In the 24th June issue of ‘Razakar’1 some Ahl al-Sunnah scholars have posed seven questions regarding the Azadari of Husayn (a.s). Though it is best to ignore foolish objections, we find it necessary here because if we don’t rebut them they would be further emboldened to write anything that comes to their feeble minds.
The following is the actual text of those questions:
(1) Is Azadari, in its present form obligatory, recommended or Bid’ah?
(2) If it is obligatory, please quote the verse of Qur’an with reference and if it is Sunnah please state whether it is the Sunnah of the Prophet or Sunnah of the Imams?
(3) If it is Sunnah of Prophet, is it practical Sunnah or verbal Sunnah?
(4) If it is verbal, please prove where the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) has ordered chest beating, flagellation, wearing black clothes and taking out a horse?
(5) If it is practical Sunnah, did the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) ever do Azadari in remembrance of the previous prophets?
(6) If it is the Sunnah of the Imams, prove that His Eminence, ‘Ali (r.a.), after the passing away of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) made a Ta’ziyah or performed Ma’tam.
(7) Did any Imam perform such an act after the martyrdom of Sayyidna (our master) Husayn? If it is so, prove it from your books and for every tradition collect 100 as reward. Otherwise make an announcement that Azadari in its present form is against Islamic law and is an innovation.
The most important of these is the first question but just for the satisfaction of the questioner I say that all right I accept that Azadari is an innovation. Now you must have become happy that a Shia has accepted Azadari to be an innovation. But before becoming happy on it, gather your senses and pay attention to the details of this reply:
In fact, puppet Mullahs like you mislead the people only saying that Azadari is Bid’ah (innovation), Ta’ziyah is innovation, Majlis is innovation, weeping is innovation. This is innovation, that is innovation. In other words after wearing the glasses of ignorance and bigotry you people see innovation in everything and everywhere. And this furor of innovation has made you so terrorized that you all start having anxiety fits before Muharram and you leave to visit the countryside and become tools of Satan in misleading gullible people. You present to them the argument that since the rituals of Azadari started after the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) they are innovations and are indeed against the Law of Shariah. This is the only proof you have, through which you fulfill the plans of Yazid, Mutawakkil, Ghazzali and Ibn Arabi and try to destroy the name of Husayn (a.s). And with the intention of the firm basis of this same argument you have written the next six questions. So that if the reply to the questions is in the negative you can announce that if the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) and the Imams had not performed those acts they are indeed against Shariat and are innovations. This is what I want you to remember; that even if we assume that the Azadari of Husayn (a.s) is a later invention after the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) even then it cannot be taken out of the circle of ‘respect’ and put into the category of ‘prohibition’. And it cannot be said to be something against Shariat.
The dictionary meaning of ‘Bid’ah’ is ‘a new thing’. Thus it is mentioned in the second volume of Sarah (Bab-ul-A’in, Faslul Baa) that Bid’ah is an innovation introduced into religion after its perfection.
It is mentioned in the famous book of Ahl al-Sunnah, Majmaul Bahrayn that: Whatever was not present in the time of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) is ‘innovation’.
The famous dictionary, al-Qamus says: Innovation is to bring something new into religion after its perfection or the beliefs and rituals that have started after the Holy Prophet (s.a.w).
I am ready to accept the above definitions of Bid’ah. But the problem is, after accepting these definitions not only Azadari, all the principles of Islam will have to be invalidated! Because:
The present sequence of the Holy Qur’an is one fixed by the third caliph, Uthman. Therefore to read the Qur’an in this sequence is innovation. The diacritic marks on the text of the Holy Qur’an were added after the apparent caliphate of His Eminence, ‘Ali (a.s) and the dots were placed during the time of Hajjaj bin Yusuf. Therefore to read or to possess a Qur’an with diacritic marks or dots is an innovation. During the period of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) the Holy Qur’an was written in the Kufi script. Therefore it is an innovation to write and read it in the Naskh and Nastaliq script (as it is done nowadays). The 30 parts and seven stages of Qur’an were determined by the reciters for their own convenience much later. Therefore to follow the limits of ‘Juz’ (Part) or stages (Manzil) in printing the Qur’an or writing it or reading it, or even giving reference by it is an innovation. The translation of Qur’an into other languages came into vogue at a much later period. Hence it is an innovation to translate the Qur’an, to read a translation or appoint translators.
Since Umar etc. were dead against the compilation of traditions (Hadith), the collecting of traditions in Ahl al-Sunnah began after the Righteous Caliphate (Khilafat-e-Rashida) during the reign of the Banu Umayyah. Therefore to compile books of traditions, or to arrange traditions in parts, sections and chapters or to arrange them on the basis of narrators and subjects is an innovation. The science of biographies of narrators of traditions was formulated much later to verify the authenticity of traditions. Therefore it is an innovation to learn this science and to act upon it.
Commentaries of Qur’an were compiled even later than the books of traditions, although prominent personalities like Ahmad bin Hanbal were dead against it. Therefore both, writing a commentary of Qur’an and reading it is an innovation.
The concoction of solution to legal problems according to ones personal opinion came into vogue from the personality of Abu Hanifah during the 2nd century of Hijri. Therefore his complete jurisprudence and law is innovation. During the beginning period of the reign of the Abbasids when Greek philosophy entered Islamic lands and there was an upsurge in apostasy and disbelief, scholars of Islam began to apply principles of philosophy to justify Islamic beliefs and principles so as to defend the religion of Islam. And the resultant science from the activity came to be known as Ilme Kalam (Scholastic theology). Among the Islamic sciences, it is the most modern science. Therefore to prove the validity of Islamic principles through this method is indeed against Islamic Law.
Thus, Allamah Ibn Hajar Asqalani says in Fathul Bari Sharh Sahih Bukhari (Bab-al-Iqtida Bi Sunnan ar-Rasool):
“Among the things that came into being after the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) are the collection and arrangement of Hadith (traditions). After that is the Tafsir (Exegesis) of Qur’an. After that is the method of deriving the laws of Shariah only through reason. After that is the collection of the rituals of mysticism (Tasawwuf). Thus Umar, Abu Musa Ashari and a group were against the collection of traditions. And most of the people have permitted it. And Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal and a community was against the Exegesis of Qur’an. In the same way Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal was also dead against the derivation of religious laws through analogy (Qiyas).
Among the ‘new things’ is scholastic theology and the predecessors (Salaf) were against it; like Imam Abu Hanifah, Abu Yusuf and Imam Shafei etc.
Thus is the condition of Islamic sciences. Now let us see what happens to the daily social relations (which no one considers needless of divine (laws).
The Sherwani (long coat) and the different types of caps worn in India and Pakistan were non-existent during the time of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w). Therefore to wear such things is an innovation. The various dishes cooked by the people nowadays were never used by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) in his time. Therefore it is an innovation to prepare such dishes and to eat such foods. The use of paper currency did not exist during the time of the Prophet. Therefore it is an innovation to use paper currency. During the time of the Prophet no one used lifeless objects to travel. Therefore it is an innovation to travel by rail, car and bicycles etc.
However, this is not the end of the matter. Ahl al-Sunnah people say that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) did not issue any command for caliphate after him. That is why need was felt consensus (Ijma) etc. That is the consensus through which the caliphate of Abu Bakr is proved. And that nomination through which the caliphate of Umar is established. Also that Shura (consultative committee) through which Uthman is considered a caliph and the use of force and power, through which Muawiyah occupied the throne of caliphate. In other words all the principles of caliphate have come into being only after the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w). Therefore they are indeed against Shariah and they are nothing but innovations. Thus the caliphate of those people is absolutely an innovation. Hence, if Azadari is deemed to have started after the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) and therefore worthy to be shunned and considered illegal and innovation, first of all you must consign to flames all the Qur’ans in following the practice (Sunnah) of Uthman and in accordance with the sequence of the time of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) write it in Kufi script and make it popular. And until the time such a Qur’an is not arranged, leave the present one, which from arrangement to diacritics and even in dotting is sunk in innovation. Throw away all the books of exegesis, traditions and beliefs in the sea. Stop using the science of biographies of narrators and scholastic theology. Make all types of garments, except Arab dress as unlawful. Refrain from eating and drinking all types of victuals and drinks that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) had not used. Consider paper money as deadly snakes and scorpions and keep them away from you. When you have accomplished all this and become free from these Islamic sciences and worldly pleasures, uproot and discard the garden of caliphate considering it to have been based on innovation and exercise complete aloofness from those caliphs whose caliphate was based on innovations.
And the parable of an evil word is as an evil tree pulled up from the earth’s surface; it has no stability.2
If you are really sincere about these things, first give up Sunnism in this way and then you shall have the right to ask us to forgo Azadari.
