Chapter Fifteen: The stance of Ahlulbayt (as) regarding the commemoration of Ashura


We have until now produced number of Sunni evidences to prove that different rituals related to mourning are not exclusive to the Shia This in no way means that the Shia rationale for mourning the fallen Imam (as) is based upon the reliance of Sunni sources, as is the common argument of Sunni polemicists. When they are presented with evidence that Ayesha slapped her face along with other women on the death of Holy Prophet (s) they will respond:

  • It was a sudden reaction to a fresh tragedy
  • It was never commerated annually as the Shias do

Our reply to the first lame excuse is two-fold. Firstly, if beating oneself through sheer grief is a grave sin according to our opponents, then a sin is a sin whether practised once, twice or more. Do our opponents want to argue that Ayesha and all the other Sahaba committed the alleged sin of mourning at least once during their lives? Let us ask them, when did Ayesha or anyone they revere state that this CANNOT be done when one is grieving over past tragedies?

Secondly, to argue that one can commit the ‘sin’ of beating oneself when he or she is confronted with resh grief is also a feeble excuse, and is in fact lame conjecture. The reality is that when someone you love more than yourself dies, that too in a tragic manner, that grief / loss will always remain fresh, particularly if you are reminded of the tragedy, if you truly love that person, hearing / recounting the event will make you feel as if it has just happened. We Shias deem Ahlulbayt (as) to be our masters we hold them dearer than our selves, our families indeed everything, not just because we have been instructed to do so but also due to the spiritual affection we have with them (as), that is why whenever we hear the horrific tragedies that the ancestors of the present day Nawasib perpetrated against the Ahlulbayt (as), we find it hard to control ours emotions and thus as a natural reaction we will resort to beating our chests or heads. This reactions is because when we hear such atrocities, our heart goes out to the Imam (as) and his fallen comrades, we feel at one with them, it is as if the Imam (as) has just fallen, the grief once again becomes ‘fresh’; the terminology/concept used by the Nawasib to defend Ayesha et al, becomes applicable here.

As for the excuse that none of these Sunni personalities commemorated the tragedy of Karbala on an annual basis, we should once again point out that whether they did or did not on annual basis or not is not our headache, none of these individuals stated that it CANNOT be done on annual basis. Our aim behind citing Sunni evidences was simply to prove that the ancestors of our opponents used to mourn as we do today. As far as commemorating the tragedy of Karbala on an annual basis is concerned, we are only concerned with the stance of the subsequent Imams of Ahlulbayt (as) who did just that without the time constraints, whether annually or not. Let us cite a few examples:

Imam Jafar (as) convened the mourning gathering for Hussain (as) and wept profusely

In Kamil al-Ziyarat by ibn Quluweyh, page 209 we read that gatherings to commemorate Imam Hussain (as) were conducted by Imam Jafar Sadiq (as) who would weep loudly over the same:

عن ابي عبد الله (عليه السلام)، قال: قال لي: يا ابا عمارة انشدني في الحسين (عليه السلام)، قال: فأنشدته، فبكى، ثم أنشدته فبكى، ثم أنشدته فبكى، قال: فوالله ما زلت انشده ويبكي حتى سمعت البكأ من الدار

Abu Amarah said: Abu Abdullah (as) said to me: ‘O Amarah, recite elegy about Hussain (as)’. Thus, I recite a elegy and he cried, then I continued with the elegy and he cried’. By Allah I kept reciting elegy and he kept on weeping to the extent that a weeping voice could be heard from the house’.

We also read:

عبد الله بن غالب، قال: دخلت على ابي عبد الله (عليه السلام) فأنشدته مرثية الحسين (عليه السلام)، فلما انتهيت الى هذا الموضع: لبلية تسقو حسينا * بمسقاة الثرى غير التراب فصاحت باكية من وراء الستر: وا أبتاه

Abdullah bin Ghalib said: ‘I went to Abu Abdullah (as) and recited an elegy about Hussain (as), when I come across this part “irrigating Hussain with sand” a woman from behind the curtain cried and said: ‘O father’.

