Chapter Two: Commemorating Muharam


The recollection of grief is human nature

It is human nature that even when hardships end, recollecting those bad times reignites that pain and suffering again. People will often recollect their suffering in front of relatives and friends. It is on account of this natural instinct that people commemorate the important days of their ancestors or of religious leaders. Such days are observed internationally e.g the 1st of May, is observed to remember the oppressed workers of Chicago. Some anniversaries may only be celebrated by friends and relatives, while others may be celebrated by nations (such as independence e.g. Pakistan day) and some may be commemorated internationally such as Remembrance days (to remember the victims of war). Whenever the anniversary of Yusuf’s departure came or when Yaqub (as) saw the tree of departure, Yaqub (as) would have no doubt remembered his hardships.

To remember the Martyrs is not only the Sunnah of Prophet(s) but also the practice of Sahaba

We read in Al Bidayah wa al Nihaya, Volume 4 page 45, published Beirut:

It is narrated by Abu Hurariah(r) that the Prophet(s) used to visit the graves of martyrs every year. When He(s) would reach the entrance of the mountain, He(s) would say (to the martyrs): ‘Asalam alailekum Bima Sabartum’. This means ‘peace be on you due to your patience and you have reached a pleasant place due to this.’ Then after Prophet(s), Abu Bakar also used to come (every year), and after him Umar used to do the same and then Usman also did the same”.

After this narration the word ‘every year’ is recorded in the narrations of Waqidi.The Shi’a accordingly commemorate the memory of martyrs of Kerbala every year. The Prophet (s) and his companions would visit the graves of Uhud’s martyrs every year. Similarly we like to go to the tomb of Imam Husayn (as) every year in Muharam.If one cannot implement this practise by practically visiting Kerbala every Muharam there is no grounds to abandon it altogether, we seek to do as much as we can to remember our ill-treated Imam. So we commemorate the day with processions, conferences, and mourning to show our love and faith, though we cannot go to the tomb every year.

The remembrance of the first ten days of Muharam

By the Dawn And ten nights, And the Even and the Odd, and the night when it departeth,
Al-Qur’an, Surah Al-Fajr, Ayah 1-4, translated by PickthalWe read in Tafseer Durre Manthur, Volume 6 page 346 under the commentary of this verse:

Abi Usman says that three periods of Ten days are venerable which are refered to in this verse. They are, first ten days of the month of Muharam, first ten days of the month of Zilhaj and last ten days of the month of Ramadan.

Our assertion is that the this Ashura refers to Muharrum as reference is made to a dawn that follows the ten nights, moreover the verses (5-13) that follow have a direct nexus with this as reference is made to tyrannical kings of the past, that spread mischief:

YUSUF ALI:Is there (not) in these an adjuration (or evidence) for those who understand?
Seest thou not how thy Lord dealt with the ‘Ad (people),-
Of the (city of) Iram, with lofty pillars,
The like of which were not produced in (all) the land?
And with the Thamud (people), who cut out (huge) rocks in the valley?- And with Pharaoh, lord of stakes?
(All) these transgressed beyond bounds in the lands,
And heaped therein mischief (on mischief).
Therefore did thy Lord pour on them a scourge of diverse chastisements

The ten days of Muharrum are link to the deeds perpetuated by a tyrannical king towards the family of Muhammad (s). Our stance is substantiated by the renowned Sunni scholar Al Muhaddith Shah Abdul Aziz Dehlavi who said in his Tafsir of the said verse:

“The third Ashura refers to the trials and sufferings of the martyrs of Karbala, who acquired an excelled rank on account of their patience and attained incalculable merits during Ashura”

The first ten days refer to the last ten days of Ramadhan wherein:

  • The Quran descended
  • The night of Lailathul Qadr night occurs, a single night that excels one thousand nights