Now pay attention to another aspect of the matter:
When any formula is formed, it is also checked whether its opposite is also true or not. “If the sun is out it must be day.” This statement is correct because its opposite is also correct, that is, “If the sun is not out, it would not be day.” Therefore if it is established that, “Everything that was not present during the time of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) is innovation and deviation,” it must be agreed that, “Anything that was present in the time of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) is not innovation and deviation.” It implies that since disbelief and polytheism were present in time of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w), therefore they are not innovation and deviation. Adultery and sodomy was committed even during the time of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w), so it is not innovation and deviation. Alcoholism was also found in the time of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w), hence it is not innovation and deviation. Gambling and chess existed during the time of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w), therefore they cannot be considered innovations and deviations.
In the same way, theft, robbery, looting, hypocrisy, under-weighing, lying, allegation making, falsely accusing, concealing testimony, killing a believer, usurping the property of orphans, usury, misappropriation of other people’s property, in other words all the crimes mentioned in the Holy Qur’an were present in the time of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) otherwise there would have been no need to prohibit them. Thus if being present in the time of the Prophet (s.a.w) is the criterion of its justification or absence of justification, we would have to agree that since all these things were present during the time of the Prophet (s.a.w), they are not deviations, and apparently understanding this from the above definition of ‘innovation’ and accepting this logic:
(1) Imam Abu Hanifah issued a verdict that it is lawful to drink Nabidh (barley wine), rather it is even permitted to perform Wuzu (ablution) with it. And if wine is boiled a little both its impurity and unlawfulness is removed. And they have also permitted use of pistachio-sized hemp seed as mentioned in most books of Hanafite jurisprudence.
(2) Imam Shafei has permitted chess to keep ones mind sharp and fresh.
(3) Imam Malik has allowed sodomy: If a person commits sodomy with his slave or servant, it is lawful. Imam Shafei has also supported this statement. Many Shafei scholars have agreed, notably Ya’fai, in his book quotes the statement of Shafei that: from the viewpoint of analogy (Qiyas), sodomy is lawful.
(4) Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal, also, agreeing with Abu Hanifah, permitted drinking of hemp-wine. Nasir Khusroo has versified this as follows:
“Shafei has said that chess is forever lawful. Do not make a mistake because the Imam has said correctly.
Ibn Hanbal has said that if in spite of this you are fed up of sorrow, eat a pistachio-sized hemp seed and roam about in intoxication. Now if you wish to follow the fourth Imam, Malik, he also makes sodomy lawful for you. Enjoy hemp, gamble, drink wine and commit sodomy because being a Muslim has ended with the four Imams.”
Here one becomes desirous to congratulate the Ahl al-Sunnah people of Pakistan and especially the Tanzeem Ahl al-Sunnah, that their Imams have in no way discredited their views about innovation. And they have legalized all those things that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) had denounced, because they existed during the time of the Prophet (s.a.w). By doing this they have certified that the criterion of lawfulness or unlawfulness of something is not the Qur’an and traditions, but it is its presence or absence during the time of the Prophet. Hence, Azadari, which started after the time of the Prophet is an innovation and unlawful.
The real cause of all these incidents is only that the half-baked Ahl al-Sunnah scholars began to think that everything that was not present during the time of the Prophet is innovation. And according to the famous statement: Every innovation is deviation and every innovation leads to Hell fire.” Although this view is mostly untrue and invalid and educated people of both the Shia and Sunni sects have criticized this viewpoint.
All sensible people of the world are practically unanimous that in penal laws only those things are mentioned that are unlawful and illegal. And it is understood that except for these, everything is permissible. In other words anything that is not specified to be illegal is considered lawful. That is why you will not find any law book saying that it is lawful to have your clothes washed by a washer man. But it is indeed mentioned that if you do not pay for the labor, it is a wrongful act and against law. And its remedies are mentioned. This method is followed because it is impossible to list all the things/acts that would be lawful in the world. While it is comparatively easy to mention all the unlawful acts/things. That is why the law only informs about these things and assumes silence and the rest of the things are considered lawful.
Thus it is a universally accepted tradition of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) that: “Everything is lawful until its prohibition is not mentioned.” In the same way there is another tradition that says: “Everything is permissible until a command or prohibition regarding them does not reach you.”3 The same book contains the third tradition of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) that: “Anything that has permissible and prohibited mixed in it, is allowed for you until you specifically recognize the prohibited in it. Under such circumstances you would have to leave the prohibited.”
The statements of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) (Among whom the first tradition is also present among the Shias) and the second and the third tradition is specially recorded in Sunni books) clearly shows that the Islamic Shariah is also like other laws of the world based on the principle: Whatever is not prohibited, is allowed. However, those half-Mullahs are saying that: “What is not clearly permitted, is prohibited.”
Although there is a famous tradition of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) that: “One who initiates a good practice would be rewarded for doing it himself and also rewarded until, Qiyamat, equal to those who follow this practice. And one who initiates an evil practice will earn a punishment for doing it himself and also earn until Qiyamat punishment equal to those who follow this practice.”
This tradition clearly shows that a new practice is not bad and sinful merely because it is new. Rather if it is good, it would be rewarded and if it is an evil practice it shall earn punishment. That is why its explanation is provided in Majmaul Bahrayn:
“Innovation is of two types: (1) Innovations of guidance and (2) Innovation of misguidance. Thus whatever innovation is against the command of Allah and the Prophet, is condemnable and worth being damned. And whatever is included among the general actions that Allah and the Prophet have encouraged and made attractive, they are praiseworthy.”
In the same way Imam Shafei has said:
“Innovation is of two types. Praiseworthy innovation and condemnable innovation. Thus whichever innovation is in accordance with Sunnah is praiseworthy and whatever is against the Sunnah is condemnable.”
In the end we present the most detailed explanation provided by Ibn Hajar Asqalani in Fathul Bari Sharh Sahih Bukhari as follows:
“The majority (Ahl al-Sunnah) believes that innovations are of all the five types (obligatory, recommended, permissible, detestable and unlawful). Thus for example in order to refute the apostates the framing of scholastic arguments is an obligatory innovation. And writing Islamic books and founding Madressas are recommended innovations. New types of dishes are a permissible innovation. To spend excessively on food and dress is detestable innovation provided it does not reach to the limit of prohibited. And according to people of truth, to rebel against the rightful Imam is an unlawful innovation. Apart from this all those are against the Shariah and regarding whose unlawfulness there is proof.”
In the same way Shia scholar, Shahid Awwal writes in Qawaid:
“Matters that occur after the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) are of many types and we regard as innovation only that, which is also unlawful.”
And the Shahid Thani (a.r.), has written in Sharh Lumah under the discussion of Azaan (call for prayer) that:
“It is said that every innovation does not become unlawful merely due to its newness. Some scholars have even classified innovations into five types (obligatory, recommended, detestable, permissible and unlawful).
From the unanimous opinion of Sunni and Shia scholars it has become clear that lawfulness and unlawfulness of something does not depend on whether it was present in the time of the Prophet (s.a.w) or not. Rather it is whether it comes in the obligatory commands or recommended or permissible proofs or it comes under the detestable or unlawful laws. In other words, every new thing does not become unlawful merely due to its novelty. It is possible that that new thing may be obligatory or recommended or permissible or detestable. In the same way it is also possible that it may be unlawful.
Lastly, I would like to state that it is beyond the scope of this chapter to discuss in detail the lawfulness or otherwise of the innovations mentioned by us. It would suffice just to state that the system of deriving the laws of Shariah through analogy as practiced during the time of Abu Hanifah and the appointment of caliphs through nomination, Shura and force etc are all unlawful innovations. Apart from this other innovations fall in either of the following categories (1) Recommended (2) Detestable and (3) Permissible.
The foregone discussion has clearly established that Azadari cannot be considered unlawful merely due to its newness, for it would be against the principles of Islam. Rather it should be checked whether Azadari is in accordance with divine permission and pleasure of Allah or not. After that, depending upon the decision, the proper way would be to invite people towards it. Any other course of action would lead to misguidance and nothing else shall be achieved.
What is the meaning of Azadari? It is the commemoration of the events related to Imam Husayn (a.s). Now lets see if commemoration of events related to special ones of God is permitted by Divine law or not.
Every Muslim repeats the following sentence in his daily prayers:
Keep us on the right path. The path of those upon whom Thou hast bestowed favors.4
It is obvious that if we are not cognizant of the circumstances, events and mode of life those people on whom divine blessings have descended, how can we tread their path? Thus this prayer could only be fulfilled when we participate in religious gatherings (Majalis) and learn about the detailed accounts of the chosen ones of God. We must also know what is the path of those on whom the wrath of God has descended and those who are astray. So that we may avoid such a path. Otherwise we shall be involved in ignorance and lack of knowledge. We would continue to chant this prayer like parrots without gaining anything.
