Without doubt, weeping over the Imam Husain (a.s.) the Chief of Martyrs (a.s.) has exemplary effects and blessings. Let us evaluate the different types of mourning so that we can identify the nature of weeping upon Imam Husain (a.s.).
Weeping is the representation and symbol of an extreme emotional human state. It can have various reasons and motives, each with its own particularities. In traditions, some conditions are admired and are praiseworthy characteristics of the pure hearted servants of Allah, while other categories of mourning are condemned.
Weeping is a natural expression of grief and discomfort. For example, the enthusiasm at meeting a loved one after a prolonged period at times leads to one or both parties to breakdown. Furthermore, at times crying is indicative of oneâs religious beliefs. By this definition too, weeping is indicative of a natural act and is often spontaneous, so it does not become an act of prohibition nor is it considered good or bad according to religious decrees. What is good or bad are the motives and prerequisites which lead to crying.
We will evaluate the nature of mourning over Imam Husain (a.s.) – The Chief of Martyrs and related effects and blessings. To that end, it is judicious to list the different types of mourning so that we can identify the nature of weeping upon Imam (a.s.).
1. The weeping of an infant – human life begins with weeping and it is a sign of safety and health. Weeping is indeed the language of the child.
2. The tears of longing – like the fervent weeping of a mother on meeting her son after a prolonged interval. The tears flow out in an excited and agitated manner.
3. The weeping of affection – love is among the most basic emotions which convey deep affection. For instance, true love of God is the best virtue a creature can possess and tears are a manifestation of this love.
4. The lament of recognition and awe – the result of sincere worship and contemplation on the greatness of His creation as well as the importance of duties and responsibilities evoke a special kind of fear within man. This fear is rooted in the fear of God and the need for self-improvement and is also known as awe.
5. The tears of repentance – from the factors of sorrow that lead to weeping is the accounting of one’s self and this accounting causes man to reflect of his past. It guides him to atone for his short comings and mistakes and tears of regret and remorse flow as a consequence of this remembrance. These tears are the result of repentance and turning towards God.
6. The mourning due to connection with an aim – sometimes, man’s tears is the bearers of the message of a goal. Crying over the martyr is from this genre of lamentation. The crying over the martyr enlivens the customs of the saga within man. Mourning over the Chief of Martyrs (a.s.) enlivens the Husaini tradition within man. The Husaini custom is that neither is injustice perpetuated nor is it tolerated. Whoever hears about the event of Karbala cannot but help shed tears over it.
7. The crying of humiliation and defeat – the tears of the weak and helpless, devoid of spirit and courage, when they do not see themselves reaching their goal.
Our aim in mentioning the above is to investigate the nature of weeping upon Imam Husain (a.s.). Whoever pays a little attention will realize that the lamentation upon Imam Husain (a.s.) is the weeping of love – the love registered in the hearts of those affectionate towards him. The weeping on him are the tears of longing. The battle of Karbala and even the events preceding and following it excite fervour and intensity in the hearts leading to tears welling up in the eyes. It is due to the courage, sacrifice and fiery speeches, righteous men and women captured by the wicked, the supreme conflict between good and evil that the audience is left inconsolable. Moreover, the crying is a sign of his recognition of truth and those who were on the side of truth and a link between him and the divine covenant.
Crying over Husain (a.s.) is not the crying of humiliation and defeat, far from it. It is a link to the source of dignity. It is not the lament of the cowards but the mourning of the courageous, not the cry of helplessness but the tears of hope. Lastly, weeping is recognition – the tears of recognition in the uprising of Husain (a.s.) prevents him from deviation and distortion. Therefore, the excellence of crying upon the Chief of Martyrs (a.s.) has been mentioned in several traditions. Imam Sadiq (a.s.) declared: Crying and anxiety over all tragedies is detestable except the tears upon Husain b. Ali (a.s.) which entails a reward.[i]
Mourning and crying for the Chief of Martyrs (a.s.) carry multiple effects and blessings. Some of them are as mentioned:
1. Protection of the Symbol of the Husaini Struggle against Injustice and Tyranny
The most valuable effect and blessing of the assemblies of mourning and crying on Imam Husain (a.s.) is the safeguarding of the symbol of the Husaini struggles against injustice and tyranny.
