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Question #49 : What color should one wear? What is the ruling on wearing black?

Wearing different colors is a personal matter, as Islam has allowed Muslims to choose for themselves what colors they wear. However, some guidelines have been mentioned by the Prophet and the Imams in Islamic law books pertaining to certain colors.

For example, it is understood from some ahadith that it is makruh to wear black.[1] However, this ruling is not general in a way that would apply to both genders and all times and occasions. Instead there are many exceptions to it which follow:

A:  It is narrated in a hadith that the Prophet would not wear black with three exceptions: khuff (a type of shoe), ammamah (turban) and kisaa’ (cloak).[2] Taking the hadith of Kisaa’ into consideration, a kisaa’ would be a long clothing that covers all the body and, therefore, also identifies withthe Abaa’ and the chadur that women wear. Therefore, these three forms of black clothing are exceptions to the ruling. Ayatullah Bahjat says: “…It is mentioned in the books of the as’haab (shia faqihs) that wearing certain clothing during prayers is makruh. For example, it is makruh to wear black clothing except for the ammameh, the khuff and the kisaa’.”[3]

B: Black clothing not makruh for women: There is no doubt that the permissible clothing for men and women differs in color and type. For example, wearing clothes made of gold or silk is permissible for women, while it is prohibited for men. According to the ulema, women must cover all of their body except their face and palms, but men are not required to cover their whole body. Similarly, in Hajj it is mustahabb for men to wear the special white clothing for ihram, while women are allowed to use their normal clothing that might not even be white.

None of the jurists believe that wearing black is makruh for women. Instead, many of them have clearly stated that it is either permissible or even mustahabb to do so.

The well-known Shia scholar, the author of Jawaahir al-Fiqh says: “According to many books of shia jurists, wearing black is only makruh for men, because God has commanded a more complete clothing for women when dealing with non-mahrams, and black creates a more complete form of hijab and covering for them.”[4]

Moreover, some of the contemporary jurists and maraji’, like Ayatullah Khamenei and Tabrizi have clearly mentioned that wearing the black chadur is not makruh, while others like Ayatullah Fazel Lankarani state that the chadur is the best form of hijab.[5]

Even the latest research in the field of psychology shows that black is a color that does not attract attention and is not vibrant. This feature of black not only does not have a negative mental effect,[6] but is rather deeply in accordance with the philosophy behind wearing hijab for women, covering their bodies in the presence of non-mahrams and also bringing about peace of mind within the society.

C: Wearing black for mourning not makruh: Wearing black is not makruh when worn to participate in gatherings of mourning for the Ahlul-Bayt. It has been narrated from Imam Sajjad’s son that: “When my grandfather, Imam Hussein, was martyred, the women of Bani Hashem would wear black in their mourning gatherings and would continue wearing black in cold and hot weather.”.[7]
Even when normal people pass away, it is very common amongst religious and even non-religious people to wear black.

Wearing black is a means of remembering the Ahlul-Bayt and honoring them which is clearly encouraged by Islam. In this regard, they have said: “رحم الله من احيا امرنا”[8] “May Allah have mercy on the those who uphold our cause.”

Without doubt, when all people, young and old, men and women wear black during the months of Muharram and Safar it reminds everyone of the difficulties and calamities that befell Imam Hussein. The truth of the matter is that Islam has been protected and revived by these two months.

Historians say that after the incident of Karbala, the first group to wear black were the women of the Prophet’s family who did so for a complete year. They mourned to the extent that Imam Sajjad would provide them with food. Throughout history, wearing black in these gatherings has been customary amongst the Shias and the lovers of the Ahlul-Bayt.

