Rafed English

The Legality Of The Ziyara of Imam Husayn (a.s.)

Adapted from: "The Revolution of Imam al-Husayn (a)" by: "Shaykh Muhammad Mahdi Shams ad-Din Al-Amili"

Al-Shaykh Taqi al-Din Ahmad b. 'Abd al-Halim, better known as Ibn Taymiyya (661-728) held the view that pilgrimage (ziyara) to the tomb of the Prophet was forbidden, let alone pilgrimage to other tombs. He considered that travelling to make a pilgrimage to tombs where the performance of prayer was necessary, was forbidden. For this view of his, he relied upon Traditions, which do not substantiate his requirement, arguments based on the application of discretion in Islamic law, which have no value in legal deduction, and dangers which, he claimed, were consequences of pilgrimages to tombs which do no exist.

On the other hand, the jurists and Traditionists from all the Islamic schools of law reject his views and confirm the legality of making a pilgrimage to the tomb of the Prophet and others with much evidence taken from the Qur 'an and Sunna, the consensus of the Muslims and the evidence of reason.

Al-Sayyid Muhsin al-Amin, in his book, Kashf al-Irtiyab fi Atba' Muhammad b. 'Abd al-Wahhab has reported from al-Samhudi al-Shafi'i in his book called Wafa ' al- Wafa ' bi Akbar Dar al-Mustafa, the attitude of the leaders of the four schools of law to this problem. He says:1

“As for what is reported from the leaders of the four schools of law, in Wafa ' al- Wafa' after mentioning the differences among the early Muslims about whether it was best to begin at Mecca or Medina, he records that Abu Hanifa said that it was best to begin at Mecca, although it was permissible to begin at Medina. Then one would come close to the tomb of the Apostle of God and stand between the tomb and the qibla (or direction of prayer)....

As for the report that Malik disliked men saying, 'We made a pilgrimage,' to the tomb of the Prophet, assuming that this is true, it should be interpreted as a dislike of using this expression for reasons which he mentioned but we should take too long to report, not because of a dislike of the principle of such a pilgrimage (ziyara). There are, however, scholars, like al-Subki and Ibn Rushd, who, according to Wafa’ al Wafa', dispute with him over the dislike of this expression.

Al-Samhudi had mentioned in Wafa' al-Wafa' statements by Shafi'ites concerning the recommended nature of making a pilgrimage to the Prophet's tomb. Then he added that the Hanafites maintained the pilgrimage to the Prophet's tomb was the best of the recommended practices, even close to being treated at the level of an obligatory practice. He went on to say that, in the same way, the Malikites and Hanbalites stipulated it and al-Subki has explained their report in his book on pilgrimage (ziyara) ....”

The permissibility of making a pilgrimage to the graves of righteous men, and even of those who are merely Muslims, of calling for peace to be with them, of praying for them and of bringing reward to them by recitation of the holy Qur 'an and by good actions-this permissibility is confirmed by the Sunna which is supported by the definitive practice associated with the time of the Prophet.

It is well known that the Imamite Shi'a hold the view that it is a recommended practice to make pilgrimages to the tomb of the Prophet, of the Imams of the Holy Family and of righteous men, to worship God at them by performing the salat, praying, reciting the holy Qur 'an, calling for peace to be with them and praying for them. Furthermore, they consider that that is one of the rituals of God and it is an act of piety of the heart. According to them, it was established by the definitive Sunna and the definitive consensus. There is no dispute about that among them.

It is certain that the practice of the Muslims from the time of the Apostle of God throws light on the legal aspect of the problem and reveals, at least, the permissibility of making pilgrimages to tombs, even if it does not reveal its legal predominance.


1. The following passage is taken from al-Sayyid Muhsin al-Amin's Kashf al-Irtiyab fi Atba' Muhammad b. 'Abd al- Wahab (p. 471 ) citing al-Samhudi, Wafa ' al-Wafa ' bi Akhbar Dar al-Mustafa, II 411-415.


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