The great pillar of Islam is Hajj. From the beginning to the end, it is based on reliving of the events associated with the lives of Prophet Ibrahim, Prophet Ismail and Lady Hajrah (a.s). The 8th of Zilhajj is known as the ‘Yaum Tarwiyah’ and there are special rituals for this day. It is named thus because it was on that night that Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) saw in dream that he was sacrificing his son, Ismail on the orders of Allah, and the whole of next day he continued to reflect on his dream. Rituals prescribed for this day are in commemoration of this only.
The 9th of Zilhajj is known as ‘Yaumul Arafah’. It is only because on that night when Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) again saw that dream he became convinced that it was a command of God for him to slaughter his son. Rituals of this day are in remembrance of this realization and the plains where these rituals are performed are also named as the ‘plains of Arafat’.
The 10th Zilhajj is the most important day of the Hajj. Sacrifices are performed on this day. These sacrifices, ordered by the Qur’an, are reminders of the event of Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) who tried to sacrifice Ismail (a.s) and the Almighty Allah saved him and a ram was slaughtered in his place. Now these sacrifices are reminders of this same event and included among ‘signs of Allah’. The Almighty Allah says:
And (as for) the camels, We have made them of the signs of the religion of Allah for you…5
Performing ‘Sayy’ (jogging) between Mt. Safa and Mt. Marwah is an important Hajj ritual. It is nothing but commemoration of the incident when Ibrahim (a.s) left Lady Hajrah (s.a.) and Ismail (a.s) at Mecca and the water bag was exhausted, Lady Hajrah ran seven times between these two mountains in search of water. Today this ‘Sayy’ is included among the rituals of Hajj and Mt. Safa and Marwah are included in ‘signs of Allah’:
Surely the Safa and the Marwah are among the signs appointed by Allah…6
Today Zamzam water is considered as the greatest ‘Tabarruk’7 of Hajj pilgrims. Why is this water blessed? Only due to the association of the event when Lady Hajrah was running here and there in search of water and Ismail (a.s) rubbed his heels on the ground in thirst and by the command of God a spring burst forth and by being related to the fact of Ismail (a.s) it became blessed and fortunate.
It is the stone on which Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) stood while raising the walls of the Holy Ka’ba and by miracle, his footprints became etched on this stone. Today that stone is having such significance that Almighty Allah says:
Appoint for yourselves a place of prayer on the standing-place of Ibrahim.8
Thus it is said:
In it are clear signs, the standing place of Ibrahim…9
The horns of the ram that was slaughtered in lieu of Ismail (a.s) were treasured in the Holy Ka’ba with respect. They continued to remain there during the time of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) and the Righteous caliphs. Until the time when Yazid ordered siege upon Abdullah Ibn Zubair and forces of Yazid shot burning missiles on the Ka’ba as a result of which the covering of the Ka’ba was burned down and a wall collapsed and all relics including these horns were destroyed in the fire. In the past communities also we see that the Bani Israel were in possession of the casket by the command of Allah, called the ‘Ark of Tranquility’. It contained relics of Prophet Musa and Prophet Harun (a.s) and their descendants. The casket was considered a lucky charm for Bani Israel. So much so, that it was placed in the forefront during armed confrontations. Once the casket was seized by enemies and Bani Israel had to undergo much degradations. In the second instance, under the leadership of Talut, when Almighty Allah gave other glad tidings, He also said:
And the prophet said to them: Surely the sign of His kingdom is, that there shall come to you the chest in which there is tranquility from your Lord and residue of the relics of what the children of Musa and the children of Harun have left, the angels bearing it; most surely there is a sign in this for those who believe.10
All these events clearly prove that not only is it better to establish the memory of the chosen ones of God, it is so important that most of the time, the Almighty Allah has included it among obligatory rituals. All things that became associated with the chosen ones of God were included among the signs of Allah. For example Safa, Marwah, animals of sacrifice etc, and reverence towards them is considered a sign of piety and their disrespect is made unlawful. Thus it is said:
That (shall be so); and whoever respects the signs of Allah, this surely is (the outcome) of the piety of hearts.11
Again it is said,
O you who believe! Do not violate the signs appointed by Allah nor the sacred month, nor (interfere with) the offerings…12
Furthermore, it is also noteworthy that not only the remembrance of the Prophets, rather His Eminence, Hajrah, (who indeed was not a prophet, and she was also not infallible), her remembrance was also considered worthy of commemoration. And that too such events, which apparently have no relation to religion. For example, running in search for water for her thirsty child. In addition to this, articles contained in the ‘Ark of Tranquility’ from the relics of the progenies of Prophet Musa and Prophet Harun (a.s), are the heavenly tablets, the turban of Harun (a.s), and even his slippers, and that casket itself is the one in which Prophet Musa’s mother had kept him and put him into the River Nile.
All these details clearly show that even the personal events of the chosen ones of God, and their personal effects have such importance before the Almighty that He has established their remembrance and made it obligatory duty. And including them in the ‘signs of Allah’ made respect towards them compulsory for all. Therefore we have to agree that to establish the remembrance of the events of the God’s chosen ones, is not against divine will. Rather it is actually in agreement with divine will. Now just think upon it. When the remembrance of the incomplete sacrifice is so much dear to God, that He made it incumbent, then what would be the position of the ‘great sacrifice’ of the beloved one of Allah (the Prophet Muhammad)? How can its commemoration be against divine will? If Shias had were also experts in tampering with Shariah after the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w), like Ahl al-Sunnah, keeping in mind the significance of Azadari of Husayn (a.s) they would have made it an obligatory religious duty for all. But even after agreeing that it is a ‘new thing’ is there anybody who, after reading the above discussion can say that Azadari is against divine will? Indeed, we have to agree that the Azadari of Husayn (a.s) is in accordance with divine practice, which He has always mentioned:
…there is no altering of Allah’s creation…13
Hajj remains obligatory year after year and this itself is the reply to those who say, what is the need to commemorate the martyrdom of Husayn (a.s) even after so many years of its occurrence? This objection should first be leveled against rituals of Hajj that why are they still commemorated even after so many years?
Those who object against Shias for observing seasonal mourning, should gain lesson from the specified timings of the remembrance of events of Ibrahim and Ismail (a.s).
In the same way just as in remembrance of the proposed slaughter of Ismail (a.s) millions of sacrificial animals are slaughtered, honoring the mount of Husayn (a.s) and paying respect to the horse designated to be a replica of that original mount cannot be against divine will, rather it is a very much recommended deed. Especially when it was a horse used in Jihad (Holy war). That too, such a horse which even though was hungry and thirsty since three days, it continued to fulfill the demands of loyalty and remained in the service of a rider like Husayn (a.s) who had ridden on the shoulders of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w). Although the significance of the horses used in Jihad is so much in the view of Allah that He swears by them in the Holy Qur’an:
I swear by the runners breathing pantingly, then those that produce fire striking, then those that make raids at morn, then thereby raise dust, then rush thereby upon an assembly…14
In the same way the commemoration of the struggle of Hajrah (s.a.) in search of water proves that if the commemoration of the remembrance of the thirst of the children of Husayn (a.s) is established and the struggle of Abbas is commemorated by taking out the Mashk (water bag) of Sakina and the Alam (standard) or in remembrance of ‘Ali Asghar and other children, water, milk or Sherbet is distributed, it cannot be against divine will. Rather it is in consonance with divine will and a praiseworthy action. And according to:
…there is no altering of Allah’s creation…15
It is a rewardable deed. In the same way it is seen that other relics associated with great personalities are also worthy of reverence.
So far our discussion was based on the premise that Azadari is a ‘new thing’ and inspite of this we have proved its legitimacy and its rewardable nature. Now I shall say that Azadari is definitely not a ‘new thing’. On the other hand it is from the established prophetic practices. However to accept it as ‘Sunnah’ the other questions are applicable that we reply as follows:
Q.2. If it is Sunnah, please let us know whether it is the Sunnah of the Prophet or Sunnah of Imams?
Ans. Some rituals are Sunnah of Prophet and some are Sunnah of the Imams.
Q.3. If it is prophetic Sunnah, is it practical or verbal?
Ans. Some things are practical and others, verbal.
Q.4. If it is verbal Sunnah, please prove that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) ordered ‘chest beating’, chain lashing, mourning processions, black dresses and taking out horses.
