Haifa Wehbe was born in Mahrouna, Lebanon and raised in Beirut, Lebanon.
Wehbe is a Shia Muslim and is at least somewhat devout. The nature of her career as a model, pop singer, and actress, along with her often provocative attire and sex-symbol status, put her under attack by fundamentalist Muslims. After her interest in taking a month-long spiritual retreat was met with scoffs in the press, she responded,
I’m a Muslim, I used to fast since I was just a little child, and no one should interfere between a worshiper and his God.
The Lebanese superstar also makes no secret of her devotion to the rituals of the holy month of Ramadan. At the start of the religious month in 2012, she posted on her Twitter feed,
Ramadan Kareem to all, I wish this month brings you and your loved ones peace, love, good health and harmony.
So even if some conservative and fundamentalist Muslims won’t accept her as one of their own, she is Muslim just the same.
Even though conservative Muslims don’t accept her, Wehbe isn’t afraid to praise them. The singer threw her support behind the Islamic militant group Hezbollah after the 2006 Lebanon War, saying they defended her country’s honor against Israel. She said,
There’s no war that starts with no reason. The one who begins it is the aggressor and I don’t think we started it.
Her support for the organization stems at least partially from the fact that her own brother died fighting Israel in the 1980s, and that she’s from southern Lebanon, Hezbollah’s birthplace. Despite the fact that she claimed in 2008 that she was “under the command” of Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah, the affinity is not reciprocated. When Wehbe tried to participate in a Hezbollah flotilla to Gaza, they rejected her based on the concern that Wehbe’s immodesty could “harm the reputation of all the women participating in the trip.”
And Hezbollah isn’t the only political organization with something to say about Wehbe. In 2008, the Bahrainian parliament unsuccessfully attempted to prohibit the singer from performing in its country. About the controversy, Wehbe said,
I am a performer and not a politician. I will leave politics for the politicians and let our president talk politics.
That’s very diplomatic of her, especially since she is completely involved in politics. But in the end, the show must go on!