The nature of Imam Hussain (as)’s martyrdom over the other martyrs of Ahlulbayt (as)

In Elal al-Sharaei by Shaykh Seduq, Volume 1 pages 225–226 we read that the day on which Imam Hussain (as) was martyred is considered to be more grievous than the martyrdom dates of the other members of Ahlulbayt (as):

Abdullah bin al-Fadhl al-Hashimi said: ‘I said to Abu Abdullah Jaffar bin Muhammad al-Sadiq (as): ‘O son of Allah’s messenger (S), how come the day of Ashura is the day of ordeal, sadness, mourning and weeping but not the day on which Allah’s messenger (S) died and the day on which Fatima (as) died and the day on which Amirul Mumineen (as) was murdered and the day on which al-Hassan (as) was murdered via poison?’

He (Imam Jaffar) replied: ‘The day of Hussain is worse than the other days because the people of the cloak honored by Allah almighty were five, when the prophet passed away, Amirul Mumineen, Fatima, Hassan and Hussain (as) remained behind, they were hence a consolation for the people. When Fatima al-Zahra (as) passed away, Amirul Mumineen , Hassan and Hussain remained as a consolation for the people. When Amirul Mumineen (as) passed away, Hassan and Hussain remained as a consolation for the people. When Hassan (as) passed away, Hussain remained as a consolation for the people. When Hussain (as) was killed no one amongst the people of the cloak remained behind for the people, therefore his departure was tantamount to all of them departing and his existence was tantamount to all of them existing, therefore his day became a great ordeal’.

Regarding those who recite elegies at the atrocities committed by the forefathers of the present day Nawasib against the Ahlulbayt (as), Imam Sadiq (as) said:

“All praise be to Allah, who has placed amongst the people, those who arrive in our presence, eulogizing us and reciting elegies about us”
Wasail al-Shia, Volume 10 page 469

Merely imagining the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (as) and his companions would reduce Imam Zain al-Abdeen (as) to tears

Imam Zain al-Abdeen as-Sajjad (as) said:

“Verily whenever the martyrdom of the children of Fatimah (as) comes to my mind I become choked up with tears “..
Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 46 page 109

Imam Raza (as) convened the mourning gatherings for Hussain (as) during the month of Muharram

Once Imam Raza (as) said to De’bil, a poet sincerely devoted to the Ahlulbayt (as):

“I desire that you recite for me poetry, for surely these days (of the month of Muharram) are the days of grief, that have passed over us, Ahlulbayt”..
Mustadrak al-Wasail, Volume 10 page 386

Whenever food was placed before Imam Zain ul Abdeen (as), he wept for Imam Hussain (as)

Imam Sadiq (as) said:

“As for Ali Ibn al-Husain (as), he cried over Husain (as) for twenty years (after the tragedy of Kerbala); whenever food was placed before him he wept.”
Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 46 page 108

Imam Ali bin Abi Talib (as) wept for Imam Hussain (as)

Imam Baqir (as) said:

“Amirul Mu’mineen (as), along with two of his companions, happened to pass by Kerbala and as he did so, tears filled his eyes. He said (to them), “This is the resting place of their animals; and this is where their luggage shall be laid down; and it is here that their blood shall be shed. Blessed are you O’ Earth, that the blood of the beloved shall be spilled upon you.”"
Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 98 page 258

Daily chores should be abandoned on the day of Ashura

We read in Elal al-Sharaei, Volume 1 pages 227:

Al-Hassan bin Fadhal said: ‘Abu al-Hassan Ali bin Musa al-Raza (as) said: ‘Whoever abandoned seeking to fulfill his needs on the day of Ashura, will have all his needs fulfilled by Allah in this life and the hereafter, and whoever considered the day of Ashura as a day of sadness and mourned and wept, Allah (swt) shall grant him happiness in the heavens via us’.

The extent of grief observed by the latter Imams (as) for the entirety of Muharram

Similarly Shaykh Saduq records in another book Al-Amali, page 190:

Ibrahim bin Abi Mahmood said: ‘al-Raza (as) said: ‘The people of Jahiliyah [pre-Islam period] used to prohibit war during the month of Muharam but our blood was shed during it and our children and women were made captives and our tents were burned, our possessions were stolen and they didn’t respect the holiness of Allah’s messenger, the day of Hussain shed our tears and humiliated our noble ones on the land of Karbala and would pass on sadness to us until the day of resurrection. On some one as Hussain the weepers shall weep, weeping shall erase the sins’.

