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79. Weeping

Allah, the Wise, has said:

فَلْيَضْحَكُواْ قَلِيلًا وَ لْيَبْكُواْ كَثِيرًا

“Therefore they shall laugh little and weep much”1

Imam Ali (peace be upon him) had said:

بُكاءُ الْعُيُون وَ خَشْيَةُ الْقُلوبِ مِنْ رَحْمَةِ اللهِ تَعاَليَ

“The weeping of the eyes and the fear of the hearts are of the mercy of God, The Exalted”2

Short Explanation

One of the manifestations of divine mercy is weeping. Tears flow out for a number of reasons – out of attraction for those, who are attracted; out of sorrow for those who are in misery and out of worldly losses for those who are attached to the world.
If one weeps as a result of an inner change, it is due to Divine grace but if it stems from deceit (like the brothers of Yusuf), its pretentiousness shall become apparent and its evil effects manifest.

If a person cannot weep, he should put up an appearance of weeping in order that he becomes a recipient of divine mercy, especially so with respect to Imam Husain (peace be upon him) as it has been greatly emphasized to shed tears over him (peace be upon him).

1) Prophet Nuh

The name of Prophet Nuh had been A'bd al-Ghaffaar. After the lashing of the storm, the rising of the water and the drowning of the people, the archangel Jibraeel approached him and said: Some time back, your profession was carpentry, now turn to pottery!

When Prophet Nuh had constructed numerous pots, Jibraeel said to him: God has commanded you to break the pots. Nuh hurled some of the pots onto the ground and broke them – some of them he hurled lightly while others he dashed with reluctance and disinclination. A little later Jibraeel observed that he (peace be upon him) was not breaking any more pots and so questioned: Why don’t you break them?

He (peace be upon him) replied: My heart is unwilling to break them for I have spent a lot of effort in constructing them.

Jibraeel said to him (peace be upon him): O’ Nuh! Do any of these pots possess life? Do they possess fathers, mothers etc.?

Continuing, he said: The earth and water are from God. Your only contribution was that you exerted yourself and constructed them, but yet you are reluctant and unwilling to break them. So how did you permit yourself to curse the people and destroy them all despite the fact that they had been created by God and possessed life and had fathers and mothers…?

Hearing this Nuh wept bitterly and intensely and hence came to acquire the title of Nuh.3

2) Prophet Yahya

Prophet Yahya (peace be upon him) once came to Bayt al-Maqdas and witnessed some clerics and priests wearing coarse garments and woolen caps. He requested his mother to arrange for him a similar dress so that he too could engage himself in worship with them. When his mother gave him the outfit, he engaged himself in worship in Bayt al-Maqdas.

One day, looking at himself in the mirror and observing that he had become very thin, he began to weep. God revealed to him: You weep because your body has become thin? By My Honour and Glory! If you were to possess the slightest awareness of the fire of Hell, you would have worn a garment made of iron rather than one made of fabric.
Hearing this, Yahya (peace be upon him) wept immensely and intensely.

One day his father, Zakariya (peace be upon him) said to him: Dear son! Why do you weep so much? I had sought you from God so that you may be the apple of my eye!

Yahya (peace be upon him) replied: But were you not the one, who had said that between Paradise and Hell lies a pass; none shall traverse it except those who weep intensely out of fear of God?

Yahya (peace be upon him) used to weep so much that his mother arranged for him two pieces of felt, which would absorb the tears which flowed from his eyes. When they would become drenched with his tears, he would squeeze the felt and tears would flow down from them from between his fingers.

Zakariya (peace be upon him) would look at his son, raise his head towards the heavens and say: O’ Lord! This is my son and these are his tears and You are the most Merciful of the merciful ones.

When Yahya (peace be upon him) would hear the name of Sukran (a mountain in Hell), in a state of utter perturbation and distress, he would rush out into the desert crying: Woe (unto me) due to heedlessness (with respect to God), and his father and mother would rush out after him in the desert.4

3) The Intense Weeping of Hadhrat Zahra

The loss of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his holy progeny), the sacrilege committed in connection with Wilayah and the injurious blows (to her) caused Hadhrat Zahra (peace be upon her) to become tearful.

