Roots of Ashura Mourning and Self Mutilation in Islam
July 20, 2008
Originally Compiled from: Mourning for Imam Hussein
Hitting one's body (Matam / Zanjeer)
This is one of the favourite areas of exploitation for the Nasibi and they enjoy making fun and insisting that these practises are against the Shari'ah. They serve as further evidence that the Shi'a are a deviated Sect. Since they adhere to Umar ibn al Khattab's way famed for his words 'the Qur'an is sufficient for us' lets turn the tables on them. They keep asking us to prove our mourning rituals from the Qur'an such as crying, chest beating etc. We ask them to cite us any verse containing the words Matam, Latmiyah (blood letting) wherein Allah (swt) has declared such practices to be Haraam. No where in the Holy Qur'an has Matam been classified as Haraam. On the contrary, the stories of Prophets include examples of their mourning. As such, the permissibility of Matam is there in Qur'an but not its prohibition. Thus an act, for which there is no restriction of any kind by Islamic Laws, becomes permissible. It is Nasibi who have lied by stating that Matam is against patience and call only for patience instead!
Mourning rituals and self harm as found in the Qur'an
We read in Surah Nisa 004.148
YUSUFALI: Allah loveth not that evil should be noised abroad in public speech, except where injustice hath been done; for Allah is He who heareth and knoweth all things.
We read in Tafseer Ibn Katheer Volume 2 page 20 Surah Nisa, under the commentary of this verse:
"Ali bin Abi Talhah said that Ibn Abbas commented on the Ayah and said,
'Allah does not like that the evil should be uttered in public, He does not like that any one should invoke Him against anyone else, unless one is wronged. In this case, Allah allows one to invoke Him against whoever wronged him. Hence Allah's statement Allah loveth not that evil should be noised abroad in public speech, except where injustice hath been done'"
A similar narration can also be located in Saheeh al Bukharee Volume 2 page 820 on the authority of Muhammad ibn Kab.
This verse makes it clear that the public's relaying of injustice is permissible. Relaying the suffering of a victim is permissible. The tradition from Bukhari proves that mourning is permissible when one is citing the pains inflicted on the aggrieved party hence any tradition that contradicts this must be ignored.
Major efforts are made to prove that the term mourning is proof that Matam is Haraam under the Shari'ah. On the contrary breast-beating, bloods letting all come within the term mourning and its purpose is to convey the pains inflicted on the victim, something which the Quran has sanctioned. We the Shi'a perform all these acts as Allah (swt) has permitted us to do so, and the opposition of Nasibi is only on account for their love and support for Imam Husayn (as)'s killers.
Mourning and shedding blood is the Sunnah of Prophet Adam (as)
We read in Ahl'ul Sunnah's authority work Ma'arij al Nubuwwa Chapter 1 page 248:
Hadhrath Adam was so distressed that he smashed his hands onto his knees and the skin from his hands caused gashes from which bone could be seen.
Those who deem the act of self-harm to be batil should look at the bloodletting actions of Hadrath Adam (as). If Hadrath Adam (as) can do this why cannot the Shi'a when mourning for Imam Husayn (as)?
Mourning and hitting one self is the Sunnah of the Prophet (s)
As evidence we shall cite the following works:
Saheeh al Bukharee Volume 2 page 50
Sunan al Nasai Volume 3 page 305
Adhaan al Mufreed page 426
Saheeh al Muslim Volume 1 page 291
Musnad Abu Awana Volume 2 page 292
All these books state:
"Rasulullah (s) was in a state where he was hitting his chest."
Ibn Hajr Asqalani in the commentary of this tradition in Fathul Bari Volume 3 page 90 writes:
"This Hadeeth demonstrates that it is permissible to bang your hand at a moment of distress".
If hitting oneself is Haraam then what Fatwa do the Nasibis have for the Prophet (s)? The Pillar of Shari'ah is himself hitting his chest, so if the Shi'a do the same, why are their actions Batil?