Ans. Why have you limited the rituals of Azadari to these only? Azadari also has Ta’ziyah, Majlis, Nauha, weeping etc. Apart from this, the grief for Husayn (a.s) is itself unlawful according to you, however limited it may be. As your Imam Ghazzali has given the true reason:
“It is prohibited to speak about the killing of al-Husayn because it leads to the hatred of companions.”16
Thus this verdict of Ghazzali clearly shows that the martyrdom of Husayn (a.s) had some connection with the misdeeds of some companions of the Prophet whom Ahl al-Sunnah consider more important that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) himself and his Holy progeny!
Anyway, most of the things in Azadari are verbal Sunnats, whose details shall be presented in the forthcoming pages.
Q.5. If it is practical Sunnah, did the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) commemorate the remembrance of the past prophets?
Ans. What significance the calamities of the past prophets had in comparison to the calamities of our Prophet and his Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) that their commemoration should have been made incumbent on the Ummah? You are probably still holding firmly to the practice of Umar, who used to bring copies of Torah in the presence of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) and read from them. Even though the Holy Prophet (s.a.w), was having the most perfect manners he used to scold him severely for such behavior.
Respected Sirs! The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) himself performed most of the Azadari rituals in remembrance of his relatives and of those the greatest significance is that of Imam Husayn (a.s). That even before the arrival of calamities, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) expressed sorrow and grief as shall soon be explained and you would understand that most of these rituals are from the practical Sunnah.
Q.6. If it is from the practice of the Imams, prove that His Eminence, ‘Ali (r.a.) after the passing away of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) had constructed the replica of the Prophet’s tomb and performed Ma’tam.
Ans. What was the need for His Eminence, ‘Ali (a.s) to construct a Ta’ziyah? Because a Ta’ziyah is a replica of the tomb; and what is the need for replica when the actual tomb was always before him? Moreover the condition imposed by you is that it should be exact replica of the tomb. But even if ‘Ali (a.s) had made a replica it would not have had a dome over it since at that time the tomb of the Prophet had no such dome. Thus how could he have made it into a replica of a building? It would have been different from the present Taziyahs. Very soon we shall inform you that Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) himself had made the replica of grave, please wait!
Now ‘Ma’tam’ remains. I would describe the sorrow and grief that the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) suffered at the passing away of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) after I briefly reply to your objections.
Q.7. Did any Imam perform such an act after the martyrdom of Sayyidna Husayn? If it is so, prove it from your books and for every tradition collect 100 as reward. Otherwise make an announcement that Azadari in its present form is against Islamic law and is an innovation.
Ans. Yes, indeed! After the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s) all succeeding Imams (a.s) always observed Azadari to keep the memory of the oppressed Imam fresh. They tried their utmost to clarify the significance of this grief inspite of the oppressive regimes of your Bani Umayyad caliphs. But you should remember that in those times the conditions of the Imams (a.s) was same as the circumstances of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) before Hijrat among the infidels of Mecca and the seriousness of the circumstances was of the same level. Therefore, just as absence of publicly held prayers during that time cannot disprove its obligatory nature, in the same way absence of openly held mourning ceremonies during Banu Umayyah and Bani Abbas period does not prove that it is now against Shariah.
In connection with the style of our Holy Imams (a.s) you have clearly written that we should furnish our proofs from our books. At least your attachment to the Holy Imams (a.s) is merely verbal though you seem to have accepted that the Twelve Imams are necessarily worth emulating. As far as their sayings and actions are concerned, books of Ahl al-Sunnah are completely blank about it and their claim of holding fast to the ‘Two weighty things’ is a claim without any proof.
Another sleight of hand that you have shown is by issuing the challenge: “In lieu of each tradition take 100-100 rewards.” You have been clever enough not to specify 100 what? That whether you would give 100-100 blessings or 100-100 abuses!
Now as far as your statement that if we ‘fail to present the traditions we should declare that present Azadari is against the Shariah and an innovation’ is concerned, I have already replied to this in the beginning itself that even if just for the sake of argument we accept that it is a ‘new thing’ it does not mean that it is unlawful. Rather, it is a recommended and preferable deed and is according to divine will and is a rewardable action. What can be said about you, even if all the scholars of your community unite to refute it, they cannot succeed?
But if you do (it) not and never shall you do (it), then be on your guard against the fire of which men and stones are the fuel; it is prepared for the unbelievers.17
Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal has mentioned a detailed narration in his Musnad. It is quoted from Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali bin Abi Talib (a.s) as follows:
(Sunni Tradition): His Eminence, ‘Ali (a.s) said: One day I came to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) and saw tears in his eyes. I asked, “Has someone angered you?” Why are there tears in your eyes?” The Holy Prophet (s.a.w) said, “A little while ago Jibraeel told me that Husayn shall be slain at the banks of Euphrates. Jibraeel asked me if I would like to get the soil of that place so that I can smell it. I said, ‘Yes.’ Thus Jibraeel extended his hands and then gave me a handful of soil, due to which tears flow from my eyes.”
The Ahl al-Sunnah Imam, Shafei has also mentioned this narration. Two points are noteworthy in this tradition:
Firstly: The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) wept on the incident of martyrdom even before its actual occurrence and he often used to weep upon it as seen in many traditions recorded in the Shia and Sunni sources. This shows that if the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) had been alive after the martyrdom how much more he would have been aggrieved? And from this you can understand the rewardibility of mourning for Husayn (a.s).
Secondly: The love and affection the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) had for Imam Husayn (a.s) is known to all clearly. And Husayn (a.s) was present before the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) at that time. Inspite of this, he did not weep merely upon hearing the news of martyrdom. Rather, Jibraeel gave him the soil of Karbala’. At that time his condition became such that “tears flow from my eyes…” Thus when a sign was needed for the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) to take him to the point of weeping, it is all the more needed for us to have such signs before us because indeed we are not having the same affection for Imam Husayn (a.s) as the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) had and we are also removed much further away in time.
Before the martyrdom there were only two things that could lead to create the imagination of martyrdom. The personality of Husayn (a.s) himself and the land of Karbala’ and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) gathered them at one place and allowing his imagination a free rein, he wept upon it. Therefore we also follow the verse:
…in the Apostle of Allah is an excellent exemplar…18
We also keep all the things and signs connected with the tragedy of Karbala’ before us and we visualize those events. And this action of ours is exactly in accordance with the divine command:
…Whatever the Apostle gives you, accept it…19
As I have already stated, the above narration clearly proves the legality of various replicas (Ta’ziyah, Taboot, Alam, Cradle, Mashk, Tauq, Zanjeer, Kafan,20 Zuljana21). It is so because all those things give impetus to the emotion of grief and they help in imagining the events of Karbala’ like the soil of Karbala’ did for the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w).
Not only the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) only acted upon it he also emphasize upon the community to act thus. Rather our traditions inform us that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) also exhorted the people to observe the Azadari of Husayn (a.s).
(Shia Tradition): When the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) informed Lady Fatima (s.a.) about the impending martyrdom of Husayn (a.s) and told her what calamities were to befall them, she wept severely and asked, “Dear father! When shall this come to pass?” The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) replied, “At a time when neither I, nor you or ‘Ali shall be there.” So Fatima (s.a.) wept more and asked, “Dear father! Then who shall mourn for my son and who would establish his mourning?” The Holy Prophet (s.a.w) told her, “O Fatima! The ladies of the community shall weep upon the ladies of my Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) and their men shall weep on the men of my Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) and generation after generation, every year they shall keep the grief and mourning fresh. Thus when the Day of Judgment arrives, you Fatima, shall intercede for the ladies and I shall intercede for the men. And for those who weep in the grief of Husayn (a.s), we shall hold their hands and make them enter Paradise… and so on.22
The Holy Imams (a.s) have urged the people to establish the Azadari of Husayn (a.s) and themselves also put it into practice.
(Shia Tradition): Imam Ja’far Sadiq (a.s) said: O Abu Harun! Recite an elegy (Marsiya) of Husayn for me. Abu Harun says that he, obeying the Imam’s command recited the Marsiya…23
Hence, we also come to know that the Holy Imam (a.s) himself requested for the recitation of Marsiya and himself listened to it. This is the practice of the Imam and his verbal instruction also. After presenting this brief justification, I present a tradition each for each of the items associated with Azadari.
