Jafar al-Tayyar’s (a.s.) martyrdom and mourning over Imam Husain (a.s.)

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Critics of mourning (azadari) level the following charges in support of their claims:

  1. Weeping over dead is bidah (innovation) and there is no evidence of mourning from the Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) Sunnah
  1. Weeping is the cause of punishment for the person inside the grave.
  1. Food distributed to the mourners is innovation and has no place in Islam. In the least it is a waste of resources.


There is a reply to all the objections in a single event – the martyrdom of Hazrat Jafar al-Tayyar (a.s.) – cousin of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.).

Hazrat Jafar Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) was the Holy Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) first cousin. He was among the standard bearers of the Mo’tah battle, where he eventually embraced martyred. As soon as the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)  was informed of his martyrdom, he rushed to meet his sons.

When the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) entered Jafar’s house, he called them aside and kissed them so that his eyes were soaked with tears.

When Jafar’s wife (Asma) witnessed this, she realized it must have something to do with her husband. So she asked: May my father and mother be ransom on you! Is there any news of Jafar and his companions?

He (s.a.w.a.) said: Yes, today he has been martyred.

Asma cried loudly and women surrounded her. Fatima Zahra (s.a.) entered the house and exclaimed while weeping: ‘Alas, my uncle!’

Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said: Mourners should weep over the likes of Jafar.

  • Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal v 6 p 370 trad 27,131
  • Al-Seerah al-Nabaviyyah v 5 p 31
  • Al-Seerah al-Halabiyyah v 2 p 790

Waqedi narrates:

After the martyrdom of Jafar Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) when Prophet (s.a.w.a.) entered the house of his daughter Fatima Zahra (s.a.), he saw her weeping: ‘O my beloved uncle!’

He (s.a.w.a.) said: Women should mourn over Jafar in such a way.

Then he (s.a.w.a.) instructed: Prepare food for Jafar’s family and feed them.

  • Al-Maghazi v 2 p 214

Comprehensive reply to the skeptics

Traditions and reports related to Jafar al-Tayyar’s (a.s.) martyrdom are conclusive in deriving the following points:

  • Weeping over dead is Sunnah of Prophet (s.a.w.a.)
  • Not only did the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) himself mourn the dead, he was just as eager to see others mourn the dead. Hence, the instruction to mourn the likes of Jafar.
  • A Sunnah is opposite of bidah (innovation), hence if weeping of Prophet (s.a.w.a.) is Sunnah, then it cannot be bidah. In fact, stopping the Muslims from mourning is bidah.
  • Contrary to the claims of the skeptics, weeping over the dead is not cause of punishment for the person inside the grave. Would the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) legitimize weeping over Jafar al-Tayyar (a.s.) and indirectly punish his own cousin. The punishment over mourning relates to the dead from the disbelievers.
  • Feeding the mourners is a Sunnah of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.). Hence to dismiss the food as innovation or needless expenditure amounts to replacing the Prophet’s Sunnah with one’s own opinion.

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