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

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-Subh 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 are commended 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.

II. The History of the Ziyara before al-Husayn Al-Sayyid Muhsin al-Amin has reported:

It has been established that the Prophet used to visit the cemetery of al-Baqi' and the martyrs of Uhud. Ibn Maja has related with his chain of authorities that the Prophet said: 'Visit graves, for they will remind you of the Hereafter.' 2

He also reported with his chain of authorities that

A'isha said that the Prophet allowed the visit to graves He also reported with his chain of authorities that the Prophet said: 'I used to forbid you to visit graves but now visit them, for they will make you abstain from the world and remind you of the Hereafter.' Muslim has reported the first part of the above tradition up to the words 'but now visit them.' 3 Al-Nasa'i has reported it in a slightly variant form: 'I forbade you from visiting graves but now let whoever wants to visit them, do so.'

The Prophet visited the grave of his mother. Muslim has reported in his Sahih as has Ibn Maja and al-Nasa'i, with their chain of authorities, that Abu Hurayra said: 'The Prophet visited the grave of his mother. He wept and it made those around him weep." 4

Muslim has reported that whenever the Prophet used to spend the night with 'A'isha he used to go out, last thing at night, to the cemetery of al-Baqi' and say: 'Peace be with you, abode of people who believe. What you were promised has come to you.'

He taught 'A'isha when she asked him: 'How should I address them, Apostle of God?' He said, 'Say: Peace be with the people of the place who are believers and Muslims.' This tradition is reported by Muslim.

Ibn Abi Shayba has reported from Abu Ja'far (i.e., Imam Muhammad al-Baqir) in Wafa ' al-Wafa' that Fatima, daughter of the Apostle of God, used to visit the grave of Hamza. She repaired it and improved it, and she marked it with a stone. 5

It is reported on the authority of the former (i.e. Muhammad al-Baqir) that Fatima used to visit the graves of the martyrs every two or three days until she died.

Al-Hakim has reported on the authority of'Ali' that Fatima used to visit the grave of her uncle, Hamza, every week. There she would perform the salat, pray and weep.

When 'Umar made peace with Jerusalem, during the conquest of Syria, and Ka'b al-Ahbar came to him and submitted to Islam, 'Umar was delighted with his acceptance of Islam and said to him: 'Would you come with me to Medina, visit the Prophet's tomb and enjoy seeing it?' 'Yes,' he replied. When he returned to Medina from the conquest of Syria, the first thing he did was to go to the mosque and pray for peace to be with the Apostle of God.

In Wafa ' al- Wafa ' of al-Samhudi 'Abd al-Razzaq reponed with his sound chain of authorities that when Ibn 'Umar came back from a journey, he would go to the Prophet's tomb and say: 'Peace be with you, O Apostle of God, peace be with you, O Abu Bakr, and peace be with you, O my father.'

In the Muwatta' in the recension of Yahya ibn Yahya, it is reported that Ibn 'Umar used to stand at the tomb of the Prophet and he would pray for blessings and peace to be with the Prophet and he would pray for peace to be with Abu Bakr and 'Umar.

It is also reported from Ibn 'Awn that a man asked Nafi whether ibn 'Umar used to pray for peace at the tomb. 'Yes,' he replied, 'I have seen him a hundred times, or more than a hundred times. He would come to the tomb and stand before it. Then he would say: Peace be with the Prophet, peace be with Abu Bakr and peace be with my father.'

In the Musnad of Abu Hanifa it is reported that Ibn 'Umar said: 'It is from the Sunna that you should come to the tomb of the Prophet from the direction of the prayer, or qibla. You should put the direction of prayer, or qibla, at your back and you should face the tomb. Then you should say: Peace be with you, O Prophet, and the mercy and blessings of God.'

There is a detailed report from ' Umar ibn 'Abd al-'Aziz that whenever he used to send a messenger (to Medina) from Syria, he used to say: 'Pray for peace to be with the Apostle of God on my behalf.' That was in the early period of the generation of the followers of the Companions. Among those who have mentioned that about him is Abu Bakr ibn 'Asim al-Nabg. He said, in his Manasik, that ' Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz used to send a messenger straight from Syria to Medina to recite the prayer for peace to be with the Prophet. Then he would return.