Thigh beating is the Sunnah of Maula 'Ali (as)
We read in Taufa Ithna Ashari page 523 published in Karachi:
"When Ayesha was defeated and Ali saw the corpses on the ground he began to beat his thighs"
Â Tauhfa Ithna Ashari, page 523
These Nasibi claim that hitting one's chest is Batil, if this were true what view should we have of Rasulullah (s), Hadrath Adam (as) and Maula 'Ali (as)?
Chest beating is the Sunnah of the Sahaba
Musnad Abu Awana Volume 2 page 141
Sunan Nasai Volume 3 page 12
Sunan Abu Daud Volume 1 page 244
"Mu'awiya bin Hakim Sami narrates that I read Salat behind the Prophet. A person sneezed and I recited Alhamdolillah on him. People began to stare at me, I asked 'Why are you staring at me?' the Sahaba began to hit their heads."
Before deeming self harm to be Batil perhaps you should take a closer look at the acts of the Sahab The Sahaba's hitting their heads and the silence of the Prophet (s) proves that such acts of distress are not haraam. It's amusing that these Nasibi Mullah's never raise questions on any action of the Sahaba whether good or bad but they find fault with every act of the Shi'a. If the act of the Sahaba's beating themselves is not Batil then the Shi'as act of beating themselves should not be construed as Batil either.
Proof of head beating from the Qur'an
In Surah adh-Dhaariyaat we read that Hadrath Sara (as) struck her face when she was told that she would conceive a baby.
"Then came forward his wife in grief, she smote her face and said (what! I) An old barren woman?"
"Faskath" does not just mean rub or touch, it means slap and this is evidenced from Saheeh Muslim Book 030, Number 5851, Bab Fadail Musa:
Abu Hurraira reported that the Angel of Death was sent to Moses (peace be upon him) to inform of his Lord's summons. When he came, he (Moses) boxed him [Sakka] and his eye was knocked out. He (the Angel of Death) came back to the Lord and said: You sent me to a servant who did not want to die. Allah restored his eye to its proper place (and revived his eyesight), and then said: Go back to him and tell him that if he wants life he must place his hand on the back of an ox, and he would be granted as many years of life as the number of hair covered by his hand. He (Moses) said: My Lord what would happen then He said: Then you must court death. He said: Let it be now. And he supplicated Allah to bring him close to the sacred land. Thereupon Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: If I were there, I would have shown you his grave beside the road at the red mound.
This has also been reported in Saheeh al Bukharee Book 23 Volume 2, Book 23, Number 423, Book of Funerals.
We read in the Sunni work Maqamath ai Hareery,
"He beat his cheeks and tore his collar"
The slapping of Prophet Ibraheem (as)'s wife Sara is proven from the Qur'an. The Qur'an tells us to adhere to the ways of the people of Ibraheem (as), so if the Shi'a beat themselves whilst mourning for Imam Husayn (as) such acts are lawful.
Beating oneself at a time of distress is the Sunnah of Prophet Adam (as)
We read in Mudharij al Nubuwwa page 221:
"When life was breathed into the spirit of Adam he hit his hand on his head and cried. He made this tradition of beating one's head with one's hand and crying in times of trouble for his descendants."
Hitting one's head in times of trouble is the Sunnah of Prophet Yusuf (as)
We read in Tafseer Kabeer Volume 5 page 158:
"On one occasion Gibrael approached Prophet Yusuf (as) in Zundh and conveyed the news that his father had become blind on account of his weeping for him. Yusuf hit his hand on his head and said 'O I wish my mother did not give birth to me, so that I would have not become the cause of such sadness to my father'".
We have proven that the acts of hitting one's head are not Jahiliyya or Un-Islamic.In fact it is the Sunnah of Prophets Adam (as) and Yusuf (as).
The Shi'a mourn Imam Husayn (as) as a form of remembrance. We seek to remember and share his suffering and pain, since assisting one in trouble is a recommended (Mustahab) act and a kind of worship. We also deem mourning and presenting our sincerity to Imam Husayn (as) to be a form of worship.
