Jaafarite Mufti, Sheikh Ahmad Qabalan issued on Tuesday what could be interpreted as a "religious order" by calling on Shiite followers to vote for the Shiite duo of the Hezbollah party and Amal movement in the May 15 parliamentary elections in Lebanon.
He said the elections were a form of "major worship and religious duty", barring a boycott of the polls or the submission of a blank vote.
He described the elections as "fateful" and "one of the greatest obligations before God."
"The elections are a decisive national, religious and moral duty," Qabalan said during a sermon on the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.
"Hesitation is haram [religiously forbidden], abandoning the electoral battle is forbidden, submitting a blank vote is forbidden, because the country and state are a blessing from God lest you squander them. Whoever abandons the electoral battle is abandoning one of the greatest duties before God ," he warned.
Moreover, he framed the elections as an American-regional plot aimed at "eliminating" and "Zionizing" Lebanon.
"Neutrality is therefore a great crime," he added.
The elections will "liberate" political decision-making and "save the country from treacherous tutelage", alleged Qabalan.
"The issue is not about who can reap a homogeneous parliamentary majority, but rather about national priorities and goals. Everything else is marginal," he remarked.
Addressing all Lebanese, regardless of their sect, he declared: "We want to live together away from the mentality of a victor and a vanquished and away from psychological barriers and abhorrent republics."
"The sectarian political experience has torn us apart and divided us. It has transformed our one national family into statelets of fear, spite and boycott that is exploited by the ruling elite and their family deals and barbaric cartels," he lamented.
By voting for the Shiite duo, he said, the people would be voting in favor of "burying a sectarian system in favor of a national one."