As for what is reported of the action of the rest of the Muslims, in Wafa' al-Wafa', 6 it is reported that historians and Traditionists have mentioned that Ziyad ibn Abihi (i.e. son of his father) wanted to make the pilgrimage (hajj) to Mecca. His brother Abu Bakra came to him but he would not speak to Ziyad directly. So Ziyad took his son and sat him in Abu Bakra's lap so that he might speak to the son directly and hear Ziyad. Abu Bakra said: 'Your father has done this and he has done that. Now he wants to go on the pilgrimage (hajj) while Umm Habiba, the wife of the Prophet is in Medina. If she permits him to see her, what a great disaster and treachery to the Apostle of God by her it would be! If she remains in seclusion from him what a great proof against him it would be!' 'You will not let your brother have your advice,' said Ziyad. According to what al-Baladhuri reported, Ziyad then abandoned the idea of going on the pilgrimage. Others reported that he made the pilgrimage (hajj) to Mecca but he did not make a pilgrimage (ziyara) (to the Prophet's tomb at Medina) because of the words of Abu Bakra. Al-Subh has commented: 'Taking in every consideration, the story gives evidence for the fact that the pilgrimage (ziyara) (to the Prophet's tomb at Medina) during the pilgrimage (hajj) to Mecca was well-known at that time. Otherwise, it would have been possible for him to make the pilgrimage (hajj) without going by way of Medina. Indeed it would have been nearer for him because he was in Iraq. Yet going to Medina was in their eyes a matter which could not be abandoned.' 7

The passage which we have quoted clearly reveals the legality of the pilgrimage (ziyara). Depending on this legality Muslims, both male and female, in every age, have carried out this practice as being one of the rituals of God. None of their jurists, Traditionists or preachers have denounced them for that. Rather they have urged them to do it. The denunciation of this practice is only known to have come from Ibn Taymiyya and Shaykh Muhammad b. 'Abd al-Wahhab in more recent times. The Muslim scholars have met this juristic attitude to the problem with amazement and disapproval the direction the invalidity of the view forbidding it, with evidence from the Qur'an, the Sunna, the consensus and the evidence of reason.

Therefore, when the Imams of the Holy Family directed their Shi'a to make pilgrimages to al-Husayn, they were only applying a common legal practice to a particular destination, namely al-Husayn ibn 'Ali ibn Abi Talib. The Imams of the Holy Family have made public their great concern to direct Muslims, in general, and the Shi'a, in particular, to make pilgrimages to the Prophet, to the Imams of the Holy Family and to the men and women who have stood the test in the history of Islam, by fighting against his enemies, and by sticking fast to his laws, as a means of attaining educational and religious objectives. We will treat these in detail in the ensuing section of our study.

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

2. Ibn Maja. Sunan. vol. L, 235.

3. Muslim, Sahih on the margin of Irshad al-Sari, IV, 225.

4. Ibid.; Ibn Maja, op. cit., 245; al-Nasa 'i, vol. L, 286.

5. Al-Samhudi, op. cit., II, 112.

6. Ibid, II, 410.

7. Al-Sayyid Muhsin al-Amin, Kashf al-Irtiyab &ldots; op. cit. devotes chapter XVII, pp. 459 483 to the ziyara to tombs. In this chapter there is a comprehensive study of the problem of ziyara in all its aspects. We have relied upon it for all that we have presented above. The significance of the statement by Abu Bakr is that Ziyad claimed to be the son of Abu Sufyan but this had no basis for legitimacy because he was born as the result of an unlawful relationship between Abu Sufyan and Sumayya, his mother, whereas Umm Habiba, a mother of the faithful, was a legitimate daughter of Abu Sufyan. If Ziyad made the ziyara to the tomb of the Apostle in Medina, he ought to visit Umm Habiba as he claimed that she was his sister. She was not, however, his sister because, as we have just mentioned, he was not a legitimate son of Abu Sufyan. If she had met him because of his claim that she was his sister, that would have been a betrayal of the Apostle of God. If she had refused to meet him, that would have been a humiliation for him and a denial of his claim to be the son of Abu Sufyan.

Adapted from the book: "The Revolution of al-Husayn (a.s.)" by: "Shaykh Muhammad Mahdi Shams al-Din"

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