Beating oneself in times of trouble is the Sunnah of Umar
We read in Ahl'ul Sunnah's authority work Aqd al Fareed Volume 2 page 5:
"When Umar received news of the death of Numan ibn Muqran he placed his hand on his head and wailed 'O family of Numan!'
We find a similar narration in Kanz al Ummal, Vol.8, Page 117, Kitab al Maut
When Hadhrath Omar heard of Nu'man ibn Muqrin's death he beat his head and screamed, "O what a pity that Nu'man died".
When Umar mourns the death of his friend in such a way, the descendents of Mu'awiya remain silent, but if the Shi'a mourn Imam Husayn (as) through such an act they are deemed Kaffirs. If Nasibis wish to accuse us of introducing Bidah into the religion then they should know that Umar introduced this long before the Rafidis! If such acts of hitting oneself and extreme wailing are prohibited then what was your Khalifa indulging in this act for?
Beating and mourning by the wives of the Sahaba
Allamah Shibli Numani al Hanafi is a renowned Sunni scholar from the Indian subcontinent. In his Sirat-un Nabi (Eng translation Volume 2 pg 74) quoting Sirat Ibn Hisham we read the following about Hadhrath Hamzah (as) martyrdom:
"The Holy Prophet (P) returned to Madina and found the whole city gone into mourning. Whenever he went, he heard wailing and lamentation in every house. He was grieved to find that all who were martyred in the battle had their mourners doing their duty to the memory of their dear ones. But there was none to mourn the death of Hamzah (ra). Overwhelmed with grief, the words that there was no one to mourn the loss of Hamzah escaped his lips. The AnsÃ¢ris were touched to the core when they heard this remark from the Prophet(s). They asked their women to go to the house of the Prophet (S) and mourn for Hamzah. The Prophet (p) thanked them for their sympathy, prayed for their well-being, but added that it was not permissible to lament in memory of the dead. (Women in Arabia were used to wailing and lamenting aloud, they would tear off their garments, dig their nails into their cheeks, slap themselves on the face and put up loud screams. This undesirable practice was from that day stopped for future)"
Nasibi will no doubt take heart from the last few lines so let us pass a comment on them:
Whilst these words are not acceptable for being contradictory to previous lines of the narration, our readers should also know that the words 'it is not permissible to lament in memory of the dead' is an addition that cannot be found in other history books. Al Muhaddith Shah Abdul Haqq Dehlavi in Madharij un Nabuwat records the event as follows:
"When Holy Prophet (s) reached Madina, he saw that cries could be heard from most of the houses of Ansaar (the helpers) but not from Hadhrath Hamza's house. Holy Prophet (s) said that wasn't there anyone to cry over Hamza? The helpers (Ansaar) asked their women to mourn over Hadhrath Hamza first and then they may go and cry over their own martyr. The women went to Hadhrath Hamza's house in the evening and kept crying till midnight. When Holy Prophet(s) woke up and asked about it, he was told the whole thing. Holy Prophet(s) blessed them by saying:
May Allah be pleased with you and your children."
It has been similarly recorded in 'Isti'ab' that after Holy Prophet's query, "none of the wives of the helpers cried over their own dead but cried for Hadrath Hamza",
Therefore through no tradition, reference or logic can it be proved that Holy Prophet (s) stopped Ummah from crying over the death of their dear ones.
Our assertion that the words "It is not permissible to mourn over the dead" is a later addition is confirmed when we observe the first edition of Shibli Numani's work. We relied on the Urdu to English translation of Numani's work. Of interest is the fact that the part in brackets wherein the practice of mourning is condemned was added in later editions. The original statement as narrated in the first edition is mentioned above. Look at this report from "Seerat Un Nabi" part 1, page 361, published in 1975 by "Deeni Kutb Khana Islami, Lahore."
