Muqtada al-Sadris an Iraqi Shia cleric, politician and militia leader. He is the leader of a political party, the Sadrist Movement and the leader of Saraya al-Salam, a Shia militia that is a reformation of the previous militia he led during the American occupation of Iraq, the Mahdi Army. Muqtada al-Sadr is one of the most influential religious and popular figures in Iraq, despite not holding any official title in the Iraqi government.
He is of the prominent Sadr family originating from Jabal Amel in Lebanon but later settled in Najaf, his father-in-law being Mohammad Baqir al-Sadr. He is often styled with the honorific title Sayyid.
Western media often refer to Muqtada al-Sadr as an "anti-American" or "radical" cleric, but his formal religious standing is comparatively low, at a mid-ranking Shia religious rank perhaps reflecting his youth, and he claims neither the title of mujtahid (the equivalent of a senior religious scholar) nor the authority to issue fatwas.In early 2008 he was reported to be studying to be an ayatollah, which would greatly improve his religious standing.
Muqtada al-Sadr is the fourth son of a famous Iraqi Shi'a cleric, the late Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr. He is also the son-in-law of Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr. Both were revered for their concern for the poor.Muqtada al-Sadr is of Iraqi and Iranian ancestry. His great-grandfather is Ismail as-Sadr. Mohammed Sadeq al-Sadr, Muqtada al-Sadr's father, was a respected figure throughout the Shi'a Islamic world. He was murdered, along with two of his sons, allegedly by the government of Saddam Hussein. Muqtada's father-in-law was executed by the Iraqi authorities in 1980. Muqtada is a cousin of the disappeared Musa al-Sadr, the Iranian-Lebanese founder of the popular Amal Movement.
In 1994, al-Sadr married one of Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr's daughters. He has no children.
Muqtada al-Sadr gained popularity in Iraq following the toppling of the Saddam government by the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Al-Sadr has on occasion stated that he wishes to create an "Islamic democracy".
Al-Sadr commands strong support (especially in the Sadr City district in Baghdad, formerly named Saddam City but renamed after the elder al-Sadr). After the fall of the Saddam government in 2003, Muqtada al-Sadr organized thousands of his supporters into a political movement, which includes a military wing known as the Jaysh al-Mahdi or Mahdi Army).The name refers to the Mahdi, a long-since disappeared Imam who is believed by Shi'a Muslims to be due to reappear when the end of time approaches. This group has periodically engaged in violent conflict with the United States and other Coalition forces, while the larger Sadrist movement has formed its own religious courts, and organized social services, law enforcement, and prisons in areas under its control.His strongest support comes from the class of dispossessed Shi'a, like in the Sadr City area of Baghdad. Many Iraqi supporters see in him a symbol of resistance to foreign occupation.The Mahdi army operated deaths squads that frequently killed Sunni civilians particularly during the civil war phase of the Iraq war.
In a statement received by AFP on 15 February 2014, Sadr announced the closure of all offices, centers and associations affiliated with Al-Shaheed Al-Sadr, his martyred father, inside and outside Iraq, and announced his non-intervention in all political affairs, adding that no bloc will represent the movement inside or outside the government or parliament.Several times he has called for all paramilitary groups recognised by the Iraqi state to be dissolved after the complete defeat of ISIL and that all foreign forces (including Iran) then leave Iraqi territory. He surprised many when he visited the crown princes of both Saudi Arabia, for the first time in 11 years,and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2017 and earlier and was criticized in some Iranian circles.In April 2017, he distinguished himself from other Iraqi Shiite leaders in calling on Iranian-backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down and save the country from more bloodshed.Al-Sadr's efforts to strengthen relations between Saudi Arabia and Iraq mirror those of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.