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What is the philosophy behind mourning for Imam Hussein (AS)?
ID: 91 Publish Date: 16 January 2016 - 13:41 Count Views: 2916
Question & Answer » Shia beliefs
What is the philosophy behind mourning for Imam Hussein (AS)?

Questioner: Fatemi Nasab


There are a lot of cultural and educational philosophies behind mourning for Imam Hussein (AS) such as:

1.      Surviving the religion:

Surviving memories of Imam Hussein’s (AS) movement inspires the revolutionary and anti-oppression spirit. It means that surviving Ashoora (the day when Imam Hussein (AS) was martyred) causes survival and perpetual promotion of revolutionary movements against tyrants and teaches the spirit of sacrifice and creating a heroic event.    

It means mourning for the Prophet Mohammad’s (Peace Be Upon Him) household causes remembering them and survival of their names along with their culture, school, and aim. On the other hand, their method is inspired to the society in the form of a spiritual joint and it makes a perpetual connection between the followers and leaders of this school. And it cannot separate them after ages and ages. This issue makes the Ummat (people who follow Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him)) impenetrable and unconquerable against bad impacts and distortions of the enemy and it still survives the school or minimizes the distortions and deviations. Therefore, colonizers try to disconnect the Islamic Nations with their glorious history of the early Islam in order to pave the way for imposing their culture with this gap [the disconnection]. These are the consequences of the mourning and it also has some other spiritual and cultural effects.

Imam Khomeini (RA) said: Mourning for Imam Hussein (AS) is for the survival of his school; talking about Imam Hussein (AS) is talking about a modern issue, it is always a modern issue. The survival of Imam Hussein’s (AS) movement is depended on the crying over him and mourning for him.[1] 

He also said: Maybe westernized people call us a nation which is always crying! And maybe our nation itself cannot believe that Allah will compensate a lot [in the next world] for only a tear. It is the crying that mobilizes a nation for an Islamic aim. The mourning ceremony for Imam Hussein (AS) is not only held for personal aims or for crying or being compensated by Allah [in the next world] – and of course it is one of its aims; but it is its political point of view which is very important and was planned since the early Islam by our Imams (AS).[2]

2.      An emotional deep tie between Ummat and the true models.

Mourning is a kind of emotional tie with the oppressed revolutionary and a kind of objection to tyrants. As Motahhari interprets: Crying over the martyr is [a kind of] taking part in his epic.

It means that this spiritual change which is made in the mourning ceremonies paves the way for the social changes; and in fact it paves the way for saving and performing his aims. As Imam Khomeini said: Whatever we do have now is due to the Moharram and Ashoora movement. The Islamic Revolution of Iran and eight years of victorious defense are directly connected to the mourning ceremonies. And also Shias in history could survive their collective identification and resist against tyrants by these mourning ceremonies.

3.      Holding wide religious ceremonies and making the masses of people familiar with the religious education.

4.      Purifying the soul and oneself

Crying over Imam Hussein (AS) and having grief over his tragedy makes an internal change and consequently causes  man’s spiritual growth and it eventually paves the way for man’s piety and getting nearer to Allah.  

5.      pledging allegiance to the oppressed and disagreeing with tyrants:

According to Imam Hussein’s (AS) epic motto which was said on Ashoora:

فإنّي لا أرى الموت إلا سعادة ولا الحياة مع الظالمين إلا برماً[3]

     People, on the one hand, pledge alliance inextricably with the oppressed person who believes that martyrdom based on his beliefs is happiness and agreeing with the tyrant is a shame. They, on the other hand, announce relentless struggle against any manifestations of tyranny.

And these allegiances secure the nations against colonizers’ greediness and they block the exploitative penetration way forever.  

On the other hand, they declare their hatred for the shameful Bani Omayye’s anti-Islam policies in which Bani Omayye fabricated some hadiths against Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him) for suppressing movements and uprising against the tyrants and they distributed them among people.

And they quoted a narrative from the Second Caliph [Omar] in which he said:

 فأطع الإمام وإن كان عبداً حبشيّاً ، إن ضربك فاصبر ، وإن أمرك بأمر فاصبر ، وإن حرَمَك فاصبر ، وإن ظلمك فاصبر ، وإن أمرك بأمر ينقص دينك فقل: سمع وطاعة ، دمي دون ديني .[4]

Obey the leader of the society even if he is foreigner. If he oppresses you, tolerate him. If he commands unfairly, tolerate him. If he debars you from your actual right, bear him. If he commands against the religious laws, perform his commands without any kinds of dispute, and sacrifice yourself for your religion.