"Holy Prophet (s) reached Madina, the whole of Madina had turned into a mourning place, his Excellency could hear voices of people mourning from every house, and Holy Prophet (s) felt grieved that all martyrs were being cried upon by their relatives but there was no one to mourn over Hadhrath Hamza. In severe grief he said: "Isn't there anyone to cry over Hamza?" The Helpers (Ansaar) palpitated when they heard this and therefore all of them asked their wives to go and mourn over Hadhrath Hamza's martyrdom. When Holy Prophet(s) saw that the females of Ansaar (the helpers) were mourning for Hadhrath Hamza, he blessed them and thanked them for their sympathy but he further said "It is not permissible to cry over dead."
After this a whole paragraph from "This was a tradition in Arabia" till "intense love for Hamza" has been removed from the frst edition and further replaced by this new statement. This is the ingenuity of Syed Salman Nadvi who completed this book of his teacher (Shabli Naumani) after his death. This new paragraph is not present in the first edition.
"Women in Arabia were used to wailing and lamenting aloud, they would tear off their garments, dig their nails into their cheeks, slap themselves on the face and put up loud screams. This undesirable practice was from that day stopped for future".
The Urdu/Arabic alphabet "seen" in the text denotes that this statement was not present in the earlier edition and Syed Suleman Nadvi added it afterwards. Later editions simply removed the 'Seen' so as to imply that these words were those of Numani!
Whilst this shows how dishonest these Nasibi are, let us also address the comments of Nadvi:
If Lamenting were Haraam why would the Prophet (s) be sad on the fact that no one was mourning his slain Uncle?
Why would the Prophet (s) allow the women to do something that is Haraam? (i,e mourning for their own dead ones)
If as Numani tells that this was a common practice amongst Arab women and the Prophet banned it, this prohibition would have definitely received maximum publicity.
Even if it is believed that Holy Prophet (s) did say 'It is not permissible to cry over the dead' such a statement would not effect our mourning because Imam Husayn (as) is a martyr and it is forbidden to call them dead. Such restrictions are for those who die a natural death not those who are slain in the way of Allah (swt).
The reference makes it clear that our Holy Prophet (s) paid gratitude to those who consoled and mourned over Hadhrath Hamza's martyrdom. He approved of this act and blessed them with his prayers. Had it been a prohibited act the Prophet (s) would never have shown gratitude. This gratitude strengthens our point that the words 'It is not permissible to cry over the dead' has no correlation with the incident. Rather Syed Suleman Nadvi amended the statements in order to cover up Allamah Shibli Numani's blunder.
The mourning of Hamza did not just end there; we have already cited the fact that the Holy Prophet (s) and the three Caliphs' would visit the graves of the martyrs every year.
The next tradition in effect negates any notion of the Prophet's (s) banning such acts.
Beating and mourning by the wives of the Prophet (s)
Curiously, not a single wife of the Prophet (s) ever heard of this ban (as claimed by Nadvi in the previous reference). On the contrary Hadhrath Ayesha regarded by Ahl'ul Sunnah as the most knowledgeable women on Qur'an and Sunnah performed the following act when the Prophet (s) left this earth.
As narrated by al Tabari in History Volume 9 page 183 (English translation by Ismail Poonawala):
"I heard Ayesha saying "The Messenger of God died on my bosom during my turn, I did not wrong anyone in regard to him. It was because of my ignorance and youthfulness that the Messenger of God died while he was in my lap. Then I laid his head on a pillow and got up beating my chest and slapping my face along with the women".
Ibn Katheer al Nasibi in al Bidayah wa al Nihayah Volume 5 page 420 published by Nafees Academy Karachi records the event as follows:
"Rasulullah (s) died while he was in my lap. Then I laid his head on a pillow and got up beating my face along with other women".
Â Bidayah wa al Nihayah, Volume 5, page 420
Do we need to say anymore? Would the wives of the Prophet (s) indulge in a Haraam activity? Look at the beating ritual by the women of Madina. Ibn Katheer mentions how extreme that beating was that their faces reddened with slapping. What do the Nasibi say about these women? Were they evil Rafidi innovators lead by Ayesha?
According to Musnad of Imam Ahmad Hanbal Vol. 6, page 274, Ayesha mourned the demise of the Holy Prophet (s) with other women by beating her head.
