Question : Is it appropriate to engage in sports activities like cricket, football, tennis etc. on the eve or day of Ashura?
Answer : Engaging in such activities on the night or day of Ashura is not in accordance to what has been narrated from the Imams (peace be upon them) in the exhortation to express grief and sadness over the tragedy suffered by Imam Hussain (peace be upon him), his household and companions on the day of Ashura.
Question : There are various opinions amongst the Shia about some rituals of commemorating the Ahlul-Bayt (peace be upon them) and mourning for them, and these differences become more apparent in the month of Muharram. What is your advice in this regard?
Answer : There is no doubt that we should commemorate the tragedy of Ashura and express our grief and sorrow over what happened to Imam Hussein (peace be upon him) and his family and companions; and the Imams (peace be upon them) emphasized this in a well-known manner that is recorded in the books of narrations.
However, differences have occurred in respect to some practices and rituals, and opinions have differed about them for some time.
Our advice to all the believers is that they should refer in this issue to those Marajiâ€™ who they follow and fulfill the conditions of Taqleed, and they should distance themselves from conflicting and quarrelling over it, as a believer may commit a sin as a result of such arguing. Rather, it is best at times to leave such quarrelling when there is no benefit in it. This may even cause harm and lead to animosity and hostility between believers.
Question : Please inform if I can study for academic exams on 9th and 10th of Muharram?
Is studying for worldly education prohibited on Ashura?
Answer : It is not prohibited to study in the day or the night of Ashura.
Question : Some brothers do Tatbeer in the religious center on Ashura day, and because of the shedding of blood, the place becomes Najis. Is this allowed?
Answer : It is prohibited to make the mosque Najis. It is not prohibited to make other places Najis, especially when they are going to be purified afterwards.
Question : People distribute drinks in bottles in religious gatherings on the day of Ashura in the name of the Ahlulbait (peace be upon them) and some people take it home and drink it to cure their illnesses. Is this permissible?
Answer : It is permissible to seek the blessings from whatever is related to the Prophet and the Imams (peace be upon them all).
Question : My question is about beating our chest in month of Moharram, is it permissible?
Answer : Beating the chests in the ceremonies of Moharam is one of the examples of expressing the sadness and grief to what happened to the Ahlulbait (peace be upon them) in the tragedy of Karbala.
Question : I want to ask if it is permissible or suitable in the gatherings of the month of Muharram to serve food items that are used also during marriage parties or other happy occasions.
Answer : Serving food in Muharram is permissible, but one should refrain from overspending in the prohibited way. It is better to have such gatherings with sadness and grief that associate with Ashura, so it may correspond to the emphasis of the Imams of the Ahlulbait (peace be upon them) on expressing such feeling on these days.
Question : Is it true that wearing black clothing is disliked? If so, does this also apply when wearing black clothes to mourn the tragedies of the Ahlulnait (peace be upon them)?
Answer : It is reported in religious texts not to wear black clothes, which suggests that it is disliked to do so. However, there is no doubt that it is preferable to wear black clothes to mourn what happened to Imam Hussain (peace be upon him) and his household and companions as this represents loyalty and love for the Ahlulbait (peace be upon them).
Question : Is it obligated to visit the shrine of Imam Hussein (peace be upon him)?
Answer : Visiting the shrine of Imam Hussain (peace be upon him) is considered one of the highly recommended deeds. Many narrations of the Imams of the Ahlulbait (peace be upon them) urge the believers to do so, and that Almighty Allah will reward the visitors a great reward.
Question : Participants in some mourning ceremonies shed blood. Is it recommended to do so?
Answer : Religious rituals that Shias perform to mourn the tragedies of the Imams of the Ahlulbait (peace be upon them) and to present the oppressions that they suffered are recommended. However, it is obligatory to avoid what causes harm to the soul or the body. If it does not result in harm, it remains being recommended. One should avoid performing them in a place where the reputation of the Shias is damaged.