The second set of ten days refers to the first ten days of Ashura when pilgrims gather together in one identified cloth irrelevant of their social status, and they retrace the steps of Ibraheem (as) and Ishmael (as), they make their way to the House of God, from Safa Marwa they head off to Arafat wherein they congregate and proclaim ‘Lord we are coming’ and sacrifice an animal. This is a 10 day period wherein we recollect:

  • the dream of Ibraheem (as),
  • the steadfastness of Ibraheem (as) to attain the obedience of his Creator,
  • the thirst of Ishmael (as)
  • the distressed Hajara’s search for water
  • the actual sacrifice of Ibraheem

The Hajj glorifies Ibraheem (as) for his passing the difficult test placed before him, one wherein he had to slaughter his son, pursuant to the will of Allah (swt). As we know, in the end that sacrifice did not take place, it was the passing of the test that caused Allah (swt) such pleasure that all Muslims are compelled to follow those steps once in their lives when going on Hajj. It is the ‘intention’ of Ibraheem (as) that is remembered, the intent to sacrifice his son, one that was transferred as Allah (swt) states:
[Yusufali 37:107] And We ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice:

This is we the Sunni scholar Shaykh ul Islam Dr Tahir aul Qadri writes in his book Zibah-Azeem page 30 as follows:

“Hazrath Ishmael was protected and kept alive as Prophets including the final one wer to remain in his loins so Allah (swt) transferred the ‘momentous sacrifice’ into the son of the Prophet (s). The wisdom of the Creator (swt) was that as no Prophet was to succeed him, someone had to implement the action of martyrdom, this the sacrifice of Ishmael (as) so that the momentous sacrifice was that of the heart of the Prophet (s), Sayyidina Husayn (ra)”

We now turn to the final set of ten days Ashura as attested to by al Muhaddith Shah Abdul Aziz Dehlavi that addresses the transfer of that momentous sacrifice, referred to in the above verse, a sacrifice that tested intention and practical actions, that encompassed:

  • the plight and destitution encountered by the Ahl’ul bayt (as)
  • the struggle between truth and falsehood
  • the tears of Syeda Zeyneb (as)
  • the arrest of the female household
  • the slaughter of the men folk
  • the decapitate bodies strewn unburied in the sands of Karbala

We appeal to justice, when the mere intention of Ibraheem (as) so impressed Allah (swt) that it is one that must be remembered per annum, should the same level of vehemence not be adopted in relation to the momentous sacrifice wherein Imam Husayn (as) sacrificed all that he had, from his elderly friend down to his thirsty six month old son, in pursuance of the pleasure of Allah (swt)? If this was not the momentous sacrifice Allah (swt) guaranteed Ibraheem (as) that would replace the intended sacrifice of Ismael (as) then what else is the verse alluding to?Dear readers we have proved the venerability of the ten days of Muharam from the Qur’an.

Ashura is Allah (swt)’s day

We read in Kanz al Ummal, Volume 4 page 320:“The day of Ashura is Allah (swt)’s day”

The day of Ashura is Allah (swt)’s day, a day of torment for the Ahl’ul bayt (as) when the beloved grandson of Rasulullah (s) was starved and martyred, a day when horses trampled his arrow pierced body.

Question: Is it permissible to mourn Imam Husayn (as) every year?

Reply One – Remembering the days of Allah (swt)

We read in Surah Ibrahim verse 5:PICKTHAL: We verily sent Musa with Our revelations, saying: Bring thy people forth from darkness unto light. And remind them of the days of Allah. Lo! Therein are revelations for each steadfast, thankful (heart).

What are the ‘days’ of Allah (swt)?

We read in Tafseer al Kabeer Volume 5 page 219:“Allah (swt)’s days refer to the great events that happened in favour of Musa (as). This was a day when the Banu Israel were stuck in problems, entrapped by Pharaoh’s injustice.