Beating and mourning by Uthman's wives and daughter
We read in Tareekh Kamil Volume 3 page 89:
"When Uthman was killed his killers intended to sever his head. His wives Naila and Umm'ul Baneen lay over him screamed and began to beat their faces"
Narrations also record that Uthman's daughter also acted likewise. As evidence we shall rely on the following Sunni works:
Al Bidayah wa al Nihaya Volume 7 page 371
Tareekh Tabari Volume 6 page 302
Tareekh Hisham Kufi page 159
"Ibn Jareer narrates that when the killer intended to sever Uthman's head, the women began to scream and strike their faces. This included Uthman's wives Naila, Ummul Baneen and daughter".
Â Al Bidayah wa al Nihaya, Volume 7, page 371
If the wives of Uthman can mourn Uthman's killing in this way then the Shi'a of Maula 'Ali (as) can likewise mourn the slaying of Imam Husayn (as) in this way.
The mourning of Hadrath Fatima al-Zahra (as)
In Madharij al Nubuwwa Vol 2, page 163, the high ranking Sunni Scholar, Sheikh Abdul Haq Mohaddis Hanafi Dehlavi recorded that:
"Fatima Zahra (as) hearing the rumour of the martyrdom of the Holy Prophet (s) at Uhud came out of her house running and beating her head".
Does it not transpire from the above that beating of head during the act of mourning for a martyr is allowed by the religion as Sayyida (as) was well aware of the religious code and was also infallible according to Ayah Tatheer (33:33). In addition an action of any member of Ahl'ul bayt is a Sunnah for the Ithna Ashari Shi'as. Thus mourning is not bidah but is a Sunnah of Sayyida Fatima al-Zahra (as).
The mourning of Abu Hurraira
We shall rely on the following Sunni works:
Adhaab al Mufreed page 426
Sunan Ibn Majah page 30
The narrator says that he saw Abu Hurrayra hitting his forehead and said 'o people of Iraq could you even imagine that I would lie about the Prophet?'
Abu Huraryra's act here was out of shock and distress. If this Sahabi can act in such a manner then no fault should be found with the Shi'a when they mourn the loss of Imam Husayn (as) by hitting themselves.
The mourning of Bilal (ra)
We read in Madharij al Nubuwwa Volume 2 page 441, whilst discussing the death of the Prophet (s):
"When the situation of the Prophet worsened, Bilal emerged beating his head and loudly wailing,'I wish my mother had not given birth to me, and that if she had I wish that I had died before this day'"
Why did Hadrath Bilal fail to adopt patience, an act that the Nasibi deem compulsory? Was the Muazzin and loyal Servant of the Prophet (s) ignorant of the verses on patience? Even in this case none of the companions raised any objection at the action of Bilal. Moreover the Holy Prophet (s) was yet alive and not dead. This is the extreme extent of grief. Then how can similar action for Imam Husayn (as) be prohibited?
The extreme mourning of Hadrath Uways al-Qarni (ra)
The most explicit proof of self-inflicted injury comes from Owais al-Qarni the great Muslim Sahabi, praised by both Shi'a and Sunni erudite. He had an immense love for the Holy Prophet (s). When the news reached him in Yemen that two teeth of the Holy Prophet (s) were broken in the battle of Ohad, he extracted all his teeth. When the Holy Prophet (s) got the news in Medina that Owais had struck down all his teeth, he (s) exclaimed, "Indeed Owais is our devoted friend". This event can be found written in 'Seerate Halbia' vol II, page 295.
The renowned Sunni Scholar Shiekh Farid al Din Attaar in 'Tadhkhirathul Awliya' Urdu translation page 17 and 18 writes:
"Hadhrath Uways Qarni (ra) said to Hadhrath Umar Khattab (ra): 'If you were true in friendship than why on the day when the holy teeth of the Prophet (s) were broken didn't you break your teeth in companionship? Because, it is a condition of companionship.' Then he showed his teeth all of which were broken and said 'I broke all of my teeth without seeing you (O Prophet) and in the state of Ghaybah in your companionship. I had broken one tooth but couldn't get satisfaction so kept on breaking them one by one until I had broken them all '".