Leave alone the narrations in which the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) is reported to have wept on the demise of his son, Ibrahim, or the serious condition of the son of Zainab, or at the time of the burial of Umme Kulthum or at the illness of Saad bin Ubadah, and the Ahl al-Sunnah book of Mishkatul Masabih is full of such traditions.24 The weeping of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) on the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s) has already been mentioned in the tradition of Musnad Ahmad Hanbal. In addition to all this, please pay attention to the following tradition of Mishkatul Masabih:
(Sunni Tradition): The aunt of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) (wife of His Eminence, Abbas Ibn Abdul Muttalib), Ummul Fadl narrates (leaving the beginning events): Thus one day I came to the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) and placed Husayn in his lap. Then I glanced elsewhere, and when again I glanced at the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) I saw that a flood of tears was flowing from his blessed eyes. When I asked him about it he said that Jibraeel had arrived to him and informed him that: “My people shall slay this son of mine.” Ummul Fadl asked, “This son?” “Yes,” he replied, “then he brought to me the red soil of that place.”25
Further discussion on this report is uncalled for, because it is self-explanatory.
In addition to this the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) has himself explained that weeping on the dead is actual mercy and sign of the sorrow of the heart. (Sunni Tradition): In connection with the events of the death of Ibrahim the Prophet’s son, Anas is reported to have said that they entered the house with the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w)…and Ibrahim was on the verge of death. Thus tears were flowing from the eyes of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w). Abdur Rahman bin Auf said, “O Messenger of Allah (s.a.w)! You also weep?” The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) replied, “O Ibn Auf! This is actual mercy, after which weeping also occurs.” Then he said, “The eye weeps and the heart is aggrieved but we do not utter anything against Divine will and O Ibrahim, we are indeed aggrieved of your separation.”26
Let us see how, before the martyrdom, His Eminence, Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) wept for Imam Husayn (a.s).
(Biharul Anwar, Vol. 10, Chapter of What the Holy Prophet (s.a.w), Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) and Imam Hasan (a.s) informed about the martyrdom)
(Shia Tradition): Ibn Abbas is reported to have said that he was with Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) when he was departing for the Battle of Siffeen. “When we reached Nainawa and descended to the banks of the Euphrates, the Imam asked aloud: ‘O Ibn Abbas, do you recognize this place?’ ‘No, O, Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s),’ I replied. So he told me that, ‘If you had been familiar with it like me you would not have passed through here without weeping as I weep.’ Ibn Abbas says, ‘After saying thus Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) wept for a long time and his beard became wet with tears and tears began to fall upon his chest and we also wept with him. And the following words were on the tongue of Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s):
Aah! Aah! What is the connection between me and the progeny of Abu Sufyan? What is the connection between me and the progeny of Harb? The group of Satan! The friends of the infidels! O Husayn! Be patient as it befits to be; as your father has received the same difficulties from these people as you shall receive…until the end.
The report of the weeping of Lady Fatima (s.a.) has already been mentioned above. We can mention the accounts of other Imams also here, but I refrain from it for the sake of brevity.
A concocted view has been inculcated into Ahl al-Sunnah that weeping causes the departed soul to receive divine punishment. That is why Abdullah Ibn Umar has quoted a tradition:
“The weeping of the living for the dead causes the dead one to be punished.” First of all it is against divine justice that if the living weep the dead should be punished. And it is clearly against the Qur’anic verse:
…and no bearer of burden shall bear the burden of another…27
Secondly, Ayesha has clearly refuted this tradition of Ibn Umar and she says that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) has definitely not said thus.28
(Sunni Tradition): The grand daughter of Abu Bakr, Umrah says that she heard her paternal aunt, Ayesha say, when she was told that Abdullah Ibn Umar says that the weeping of the living on the dead causes punishment to the dead. Ayesha said, “May Allah forgive (Ibn Umar) as he has not lied intentionally. He has forgotten or he has misunderstood. The fact is that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) passed by from a place where some Jews were weeping for a dead Jewess. So he said that these people are weeping for her although she is being punished in her grave (it means that weeping on a dead infidel does not decrease his or her punishment). This narration is accepted by all.
A similar type of tradition is mentioned in this chapter from Abdullah bin Abi Malika at the end of which it is stated that Umar had also mentioned this report about the punishment. When Abdullah Ibn Abbas told Ayesha about it she said:
(Sunni Tradition): May Allah have mercy on Umar. By Allah! The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) never said that due to the weeping of the living ones, the dead are punished. Rather he said that Almighty Allah increases the punishment of the disbelievers when the survivors weep upon them.29 Then Ayesha said: The Qur’an is sufficient for you. Remember this verse:
…and no bearer of burden shall bear the burden of another…30
Now after the unveiling of truth even if we don’t discuss the authenticity of the reports of Umar and Abdullah Ibn Umar we would have to agree that all this is nothing but a case of misunderstanding.
Although the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) had scolded Umar many times when he restrained people from weeping. But to be true to his nature he did not give up this habit. Mishkat has many traditions on this subject. But we shall mention only a brief report here:
(Sunni Tradition): Someone died from the family of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w). So women gathered and began to weep on the death. Umar stood up and restrained them and began to chase them away. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said, “Umar, leave them alone! Because the eye weeps and the heart is sorrowful and the covenant is near.”31
This report has been quoted by Ahmad bin Hanbal and Nasai.
These traditions show that weeping is from the practice of the Prophet and to restrain people from weeping is from the practice of Umar. Now it is upto you to leave the practices of the Prophet and follow the practice of Umar.
Before I present traditions about Ta’ziyah and other representations I feel it is necessary for me to clarify a misunderstanding of Ahl al-Sunnah. These people often say that Ta’ziyah is polytheism and idol-worship and one who respects a Ta’ziyah is a polytheist and idol-worshipper. Therefore here we must understand what polytheism denotes.
Most of the people have misunderstood the definition of idol and think that it is replica of a living thing. Let us examine this view.
Are replicas of only living things idols? Definitely not. Otherwise those Lings32 etc. that are kept in Hindu temples would not have been called idols.
Is idol only a replica? Definitely not! If it had been so, those rounded natural stones that they place in temples would not qualify.
Is idol among the things constructed by man? Definitely not! If it had been so, the cow that is worshipped, that Peepal and Banyan tree that is revered, and the river and the mountain that are considered deities would not have been considered idols.
Then what, after all, is an idol? Is every replica made by human hands, every river and mountain is an idol? When any limitation is not possible in this way how can we define what an idol is? For this it is necessary to find out what is the common point in them. You shall know the reason why all the above things are called idols. You shall realize that all the above things are referred to as idols because they are worshipped either as equals to God or as media for reaching God. Thus this deification is the only thing that makes the revered object an idol. That is why until the round stone is kept as paperweight on my table it is not an idol and from the day this stone begins to be worshipped, this same harmless stone would become an idol.
Now let us examine the Ta’ziyah on this criterion. It is obvious that we neither worship the Ta’ziyah nor any thought of deifying it has ever entered the mind of any Shia person so far, because our monotheism is firm and strong. That upto there even the doubt of those who consider you neo-Muslims as leaders cannot reach because your leaders have even legalized worship of their footwear as Abu Hanifah has said:
“If a person worships these slippers with the intention of gaining proximity to God, there is no harm in it according to me.”33
While our Imams, leave alone dirty objects like slippers, they have prohibited us to even consider a great personality like the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) to be having divinity and they emphasized upon believing him to be a servant of Allah. Anyway we thus come to know that Ta’ziyah is not an idol.
Another objection that is leveled is that it is a replica and making a replica is unlawful. Although, those who make such objections are not familiar with Islam, neither are they aware of their own school of thought. No sect of Islam has made it absolutely unlawful to make a replica or a picture. Only making a replica of a living thing is made unlawful. Now who would tell us what living thing a Ta’ziyah represents? It is only a replica of a structure and making a replica of a structure or building is not unlawful in any Shariat.
And if God forbid, even if it had been a replica of a living thing, only we Shias would have been qualified to make it unlawful. Such prohibitions from your side seem funny when your own school of thought has made lawful making pictures and idols of living things. You people report that such things existed even at the home of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w). See the following narrational report in Mishkatul Masabih, Baab Ashratun Nisa:
(Sunni Tradition): Ayesha is reported to have said that she continued to play with dolls even after entering the house of Allah’s Messenger (after marriage). She says, “I had some friends who used to play with me. When the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) arrived my friends hid themselves. So the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) used to send them back to me and they used to continue playing with me.” (A well-known tradition)
This report is also present in Jame Bain as-Sahihain and Jameul Usool. Muhaddith Dehlavi, explaining this report says, “It is allowed to make dolls.”
How funny it is that those who allow worship of sandals and consider making dolls lawful, they should be so much against making harmless replicas of buildings, that Taziyahs are.
We have also proved that it is lawful to make Taziyahs and other replicas. Let us now move a step forward and see how it could be a recommended and meritorious deed.
The narrational report of Musnad Ahmad Hanbal that we quoted in the beginning has proved that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) placed the soil of Karbala’ before himself and wept. This action of his justifies all symbols associated with Azadari.
