Are lamentations for Imam Husain (a.s.) part of Islam?

Are lamentations for Imam Husain (a.s.) part of Islam?
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Lamentations, breast-beating and mourning in memory of Husain’s martyrdom are not sanctioned by Islam. Though such martyrdoms are tragic, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) has forbidden holding mourning ceremonies on the death of any person.

People of Jaahiliyyah (ignorance) used to mourn over their deceased then the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) stopped the Muslims.


Azaadaari (mourning) is a means to express sorrow for the hardships suffered by the Ahle Bait (a.s.) at the hands of the caliphs of their time. The words of Imam of Ahle Sunnah Allamah Fakhrudeen Raazi are notable:

‘It is our firm belief that one who dies with love for the descendants of Muhammad (s) dies a martyr.’

(Tafseer-e-Kabir, vol 7, pg 390)

We read in Al-Bidaayah wa al-Nihaayah of Ibne Kasir in vol. 4, pg. 45, Beirut ed.

It is narrated by Abu Hurariah that the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) used to visit the graves of martyrs every year. When he (s.a.w.a.) would reach the entrance of the mountain, he (s.a.w.a.) would say (to the martyrs): ‘Assalamoalaikum bi maa sabartum’. This means ‘Peace be on you due to your patience and you have reached a pleasant place due to this.’ Then after the Prophet (s.a.w.a.), Abu Bakr also used to come (every year), and after him Umar used to do the same and then Usman also did the same.

We read in Al-Bidaayahwa al-Nihaayah vol. 6 pg. 360:

Umar said ‘Whenever I venture out at sunrise, I remember the death of my brother Zaid b. Khattab.’

Obviously the remembrance of his brother’s death did not make him laugh; he was sorrowful (azaadaar).

We find in Taarikh-e-Yaqoobi, vol. 1, pg. 3:

The father and mother of humanity (Hazrat Adam (a.s.) and his wife Hazrat Hawwa (a.s.)) wept for their son Haabeel for so long that their tears turned into a stream.

In Rauzah al-Shuhadaa, pg 30 the same incident has been quoted by Mulla Husain Waaiz Kashifi who adds:

Tears from Adam’s (a.s.) right eye were flowing like the River Dajla and like the River Euphrates from his left eye.

Perhaps the following tradition may prove more convincing:

After the burial of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.), the companions in a state of sorrow were virtually throwing dust over themselves, and were crying due to the separation from their beloved. Especially Hazrat Faatemah (s.a.) was inconsolable; she was looking at the faces of her sons Imam Hasan (a.s.) and Imam Husain (a.s.) and was crying at their plight and her own plight. Even Aaesha was continuously crying and wailing. For several days and nights the voices of crying and mourning rose from this house which became house of grief (Baytul Huzn) and separation.

(Madaarij al-Nubuwwah, vol 2, pg. 753-754)

Mulla Ali Qaari in his book Al-Mirqaat fi Sharh al-Mishkaat from a narration by Imam Ahmed b. Hanbal quotes Imam Husain (a.s.):

‘Whoever weeps and cries upon me remembering my pain and miseries, Allah shall grant him Paradise.’

(Al-Mirqaat fi Sharh al-Mishkaatwith reference to Taarikh-e-Ahmedi, pg 277, printed in Kanpur)

One can refer to the Holy Quran via this hadis in Ahle Sunnah’s authoritative work Tafseer-e-Durr al-Manthoor,  vol. 4 pg 31:

The Prophet (s.a.w.a.) was asked: What was the extent of Hazrat Yaqoob’s (a.s.) mourning for his son? He (s.a.w.a.) replied, ‘It was on par with mourning of 70 men and women.’ And what was the reward for this? He (s.a.w.a.) retorted, ‘It is on par with one hundred martyrs.’

And we read in Tafseer Khazaan vol.3 pg 253:

Yusuf (a.s.) said to Hazrat Jibrail (a.s.): Is my father adhering to mourning? Hazrat Jibrail (a.s.) said: The mourning of Yaqoob (a.s.) is on par with 70 men and women mourning. He then asked, ‘What is the reward for this mourning?’

He said: The reward for this mourning is on par with mourning of 100 martyrs.

Doubt: The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) stopped the Muslims from doing all this and directed them to observe patience by saying ‘Innaalillaahi wa innaa ilayhiraaji’oon’. A number of authentic traditions are available on the subject.

To quote one of them: He is not from our group who slaps his cheeks, tears his clothes and cries in the manner of the people of Jaahiliyyah. (Saheeh Bukhari).


Please refer to the Holy Quran, which permits crying:

‘And he turned away from them, and said: O my sorrow for Yusuf! And his eyes became white on account of the grief, and he was a repressor (of anger).’

(Surah Yusuf (12): 84)

If you refer to the exegesis of this verse, it will be clear how much Prophet Yaqoob (a.s.) cried for his son ultimately forfeiting his eyesight in the process.