Question : Our blood is Najis. So why do our brothers mourn by shedding blood?
Answer : Mourning Imam Hussein (peace be upon him) as an expression of sadness and grief for the tragedy of Karbala is recommended. Some believers during such ceremonies bleed. The fact that our blood is Najis does not affect this expression of condolence. Yes, if the body or clothes become Najis by blood, or any other Najasah, one should make it Tahir before offering the prayer.
Question : Is it permissible for me to play a speech of a preacher on a cassette player and put its speaker before a microphone that is connected to a loud speaker, so that it could be played loudly for my neighbors and people living in my vicinity to hear?
Answer : The said act is permissible, but one should not annoy others as this may harm the reputation of the acts of commemorating the Ahlul-bait (peace be upon them).
Question : It is permissible to include in the reenactment of the tragedy of Karbala a horse as a symbol of the horse of Imam Hussein (peace be upon him)?
Answer : It is permissible as long as it does not associate with another prohibited act.
Question : I have a question regarding donation of money to mourning Imam Hussein (peace be upon him). Can we spend this money in other good deeds like constructing a Hussaniya or a mosque?
Answer : Donations must be spent in the way the donor wants. However, if the donation is more than what the beneficiary requires and if postponing their spending leads to wasting the donation, it is permissible to spend them in other ceremonies of Imam Hussein (peace be upon him).
Question : What is the view of his Eminence on fasting on the day of Ashura?
Answer : Many narrations exhort and urge the believers to cry and express grief and sadness on the day of Ashura for what happened to Imam Hussain (peace be upon him) on that day.
It is also narrated that it is recommended during the day to refrain from dealing with livelihood issues, and from eating and drinking without the intention to fast, and then eat and drink in the late afternoon even by a sip of water.
Question : I have a Sunni friend who asked me why Shias mourn mainly for Imam Hussein (peace be upon him) whereas there were many martyrs in Karbala?
Answer : Shias mourn all the martyrs of Karbala. They remember their faithful dedication to sacrifice themselves with praise and respect, whether they were among the Ahlulbait or among the other companions. It is customary in some Shia communities to specify a day within the first ten days of Muharam to remember one of the martyrs of the companions of the Imam as well as a specific day for Abbas bin Ali (peace be upon him) and other members of the Ahlulbait.
The Ziyarats that were narrated from the Ahlulbait (peace be upon them), were specified for Imam Hussein (peace be upon him), while they also mention the companions with praise and Salam. It is natural that Shias will mainly mourn for Imam Hussein (peace be upon him) since he was the Imam and the rest were his followers and companions, in addition to his relation to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his holy progeny).
Question : Is it necessary to take off the turban on the day of Ashura and on the night of the 11th of Muharram?
Answer : Removing the turban is not obligatory but it could be â€“ in some countries and based on certain conventional understandings â€“ an expression of sadness and grief on what had happened to Imam Hussein and the Ahlulbait (peace be upon them) in Karbala when they faced numerous kinds of tragedies like their decapitation and placing their heads on spears.
Question : Is it prohibited to greet people by saying â€œSalam-Alaikumâ€ on the day of Ashura, 10th of Muharram?
Answer : It is permissible to offer the believers such greetings on the tenth of Muharram. It is recommended for the believers to also offer their condolences to each other in the grief of the tragedy of Imam Hussein by saying: â€œAâ€™thamallahu ujoorana bimusabil-Husain, wa jaâ€™alana wa iyyakum minat-talibeen bi tharihim maâ€™a waliyyihi al-Imam Al-Mahdi min Aal Mohammadâ€.
The translation: â€œMay Allah greaten your reward because the tragedy of Imam Hussein and make you and us amongst the seekers of his revenge with Imam Mahdi (may Allah hasten his reappearance)â€.