Reply Two – Umar’s continual recollection of his brother’s death

We read in al Bidaya wa al Nihaya, Volume 6 page 370:

كان عمر يقول ما هبت الصبا إلا ذكرتني زيد بن الخطاب، رضي الله عنه

Umar said: ‘whenever I venture out at sunrise I remember the death of my brother Zaid bin Khattab’If the Shi’a commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (as) every year why do these Nasibi raise objections? Look at the words of your Master Umar who remembered the death of his brother throughout his life.

Reply Two – The will of our Imam (as)

We read in al-Kafi, Volume 5 page 117:
Yunus bin Yaqoob narrated that Abu Abdullah (a) said: ‘My father said to me: ‘O Jaffar leave part of my money for the mourners to mourn me for ten years in Mena during the days of Mena’
If mourning had been Haraam, the Imam (as) would not have left a will to that effect.

Reply Three – The continual mourning by Adam (as) and Hawa (as) for their slain son

We read in Tareekh Yaqoobi, volume 1, page 3:
“The Father and Mother of humanity wept for their son Habeel for so long that their tears turned into a stream”.
In Rodha tu Shuhdah, page 30 the same incident has been quoted by Mulla Husayn Wa’iz Kashifi who adds:“Tears from Adam’s (as) right eye were flowing like the River Dajla and like the River Euphrates from his left eye”.Nasibis say that mourning on the death of ones dear ones should be restricted to three days, but this reference proves that the Father of Mankind wept for such a long period that his tears became streams. If Adam (as) wept for his son in such a manner then Nasibis should know that we the Shi’a love Imam Husayn (as) more than our children and hence likewise continually shed tears for the suffering of Imam Husayn (as).

Reply Four – Rasulullah (s) declared an entire year to be the year of grief

The annals of Seerah are unanimous that the Holy Prophet (s) named the year in which Khadija (as) and Abu Talib (as) died as “Aam al Huzn” i.e. ‘The Year of Grief’.What other reason could there be for naming a whole year as ‘Aam al Huzn’, other than the Prophet(s) dedicating it to commemorate the loss of his uncle and beloved wife? Is this act of the Prophet(s) a Sunnah or not? We the Shi’a mourn our Imam (as) for ten days, Rasulullah (s) mourned for an entire year. Even after the passage of a year Rasulullah (s) never got over this grief, and this was known to Ayesha who wanted him (s) to abandon his remembrance of his dead wife. We read in Saheeh al Bukharee Hadeeth: 5.166 this narration from Ayesha:

“I did not feel jealous of any of the wives of the Prophet as much as I did of Khadija though I did not see her, but the Prophet used to mention her very often, and whenever he slaughtered a sheep, he would cut its parts and send them to the women friends of Khadija. When I sometimes said to him, “(You treat Khadija in such a way) as if there is no woman on earth except Khadija,” he would say, “Khadija was such-and-such, and from her I had children”.

The testimony of Ahl’ul Sunnah’s leading Lady is clear evidence that the Prophet (s) never got over grieving his wife and it is obvious that the Dhikr of Khadija (as) would also have taken place in presence of receptive ears. The process of Dhikr between a speaker and listener is called a congregation (Majalis). We likewise commemorate the deaths of Khadija (as) and Abu Talib (as) and the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (as).If Muslims have no issue with celebrating nights such as the Miraaj of our Prophet (s) then there is no reason to abandon the remembrance of calamities because both grief and happiness are important in life. Offering condolences is a Mustahab act so why the opposition? Conducting any Mubah or Masnoon act, carries no timing restrictions, it can be performed at any time with respect to circumstances and situations.

Reply Five – Ahl’ul Sunnah’s year of mourning over the death of a Sunni scholar

“Imam al Harmain” whose actual name was Abdal Malik having Ziauddin as his title, according to Allamah Shibli Naumani was considered as a supreme scholar of his era and many renowned ulema were his students which included Imam Ghazali. Imam Ghazali while mentioning the mourning over his death writes in his authority work ‘Kunjeena Hidayaath’ the Urdu translation of Kameela Sa’aadth page 3:

“The Imam of Haramain died in 478 Hijri. At that time all the market stalls in Nishapur were closed and the pulpit in the Jami Mosque was broken, his students that numbered almost 400 destroyed their books and pens and mourned him for a whole year.”