Had the breaking of teeth by Uways Qarni (ra) been in opposition to Shariah, Hadrath Umar would certainly have pointed it out at the time or at least commented and answered the accusation by Uways Qarni (ra) of his less than perfect companionship. The silence of Umar proves that he didn't deem the act of breaking one's teeth as done by Uways Qarni (ra) as opposed to Shariah but considered it an act of sincerity and also a proof of friendship.
We should point out that breaking one's teeth is a thousand times more painful than the beating of one's chest for a few hours. It is more extreme than chest beating with chains or knives (Zanjeer) because those who have suffered from tooth ache will understand the immense pain that circulates in the mouth and head. Compare the removal of a tooth to the forced removal of a full set of teeth without the benefit of modern day anaesthetics and instruments. The pain must have been unbearable. This was clearly an act of great courage.
Mourning following the death of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal
We shall rely on the following esteemed Sunni works:
Tareekh Baghdad Volume 4 page 423
Hayaath al Haywaan page 101
When Imam Hanbal died adherents of the four groups mourned over him, Muslims, Jews, Christians and Magians.
The Muslims killed Ibn Hanbal and also mourned him. The same people accuse the Shi'a of killing Imam Husayn (as) and mourning him for atonement. They acuse Shias for what has been their own practice.
If Matam is such an extreme sin, then why was such sin committed for this Sunni Imam?
Heavens mourning at the death of Umar!
We read in Riyadh al Nadira page 187:
"When Umar died the Djinns recited a elegy 'Umar female Djinns are mourning you in a loud voice and they are beating their faces'
If mourning in such a manner is Bidah then why was it necessary for the women of Paradise to mourn in this manner? If it was Bidah why do you think the Sunni scholars coined such a fabricated tale? When Umar died the women of Paradise beat their faces but if Shi'a women mourn the slaying of Imam Husayn (as) and his supporters, mutilation of their bodies and the imprisonment of their women folk they are deemed evil innovators.
Seven days of mourning of Khalid bin Waleed
We read in Kanz al Ummal Volume Six page 118:
"The narrator said people had attributed the prohibition of elegies to Umar, but the fact is that when Khalid bin Waleed died the women of Banu Mugheer indulged in seven days of mourning. They reddened their chests, wailed, food was distributed and elegies were recited. Umar did not place any prohibition on this mourning".
When Ahl'ul Sunnah's great hero dies elegies and self beating occurs under the watchful eye of Umar and he takes no remedial steps to quash this alleged Bidah. However when the Shi'a do the same in memory of Imam Husayn (as) the Nasibi' come out in force to oppose them.
An Arabs mourning before the Prophet (s)
Book 18, Number 18.9.29:
Yahya related to me from Malik from Ata ibn Abdullah al-Khurasani that Said ibn al-Musayyab said, "A Bedouin came to the Messenger of Allah, (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) beating his breast and tearing out his hair and saying, 'I am destroyed.' The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, 'Why is that?', and he said, 'I had intercourse with my wife while fasting in Ramadan.' The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, asked him, 'Are you able to free a slave?', and the man said, 'No.' Then he asked him, 'Are you able to give away a camel?', and the man replied, 'No.' He said, 'Sit down,' and someone brought a large basket of dates to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and he said to the man, 'Take this and give it away as Sadaqa.' The man said, 'There is no one more needy than me,' and (the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace), said, 'Eat them, and fast one day for the day when you had intercourse.' "
Worthy of note is the fact that Darr Qathani in his Sharh of Muwatta Volume 2 (this tradition) adds that that 'he was placing mud in his hair'.
The incident should be considered in the light of the following facts:
The Bedouin being a Muslim was Sahabi (companion) of the Holy Prophet (s).
He was beating his chest and tearing his hair in presence of Holy Prophet (s) who neither objected to it nor reprimanded him for the same.
The action of the Bedouin was a result of spiritual pain he suffered as his fast was invalidated.
Sunni traditionists have authentically recorded this incident.