It is worth debating why the assemblies of mourning on the Ahle Bait (a.s.), especially the Chief of Martyrs (a.s.) were prevented during the reigns of the wretched caliphs and kings. This can be answered with other questions – Doesn’t the mourning on Imam Husain (a.s.) and other Imams (a.s.) create awareness among the orators, the conscious-keepers of the nation regarding the oppression of the government of the time? Wasn’t Imam Husain’s (a.s.) struggle with the express purpose of enjoining good and prohibiting evil?
Indeed, these assemblies are schools and universities where the best morals and the most beautiful ethics are recited. The unaware wake up from the slumber of ignorance. Also, those attending such assemblies are taught various aspects of faith and actions based on Quran and the teachings of the Ahle Bait (a.s.).
Mourning over the Chief of Martyrs (a.s.) and the forming of such assemblies will not only serve to protect the foundation of the school, rather they will enable Shias to get the best possible training in matters of belief, actions and ethics and thereby develop as a Husaini is every sense.
Which community in the world provides opportunity for self-improvement of this nature? Which incident like the heart-wrenching event of Karbala, has affected humanity to such an extent and permeates its influence with growing intensity year after year? It should be said that in reality the traditions of mourning are the protectors and guardians of the pure mission of Imam Husain (a.s.) and by extension the guardians of Islam and the trustees of its survival.
Morris Dockbury writes: If our historians knew the reality of this day, and understood the significance of Aashura, they would not consider this lamentation as insane. Through the mourning of Husain (a.s.) , his followers understand they should not accept degradation, oppression and colonialism. As was the motto of their leaders, they do not bow before injustice and oppression.
A little reflection and evaluation into the mourning ceremonies of Imam Husain (a.s.) underscores subtle life-giving aspects. In mourning ceremonies the audience is reminded that Imam Husain (a.s.) sacrificed his life, property and children to preserve mankind’s dignity and honour and elevate the position and rank of Islam. He did not bow before the imperialism of Yazid. The audience is urged to emulate his example and rid mankind of tyranny and oppression even at the cost of property and life.[ii]
2. Increase in the love for Imam (a.s.) and hatred for his enemies
The fire in the hearts of the lovers of the Chief of Martyrs (a.s.) from attending such assemblies of mourning give rise to attachment and closeness to the family of the Messenger (s.a.w.a.). In addition to this, constant reminders of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) sufferings at the hands of unworthy and degraded creatures is a cause of increased resentment towards the enemies of Islam and the Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) progeny. Not only is the mourning a declaration of immunity from the opponents of the Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) progeny; rather it is dissociation from every form of oppression, transgression, injustice and persecution against truth and humanity.
3. Recognizing the reality of religion and its propagation
Another effect and blessing of the mourning assemblies organized in the name of the Chief of Martyrs (a.s.) is that people are made aware of Islam and its tenets. They are introduced to the teachings of the upright religion. They learn about the concepts of the Holy Quran and the teachings of its inseparable counterpart the blessed and immaculate progeny of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.).
4. Forgiveness of Sins
Rayyan b. Shabeeb narrates from Imam Reza (a.s.): O son of Shabeeb! Should you weep for Husain to the extent that tears roll down your cheeks, Allah will forgive all your sins, whether they be the great sins or the small sins and whether they be meager or immense.[iii]
Imam (a.s.) also informed: Those who weep should weep over the likes of Husain for surely, weeping over him does away with one’s great sins.[iv]
5. Life in Paradise
Imam Baqir (a.s.) informed: One who sheds tears while mourning over Husain, Allah places him in Paradise.[v]
Imam Sadiq (a.s.) declared: There is none who recites elegies about Husain (a.s.) and weeps and makes others weep, except that Allah destines Paradise for them both.
In another tradition Imam (a.s.) informed: One in whose presence Husain is remembered and tears equal to a mosquito’s wing flow (as a result), his reward is with Allah Who will not be satisfied with anything except heaven for that person.[vi]
Imam (a.s.) further stated: Whosoever mourns Husain and makes others cry or brings himself to the state of weeping, Paradise becomes incumbent for him.[vii]
Another miraculous effect of the mourning assemblies organized for the Chief of Martyrs (a.s.) is healing and cure for debilitating medical problems.