The episode can also be found in a biography of Imam Ghazali:
“Al Ghazali” page 12-13, authored by Allamah Shibli Naumani

We appeal to justice. These are the people, who have a historical enmity with writing materials, but we have no idea why the pulpit was destroyed. Did these esteemed students (who were themselves scholars) have no knowledge of the verses on patience that today’s Nasibis quote against the Shi’a? Whilst they have no opinion here, the moment the Shi’a mourn Imam Husayn (as) in Muharam all manner of article is churned against mourning rituals. Let us not forget

Ibn al Hashimi who comments:

Additionally, comemmorating Ashura with any special ritual would be adding to the faith of Islam, and this is Bidah. Bidah is considered part of Hell-Fire, and whoever invents a Bidah is promised Hell-Fire as well.

The students of the Imam of Haramain mourned his loss for an entire year. Are we going to say that not even one of these four hundred was ‘aware’ that such mourning contravened the Qur’an and Sunnah (as the Ahl’ul Sunnah claim)? Were they ignorant of the fact that commemorating his passing through acts of anarchy and year long mourning acts of Bidah, for which they would perish in Hell? The closure of shops, abandonment of patience, destructions of the pulpit and destroying writing materials are all understandable and acceptable acts of mourning when a Sunni Imam dies, but when the Shi’a mourn Imam Husayn (as) they have exceeded the limits of the Shari’ah!

Reply – Reply Six – Sufi Saint Shah Hassan Miyan Phulwari Hanafi Qadri’a comments on mourning for Imam Husayn (as) in Muharam

We read in the Sunni text Gham – e – Husayn, Page 7 the following words of this Sufi Saint: The ten days of Muharam are for we Muslims, days of mourning and grief. To lament on the slaughtered Imam is certainly following in the Holy Prophet’s (a) footsteps. I consider weeping and lamenting on Imam Husayn (as) and making others too cry & weep an act of great reward. I do not wish to talk or remember anything other than the Tragedy of Imam Husayn (as) during these ten days of Muharam. All the Saints and holy men and Sufi personalities in Hindustan have always openly expressed grief and sorrow and cried and wept profusely on the Day of Ashura. Maulana Shah Muhammad Suleiman Hanafi Qadri Chishti, the residing Saint of Phulwari Shareef also commemorated this grief & sorrow.


If expressing grief and sorrow, weeping for Imam Husayn (as) and making others do the same were Haraam, then all the Sufi Saints and holy men of Hindustan would not have perpetually practiced this sorrow during their lifetimes.

Reply Seven – Shaykh al Islam Maqdoom Ala’ al Haq Pindavi (R) and Azadari for Imam Husayn (as)

We read in Uswa – e – Sufia Uzzaam, Page 9 that:Sheikh al Islam Maqdoom Ala’ al Haq Pindavi (ra) used to mourn for all ten days of Muharam and would say:”How could one achieve sainthood when he does not mourn and weep on the family of the Holy Prophet (s) and perform Azadari for these pure personalities? One who doesn’t have a heart of stone.”


Thus a Sunni saint has himself declared that he who does not perform Azadari cannot be a saint (wali) and he who abstains from such mourning, is stone – hearted.

Reply Nine – Mourning for Imam Husayn (as) attests to our support for his suffering

The Tragedy of Karbala took place in 61 Hijra. Before that incident, Islam was not divided amongst different sects. The killers of Imam Husayn (as) had been excluded from the circle of Islam. Today, to carry out the dhikr of Imam Husayn (as) is to support him and to oppose it is in effect to support the path of Yazeed. In this connection there is a very important Hadeeth:

“I heard Rasulullah (s) say ‘Verily my son [Husayn] will be killed in a land called Kerbala, whoever amongst you is alive at that time must go and help him”.