The Bedouin's actions were a direct result of the agony he was going through. It led him to beat, his chest, tear his hair and place dirt in his hair. We suggest to those who deem mourning for Imam Husayn (as) Bidah to look at these Rafidi acts that were performed in the presence of the Prophet (s). If it was Haraam why did not the Prophet (s) tell him to refrain from such actions?
Mourning at the time of Ayesha's death
In the Sunni Magazine Khadim al Deen, published Lahore on the 18th of October 1976 page 20, in the topic of Ayesha we read:
"People were saddened by the death of Ayesha; Masrooq said if certain situations had not arisen then I would have performed Matam for her."
Look at the preparations for mourning Ayesha's death. If mourning is a gate to hell why were the Sahaba making this road for themselves by desiring to mourn her loss in such a manner?
When the Imam of a Fiqh permits an act, then it is not permissible for those of other Madhabs to raise their objections. We deem Ahl'ul bayt (as) our Imams and uphold their words. If they ruled on the permissibility of Azadari, then we care little what the Imams from Mu'awiyah and Yazeed's lineage have to say against it.
Imam Jafer (as) allowed the mourning of Imam Husayn (as)
We read a tradition from Wasail ai Shi'a as quoted in Jahaur aur Kalaam Volume 4 page 370:
"Imam Jafer said 'the daughters of Fatima would slap their faces and shriek. It is permissible to beat yourself and shriek for a pure soul such as Husayn"
The mourning of Banu Hashim
We read in Tareekh Kamil Volume 4 page 42
Umar ibn Sa'd appeared following the killing of Husayn, stayed for the night in Kerbala and then headed in the direction of Kufa. He was accompanied by Husayn (as)'s children and his sisters were also captives. When they passed by the bodies of Husayn and his companions, the women cried and slapped their faces. Zaynab said 'O Muhammad!'
Sayyida Zaynab (as) beat herself on three separate occasions
Al Bidaya wa al Nihaya Volume 8 page 176
Tareekh Kamil page 29
"When the enemy planned to attack the camp of Husayn, Zaynab went to Husayn and asked 'what is this noise outside our tents?' Hadrath Husayn [ra] replied 'I just saw a dream wherein the Apostle of Allah told me that he would reach me by tomorrow. Upon hearing this Sayyida Zaynab became aggrieved and slapped her face"
Al Bidaya wa al Nihaya, Volume 8 page 177
Tareekh Kamil Volume 4 page 30
Tareekh Tabari Volume 7 Page 324.
"When Sayyida Zaynab listened to the verses from her brother that indicated his death, she mourned by beating her face, tearing her clothes and losing her senses by falling to the ground"
Al Bidaya wa al Nihaya Volume 8 page 93
Tareekh Kamil Volume 4 page 42
Tareekh Tabari Volume 7 Page 370.
Qurat bin Kas narrates that when the women of Bani Hashim passed by the battlefield they wept bitterly by beating their faces.
Dear readers! You have seen that even the prejudiced Ibn Katheer has accepted the mourning of Sayyida Zaynab (as) on the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (as). Sayyida Zaynab (as) is the elder daughter of "Gate of knowledge" and the leader of the believers Hadrath Imam Ali (as) and Sayyida Zahra (as) who is the daughter of Apostle of Allah (swt). The princess brought up by the great teachers of religion and trained in an atmosphere of learning and education cannot be ignorant of the Divine laws of religion. On seeing the calamities of the grandson of the Prophet (s), the mother of all calamities and woes, became impatient. She mourned on three occasions in Karbala. When the grand daughter of the Prophet (s) was brought into the city of Kufa as prisoner her calamity became more severe. When she saw the head of Imam (as) on the pointed end of lance, she stroke her head on the wooden part of the saddle in extreme grief and blood started flowing from her head.