Great scholars that would wear black for this purpose would deeply respect and protect their black clothing and would will that the clothing be buried with them as a means of Tabarruk.[9]
Therefore, not only wearing black in these gatherings and especially in Muharram and Safar is not makruh, but rather has great reward, because it is a means of showing sympathy and love for the Ahlul-Bayt. Taking what was said into consideration, making general claims that wearing black is makruh in Islam, is clearly wrong and misguiding.[10] [11]

As far as what colors are appropriate to wear, one must know that clothes are a means of covering the body and protecting it from the heat and cold. It is also a means of beauty and adornment and, therefore, the choice of color is a personal issue that depends on one’s taste, culture, customs and society. However, our Imams have mentioned certain guidelines in regard to some colors which follow:
1- Green:
Green was amongst the colors that the Prophet would prefer to wear.[12]
2- White:
Most of the Prophet’s clothes were white, and he would say: “Choose white clothes for those of you who are alive, as you bury the dead with white too.”[13] Because the Prophet was the greatest role model in terms of cleanliness and paying appropriate attention to his appearance, he would advise people saying: “One who wears clothes must always keep them clean.”[14]
White clothing shows dirtiness quicker and one who follows the Prophet will clean it sooner. Wearing white also brings mental calmness and tranquility.
3- Yellow:
The Prophet had a blanket that was colored with saffron. Sometimes, he would lead prayer wearing it.[15]
On the other hand, there were colors that the Prophet would prefer not to wear, like red.[16] But this does not mean wearing these colors is not permissible.
It is important not to turn the issue of clothing into a means of boasting and showing off or to value one depending on the clothes they wear. To do so shows that we have misunderstood the reason why we wear clothes, and thus, these viewpoints have been sharply negated in Islam.[17]
Imam Hussein says: “Whoever wears Libas Shuhrat (out of the ordinary conspicuous clothing), God will put clothes made of fire on his body on the Day of Judgment.”[18] Therefore, clothes must be accepted by the moderate religious people within the society. Such is also mentioned in a hadith from Imam Sadiq. In response to a person who compared the Imam’s clothing to that of Imam Ali, the Imam said: “Imam Ali would wear the type of clothing that was accepted by the people of his time, and if he lived today, he would not wear the same clothes that he wore back then. Surely, the best clothing of each age is that which is commonly worn (and accepted) by the people of that time.”[19] All of these ahadith illustrate how important one’s clothing is in Islam, as it is a means of covering his body and promoting modesty. As mentioned earlier, the details of one’s clothing can be freely chosen depending on one’s culture, customs, environment and the people he lives with. However, the clothing must be in accordance with the general guidelines of Islam.

Notes are at the site: http://www.islamquest.net/en/archive/question/fa2415

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Question #50: I want to know the history of the wedding of Janab Qasim (as). Are there any references available for this?

The event of 'Ashura' has been subject to tahrif (distortions) an instance of which is the concocted story of the wedding of Hadrat Qasim, a story which has not been mentioned in any reliable book of history not to mention the fact that such a thing is not rationally possible because, firstly, Qasim was not more than thirteen years old on the day of Ashura and he had not attained the age of puberty. Secondly, the wedding could not have taken place because Imam Hussein (as) and his companions were surrounded by their enemies and a pitched battle was going on. Moreover, Imam Hussein (as) attached great importance to fulfilling his divine duty against his cunning enemies such as the Banu Umayyads. Therefore, the story of the wedding of Qasim is a fabricated and unacceptable story according to Shia researchers.  Below we will mention the viewpoints of some those researchers:

1. Hajji Mirza Husayn Nuri, the author of Mustadrak al-Wasail, writes in a famous work he has authored about the manners of the speakers or preachers who preach on the pulpits: “One of the derogatory and factitious reports which prominent scholars have not heeded or referred to is the story of Za’far the Jinn and the wedding of Qasim mentioned in a well-known book called Rawdat al-shuhada' by Mulla Husayn Kashifi. The wedding story has not been mentioned in any books before Rawdat al-shuhada from the time Shaykh Mufid until this book had been published. How could an event so great and a story so tangible be not observed by scholars over this period of time?[1]

2. The great narrator Shaykh Abbas Qummi has reiterated that the story of the wedding of Qasim in Karbala and the marriage of Fatima bint al-Hussein with him is not valid. In addition, Imam Hussein (as) had two daughters, one named Sakina (sa) and another Fatima (as). The first was married out to Abdullah who was martyred in Karbala and the second was married to Hasan Muthanna who was also present in Karbala.[2]