We have taken this Hadeeth from the following sources:

  1. Khasais al Kubra Volume 2 page 125 (Maktaba Nurree Rizvi Publishers, Pakistan
  2. Yanabi ul Mawwaddat chapter 60.

Our mourning for our fallen Imam is an act of expression / support for him and is hence in complete accordance with the Sunnah of Rasulullah (s). If to remember Imam Husayn (as), carry out the Dhikr of his courageous actions, mourn, lament and wail while falling deep into the sentiments of love is not evidence of our support for him then what is?To follow the path of Husayn (as) is to share in his joys and tragedies? Our Azadari is the means via which we show our support for the suffering of Imam Husayn (as). It is based on our love and affection for him. Token words by Nasibis such as ‘We also love Husayn’ mean nothing, Love needs to be practical and as true lovers of Imam Husayn (as) we deem it necessary to keep the remembrance of our beloved in our heart. The names of a beloved are always on the lips of an adherent. People who want to bring the Dhikr of Husayn (as) to an end by crying Bidah do so because they want to end his remembrance so as to cover up the sins of their Nasibi ancestors who killed Imam Husayn (as).

Mourning on Husayn (as) is tantamount to mourning the Holy Prophet (s)

Shah Abdul Aziz Muhadith Dehlavi while explaining the philosophy of Martyrdom writes in the preface of his Book ‘Sirr al Shahdatain’: “The martyrdom of Imam Husayn (as) is in reality the martyrdom of his grandfather Muhammad Mustafa (s)”We therefore infer from this that mourning (Azadari) of the leader of the martyrs, Husayn (as) is mourning (Azadari) of his grandfather the Seal of Prophets, the most beloved of Allah’s creation, Muhammad Mustafa (s).

Reply Ten – Allah (swt)’s desire is that the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (as) is conveyed to all

Renowned anti Shia scholar al Muhaddith Shah Abdul Aziz Dehalvi writes:

Martyrdom is of two types, hidden martyrdom and the other type is open and hidden martyrdom. Both types were distributed between the two grandsons of the Holy Prophet (s). The hidden martyrdom happened to be Imam Hasan’s share since the state was hidden from the people when he was poisoned by his wife and this all happened because it was supposed to be kept secret and undisclosed and it was also foretold by the Holy Prophet (s). The latter type of martyrdom, was attained by the younger grandson of the Holy Prophet (s), Imam Husayn (r) who was chosen. Since this was to be a disclosed and unveiled martyrdom t its news was revealed through Gabriel and the place of his martyrdom was foretold and the time was declared to be the beginning of the year 61 A.H. It was declared on numerous occasions, Ali (as) also foretold the people about it when they were in the battle of Sifeen. When the tragedy occurred it was conveyed in a manner by Allah (swt) whereby the earth started to bleed and the sky turned red and the invisible angelic speakers and Djinns recited elegies for Imam Husayn (a.s), Lions and other beasts kept roaming around the body of Imam Husayn in order to protect it, and live snakes kept shoving into and out of the nostrils of the assassins of Imam Husayn. This incident was made famous in numerous other ways was conveyed to those present and absent, that the greatest sacrifice and martyrdom had occurred. Infact Allah started this custom of mourning and weeping for Imam Husayn, so that he might be remembered and cried upon, and all those hardships should be remembered; even the reason behind all this is the same that this incident should earn fame and acknowledgement. This was achieved everyone present or absent, human or spirits and the creatures came to know about this incident.

Risala sar al-Shahadatein Dar Tehreer al-Shahadatein, page 4-20, published in Lucknow

These are the comments of a vehement opponent of the Shi’a. If the desire of Allah (swt) is that the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (as) be conveyed to all, then the Shi’a are implementing this will by retelling this event in every home, Mosque and Street Corner.


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