The Phenomenon of Weeping for Imam Husayn (a.s.)
The phenomenon of weeping gives rise to much criticism. Despite the fact that it is not a phenomenon which is separate from the rites of remembrance for al-Husayn, I was influenced to devote a special study to it in a section which would be separate from the studies of the rites of remembrance in terms of their methods and content. That was in order to make it easier to observe and understand this phenomenon.
Perhaps objectivity should require us to name this phenomenon 'the phenomenon of grief in the rites of remembrance for al-Husayn and in the memory of al-Husayn'. Grief is more general than weeping and those who grieve sometimes weep and sometimes do not.
We should note that grief and weeping are not matters of choice which a man can use when he wants and stop when he wants. They are matters which are external to the direct will of man. If he wants them, he must prepare the way for them by seeking to recall what will generate feelings of grief in his heart and motives for weeping.
In the same way we should note that this phenomenon of grief is not something incidental in the rites of remembrance for al-Husayn and in the memory of al-Husayn. It is a deep-rooted phenomenon which cannot be separated from them. The rites of remembrance for al-Husayn were set up and established in order that the Shi'ite might express, in them, his grief for what happened at Karbala'. Such grief, in many circumstances, may cause weeping.
One of the later writers of an account about the death of al-Husayn, Ibn Tawus (d. 664) observed that this memory ought to produce joy and happiness if there had not been a legal injunction for grief and weeping. He remarked: 'If it was not for the need to follow the Sunna and the Book of God in putting on the mark of sadness and tragedy because of the destruction of the signs of guidance and the foundation of the pillars of sin, out of sorrow for the happiness which we missed and out of regret for the submission of that martyrdom, ... otherwise we have been clothed in the rewards of joy and glad tidings because of that great blessing. Insofar as there is in grief consent to authority by men and a purpose for pious men, we have put on the garments of grief and accustomed ourselves to let our tears flow.' 1
Is weeping required for itself? Or is what is required grief, which may lead to weeping and which may not express itself in weeping while agony still remains in the heart and anguish deep inside one? Or is what is required neither this nor that but something else which these two phenomena express, the psychological phenomenon of grief and the external phenomenon of weeping?
During the following study, we shall attempt to become acquainted with this in terms of its basis and its significance.
1. Ibn Tawus, al Luhuf fi Qatla al Zufuf, 3.
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