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Jurisprudence

Special Questions & Answer Concerning Muharram Rituals

Special Questions & Answer Concerning Muharram Rituals

Beating Chest & Zanjir Zani

Question: Why do Shiites beat their chests during Muharram? What is the reason?
Answer: Beating chest is one of the important expressions of lamentation and a means of showing disgust and hatred to the oppressors. Not only it is not a mistake but it also plays an important role in reviving and continuing the goals of the Imam (a.s.).

Question: It so happens that people beat their chests and their backs with chains and their bodies turn red and even start bleeding. Is it permissible?
Answer: It is permissible and even preferable provided that it does not cause significant harm to the body.

Question: Some men take off their clothes and become partially naked while beating theirs chests in front of women. Is it permissible?
Answer: It is necessary for women to avoid looking. Of course, if men know that women would look at their bodies, it is not permissible for them (men) to take off their clothes.

Wearing Black Clothes

Question: Is it legally preferable to wear black clothes when mourning for Imam Husain and other Infallible Imams (a.s.)?
Answer: Since it is considered respecting the signs (of Allah), it has legal preference.

Question: Is wearing black clothes makrooh (undesirable) when lamenting and mourning over the martyrdom of the Infallibles?
Answer: Since wearing black clothes is a sign of expressing grief and lamentation, which is highly desirable, therefore praying in a black cloth is not makrooh.

Question: Is it permissible to drape a mosque with black cloths?
Answer: If a mosque is draped with black cloth, or covered with a marquee in preparation of Majlis to be read there, there will be no objection to all that if they do not have any harmful effect on the mosque, and if it does not obstruct those who come to pray.

Azadari

Question: What is the philosophy of Azadari (mourning and lamentation) for Imam Husain?
Answer: There is no doubt that the tragedy of Kerbala, when ascribed to the killers, is a criminal and terrible act. However when ascribed to Husain (A) himself, it represents a conscious confrontation and a courageous resistance for a sacred cause. The whole nation had failed to stand up to Yazid. They had succumbed to his will, and deviation and regression towards the pre-Islamic ways were increasing.
Passiveness by Husain (A) in this situation would have meant the end of Islam as we know it. Thus Husain (A) took upon himself the responsibility of the whole nation. The greatest tragedy was that one who stood up for the noblest of causes, the defense of Islam, was cut down in so cruel a manner.
It is for this reason that the sacrifice of Husain (A) is commemorated annually throughout the Muslim world. Our sorrow never abates as we relive the tragedy.
The commemoration of Ashura on the 10th of Muharram every year serves to remind us of the sacrifices of the family of the Prophet (S). It also makes us aware of the people, then and now, who tried to destroy Islam and the family of the Prophet (pbuh) and all that they stood for - as well as those who watched, listened and did nothing.

Question: Is mourning for Imam Hussain and other Infallibles (a.s.) recommended?
Answer: Yes, it is recommended and God will reward those who sincerely revive their memories and commemorate their matyrdom?

Question: I have a question about matam (Azadari) and the manner our people are holding Muharram rituals.
Answer: The main purpose of mourning during 'Ashura, is to respect and revive the symbols of religion and remember the suffering of Imam Hussain (a.s.), his companions, and his uprising to defend Islam and prevent the destruction of the religion by Bani Umayyad dynasty. These rites must be done in such a way that in addition to serving that purpose, it draws the attention of others to these lofty goals.

Flags, & Use of Musical Instruments

Question: What is the fatwa about the flags which are used during Azadari ceremonies? Some of these flags have lines and drawings on them.
Answer: It is permissible to use them in Azadari.

Question: Is beating drum allowed during Azadari?
Answer: If drum is beaten in such a manner that it is suitable for gatherings of amusement and entertainment or is considered contempt and disrespect to the Infallible Imams, it is haram, or else, there would be no objection in it.

Question: What is your ruling on a group of mourners using musical instruments in a competing manner against another group?
Answer: The ruling about using musical instruments was explained above. Rivalry or competition however does not change the answer. Rather, if a competition is out of Reya (insincerity) and there is no intention of seeking nearness to God, and it causes unrest for others, it is not permissible.