It is narrated on the authority of Ayatullah Burujardi (r.a.), who had healthy eyesight at the grand old age of ninety and could read minute text without glasses. He informed – I am indebted to Hazrat Abu Abdillah Husain (a.s.) for this blessing.
He would then theorize: During the years I was at Burujard, I developed a painful eye ailment. The treatment recommended by doctors was of no help and there was no let up in the pain. Meanwhile it was Muharram. In the first ten days of the month, Ayatullah Faqeed arrived at the mausoleum and participated in various mourning assemblies.
One of the groups which had entered the house of Ayatullah Burujardi (r.a.) on the day of Ashoora was the group of maatamis comprising of the Saadaat, scholars and the noblemen. Each had a white cloth tied to his waist, dust on the head and chest, moving in an agitated state, narrating the heart-rending incidents of Karbala.
They carried on in this condition till noon that day. Ayatullah (r.a.) related: When they came to my house and assembled here, I was overcome by a strange sensation. I sat in a corner and cried slowly. Then I took some earth from below the feet of one of the group members and rubbed it to my eyes to lessen the discomfort.
By the blessings of this action, my eyes healed and till date I have never suffered any eye ailment rather my eyesight is perfect and by the grace of Imam Husain (a.s.) I never required to wear glasses.
This was the case till the last moment of life.
7. One who mourns over Imam Husain (a.s.) will not cry on the Day of Judgement
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) informed Hazrat Fatemah (s.a.): All eyes will shed tears on the Day of Judgment except the eyes which cried over the difficulties of Husain, they will be smiling and pleased with the blessings of Paradise.[viii]
8. Safety from the Throes of Death and the Fire of Hell
Masma narrates that Imam Sadiq (a.s.) inquired – Do you all remember Husain (a.s.)? I replied – Yes. Imam (a.s.) said – Do you weep (over Husain)? I answered – Yes, by God, I shed tears and my face reflects the grief. Imam (a.s.) remarked – May Allah have mercy upon your tears! Do know that you are regarded as being among those who are deeply concerned about us and of those who are happy at our happiness and aggrieved at our sorrow. Do you know that you shall witness the presence of my forefathers (a.s.) near you at the time of death? The Angel of Death will be gentler with you than a mother is with her child. Then Imam (a.s.) continued – Whosoever grieves over the difficulties of us Ahle Bait (a.s.) with affection, merits the mercy of Allah even before the tears leave the eyes. If a tear that rolls down the cheeks falls in hell, it would extinguish its heat. Every eye that cries over us will be pleased and quenched by friends when it sees the Pond of Kausar.[ix]
It is necessary to point out in light of this tradition – The Fire of Hell cannot be compared to the fire of this world, which with the mourning over Husain (a.s.) becomes extinguished and safe. Then it should come as no surprise if the mourning over Husain (a.s.) is a shield against the weak flames of this world.
9. The Impact of Writing Poetry in the mourning of Husain (a.s.)
Imam Sadiq (a.s.) – There is none who recites elegies about Husain (a.s.) and weeps and makes others weep, except that Allah makes Paradise incumbent upon him and forgives his sins.[x]
[i]Wasaail al-Shia vol. 10 pg. 393 by Shaykh Hurr al-Aamili
[ii] Behaar al-Anwaar vol. 44 pg.284 by Allamah Muhammad Baaqer al-Majlisi
[iii]Muntakhab Kaamil Al-Ziyaaraat pg.165 by Ibne Qulwayh al-Qummi
[iv]Jalaa Al-Uyoon pg. 462 by Allamah Muhammad Baaqer al-Majlisi
[v] Behaar al-Anwaar vol. 44 pg. 293 by Allamah Muhammad Baaqer al-Majlisi
[vi]Wasaail al-Shia vol. 10 pg. 397 by Shaykh Hurr al-Aamili
[vii]Daastaanha-e-Shaguft pg. 9 by Ayatullah Dastaghaib
[viii]Ikhtiyaar-e-Marefat Al-Rijaal pg. 89 by Shaikh al-Tusi
[ix]Khulasa Az Maqaale Ashura by Jawaad Muhaddisi