In Surah Nahl (16): 53, Allah declares: ‘And whatever favor is (bestowed) on you it is from Allah; then when evil afflicts you, to Him do you cry for aid.’

When Umar heard of Numan b. Muqrin’s death he beat his head and screamed, ‘O what a pity that Nu’man died.’

(Kanz al-Ummal, vol.8, pg. 117, Kitaab al-Maut)

As narrated by Tabari in his Taarikh vol. 9 pg. 183 (English translation by Ismail Poonawala):

Abbas narrates:

I heard Aaesha say: The Messenger of Allah died on my bosom during my turn, I did not wrong anyone in regard to him. It was because of my ignorance and youthfulness that the Messenger of Allah died while he was in my lap. Then I laid his head on a pillow and got up beating my chest and slapping my face along with the women.

(Ibn Katheer in al Bidaayah wa al-Nihaayah vol 5, pg 420)

Also refer to Ibn Katheer in al Bidayah wan Nihayah:

The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) died while he was in my lap. Then I laid his head on a pillow and got up beating my face along with other women.

According to Saheeh-e-Bukhaari:

Anas b. Malik narrated:

We went with Allah’s Apostle (s.a.w.a.) to the blacksmith Abu Saif, and he was the husband of the wet-nurse of Ibrahim (the son of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.)). Allah’s Apostle took Ibrahim, kissed him and smelled him. Later, we entered Abu Saif’s house at that time, Ibrahim was breathing his last and the eyes of Allah’s Apostle (s.a.w.a.) started shedding tears.

Abdul Rahman b. Auf said, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! Even you are weeping!’

He said, ‘O Ibn Auf, this is mercy.’

Then, he wept more and said, “The eyes are shedding tears and the heart is grieved, and we will not say except what pleases our Lord, O Ibrahim! Indeed we are grieved by your separation.”

Saheeh-e-Bukhaari, vol 2, book 23, tradition 390

We read in the traditions about the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.):

‘The Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.a.) was in a state where he was beating his chest.’


1.   Saheeh-e-Bukhari vol. 2 pg 50

2.   Sunan-e-Nesaai vol. 3 pg 305

3.   Adhaan al Mufreed pg 426

4.   Saheeh-e-Muslim vol 1 pg 291

5.   Musnad-e-Abi Awaana vol. 2 pg 292

‘There is nothing against Islam in expressing grief, sorrow or in crying and weeping at the loss of a loved one.’

Fayz al Bari fi Sharh-e-Saheeh Bukhari, vol 12, pg 462, Egypt ed.

We read in Ahle Sunnah’s authority work Maarij al-Nubuwwah chap 1 pg 248:

Hazrat Adam (a.s.) was so distressed that he smashed his hands onto his knees and the skin from his hands caused gashes from which bone could be seen.

We read in Al-Bidaayah wa al-Nihaayah vol. 5, pg 243:

‘When Prophet (s.a.w.a.) died on the bed, the women who were around him (s.a.w.) had made their faces red by beating their faces.’

Doubt: Even Husain (a.s.), shortly before his demise, had advised his beloved sister Zainab (a.s.), not to mourn over his death in this manner.

He said, ‘My dear sister! I swear upon you that in case I die you shall not tear your clothes, nor scratch your face…’


It is obvious from the numerous incidents of Zainab’s (s.a.) weeping in the presence of Imam Husain (a.s.) before his martyrdom that these statements are false and misleading.

When the forces of Yazid planned to attack the camp of Imam Husain (a.s.), Hazrat Zainab (s.a.) came to Imam Husain (a.s.) and asked why was there so much noise outside their tents, Imam replied that I just saw Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) in a dream and he (s.a.w.a.) said that I will be meeting him (s.a.w.a.) tomorrow, hearing this Hazrat Zainab (s.a.) started crying and beating herself on the face.

Al-Bidaayahwa al-Nihaayah, vol 8, pg 176, Beirut ed.

In the same book it is mentioned:

Hazrat Zainab (s.a.) heard the elegies from Imam (a.s.). Reflecting on the tragedy of Karbala and the martyrdom of Imam Husain (a.s.) she cried, lamented and beat herself on the head until she fainted.

Al-Bidaayahwa al-Nihaayah, vol 8, pg 177, Beirut ed.

Similarly, we read in Sunan-e- Ibn Maajah, vol. 2, pg 285, published 1313 AH in Egypt.

Saad b. Abi Waqqaas reported from Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) that he said ‘…shed tears and cry and if you can’t cry then make a crying face.’

The death of Imam Husain (a.s.) is an event on which not only humans, but even the jinn, angels, animals, birds, the sky and trees, have lamented. Thus, it is written that the sky wept for forty days on (the martyrdom of) Imam Husain (a.s.).

Yanabi al-Mawwaddah by Allamah Shaikh Sulaiman Hanafi Qundoozi, Constantinople ed. pg 392

Hafiz Abu Noaim writes in Hilyah al-Awliyaa on the authority on Imam Sha’bee, Zuhri, and Abu Qataadah:

When Imam Husain (a.s.) was martyred, the sun was eclipsed (so long) so that the stars appeared.