Baba Fareed Ganj Shakar's self harm mourning for Imam Husayn (as)
Baba Fareed Ganj Shakar of Pak Patan is a major Sunni Sufi Saint. He commands thousands of adherents from the Indian Subcontinent. We read in the Sunni text From Uswa - e - Sufia Uzzaam, Page 8:
He used to lament and cry for Imam Husayn (as) on the day of Ashura so much so that he would fall unconscious. It is narrated from him that there was a saintly man in Baghdad and when the tragedy of Karbala was described to him, he cried so piteously and profusely and smashed his head so hard on the ground out of grief that he died! The same night, people saw him in their dream and enquired of his condition to which he replied: I gave up my life for the love of Ahl - e - Bait (as) hence Allah has pardoned me and I now live with Imam Husayn (as).
Is not the status of an Azadaar equivalent to that of a Martyr? This shows that self - flagellate with knives and swords, doing Matam and giving up one's life for the love of these Infallibles is a cause of redemption and pardon from Allah (swt).
The skies shed blood in grief of Imam Husayn (as)
Allamah Ibn Hajar Makki writes:
"Abu Said says that on the day of the martyrdom of Husayn, there was fresh blood found under every stone lifted; and the sky also rained blood whose result was evident on clothes for ages. Abu Naim says that on the day of the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (as) our containers (of water) were full of blood."
Sawaiq al-Muhriqa, Page 192
It is written in Tafseer al-Jalalayn, on page 411, Annotation no.7 (Print. Karachi): Under "Fama Bakta Alaihim Sama" Sa`di has been quoted as saying:
"When the oppressed Imam was martyred, the sky wept on his martyrdom; the weeping of the sky is its being red and anger is the reason behind the bloody tears."
If Nasibi argue that such a notion is ridiculous then we suggest to him to consult Riyadh al Nadira page 193 [printed in Baghdad]:
"The narrator says that when Umar was murdered, the earth was covered with darkness. A child asked his mother, 'O Mother is it the Day of Judgment? The mother replied no son Umar has been murdered".
We appeal to justice! The earth was covered with darkness when Umar died and the Nasibi clergy have no objection to this narration since it refers to the death of one of their own. If the skies grieve over the barbaric massacre of the Ahl'ul bayt (as) then all manner of Fatwa is issued against us.
Examples of self-beating in the Bible
The Bible, Isaiah 22:12 - shows that this type of mourning was ordained by God
"On that Day the Lords called for weeping and beating the breast, shaving the head and putting on sack cloth"
"You are now at ease, be anxious; tremble, you who have no cares. Strip yourselves bare; put a cloth round your waists and beat yourselves"
The Bible, Isaiah 32:11
"Howl, Heshbon, for Ai is despoiled. Cry aloud you villages round Rabbath Ammon, put on sack cloth and beat your breast and score your body with gashes"
The Bible, Jeremiah 49:3
"The crowd that had assembled for the spectacle, when they saw what had happened went home beating their breasts"
The Bible, Luke 23:48
We have in this chapter set out a vast array of evidences proving the legitimacy of hitting oneself and shedding blood, when mourning Imam Husayn (as). Those Nasibi who are against mourning for Imam Husayn (as) and for any of the martyrs of Karbala usually raise a question whether the Holy Prophet (s) had ordered mourning for Imam Husayn (as). The answer to this question is: 'did the Holy Prophet (s) order Owais Qarni (ra) to remove all his teeth? Did he insist that the Bedouin beat his chest? Did he order Bilal to beat his head? Similarly there was no order by the Holy Prophet (s) for Fatima (as) to beat her head at the rumour of his martyrdom in Uhud.
If there is absence of explicit permission then there is absence of prohibition also The reason for absence of such orders with regard to mourning is quite clear. These acts were all done out of love and sorrow and the Holy Prophet (s) had not forbidden them. According to the beliefs of Ahl-e Sunnah, if the Holy Prophet(s) saw someone doing an act and remained silent on it, it meant that he approved of this act. This type of Sunnah, in their fiqh, is called Sunnah Taqriri.
It is quite clear that holding mourning of Imam Husayn (as) by means of Matam (chest beating) or Zanjeer (blood letting) is to give physical expression of sympathy for Imam Husayn (as). It expresses nothing but love and loyalty for the Ahl'ul bayt (as).