Al-Hakim was the son of Grand Ayatollah Mohsin al-Hakim, the leader of the Shia world from 1955 to 1970. He helped establish the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, formerly known as SCIRI, Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq. He took over the leadership of the party following the assassination of his brother in August 2003.
The leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq Sayyid Abdul Aziz al-Hakim passed away due to lung cancer in Tehran on Wednesday. Hakim’s death was due to natural causes, a rare case in his family, in that six of his brothers were killed during Saddam’s regime. The timing of the funeral was symbolic: on the same day six years ago, Hakim’s brother Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim was assassinated in Najaf.
Al-Hakim, 59, was the son of Grand Ayatollah Mohsin al-Hakim, the leader of the Shia world from 1955 to 1970. In 1982, Hakim helped establish the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, formerly known as SCIRI, Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq. He took over the leadership of the party following the assassination of his brother in August 2003. His death leaves a vacancy at the top of Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, which was until recently the country’s leading political party, as Iraq quickly approaches its first national elections since 2005. Al-Hakim continued his family’s tradition of fighting against the tyrannical rule of Saddam Hussein, and championing among Iraq’s Shia majority for its right to self-rule. Hakim’s leadership is extensively credited with paving the way for the reemergence of Iraq’s Shias onto the Iraqi political scene following years of oppression under the Baathist regime.
Thousands of mourners followed al-Hakim’s casket draped in an Iraqi flag in a procession once it arrived in Najaf, following a three-day tour through Tehran, Baghdad, and Karbala. The funeral was attended by the country’s top leaders, as well as thousands of mourners who had come to bid him farewell carrying black banners, and messages of condolences were sent from religious and political around the world, including Ayatollah Khamenei, Ayatollah Sistani, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.
Hakim’s will was read in Najaf by his son Ammar al Hakim, who is also expected to take over leadership of the party. Although the younger Hakim is part of a religious and political dynasty revered among the Shias, he has far less stature than his late father and uncle.
In his will, the late Abdul Aziz al-Hakim called for unity among Iraqis and the preservation of religious traditions in the country. He also appointed his son as the leader of the party, saying, “I have bestowed the struggler Ammar Al-Hakim to be my [successor] after my death. Coming from my personal detailed knowledge of him, he [Ammar] is trusted and he has the experience and capability to…take full responsibility and continue the path of struggle. He is keen to serve Iraq, paying attention to the Iraqi people and not forgetting the grave sacrifices made.”
Al-Hakim was laid to rest alongside his brother Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim in Najaf. On Thursday, the Iraqi government announced three days of mourning following the passing of al-Hakim.