Lebanon observed a day of mourning Tuesday in preparing for the burial of grand
Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, the country's leading Shiite cleric, who died over the weekend, suffering from liver problems, DPA reported.
Shops, banks and government institutions closed after the Lebanese cabinet announced Tuesday an official mourning day for the country.
Fadlallah, who was seen in the 1980s as spiritual mentor to the militant Islamist group Hezbollah, will be buried after noon prayersin Beirut's southern suburbs.
Thousands of Shiites from Lebanon, Iran, Iraq as well as Lebanese officials are expected to take part in the funeral procession.
The body of Fadlallah will be transported through most of Beirut's southern suburbs before burial at the Imam Hassanian Mosque
Black flags lined the streets leading to Beirut's southern suburbs as women and men were clad in black.
Near the mosque where Fadlallah will be buried, pictures of the clergyman were hanging with banners that read "I bid you all farewell."
Fadlallah, who was born in 1935, was admitted on Friday to a hospital in the southern suburbs, suffering from liver problems.
The cleric was regarded as a religious guide for the Hezbollah, from its founding in 1982. He was an outspoken critic of United States and Israeli actions in the region. Fadlallah is blacklisted as a terrorist in the US.
Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah who paid his condolences to Fadlallah's family overnight for security reasons, described him as "a man who stood courageously with the resistance against the enemy Israel, who always ... warned against the plots planned for this region."
In recent years Fadlallah, who was born in the Iraqi city of Najaf, distanced himself from Hezbollah, and promoted moderate social views, including on the role of women.
He rejected the Iranian Shiite doctrine of the rule of the clerical elite.
"No Shiite religious leader, not even (late Iranian leader Ayatollah) Khomeini, has a monopoly on the truth," he argued.
Fadlallah in his weekly Friday prayer sermons had frequently called for armed resistance against the Israeli occupation of Lebanon, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip, along with opposition to the existence of Israel. He was also an open critic of the American policies in the region.
But despite his strong statement against Israel and the US, the Shiite clergyman also always denounced terrorist acts.
Fadlallah was the target of several assassination attempts, a March 8, 1985 Beirut car bombing that killed 80 people.