Shī'ī scholars from Jabal 'Āmil, the hill-country which lies inland from Ṣaydā and Ṣūr in southern Lebanon, claim that theirs is the oldest of all Shī'ī communities. They attribute its foundation to Abū Dharr, a Companion of the Prophet and one of the first supporters of the claims of 'Alī to be his successor. He is said to have gone from Madīna to Damascus, and to have been exiled from there to the country districts of Bilād al-Shām, or Syria in the broader geographical sense. There is a mosque associated with his name in the village of Mays al-Jabal.
1 I am most grateful to Professor Wilferd Madelung, Dr. Hossein Modarressi Tabātabā'ī and Mr. Mohammed Mattar for helpful suggestions and criticisms, and for drawing my attention to sources which I should not otherwise have known.