10 Etiquettes for Majalis of Imam Husayn (a)

Bismillah Al-Rahman Al-Rahim. Wa as-salam alaykum, wa Rahmatullahi Ta'ala, wa barakatuh.

With the arrival of the month of Muharram, millions of faithful Muslims will attend Majalis and gatherings around the world, honouring the eternal sacrifice of the Imam Al-Husayn, alayhi as-salam, alongside his family and companions. The upholding of the values of the 10th of Muharram worldwide takes different shapes and forms, and with the easing of the pandemic, more people will attend in person. But what are the etiquettes, Adab of attending a Majlis, this Muharram and Safar. Here are ten, amongst others.

Number one. We must ensure we attend the Majalis for the sake of Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, and Allah alone. Sincerity is one of the most important concepts in Islamic teachings, whereby our deeds won't be accepted by the Almighty, if they're not done for His sake only. The martyrs of Ashura, were the best embodiments of Ikhlas, Sincerity. And so, to honour their sacrifice, we should follow in their footsteps, ensuring there is no ostentation or any forms of showing off.

Now, this is for all of us, from reciters, to organizers, as well as the participants. Remember not to allow feelings of my Majlis is better than theirs, or I had more attendance than them, creep into our minds and speech. Whatever is done purely for the sake of Allah will grow and succeed. Guaranteed.

Number two. The commemoration of Ashura and beyond is a time of mourning and grief. Hence, we are encouraged to wear black and express grief. It is reported that upon returning to Medina, Imam as-Sajjad, alayhi as-salam, approved of the women wearing black and holding Majalis, where it is mentioned that he provided food for them. In addition to black clothing, our sisters should observe full hijab in Majalis and avoid things such as makeup, etc.

Number three. Muharram is a month of reward and blessing. There are many opportunities to gain rewards from the Almighty Subhana wa Ta'ala. One of those is to donate towards the establishment and running of the Majalis and to volunteer, for example, in the local Husainiya, Imambargahas or centers.

This could be to help people park their cars, serve people food, look after audio visual recording or arrange programs for the youngsters during the Majalis. What an honour it is to be amongst the servants of Imam Al-Husayn, alayhi as-salam, especially during the months of mourning.

Number four. One reason for the continued growth and inspirational message of Ashura over centuries is the emphasis by the Ahlul Bayt to shed the tears, mourn and express sorrow in different ways. Take part in matam alongside your children, and during the recitation of eulogies and the heart-rendering story of the events of the tenth of Muharram, don't hold back the tears. And if you're unable to cry, then at least show your sadness and allow your heart to connect with the tragedy.

Number five. The Majalis of Imam Husayn, alayhi as-salam, in Muharram are also a great place to see others in the community, some of whom we may not have seen for over eighteen months due to the pandemic. After the program is over, some refreshments or bitings are typically served. Ensure that the reward of participating in Majalis is not erased through backbiting, slandering, or unnecessary gossip. Shaytan doesn't disappear in Muharram, and wants to ensure as much of the reward gained is taken away.

Six. Upon listening to a Majalis, it is easy to remain passive. Appreciate the recitation and go back home. What is strongly recommended is making notes and reflections and perhaps discussing this with friends and family, maybe in the car when you return back. Writing is much more effective than reading for retaining information and is a practice encouraged by the Ahlul Bayt, alayhum as-salam. You can use our new Muharram Journal published this year, to write your Majalis notes. You can pick up a free copy in your center in the UK, or download it from our website, www.islamiced.org if you are abroad.

Number seven. The Majalis of Muharram should get us closer to Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala and make us stronger in faith. It is therefore recommended to attend these Majalis in wudhu and to ask the Almighty Subhana wa Ta'ala to allow the light of its remembrance to penetrate our hearts. Istighfar, reciting the Qur'an, as well as General Dhikr, should not be forgotten in this time.

Eight. Seek to encourage the participation of family and friends in Majalis. Maybe you could car share and go together to the Majilis. Lookout for ways to help the environment by avoiding the use of plastics for instance. Try to ensure that the children and youth attend Majalis that they actually understand and can benefit from, such as the ones in the English language.

Number nine. Avoid any confrontation or hurting any other participant in the Majlis. In the words of one of our great scholars, Ayatollah Bahjat, Rahmat-Ullah alayh, every Majlis is an extension from the shrine of Imam Al-Husayn in Karbala, therefore seek to place others at ease, and not to upset anyone.

Finally, in a Majlis, the speaker may recite an ayah (verse) wrongly, or say something inadvertently, or mention something you disagree with. Similarly, the organizers of the Majlis may do something that you dislike for example. Let us attend the Majalis with the spirit of positivity and forgiveness. If people make mistakes, we should not try to pick on them, but rather give them calm and measured feedback at an appropriate time.

At the same time, don't hold back your questions that you may have from a lecture as well. As one of those blessed to serve the mimbar of Imam Al-Husayn, alayhi as-salam, I, and many others welcome feedback from you all regarding the Majalis, the topic, the delivery and anything else you feel is important.

May Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala accept your mourning and Aza', as well as participation in these Majalis, and make this Muharram the best Muharram of our life so far.