(Sunni Tradition): After the mention about the arrival of the soil of Karbala’, Umme Salma says: Then the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) smelled the soil and said that it smelt of pain and calamities. Then he told Umme Salma that when that soil turned into blood she must know that his son has been martyred. So Umme Salma placed it in a bottle and observed it everyday and said: The day you become blood shall be a day of great tragedy. And it is reported that when Husayn was martyred, for seven days the sky remained as if it were a mass of blood.34
Before the martyrdom, only the soil of Karbala’ could be obtained for Azadari and it was stored safely in the Prophet’s house. Therefore, today when we are fully informed about the details of the actual event we establish separate memory for each incident. Is it not a perfect example for following the Prophet’s Sunnah?
However, if you are still doubtful whether it justifies the making of replica of a grave, and think that making it is unlawful, please read on the following traditional report for further reassurance:
A companion told the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) that he has vowed to kiss the threshold of Paradise and the Hurul Ein. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w) told him: Go and kiss the feet of your mother and the forehead of your father. He asked what he should do if his parents were not alive anymore? He was told to kiss their grave. Again he asked what he should do if he didn’t know where their grave was? The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) told him to, “Draw two lines and consider one as the grave of the mother and the other as the grave of the father and kiss them, and do not break your vow.”
The above report is present in Imam Shafei’s Kifayah. In addition to this it is also mentioned in the following books:
(2) Kanzul Ibaad (3) Khazina Riwayat (4) Matalibul Momineen (5) Fatawa Alamgiri
This report also justifies kissing of graves. Praise be to Allah for this.
Now, as per my promise let me also inform you that Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) had also made replicas of graves and we emulate him in this matter too. As we all know, when Lady Fatima (s.a.) passed away from the world she was infuriated with Abu Bakr and Umar. Hence she had made a bequest that these two must not be allowed to come near her bier, and that is why Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) had her buried in the dead of the night. Moreover, there was a strong possibility, as later events showed, that the two Shaykhs may dig up her grave to recite the burial prayers on her again, therefore Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) made seven mock-up graves in different spots so none could tell which was the actual resting place of Lady Fatima. Please read the following reports:
Asbagh bin Nubata asked Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) the wisdom behind conducting the burial of Fatima (s.a.) in the dead of the night. He told him that Lady Fatima (s.a.) was angry with a group of people and she didn’t want them to attend her funeral…And people have narrated that Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) made seven duplicate graves around the actual grave of Fatima so that no one could know which was her real grave. Another report says that he sprinkled water on forty graves, so that her real grave could not be distinguished…(Until the end of the report).35
Due to this, difference of opinion arose as to the location of the grave of Fatima (s.a.). It is mentioned in Manaqib Ibn Shahre Aashob and Biharul Anwar (ibid) that:
“The grave of Lady Fatima (s.a.) is in the Baqi cemetery while some people say that she was buried at her own house, while yet others are of the opinion that her grave is between the grave of the Messenger and his pulpit.”
Anyway, we have proved that His Eminence, ‘Ali (a.s) had also constructed replicas of graves. It would not be of any use if you say that he made replicas of graves for one purpose and we make it for some other aim. Hence how it could be emulation? Because the actual purpose was to prove that if making replicas of graves had itself been an unlawful act why the Holy Imam (a.s) had performed it? So when this act was lawful and the Imam acted upon it also, what doubt remains in it being the practice (Sunnah) of Imam? After this, justification of other symbols of Azadari like the Alam, the Mashk and the cradle etc. is not even needed because it is the Ta’ziyah which is mostly criticized since it is the replica of grave. While other things are not even replicas of grave!
The public display (taking out in procession) of Zuljana can be justified as follows:
That neither is it our creation, that it may be called a replica of a living thing and thus considered unlawful and nor does anyone worships it, that it could be called an idol. Although if someone were to make a replica of a horse, it is unlawful and if someone worships it, it is indeed a prohibited act. But if it is not so, it is only a representation of Imam Husayn’s horse and there is no unlawful aspect to this representation. Rather it is a recommended and preferable deed, which is also rewardable. Because it assists in intensifying the mourning for Husayn (a.s) and the famous Sunni book, Hasanut Tawassul Fi Aadaab Ziyarat Afzalur Rosol, that anything that assists in a recommended deed is also recommended.36
Therefore since Zuljana is a part of Azadari, it is also recommended.
Thus when the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) returned from the battle of Uhad, and did not hear any wailing from the house of the Chief of the Martyrs, Hamzah, while wails were audible from the houses of other martyrs, he (s.a.w) said: “Are there no women to weep on Hamzah?”
When Saad bin Maaz, Usaid bin Hazeer and other Ansars (Helpers) heard this, they went to their houses and told their ladies that first they should go to Hamzah’s house and weep and then come back to mourn their own martyrs. The ladies of Ansar, went to Hamzah’s place between the Evening and the Night Prayer time and continued to weep and wail until midnight. During this time the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) awoke and asked what that wailing was. When he learnt the facts he was pleased and he blessed the ladies who had performed this mourning for Hamzah saying: May Allah be pleased with you. May He be pleased with your children.
The above incident is recorded in all books of Islamic history. Inspite of this you may look up in Rauzatus Safa, Vol. 2 (Events following the battle of Uhad). Also refer to Madarijun Nubuwwah and Maarijun Nubuwwah.
In the incident quoted above, some women of different families gathered to mourn a martyr who was not having any family relations with them.
And this assembly and this weeping was according to the will of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) and he had desired it. Majlis is also held for the same type of mourning. It is also a gathering of people belonging to different families. The noteworthy point here is that when the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) made such elaborate arrangements for the mourning for His Eminence, Hamzah, what he would have done had he been present after the tragedy of Karbala’. The devotees of the Prophet should think upon it and in accordance with his wishes make arrangements for holding Majalis of Husayn (a.s).
The sad utterance of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w):
“But for Hamzah, there is none to weep on him!”
And after that his praying for those who wept on Hamzah shows that it is the verbal Sunnah of the Prophet.
Numerous incidents could be cited under the topic but I shall be content to quote only two or three narrational reports. Though before the martyrdom the prophets’ had held many mourning programs for Imam Husayn (a.s), the first Majlis held after the martyrdom, that is recorded in all histories was the one that was held when Yazid felt that the Syrian people were becoming agitated due to the martyrdom of Husayn (a.s) and the condition of the captivity of Ahl al-Bayt (a.s). Therefore he summoned the people in the Jame Mosque and first his preacher narrated the supposed defects of the Chief of the Martyrs and his ancestors. When he concluded his speech, Imam ‘Ali Ibn Husayn (a.s) sought permission from Yazid to deliver an address and after due praise and exaltation of the Almighty, began to introduce himself. He mentioned his merits then began to describe his afflictions. It is written that at that time the people of Syria began to wail in incontrollable grief. I am omitting the details for the sake of brevity. What I would like to explain is that our preachers today, following the footsteps of the first Zakir of Imam Husayn (a.s) first speak about the merits and praiseworthy qualities of Allah and Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) and then they describe their sorrowful afflictions and tragedies. The Ahl al-Sunnah Imam, Awzai has quoted this complete sermon of Imam ‘Ali Ibn Husayn (a.s). We abstain from quoting it in whole to maintain brevity. However, you may refer to the complete text of this sermon in books like Lohoof, Ihtijaj of Tabarsi, Biharul Anwar Vol. 10, Manaqib Ibn Shahr Aashob and other innumerable books.
The second Majlis was held when Yazid freed the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) and asked them whether they would like to proceed to Medina or prefer to stay there in Damascus for sometime.
The Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) said: “We would like to first mourn for Husayn (a.s) and weep upon him.” Yazid told them that they were free to do so. Then a number of houses were vacated in Damascus for Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) and there was no Hashemite and Quraishi lady who did not don a black dress in the grief of Imam Husayn (a.s) and the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) held mourning rituals for Imam Husayn (a.s) for seven days.37
The third Majlis was held at the time of their return to Medina. It was when they arrived at the outskirts of Medina and the whole populace of Medina gathered around their camp. On that juncture, Imam ‘Ali Ibn Husayn (a.s) came out wiping his tears with a handkerchief. An attendant placed a chair for the Holy Imam (a.s). Such a clamor and wailing arose that the ears of the sky had never heard. The Imam (a.s) motioned the people to silence and seating himself in the chair narrated his tragedies their severity and significance. In this Majlis too, the reciter was the Holy Imam (a.s). It is in emulation of these assemblies that we place a pulpit or a chair for the reciter of Majlis (Zakir). This complete episode with the text of the address of the Holy Imam (a.s) is quoted by Sayyid Ibn Tawus in his book, Lohoof. Our discussion is getting prolonged otherwise I would also have described the assemblies organized and held by Imam Ja’far Sadiq (a.s) and Imam ‘Ali Reza (a.s) in which the ladies also assembled behind the curtains to participate in the morning rituals and on which elegies were also recited. However, it is sufficient to say that a word is enough for the wise.
