Al-Hajj passed away three days ago at the age 88. I have known him closely for more than 45 years. Despite his religious convictions and commitments, I did not find a quality that made me avert him.
Al-Hajj lived at least 80 years of his life performing all his religious duties with moderation and in silence, without obliging others of the burden of performing it unlike those who beat others and imprison those who eat in front of fasting people.
He lived all his life doing good deeds and was more understanding and knowledgeable than doctorate degrees holders although he remained until the last days of his life the son of a simple popular people and did not enter a university or a higher institute.
Al-Hajj evaded the clergy and did not allow them to come close to him despite their attraction to him, either due to his generosity and relative wealth, or his political status in the modern Lebanese state before its collapse
When the Iranian revolution took place, I and he were among those who rejoiced in it because it destroyed the regime of the corrupt and unjust Shah. But once Khomeini turned against his comrades and put democracy on the backburner, and took Wilayat al-Faqih (guardianship of Islamic jurist) as the system of rule and insisted on exporting the revolution, then we became suspicious and feared the consequences of his decisions.
Al-Hajj predicted at an early stage that the devastation of Lebanon will be at the hands of the new regime. Its political and sectarian strife was ready and should not be tampered with, however this happened later. Many of my ideas were contrary to his and we were discussing several issues, and he was often convinced of the conclusions we reached.
Despite our nearly half-century-long relationship, I never felt he had heavy-blood, hypocritical or offered unnecessary courtesy. I traveled with him and found nothing in him but goodness and generosity. He never mentioned a person with bad things but he was of little respect for his country’s politicians, he never attended their councils, and he rarely participated in their elections.
Hajj Hassan Fawaz was a moderate Muslim in every sense of the word, loved the Christians and respected the good humanitarian Jews, and was against the establishment of Israel, and was once imprisoned in its prisons.
He was very committed, but that did not prevent him from being flexible and of being Lebanese to the core. He belonged to a country that had more than eighteen official sects and other small ones but he knew that he had to live with this religious mosaic without fanaticism.
He was a committed Shiite who loved the People of the House (Family of the Prophet) and yet insisted that he be different in his love sincerely.
Before his death he refused condolences in a public place, but in his house and said he should be buried on the same day he died, if it was time of day. All of this requires a special personality to impose them and translate them on the ground.
This was my brother-in-law Hassan Fawaz. He left a vacuum which is difficult to fill. It was him who pushed me dozens of times to ask: Why not Muslims are like him in his tolerance and ethics? I guess I do not have the answer, suitable for publication.