The people of Medinah used to be inconvenienced by her weeping and so said to her (peace be upon her): We are troubled by your wailings! Thus she was compelled to go to the graves of the martyrs of Uhud for weeping and then return to Medinah.

In another tradition it has been reported that the elders of Medinah approached Imam Ali (peace be upon him) and said: O’ Aba al-Hasan! Fatimah weeps during the day and the night and none of us are able to sleep at night. During the day, we are unable to rest due to our involvement in earning the livelihood, while at night we are unable to do so due to her (peace be upon her) weeping. Ask her to weep either during the day or during the night. The Imam (peace be upon him) conveyed this message to her (peace be upon her) whereupon she said: O’ Aba Al-Hasan! I shall not remain in this world for long but shall shortly depart from amidst the people. I shall never be able to calm myself from my weeping till I am united with my father.

Imam (peace be upon him) constructed for her, in the cemetery of Baqee’ outside Medinah, a room of bricks and date-palm leaves by the name of Bayt al-Ahzaan. Every morning, Zahra (peace be upon her) would take her children and go to Baqee’ where she would weep incessantly amongst the graves; when night would fall, the Imam (peace be upon him) would come and bring her home with him.5

4) Thirty Five Years of Weeping!

Imam Sadiq (peace be upon him) said: The fourth Imam (peace be upon him) wept for his father for around forty years, the days of which he used to remain in a state of fasting while the nights he would pass in worship. When it would be time for breaking the fast, his slave would bring food and water, and placing them before him, say: “Eat it”. (Whereupon) he (peace be upon him) would say: “My father was killed in a state of hunger and thirst”, and then he would weep so intensely that his food would become moistened by his tears. And this continued for as long as he was alive.

One of the friends of Imam Sajjaad (peace be upon him) says:

One day the Imam (peace be upon him) had started out for the desert and so I too went after him. When I found him, I saw him prostrating upon a rough stone, weeping and wailing and counted that he recited a dhikr a thousand times. He then raised his head (and I observed) that his face and beard were moistened with tears.

I said to him: O’ My Master! End your sorrow and reduce your weeping! He said: Woe unto you! Ya'qub, the son of Ishaaq, was a prophet and the son of a prophet. He had twelve sons and when one of them was lost, he was so grieved that his hair turned white, his body bent over and due to the intense weeping his eyes lost their vision, and this despite the fact that his son was still alive. But I have seen my father, brother and seventeen persons from my family being killed and lying on the ground with my own eyes, so how can my sorrow end and how can the tears of my eyes reduce?6

5) The Weeping of Mercy

From his first wife Khadijah, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) had six children while from his other wives, it was only Maria Qibti, who bore one son, whom the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) named Ibrahim.

Ibrahim did not live for more than one year, two months and eight days and passed away in the month of Dhul Hijjah in the year 8 A.H.

The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) was overcome with intense grief over the loss of Ibrahim and with tears flowing from his eyes involuntary, he was heard saying: The eyes are tearful and the heart is anguished (but) we shall not say anything, which shall anger the Lord. Surely we, O’ Ibrahim, are grief-stricken for you.

A’aishah says: When tears began to flow from his eyes over his cheeks, a person said: “O’ Prophet of God! You prohibit us from weeping whereas you yourself weep! The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) explained: This is not weeping but mercy. One who does not exhibit mercy shall not be encompassed by mercy.7

  • 1. Holy Qur'an, ch. Al-Taubah (9), vs. 82.
  • 2. Tafseer al-Mu’een, pg. 309.
  • 3. Jaame’ al-Nurain, pg. 122.
  • 4. Risaalah Liqaa Allah, pg. 157; Amaali Al-Saduq.
  • 5. Museebat-e-Buzurg, pg. 47;Bihaar al-Anwaar, vol. 43, pg. 155, 177.
  • 6. Namunah-e-Ma’arif, vol. 2, pg. 589; Anwaar al-Nu’maaniyyah, pg. 2, pg. 27.
  • 7. Daastaan-ha Wa Pand-ha, vol. 7, pg. 75; Wasaail al-Shia’h, vol. 2, pg. 921.

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