Posted in Islam & Interfaith Subjects

Ashura: A Zaidi Perspective

Continuing in my series about the little-known Zaidiyya movement, the following article was again written by Zaida and posted on her blog on December 15th, 2010.

Imam Rassi Society writes:

Although we are busy with new family responsibilities, we saw fit to write at least something regarding the occasion of the Martyrdom of Imam al-Hussein bin Ali (as) from a Zaydi perspective. As we know, the imam was killed on the plains of Karbala on the 10th of Muharram. This occasion is known as Ashura.

Technically, there is no problem commemorating the martyrdom of Imam al-Hussein (as) and his family and companions. This is consdiered praiseworthy when practice under the umbrella of the Shari’ah.

Among the things that it is praiseworthy to do on Ashura is fast.

——Imam al-Mutawakkil ala Allah, Ahmed bin Suleiman (as) said in his Kitāb Usūl al-Ahkām:

It is narrated on the authority of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him and his progeny, that he used to fast on ‘Ashura.

It is narrated on the authority of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him and his progeny, that he said: (There are no days that has as much reward as the month of Ramadan and ‘Ashura.) There are two reports that mention the recommendation of fasting on ‘Ashura, which is the tenth of al-Muharram. Some of the Imamis discourage fasting because al-Hussein bin Ali (as) was killed on ‘Ashura. That is not reliable (‘itimād) because fasting does not prevent grief. Also, breakfast is closer to the pleasure of fasting. He was killed after the time of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him and his progeny, and it is not permissible to change something after a Shari`ah law has been established. It is narrated on the authority of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him and his progeny, that he fasted on ‘Ashura and encouraged others to fast. It was said to him: “O Messenger of Allah, it is a day that is esteemed by the Jews and Christians.” The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him and his progeny, replied: (Then, next time, we fast on the ninth day.)

Elsewhere in the book, there are other narrations that state that Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him and his progeny, commanded those who ate on ‘Ashura to make it up.

—Imam Nātiq Bil Haqq, Abu Talib Yahya bin al-Hussein al-Hārūni (as) said in his Kitāb at-Tahrīr :

It is recommended to fast during times where there is no difficulty or detriment to the body. One is to break the fast [i.e. not fast] on the days of the 2 Eids and the Days of Tashrīq. It is recommended to fast during the months of al-Muharram, Rajab, and Sha’ban. It is also praiseworthy to fast on Mondays and Thursdays. It is recommended to fast on ‘Ashura, which is the tenth of al-Muharram. It is also recommended to fast on the day of ‘Arafat for those in other cities. [It is also praiseworthy to fast] on the 13th, 14th, and 15th days of every month.

—Imam al-Qasim bin Ibrahim ar-Rassi (as) said in his Kitab al-Wāfid:

“The fasts of great reward include: Rajab, Sha’ban, the White Days, ‘Ashura, the day of ‘Arafat, Mondays, and Thursdays.”

—Imam al-Hadi ila al-Haqq, Yahya bin al-Hussein (as) says in Kitāb al-Ahkām :

There’s no problem fasting on ‘Ashura. It is a good thing to do so. It is narrated on the authority of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him and his progeny, encouraged fasting on that day as something special. It is recommended to fast during times where there is no difficulty or detriment to the body. This is because Allah, the Exalted, does not desire hardship in acts of worship and desires ease for them. Allah says: {Allah desires ease for you and not difficulty} (Q. 2:185). If one is strong, they can fast this fast.

It is not permitted to fast during the days of al-Fitr and al-Ažha, as well as the Days of Tashrīq. This is because the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him and his progeny, forbade fasting on these days. He also said that eating and drinking are to be done during these days, and one is to break the fast. One is not to fast on these days.
I relate on the authority of my father on the authority of his father who was asked about fasting on ‘Ashura, which day is it, and fasting on ‘Arafat: He replied: “Fasting on that day is a beautiful act and there is a lot of reward in doing so. There’s no harm in refraining from it. It is also a lot of reward in fasting on the day of ‘Arafat. It is expiation for that year. Concerning ‘Ashura, it is on the 10th. There is no disagreement concerning that.

Among the blameworthy things to do is wail and strike oneself out of grief.

—Imam al-Mutawakkil ala Allah, Ahmed bin Suleiman (as) says in his Kitāb Usūl al-Ahkām:

It is narrated on the authority of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him and his progeny: (Two evil sounds are cursed in this world and the hereafter: the sound of lamenting from one in mourning who rip their pockets, scratch their faces, and laments the lamentations of Satan; as well as the sound of one who celebrates a blessing with mindless entertainment (lahw) and the flutes of Satan).

It is narrated on the authority of Zayd bin ‘Ali—his ancestors—‘Ali, upon them be peace:

“The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him and his progeny, said: (The one who shaves, lashes, rips, and calls out of woe and grief, is not one of us). Zayd bin ‘Ali said: “‘Shaves’ refers to shaving one’s hair. ‘Lashes’ refers to cries of the wailers. ‘Rips’ refers to ripping one’s pockets.

Our comments: The proof of lashing out severely is in the statement of Allah, the Exalted: {But when fear departs, they lash at you with their sharp tongues} (Q. 33:19).

It is narrated on the authority of ‘Ali, upon him be peace, that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him and his progeny, prohibited wailing.

It is narrated on the authority of ‘Abdur-Rahmān bin ‘Awf who said: I took the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him and his progeny, by the hand and we went with to his son, Ibrāhīm, may Allah bless him, who passed away. He buried him and then cried. I then said: “O Messenger of Allah, do you cry after prohibiting it?” He replied: (I did not prohibit crying. However, I did prohibit two types of evil sounds: the sound of one who celebrates a blessing with mindless entertainment and the flutes of Satan; as well as the sound of lamenting by slapping one’s cheeks (laŧm) and ripping one’s pockets. This [i.e. crying] is a mercy. The one who does not show mercy will not be shown mercy).

Therefore crying for Imam al-Husswen (as) and his family is permissible, but wailing isn’t.

And Allah knows best!

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Liberal Muslim, social justice and human rights activist, cat lover, author and fellow human.

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