back then, Muhammad had been preaching his religion for seven years, claiming that he was God's messenger.
Initially, the tribal leaders and powerful men in Mecca did not take Muhammad and his mission seriously, preferring to ignore or ridicule the man who walked through the streets quoting Koran verses. As support for Muhammad grew, however, they tired of the troublesome preacher. The situation threatened to escalate, lives were in danger, and the Prophet and his small group of followers were forced to go into hiding.
Abu Taleb, Muhammad's uncle, granted the small community refuge in his valley. For three years, the Prophet and the new converts eked out a difficult existence under strict siege conditions. Food and water were smuggled into the valley at night.