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Fatawa on Imam Husayn (a.s.) and Events of Ashura

Question:

I have heard a hadith that Imam Baqir alayhis-salam has said, “All Imams are ships of salvation, but Imam Husayn alayhis-salam is the largest (Ship). Is this hadith true, and where can I find it?

Answer:

It is reported that the Imams (of Ahl-ul-Bayt) alayhum-as-salam are the ships of salvation, and the ship of Imam Husayn alayhis-salam is bigger,and in the deep seas (it is) faster .... You may refer to “Ikmaal al-Deen wa Itmaam al-Ni‘mah” by sheikh al-Sadouq, “Ma‘ali al-Sebtayn” by sheikh Muhammad Mahdi al-Mazandarani.

Question:

When Imam Husayn alayhis-salam headed for Iraq, did he know that he would be killed and his family taken prisoners? And if yes, does this not constitute exposing oneself to a certain death?

Answer:

He knew of his fate, and his action is the manifestation of:

if the religion of Muhammad is not to survive except with my death,then O Swords! Take me.

Question:

On his way to Iraq, was Imam Husayn alayhis-salam seeking martyrdom, or was he seeking power, and why?

Answer:

He was seeking martyrdom, for Islam depended on that course of action.

Question:

Is there no contradiction between the peace pact Imam Hasan alayhissalam made with Mo’awiyah, and the uprising of Imam Husayn alayhissalam against Yazid?

Answer:

There is no contradiction between the two stances, since each has his own duties and responsibilities according to the circumstances of the day. The circumstances of uprising that Imam Husayn alayhis-salam faced did not arise at the time of Imam Hasan alayhis-salam, nor did they arise during the first ten years of his (Imam Husayn’s) imamah (leadership). More details about the lives and the circumstances are given in details in reference books, which address the lives of the two Imams alayhum-as-salam. For us it is sufficient the saying of the Prophet Muhammad sallallahu-alayhi-wa-aalih when he said, “Al-Hasan and al-Husayn are two Imams whether they rise up or not”.

Question:

What would you put Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah 55 not joining Imam Husayn alayhis-salam down to?

Answer:

He was sick and unable to go.

Chest beating

Question:

What is your opinion with regards to chest beating ceremonies for Imam Husayn alayhis-salam, and was it practiced at the time of the Ma‘soom Imams alayhum-as-salam?

Answer:

(Performing) chest beating ceremonies for the Ma’soomeen alayhum-assalam is permissible, and in fact Mustahab (desirable), and the ladies descendent from Fatima al-Zahra’ established chest beating in the presence of Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin alayhis-salam.

Tatbir

Question:

Some individuals say that I do not see shedding my tears as enough to express my grief for Imam Husayn alayhis-salam, his household and his companions on the day of Ashura. So is hitting myself with sword and injuring myself is allowed?

Answer:

The Husayni Sha’a’er, including Tatbir, are some of the raajih 56 issues.

Tatbir is a Mustahab or desirable deed, unless it leads to death, loss of limb, or loss of faculties.

Question:

Imam Mahdi, alayhis-salam and may Allah hasten his reappearance, addresses his great grandfather, Imam Husayn alayhis-salam (in Zeyarahal- Nahiyah): “...I shall mourn you every morning and every evening, and I shall weep blood for you instead of tears . . .” Can we deduce from this statement that Tatbir (hitting the head with swords to make blood flow) is an emphatically desirable act?

Answer:

Yes.

Question:

Did the Ahl-ul-Bayt alayhum-as-salam used to hurt themselves for Imam Husayn alayhis-salam, in commemorating and glorifying the Husayni Sha‘a’er, such that we should follow suite?

Answer:

Yes, as can be found in various reports and narrations. Some of these would be discussed in more detail later on in this book.

Question:

What is your opinion regarding the reports that Lady Zaynab alayhassalam, when she saw the head of her brother Imam Husayn alayhis-salam, being paraded in public, hit her forehead on the bar of the carriage she was travelling in, causing bleeding to flow from beneath her veil, which was visible to those onlookers who witnessed the event?

Answer:

Yes that is proven. 57

Question:

Some would raise questions that, “why do we not give blood on the day of Ashura instead of performing Tatbir, since that would be more civilized than Tatbir, which may pollute the environment, and other sects may ridicule us.” What is your opinion in this respect?