Waqiyaat-e-Karbala pg 75

Shah Abdul Aziz Dehalvi has narrated the lamenting and wailing of the jinn on pg. 96 of his book titled Sirr al-Shahaadatain. He has also quoted the verses of the elegy recited by the jinn while weeping over Imam Husain (a.s.).

Umme Salmah (r.a.) has also narrated: I heard the jinn mourning for Husain.

1.      Tarikh al-Kabir by al-Bukhari (the author of Saheeh), vol 4, part 1, pg 26

2.      Fazaa’il al-Sahaabah, by Ahmed b. Hanbal, vol 2, pg 776, tradition 1,373

3.      Tabarani, vol 3, pg 130-131

4.      Tahzib vol. 7

Suyuti states: When Imam Husain was martyred, the corners of the sky remained red for a four month period.

(Tafseer-e-Durr al-Manthoor vol. 6, pg. 31)

We find in the traditions that even the first and the second caliphs didn’t find lamenting loudly un-Islamic or against the Sunnah.

Refer to Kashf al-Ghummah pg. 175:

Abu Bakr and Umar would cry in such a way that the neighbors could hear them.

Again in the same book we read:

When Saad Ibn Maaz died, the Prophet (s.a.w.a.), Abu Bakr and Umar cried. Ayesha narrates ‘I recognized the cries of Abu Bakr and Umar although I was in my house”.

(Kashf al-Ghummah, pg. 174)

Aaesha called people to read elegies on her father’s death and she herself lamented.

(Tarikh Kaamil, vol 2, pg 288; Iqd al-Fareed, vol 3, pg 65)

On the day that Abu Bakr died, the situation seemed as if Madinah would be flooded with tears.

(Tarikh al-Khamees, vol 2, pg 330)

There are numerous other traditions which prove the permissibility of Azaadaari in the light of the Holy Quran and the teachings of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) and his revered companions. However, some Muslims choose to ignore them and raise the bogey of azaadaari being a form of innovation and deviation.


It’s an undeniable fact that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) has given all Muslims the bounty of Islam for which we collectively cannot repay him. However, the only way we could try to do that is to follow the Holy Quran which states:

Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but love for my near relatives..

Surah Shura (42): 23

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) has also stated, ‘Husain (a.s.) is from me and I am from Husain (a.s).

The Quranic verse and prophetic tradition are more than enough for any Muslim worth his salt to acknowledge the excellence of Ahle Bait (a.s.). The least one can do is remember and love the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and his family (a.s.) rather than remaining partial to those who were responsible ever since the advent of Islam for hurting the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a) like Abu Sufyan, his son Muawiyah and his grandson Yazid.

Shah Abdul Aziz Muhaddis-e-Dehlavi while explaining the philosophy of martyrdom writes in the preface of his book ‘Sirr al-Shahaadatain’:

‘The martyrdom of Imam Husain (a.s.) is in reality the martyrdom of his grandfather Muhammad Mustafa (s.a.w.a).’

Last few traditions from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)

It has been mentioned in reliable traditions that often Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) mourned for Imam Husain (a.s.), which was obviously before his martyrdom.

The well-known scholar of 10th century A. H. Allauddin Muttaqi Hindi in his book ‘Kanz al-Ummaal’ has quoted Ibn Abi Shaibah, who has related from Umme Salmah, the wife of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), that — Once Imam Husain (a.s.) came to Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) when I was sitting near the door. I saw that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) had something in his palm, which affected him, making him weep profusely. By now Imam Husain (a.s.) had fallen asleep in his lap. I asked about the matter. He replied: ‘Jibrail has brought the earth of the place where Husain (a.s.) will be martyred and informed me that people of my Ummah will slay him.’

Kanz-ul-Ummaal vol. 2

One day, Umm Fazl, wife of Abbas — the Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) uncle — approached the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and informed him (s.a.w.a.), ‘O Prophet of Allah! I had a nightmare. I dreamt as if a piece of your flesh was flung in my arms.’

The Prophet (s.a.w.a.) informed, ‘The dream is true. Faatemah will give birth to a son and he will be brought to you.’ As predicted on Husain’s (a.s.) birth, he was brought in my lap. One day, I brought the infant to the Prophet (s.a.w.a.). For some time, the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) took his eyes away from the infant. When he (s.a.w.a.) glanced at the infant again, his eyes welled up with tears.

I said, ‘May my father and mother be sacrificed on you O Prophet of Allah, why are you crying?’

He (s.a.w.a.) informed, ‘I have just been informed by Jibrael that my nation will kill him.’

I asked, ‘Will it be this son?’ He replied in the affirmative. Jibraeel also brought reddish sand for me.’

Al-Mustadrak alaa al-Saheehain by Haakim Neishapouri, vol 3, pg 176

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