Then he (Imam Raza) said: ‘My father (as) never used to smile when the month of Muharam would arrive and sadness was visible on his face until the tenth day of Muharram. When the tenth day used to come, it was the day of his ordeal, sadness and weeping and that was the day on which Hussain (as) was killed’.

We read in Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 45 page 77:

Imam Ja’ffar al-Sadiq (as) said: ‘The sky wept over al-Husayn (as) for forty mornings with blood, while the earth wept over him for forty mornings with darkness blackness. The sun wept over him for forty mornings with an eclipse and with redness, the mountains dispersed, the oceans poured forth, whereas the angels wept over him for forty mornings. No woman amongst us ever dyed with henna, nor used any oil, nor any kohl nor cohabited with her husband until the head of Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad was brought to us, and we are still aggrieved even after all that’.

The reward for expressing grief over the murder of Imam hussain (as) and his companions

Imam Raza (as) said:

” He who deems the day of A’ashura as a day of tragedy, who grieves and weeps, Allah (swt), The Glorious, shall make the Day of Judgment, a day of joy and happiness for him”..
Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 44 page 28

Imam Raza (as) said:

“Those who weep should weep over the likes of Husain (as) for surely, weeping over him evaporates one’s great sins”.
Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 94 page 184

Imam Baqir (as) also said:

“He who remembers us, or in whose presence, we are remembered, and (as a result) sheds eyes, even though they may be in the measure of the wing of a mosquito, Allah shall construct for him a house in paradise and make these tears a barrier between him and the fire (of hell)”.
Al-Ghadeer, Volume 2 page 202

Similarly Imam Jafar Sadiq (as) said:

“There is none who recites poetry about Husain (as) and weeps and makes others weep by means of it, except that Allah makes Paradise incumbent upon him and forgives his sins”.
Rijal al-Shaikh al-Tusi, page 189

Imam Sadiq (as) once said to Masma’, one of the mourner of Imam Husain (as):

“May Allah have mercy upon your tears! Do know that you are regarded as being of those who are deeply concerned about us and of those who are happy at our happiness and aggrieved at our sorrow. Do know that you shall witness the presence of my fathers near you at the time of your death”.
Wasail al-Shia, Volume 10 page 397

Imam Sadiq (as) said:

“The breath of one who is aggrieved upon the injustice and oppression subjected to us, is tasbeeh (glorification of Allah), and his grief for us, is i’baadat (worship of Allah) and his concealing our secrets, is jihad in the path of Allah.” The Imam (as) then added: “This tradition ought to be written in gold”.
Amaali by Shaikh al-Mufid, page 338

Imam Sadiq (as) while sitting on the prayer mat prayed for the mourners and those going for the ziarat of the Ahlulbayt (as) as follows:

“O’ Lord, have mercy upon those eyes, which have shed tears in compassion for us; and upon those hearts, which have been restless and blistered for us; and upon those wailings, which have been for us.”
Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 98 page 8

And most importantly, the Holy Prophet (s) said to Fatimah Zahra [sa]:

“On the Day of Judgment, you shall intercede for the ladies and I shall intercede for the men; every person who has wept over the tragedy of Husain (as), we shall take him by the hand and lead him into Paradise.”
Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 94 page 192

Similarly the Holy Prophet (as) said:

“O Fatimah! Every eye shall be weeping on the Day of Judgment except the eye which has shed tears over the tragedy of Husain (as) for surely, that eye shall be laughing and shall be given the glad tidings of the bounties and comforts of Paradise.”
Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 44 page 193

The Holy Prophet (as) said:

“(On the Day of Judgment, a group would be seen in the most excellent and honourable of states. They would be asked if they were of the Angels or of the Prophets. In reply they would state): “We are‑neither Angels nor Prophets but of the indigent ones from the ummah of Muhammad (s)”. They would then be asked: “How then did you achieve this lofty and honourable status?” They would reply: “We did not perform very many good deeds nor did we pass all the days in a state of fasting or all the nights in a state of worship but yes, we used to offer our (daily) prayers (regularly) and whenever we used to hear the mention of Muhammad (s), tears would roll down our cheeks”.”
Mustadrak al-Wasail, Volume 10 page 318

The reward of attending the gatherings wherein the ordeals of Ahlulbayt (as) are told

Imam Raza (as) said:

“He who sits in a gathering in which our affairs (and our path and aims) are discussed and revived, his heart shall not die on the day (Day of Judgment) when hearts shall die (of fear).”
Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 4 page 178

Similarly Imam Sadiq (as) once said to Fudhail:

‘Do you sit together, talk and discuss amongst yourselves?’ Fudhail replied:’ Yes’. The Imam then said: ‘I approve of these sittings. So keep our ‘issue’ (Imamate) alive. May Allah exhibit mercy on those who revive our issue and mission!’
Wasail al-Shiah, Volume 10 page 391

The pride felt by Ahlulbayt (as) at their Shia that share in their happiness and grief

Imam Ali bin Abi Talib (as) said:

“Surely, Allah has chosen for us followers (Shia), who assist us and are happy at our happiness and are sad at our sadness”.
Ghuraral Hikam, Volume 1 page 135

Imam Ali (as) has referred to a natural and logical human phenomenon. When the one you hold dearer than you is happy, you rejoice when he is in hardship or grief or dies, you will not be happy nor will you remain indifferent, the human characteristic inside you will automatically plunge you in to the depths of grief. Thus, in light of Imam Ali (as)’s words, who are the ones that commemorate the grief of Ahlulbayt (as) and who are those that resent and oppose it.

Similarly we read that Imam Raza (as) once said Ibn Shabib:

“O Son of Shabib! If it makes you happy (and you desire) to be with us in the elevated ranks of paradise, then be sad at our grief and happy at our happiness.”
Wasail al-Shiah, Volume 14 page 502

According to Holy Prophet (s), ‘Mumineen’ will never abandon their grief for Hussain (as)

“The Holy Prophet (s) said: ‘Surely, there exists in the hearts of the Mu’mineen, with respect to the martyrdom of Husain (as), a fire that never extinguishes’.”
Mustadrak al-Wasail, Volume 10 page 318

Even angels shall continue to weep for Imam Hussain (as) until the Day of Judgment

Imam Sadiq (as) said:

“Allah has appointed to the grave of Imam Husain (as), four thousand anguished and grief‑stricken angels, who weep over him (and shall continue to do so) until the Day of Judgment”.
Kamil al-ziyaraat, page 119

Isa (as) also wept over the killing of Prophet’s grandson

Imam Ali (as) said to Ibn Abbas:

“(Once when he happened to pass by Kerbala), Isa (as) sat down and began to weep. His disciples who were observing him, followed suit and began weeping too, but not comprehending the reason for this behaviour, they asked him: “O’ Spirit of God! What is it that makes you weep?” Isa (as) said: “Do you know what land this is?” The disciples replied: “No.” He then said: “This is the land on, which the son of the Prophet Ahmad (s) shall be killed.”
Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 44 page 52

Concluding the chapter

In addition to the natural instinct that compels us to lament over the tragedies that befell the Ahlulbayt, being their devoted adherents, the permission as well as the personal acts of the Imams of Ahlulbayt (as) taken towards mourning for Imam Hussain (as) and his companions is another reason for us to do so, particularly in the light of Hadith Al-Thaqlayn. Thus one can say that spiritually its our love and affection for Ahlulbayt (as) that automatically make us mourn for the tragedies befallen on them (as) and technically it is Hadith al-Thaqlayn that make us follow the stance of the subsequent Imams of Ahlulbayt (as) regarding the mourning over the oppression unleashed on Imam Hussain (as). When our Imams (as) have given us the green light to mourn for our fallen Master we do not need any clearance certificate from any Nasibi mullah!


Shia Pen Newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive regular updates on our new publications.
Shia Pen uses the "Google Groups" system for its newsletters. Subcribe Now →