Answer:

Giving blood in its own right is good, but this does not conflict with performing the Husayni Sha‘a’er. Furthermore, drawing blood from the head accompanies many health benefits, and it is a Sunnah of Rasulollah salla-llahu-alayhi-wa-aalih, and Rasulollah used to call it al-Mughithah and al-Munqithah (literally meaning “the saviour”) and both the Shi’a and the non-Shi’a agree on its authenticity, and Bukhari and many others have reported many narrations in this respect. It is reported from Imam Sadiq alayhis-salam that, “It is cure from insanity, leprosy and other skin diseases, diseases that lead to blindness, and toothache”. The Mu’minin may give blood on another day, such as 3rd of Sha‘baan, which is the birthday of Imam Husayn alayhis-salam.

Question:

If something such as Tatbir would result in distorting the image of the true religion, which in turn would weaken other Husayni Sha‘a’er in the heart of the Mu’minin 58, what is the ruling then?

Answer:

Tatbir is generally a desirable act, and it is actually not proven that it causes distortion and the like. In fact many media experts would consider it as one of the most important means of education, giving vitality to the (Shi’a) school of thought 59. Furthermore, merely on grounds that an act would bring about distortion or ridicule, does not mean that one may abandon a ruling or a practice, otherwise we would have to abandon many of rulings of Allah Almighty, such as hijab, hajj, the daily prayers, fasting, etc. Allah Almighty says in the Qur’an: {alas for the servants! there comes not a messenger to them but they mock him!} 60. Does the mock and ridicule of the prophets means that they should withdraw from their mission?

Question:

Is the harm attained as a result of Tatbir regarded as permissible or desirable, for which one would be rewarded? Did the Ahl-ul-Bayt alayhum-as-salam encourage this?

Answer:

Tatbir is permissible if it does not result in death, loss of a limb, or loss of use of a limb – such as blindness of an eye. If Tatbir was performed with intention of sympathy with Sayyid-al-Shuhada 61 alayhis-salam, and to express one’s devotion to him and to defend the Truth, to train for and attain faithful spirituality, sacrifice, and steadfastness, then it would be amongst the definite desirable acts, and in this respect scholars in the old and modern times have issued endorsing Fatawa (rulings). Many reports have been narrated about the biographies of the Ma’soomeen alayhum-assalam that indicate that the bearing of hardship and losses in the way of Allah, and training and disciplining the self on Taqwa (piety) are considered desirable. For example our lady Fatima al-Zahra alayhassalam used to stand up in worship for prolonged periods such that her feet would swell. Another example is that Imams Hasan and Husayn alayhumas- salam used to go to the Hajj pilgrimage in Makkah on foot while their camels walked behind them.

Play Acting

Question:

Every year we organise enactment of the scenes of Karbala, focusing on the important personalities such that of the Ma’soom, or al-Abbas, and other members of Ahl-ul-Bayt alayhum-as-salam. The actors concerned may not fit the reported physical characteristics of the individuals concerned. Is this permissible.

Answer:

It is of the best means to seek closeness to the Almighty to use various permissible means to disseminate the teaching and heritage of the Ahl-ul- Bayt alayhum-as-salam, and those of Imam Husayn alayhis-salam. This must be done with utmost care, paying meticulous attention to details and accuracy, so that the presentation is fitting to the occasion and commendable from every aspect.

Notes:

55. Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah is Imam Husayn’s half brother, whose mother was called al- Hanafiyyah.

56. raajih means acts that are permissible, but could be classified as desirable, or even obligatory depending on the circumstances of the time. The determination of those circumstances that render this are made by the Marje‘. – translator

57. {Some of the famous references, which confirm the above report, are as follows:

Bihaar al-Anwaar; v. 45, p. 114, Jalaa’ al-‘Oyun; v. 2, p. 238, Zaynab al-Kubra; p. 112, Asraar al-Shahadah; p. 474, Al-Muntakhab; v. 2, p. 478, Nusrat-ul-Madhlum; p. 18.

Needless to say that ‘Allamah Majlisi – compiler of Bihaar al-Anwaar – and Sheikh al- Shari’ah al-Isfahani have confirmed the authenticity of the report.}

58. The faithful

59. See for example the interview with a Christian scholar towards the end of this book.

60. The Holy Qur’an, [36: 30]

Adopted from the book : "Husayn; the Sacrifice for Mankind" by : "Imam Muhammad Shirazi"

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