It is narrated from the Prophet’s companion, Ibn Masud that when the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) arrived at the corpse of His Eminence, Hamzah and found it mutilated, he wept so bitterly as he had never done before and he recited the following elegy until he became unconscious:
“O Hamzah! O uncle of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w)! O lion of Allah and His Prophet! O one who performed the good deeds. O Hamzah, O one who removed the sorrows, O Hamzah! O one who removed the enemies from the face of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w).”
Since the above incident is recorded in all histories, we feel it needless to provide specific reference for it.
Dirges and elegies of Imam ‘Ali Ibn Husayn (a.s) are well-known. The following are some couplets that the Holy Imam (a.s) said repeatedly while weeping when he was entering Kufa in captivity:
O evil people, may rain not water your fertile lands.
O people who did not care about our relationship with our grandfather.
When the Prophet and we come together on the Day of Judgment, what would you say regarding us?
You make us travel on saddle-less camels as if we have not established any religion for you.
Was our grandfather the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) not the one who guided the humanity away from deviation?
O the tragedy of Karbala’, that you gave us in inheritance! And may God destroy the honor of these people and expose their defects.
Numerous elegies and dirges of Her Eminence, Zainab and Umme Kulthum are famous. Here we quote two couplets of each of the ladies. Lady Zainab recited the following in the bazaar of Kufa when a stone struck the severed head of the holy Imam (a.s):
O new moon! Your light has not been perfected yet.
That you have gone into eclipse and you set.
My dear brother, I have not imagined it. It was a matter destined.
Lady Umme Kulthum recited the following couplets upon their return to Medina:
O city of our grandfather, do not accept us.
We have come with pain, sorrow and grief.
O Fatima if you could see the prisoners
That your daughters are taken out through the towns.
Shaykh Mufeed has on the authority of Ibn Quluwahy quoted the following command of Imam Ja’far Sadiq (a.s) that:
(Shia Tradition): Every weeping and lamentation is detestable (Makruh) except the one on the tragedy of Husayn (a.s). (As it is rewardable).38
A similar tradition is present in Kamiluz Ziyaraat from another chain of narrators also.
Ma’tam and Mourning Procession39
Before quoting traditions regarding Ma’tam, I feel it is necessary to mention an incident about Mutawakkil Billah the Ahl al-Sunnah caliph whose merits are such that many Ahl al-Sunnah people give him the grade of Righteous Caliph. He exhibited such zeal in the eradication of innovations that he tried his best to destroy all traces of the tomb of Imam Husayn (a.s). Such a prominent personality, ordered that Ma’tam be performed on the passing away of Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal.
“Mutawakkil ordered that Ma’tam should be held at the place where the funeral prayer was recited on the bier of Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal. Thus 2.5 million people gathered at that place and Muslims, Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians and people of four schools performed Ma’tam there.”
Obviously when the caliph who is called as the ‘reviver of the Sunnah’ organized such Ma’tam who had the guts to call it an act of innovation (Bid’ah)?
Apart from this let us now see some traditions that prove that Ma’tam is Sunnah and lawful.
When the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) were released from Syria and en route to Medina, they reached Karbala’ and found Jabir Ibn Abdullah Ansari and some other prominent companions of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) and some other people of Banu Hashim there, what occurred at that time is described by Sayyid Ibn Tawus in Lohoof:
Thus all of them reached there at one and the same time. They met and they wept. They slapped their faces and performed such Ma’tam as injures the hearts. The ladies of the surrounding areas also gathered and joined them in the mourning rituals and this continued for many days.
The above episode clearly shows that people of Ahl al-Bayt (a.s), Banu Hashim and prominent companions like Jabir Ibn Abdullah Ansari and even the ladies of the neighborhood all gathered at the place and took part in the Ma’tam. They slapped their faces and did Ma’tam. And these rituals continued for many days. During all this there is no report of any restraint commanded by Imam ‘Ali Ibn Husayn (a.s). Therefore we have to accept that he also participated in the expression of their grief and rituals of mourning. Therefore it is the practical Sunnah of the Imam.
The terminological meaning of ‘Taqreer’ is that if someone performs an act in the presence of the Imam and the Prophet and they, inspite of being capable, do not restrain him or her, it proves that, that act is lawful in Islamic law. If someone is not prepared to accept that the Ma’tam held in Karbala’ was the practical Sunnah of the Imam and says that there is no mention the Imam (a.s) himself participated in it, he or she would have to agree that those people did Ma’tam and slapped their faces for many days in the presence of the Imam (a.s) and while they were subservient to his command and the Imam did not restrain them. Does this not prove that Ma’tam, face slapping and wailing and mourning on Imam Husayn (a.s) is not only lawful, but also a practice of the Imam?
That Ma’tam is the Sunnah of Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) has already been proved by the previous narration report in this regard:
(Shia Tradition): Imam Ja’far Sadiq (a.s) said: “After the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s), Lady Rabab (wife of Imam Husayn) performed Ma’tam on him.”40
(Note: The account of the mourning and grief of Lady Rabab is present in all books of history and biography)
In the view of Ahl al-Sunnah Imam, Malik, the action of the people of Medina is proof and obligatory action. Let us now see the action of people of Medina regarding the mourning for Imam Husayn (a.s). When the caravan of Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) returned and halted on the outskirts of Medina, Bashir bin Juzlam conveyed the news of their arrival to the folks of Medina.41
“Thus no veiled lady remained in Medina who did not come out in such a condition that her hair was in disarray and she was slapping her face and thrashing her cheeks. They were weeping and wailing. Thus I had never seen such clamor ever before and such a crowd of mourners.”
It is obvious that after these explanations, no doubt remains for anyone in the recommended nature of the Ma’tam for Imam Husayn (a.s). Now let us see how the people of Medina reached the Holy Imam (a.s) in a magnificent procession:
Bashir says, “I was in Medina itself and the people of Medina reached Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) before me. Hence I turned my horse and reached there to find the whole area filled with multitudes of people. There was such a crowd that I had to alight from the horse and I walked over the necks of the people to reach Ahl al-Bayt (a.s).”42
From this took shape the present Ma’tam procession. But our Ma’tam procession is actually not in commemoration of this procession of Medinite folks. It is in remembrance of the plundered caravan of Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) that was taken from Karbala’ to Kufa, Kufa to Syria and from Syria to Medina. Which was taken through streets, lanes and by lanes. Just as the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) used to weep and wail through the ways, we also emulate them and try to keep their memory fresh.
It is a practical Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) to keep hair awry and to make a face of grief in mourning for Imam Husayn (a.s). Before I present some traditional report in this connection please read the following narration of Mishkatul Masabih, which is accepted by all.
(Sunni Tradition): The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said: One who sees me in a dream has actually seen me because the Satan can never appear in my form. This tradition is also universally accepted.
There are many traditions of the same topic and all are universally accepted. It is related from Abu Qatadah Ansari and Abu Huraira in the same chapter and the Shia also believe in it. Now see the following narrational report that Ibn Abbas is reported to have said that one day he was sleeping at home that the sound of weeping and lamentation from the house of Umme Salma, the wife of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) awoke him. He went towards Umme Salma’s residence and all Medinite folks also rushed there. Upon reaching there they asked her: ‘O Mother of believers! Why are you lamenting so much? Umme Salma did not give any reply. But she glanced towards the Hashemite ladies and said:
(Shia Tradition): “O daughters of Abdul Muttalib! Help me and join me in lamentation. Because, by Allah, your chief and the leader of the youths of Paradise has been martyred. The grandson of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) and his beloved one, Husayn, has been slain.”43
Ibn Abbas says that he asked Umme Salma how she came to know it. Umme Salma said: I have just seen the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) in my dream. His face was covered with dust and he looked devastated. I asked him what the matter was and he said that his son, Husayn and his family have been massacred today. Hence, he has buried them and was just returning from their burial. Umme Salma says that after receiving this reply she arose and went inside the house and didn’t know what to do. ‘Suddenly I looked at the soil of Karbala’ that Jibraeel had brought.’ (Then she related the complete incident of Jibraeel). Thus when I looked at the bottle, I saw that the soil had turned into fresh blood which was boiling furiously.’ Ibn Abbas says that then Umme Salma took out some of this blood and smeared it on her face and that she observed the day as the day of mourning. She considered it a day for lamenting on Imam Husayn (a.s). After that (days later) messengers brought the news that Imam Husayn (a.s) had been martyred on that same day.