Question : I have converted to Islam 5 years ago, and I am interest in becoming a Shia. However, I have been battling in my heart if I should be Sunni or Shia, and I quire guidance from scholars to clear confusion.
My question is about the videos I see of people beating themselves with whips and swords sometimes until they bleed. Is this practice from the Sharia of the Shia faith, or is this practice something innovated by a small group of people who are following their own desires instead of any real authority in al Islam. If it is from the Sharia and it is one of the beloved actions to Allah then would you kindly explain this act to me, as it confuses me.
Answer : Thank you for contacting us and we emphasize our interest in submitting what can be to serve the truth and reality. We want to draw your attention to an important issue in your journey to seek the truth and pick the right path which is that you should search for the evidences that each side claim to prove the correctness of its view. So you should search for what the Shia give as a proof to the obligation of following the Ahlulbayt after the death of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) and do not look for the details at the present stage. Once the arguments were proven to you and you choose to follow the Ahlulbayt, then you can look for explanations to their practices. If you are convinced, you can practice them, otherwise you can refuse to practice them. If you were to start searching for the explanations to the details of the practices then this might confuse you more.
The thing that the Imams of the Ahlulbayt emphasized on is the mourning and expressing pain and passion because of the oppression that the Ahlulbayt were subjected to, and the tragedies and hardships they faced. The course of practice that believers choose to express the mentioned obligation is entirely personal. Some express their feelings towards Imam Hussein (peace be upon him) and his companions and his household by crying, expressing their sadness and wearing black clothes. Others do so by slapping their chests. Some others self-flagellate to the extent of bleeding as a way to express their grief and sorrow, mourning for the Imam and his family and companions as they were killed and stabbed with spears, swards and arrows.
Question : What is the proof that wearing black clothing is permissible in mourning Imam Hussain (peace be upon him), considering there are some narrations from the Imams (peace be upon him) that tell us not to wear black clothing, as it is the clothing of Pharoah or the people of Hell? I ask this because some Muslims from other sects point out this inconsistency in order to criticize the Shias.
Answer : It is important to notice the following issues in answering this question:
First: Those who dislike the followers of the Ahlulbait do not care whether the Shia wear black clothes, but what bothers them is that believers mourn the oppression that took place against the Ahlulbait. By this, they ignore the orders of Almighty Allah and antagonize the Prophet (peace be upon him) intentionally or unintentionally, since Almighty Allah considered the love for the Ahlulbait as the reward for the Prophetâ€™s efforts in guiding mankind when He said: â€œI ask of you no recompense for this, but to love my kinsfolk.â€ (42:23) and the Prophet (peace be upon him) ordered us to love his household, and he is the one who cried and mourned for what will happen to his Ahlulbait after Almighty Allah informed him about what is going to happen to them.
Therefore the objection is not against the wearing of black. Rather, their objection is against the sorrow and grief that we have for the Prophet and his household (peace be upon them all). Lots of people wear black clothes and nobody object such a phenomena.
Second: Some narrations forbid the wearing of black clothes by itself, but not for the sake of mourning. Other narrations state also that it wearing black was a symbol of Abbasids, and the forbidding from wearing black could be for this reason. In a narration, Imam Jaâ€™far Al-Sadiq (peace be upon him) stated after he wore the black clothes when he was called to meet the Abbasid caliph â€“ as it was obligatory at that time to wear black clothes in the presence of the caliph: â€œI wear it although I know it is the dress of the people of Hellfire,â€ in reference to the Abbasids. After the end of the Abbasid state, this attribution ended.
Third: Even if it is disliked to wear black clothes, even if it is not the symbol of the Abbasids, there is no doubt that it is recommended to wear black clothes if it was to express the grief in the mourning for the Prophet and his household (peace be upon them) since this a form of commemorating them and expressing grief for them and for the tragedy that took place. This has great benefits to the religion and strengthens it in the hearts of believers, whether this is achieved by wearing black clothing, or hanging black cloth in public areas, and the like.