And most importantly, they quoted a narrative, which is defamation, from Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him):

يكون بعدي أئمة لا يهتدون بهداي ولا يستنون بسنتي ، وسيقوم فيهم رجال قلوبهم قلوب الشياطين في جُثمان أنس . قلت : كيف أصنع يا رسول الله ! إن أدركت ذلك ؟ قال : تسمع وتطيع للأمير وإن ضرب ظهرك وأخذ مالك فاسمع وأطع .[5]

There will be some leaders after me who have not been directed by me and will not follow my traditions. They act as if they are following Satan. The narrator asked: what should we do if we are in this situation? He answered: you should obey these tyrants. If they beat you and steal your stuff, you should just obey them.  

And Sunni Ulema (religious authorities) according to these fabricated hadiths believe that any kinds of uprising against the leaders are condemned.

Noovi, the famous Sunni scholar, said:

وأمّا الخروج عليهم وقتالهم فحرام بإجماع المسلمين وإن كانوا فسقة ظالمين ، وقد تظاهرت الأحاديث بمعنى ما ذكرته ، وأجمع أهل السنة أنه لا ينعزل السلطان بالفسق .[6]

It is forbidden for all the Muslims to rebel against [religious] leaders – even they do evil deeds or are tyrant. And the leader of the society will not be removed even with doing evil deeds. 

وهكذا عن التفتازاني في شرح المقاصد والقاضي الإيجي في المواقف .[7]

Taftazani and Iji, two of the Sunni founders of speech school, said the same thing as they did.

How different are the leaders of a nation who say:

فأطع الإمام... إن ضربك فاصبر ، وإن أمرك بأمر فاصبر ، وإن حرَمَك فاصبر ، وإن ظلمك فاصبر ، وإن أمرك بأمر ينقص دينك فقل : سمع وطاعة ، دمي دون ديني.

And the leader who says:

من رأى سلطانا جائرا... يعمل في عباد الله بالاثم والعدوان ثمّ لم يغيّر بقول ولا فعل ، كان حقيقاً على الله أن يدخله مدخله.[8]

Anybody who finds a leader tyrant … and he rules over the Muslims while he is doing evil deeds, or he is disagreeing with the Right … and he is not going to be changed (even by speech or action); then it is up to Allah to send him to his real position (hell).

And therefore Islam’s enemies especially the U. S. do their best and take advantage of their facilities to fight with this rebelling and uprising against despotism culture but Islam’s policies confirms the other countries’ nations who inherited compromising with despotism from their leaders.

6.      The union and coordination among the Islamic nations:

One of the various blessings of the mourning and crying for Imam Hussein (AS) is the union and coordination among different Islamic nations. This blessing happens only by gathering people in the time of mourning for Imam Hussein (AS) in Masjids, streets, etc.

And these harmonious gatherings, crying, chest beating make people grow fonder and forget their bad feelings and they also cause the unity among the Islamic nations. They make the scattered people (Islamic nations) gather together to make a great power. And also they insure the people against the enemies.  

Imam Khomeini said: we are a nation of political tears and we make a flood out of this tear and destroy all the dams against Islam.[9]

This crying (for Imam Hussein (AS)) solved the problems and these gatherings make people understand the issues.[10]

All people are mourning and all people are crying. What is more harmonious than it? Where can you find such a harmonious nation? Who made these people harmonious? Imam Hussein (AS) made these people harmonious. Where can you find in the world that all people are harmonious like it? Do not lose this unity and coordination.[11] 

For more information refer to Philosophy behind mourning Book written by Mohammadi Nia from p 56 onwards.

Good luck.





[1] Sahifeh Noor, v 8, p 69.

[2] Sahifeh Noor, v 13, p 156.

[3] -Tohf Al-Oghol p 245, Sharh Al-Akhyar  Lel ghazi Al-Naman Al-Moghrebi v 3 p 150, Managheb In Shahre  Ashob v 3 p 224, Bahar Al-Anvar v 44 p 192


[4] -Sonan Al-Beihaghi: 8/159. Al-Mosnef  le Ibn Abi Sheibe 7/ 737.Kanz Al-Emal, 5/ 778, Al-Dor Al-Manthur 2/ 177

[5] -Sahih moslem 6/20, Ketab Al-Amarat Chapter:Al-Amr Belzom Al-Jamaat Hadith 51

[6] - Sharh Moslem Lel Navavi:12/229

[7] -Sharh Al-Maghased v 2, p 71 Al-Mavaghef : 8/349.

[8] -Tarikh Al-Tabari  v 4, p 304, Chapter: Zekr Asma Men Ghatl Men Bani Hashem Ma Al-Hossien va Men Ghatl Men Kol Ghabile Men Ghabael Alati Ghatela, AlKamel Fi Al-Tarikh Ibn Athir Jazri v 4, p 48, Chapter:Moghatel Al-Hossein Rasi Allah , Bahar Al-Anvar v 44, p 382, Chapter:Ma Jari Alayhe Baad beiat Al-Nas Yazid Ela Shahadat


[9] -Sahife Nor v 13 p 156

[10] -Sahife Nor v 13 p 157

[11] -Sahife Nor v 10 p 217


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