Such types of narrations are present in both Shia and Sunni books in large numbers. Thus we have quoted the account of the soil turning to blood from the marginal notes in our discussion about Ta’ziyah. In the book of Mishkat the incident of Umme Salma’s dream is mentioned in a report of Salma in brief on the authority of Sahih Tirmidhi. This report mentions the observing of Ma’tam. However, our aim of presenting this tradition is to prove that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) had his hair awry and his face was covered with dust due to his sorrow for Imam Husayn (a.s). Hence if our ladies or we also make our appearance thus, it is nothing but emulating the Sunnah of the Prophet. It could never be termed as an innovation.
Imam Ja’far Sadiq (a.s) said:
(Shia Tradition): “Neither any Hashemite lady comb her hair nor apply dye until Mukhtar sent the heads of the killers of Husayn (a.s) to us.”44
Allamah Abu Ishaq Asfar Amini (renowned Sunni scholar) in his book, Noorul Ain Fi Mashhadil Husayn, Published Cairo, 1366 A.H. has quoted on Pg. 60 the report of the dream of Sakina. In this dream she saw the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) in the following condition:
(Sunni Tradition): Suddenly I decried a gentleman, who moved forward in such a manner that the color of his face had changed and it was glowing. And due to the severity of his grief he was stumbling like a woman whose youthful son had died. He was holding his blessed beard, weeping and was in an aggrieved mood. I asked the servant who this gentleman was, dressed in mourning clothes and so much aggrieved? He said, “Didn’t you recognize him?” I said, no. He told me that it was my grandfather, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w).
The condition in which she saw Lady Fatima (s.a.) is as follows:
“And among those ladies (Maryam and Asiya etc.) is a very prominent lady, having her hairs in disarray. She is wearing black clothes and she is holding a shirt smeared with blood.”
This clearly proves that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) was in mourning dress and Lady Fatima also had the hair in disarray and wore black clothes.
We have already mentioned how Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) stayed in Damascus for seven days even after they were released and how they spent all this time in performing various rituals in mourning and lamentation for Imam Husayn (a.s).
(Shia Tradition): There was no Hashemite and Quraishi lady who did not don a black dress in grief of Imam Husayn (a.s).45
The first mourning house that was made for Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) was the Baitul Ahzaan (House of lamentation) that Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali bin Abi Talib (a.s) had made for Lady Fatima who used to lament, day and night at the passing away of her blessed father. The people of Medina told Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) to ask Lady Sayyida Fatima to either lament during the day or during the night. Lady Fatima said that she was going to stay among them only for a few days and that very soon she was going to say farewell to them. So, by Allah, she could neither remain silent during the day nor during the night could she stop weeping. Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) said that she could lament whenever she desired. However, keeping in mind the disturbance for the people of Medina he made this arrangement.
(Shia Tradition): His Eminence, ‘Ali (a.s) constructed a house for Fatima in Baqi on the outskirts of Medina, which became known as Baitul Ahzaan (House of lamentation). In the morning, Lady Fatima used to go weeping towards Baqi with Hasan and Husayn (a.s) and she used to sit in that graveyard and lament. When night fell, Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) used to go and bring her home...until the end of the tradition.46
This incident is also mentioned in the books of Ahl al-Sunnah and books of history. This shows that construction of Azakhanas is practice of ‘Ali (a.s).
Under the tenth heading I would like to discuss about three things that are sometimes a part of Muharram processions but regarding which there is a difference of opinion among the Shia scholars that whether they could be justified to be part of mourning rituals or not. Or whether they fall under the lawful category of actions or not. If so, under what justifications can they be considered lawful?
However, the most important point is that whatever may be the position of the Shia scholars in this matter, traditions of Ahl al-Sunnah prove beyond any doubt that all these things were permitted by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w), hence neither the Ahl al-Sunnah people nor the officers of Tanzeem Ahl al-Sunnah have any right to say anything against these rituals.
Let us see the following tradition that Tirmidhi has judged to be authentic and correct:
(Sunni Tradition): Ayesha is reported to have said that one day the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) was sitting when we heard a clamor and noise of children. So the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) arose and we saw that a black woman was dancing and children had gathered around her. So the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said: Ayesha, come and see. I came and kept my chin on the shoulder of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) and began to peep through the gap between his blessed head and shoulder. Then the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) asked me: Are you not satisfied yet? I kept telling him ‘no’ to see how much he cared for me…(until the end of the report).47
This tradition mentions dancing and the marginal notes on this on the authority of Lumah say:
(Statement of Ahl al-Sunnah scholars): But it is not unlawful, because if it had been so, how the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) would have watched it and how he could have allowed Ayesha to watch it?
However, becoming helpless due to the objections of Shias they have interpreted that it was not a dance; it was a display of the art of warfare, that is a ‘wrestling ring’. That is why the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) watched it himself and also told Ayesha to watch it. If we accept this interpretation it would clearly justify watching wrestling matches because what it is except display of the art of warfare? And if we don’t accept this interpretation, even then, in comparison to dancing, a wrestling match is not a serious act and in some cases it becomes a recommended thing. No objection can be directed against it.
Now pay attention to the following tradition, which is exactly before the report quoted above and Imam Tirmidhi says that it is a correct and good report.
(Ahl al-Sunnah Tradition): Buraidah is reported to have said that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) led a war expedition and when he returned from it, a black girl arrived to him and said that she had made a vow that if the Almighty brings the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) back safe and sound, she would play the drum in his presence. So the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said: If you have made a vow to play the drum, play it. Otherwise do not. Thus she began to play the drum…(until the end of the report).48
The above-mentioned report shows that drum was played in the presence of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) and he listened to it being played. Now what is the doubt in its being a verbal Sunnah?
The Ahl al-Sunnah have got such a principle of traditional science that after that, leave alone chain lashing, they do not have the right to object to any ritual of any Muslim sect. Please pay attention to the following tradition, which is related from the famous companion of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w), Ibn Masud, who is reported to have said that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) said:
“Whatever the Muslims consider good, it is good in the view of Allah also.”49
The refuge of this same tradition is taken when objections are made against innovations started by caliphs. Support is taken by this same tradition when the consensus of Saqifah is criticized. Why only chain lashing, all the items that have become a part of mourning are considered good by a category of Muslim people, therefore on the basis of the tradition presented by Imam Hakim, they are good in the view of Allah and recommended. The Tanzeem Ahl al-Sunnah may say whatever they like, but in the view of Allah all these things are rewardable deeds.
However never should you say:
“So what if one sect likes it; until all the sects do not reach unanimity this tradition cannot be applied.” Because if you say this, the consensus of Saqifah and all the caliphates that are justified through this tradition shall be rendered invalid.
Praise be to Allah that all the points raised by the question are clarified and all rituals of Azadari have been proved to be a part of Sunnah. It has also been elaborated that which particular ritual was a part of which Sunnah also.
Now if our opponent, Maulana Dost Muhammad has any self-respect he should, in exchange of each tradition presented by us, pay up ten rupees, not to me but to the Razakar Association and Anjuman Wazifa Sadat-o-Momineen.
When it is proved that rituals of Azadari are Sunnah of Prophet and Sunnah of Imams, to further humiliate Dost Muhammad we would like to call the attention of our readers to a phrase which we had so far kept aside for this special occasion. He says in question no. 2: If it is obligatory, please provide the verse, with ruku50 and Surah number.
Reply: Yes sir! Under some circumstances, Azadari is obligatory and it is in this way that it is allowed to make a vow to perform any recommended act. And one can also take an oath to perform that deed, as all the sects of Islam believe and have faith in. Therefore if one makes a vow to perform any of the above-mentioned rituals of Azadari, or takes an oath, it would become obligatory on him or her to fulfill it. The following verses are sufficient for this purpose:
(1) …and fulfill the promise; surely (every) promise shall be questioned about.51
(2) They fulfill vows and fear a day the evil of which shall be spreading far and wide.52
In addition to these, see the following verses also:
(1) Surah Baqarah, Ruku 36, Verse 270 (2) Surah Baqarah, Ruku 5, Verse 40 (3) Surah Anam, Ruku 19, Verse 53 (4) Surah Nahl, Ruku 13, Verse 91 (5) Surah Hajj, Ruku 4, Verse 29.
As far as possible I tried to be brief in this article. From the multitudes of traditions I have chosen and presented only one tradition for each topic. If inspite of this, the chapter has become so lengthy, it was unavoidable and I hope it would prove beneficial to the readers. And my efforts shall indeed be rewarded if the questioner gets some faith by reading this chapter.
Allah is the guardian of those who believe. He brings them out of the darkness into the light…53
And our final word is that praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds.