Lebanon's Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah was buried on Tuesday, mourned by hundreds of thousands who paid homage to one of Shi'ite Islam's highest authorities.
The government declared Tuesday a national day of mourning and schools and government offices were closed.
A sea of men and women from across Lebanon, dressed in black, walked through the streets of Beirut's southern suburbs carrying pictures of the white-bearded, black-turbaned cleric, as well as black flags and mourning slogans. Many were weeping.
The grand ayatollah, who died in hospital on Sunday at the age of 75 of internal bleeding.
Fadlallah had a wide following beyond Lebanon's Shi'ites, extending to Central Asia and the Gulf.
A top authority of Shiite Islam revered in Lebanon and the region, including Iraq where he was born, Fadlallah was a "marjaa" -- a rank awarded to Shiite clerics qualified to issue religious edicts or fatwas.
Clerics carried his coffin on their shoulders from his home around the streets of southern Beirut where he lived for most of his life and started his charitable institutions. Pictures of Fadlallah, several metres high, hung outside mosques and in the streets. His speeches were broadcast from speakers.
The funeral procession stopped at several locations including the site of a car bomb which targeted him in 1985 and killed 80 people in an attack blamed on the United States. Fadlallah was buried at the Hassanein mosque where he used to preach.
Delegates from across the Middle East including Kuwait, Bahrain, Iran, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Iraq, as well as many Lebanese from abroad, took part in his funeral.
"He was a uniting force and believed in bringing different view points together between Sunni and Shi'ites," said Omar al-Kaissi, a Sunni Muslim from Morocco, who was at the funeral.
Hussein Taher, a Lebanese living in Nigeria, said nobody would be able to replace Fadlallah as a guide and mentor.
Several Lebanese officials and Sunni and Druze clerics also took part in the funeral.
Many among the crowd held their fists in the air and chanted: "Death to America and death to Israel."
Hezbollah and the Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr declared three days of mourning among their followers.
The Shiite cleric frequently blasted US policies in the Middle East, especially the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq and Washington's ties with Israel and he condemned the 9/11 attacks on the United States.
Fadlallah also last year issued a fatwa forbidding the normalisation of ties with Israel that still occupies Palestinian and Arab lands.
Fadlallah survived several assassination attempts, including a 1985 car bomb which killed 80 people in south Beirut. U.S. news reports said the attack was carried out by a U.S.-trained Lebanese unit.
Fadlallah was born in 1935 in the Iraqi Shiite holy city of Najaf, where his parents emigrated from Lebanon to study Islam.
He returned to Lebanon in 1966 and founded the Islamic Sharia Institute which has trained a number of prominent Shiite leaders.
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