3. Martyr Ayatollah Qazi Tabatabai considers the story of the wedding of Qasim as invalid. He quotes Allamah Mamqani as having said in his Tanqih al-Maqal: Other researchers and I could not find anything in historical and biographical sources to confirm the authenticity of what has been alleged inTurayhi’s book about the story of the marriage of Qasim. It is very unlikely that such an incident should have taken place on the day of Ashura keeping in view the difficult and extremely dangerous conditions and the calamities that followed. It seems that a mistake has taken place in regards to the wedding of Qasim who had not reached the age of puberty by then. It is indeed the story of the wedding of Hasan Muthanna (the Second) that has become known in such a way on the tongues of people.[3]

4. Martyr Ayatollah Murteza Mutahhari says in this regard: “As you know, in the heat of the battle on the day of 'Ashura', the Imam offered his prayers hurriedly in the form of salat al-khawf [4] and there was no respite even to offer full prayers. In fact, two of the companions of the Imam came to stand in front of him to shield the Imam (against the arrows) so that he may offer two rak'ahs of the salat al-khawf. The two of them fell from the injuries inflicted under the shower of the arrows. The enemy would not even give respite for offering prayers. Nevertheless, they have concocted a story that the Imam called for a wedding ceremony on this day, declaring, 'It is my wish to see one of my daughter wedded to Qasim.' Obviously, one cannot take one's wishes to one's grave.  …. And this is said to have occurred at a time when there was hardly any respite even for offering prayers. They say that the Hadrat said, 'I want to wed my daughter to my nephew here and now, even if it is just an appearance of a wedding.' One of the things that was an inseparable part of our traditional ta'ziyahs was the wedding of Qasim, the boy bridegroom. Such an episode is not mentioned in any reliable book of history.”[5]

Footnotes at the source.

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Question #51: Are we allowed to adopt children? If yes, then does an adopted girl have to wear hijâb when she becomes nine in front of her `father' and `brother'? Similarly, in case of an adopted boy, would the `mother' and `sister' have to observe hijâb in his presence?

Answered by Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi

When looking at the issue of adoption from Islamic point of view, we must separate two things: first, the concept of helping orphan and poor children; second, the implications of such a help.

As far as the concept of helping the poor and the orphan is concerned, Islam not only agrees to it but even highly recommends it. In all types of charities, the orphan and the poor are mentioned as the prime eligible recipients for such help. In case of the rights of the orphan children, Allâh is very severe; for example, He says,

“Those who `swallow' the property of the orphans unjustly, are actually devouring fire into their bellies and they shall enter the burning fire.” (4:10)

Islam fully supports the concept of helping the orphan and poor, and taking them under your wings. If there is no one to take care of the orphan and poor children, then this responsibility falls upon the Islamic government. I won’t be wrong in saying that as far as the concept of adoption is concerned, there is no difference between Islam and the West.

However, when we come to the implications and legal consequences of adoption, we find some differences between Islam and the present system in the West.

In the Western system, adoption does not only mean that a child is given into the care of another person or persons; it also means that the adopted child will carry the family name of the adoptive parent. For example, if a child named John Stuart Mill is adopted by Mr. William Bourassa, he will become John W. Bourassa. If this adoption took place in infancy, then most probably the child will never come to know his real genealogy or his real family name.

It is this part of the adoption procedure that Islam does not accept. In pre-Islamic Arabia, the adoption system was similar to what we now see in the West: the child even takes the family name of the adoptive father. When Islam came, it categorically rejected this procedure.

An example from the life of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.):

When the Prophet married Khadijah, she gave him a slave known as Zayd bin Hâritha (Zayd, son of Hâritha). The Prophet took such a good care of Zayd that their relationship changed from that of a master and a slave into one of father and son. Zayd was one of the first persons to accept Islam. When his father and uncles came to know about his whereabouts, they came to Mecca and told Prophet Muhammad that Zayd had been captured by some thieves and sold into slavery. The Prophet set him free. But Zayd refused to leave Muhammad and go home with his father. Hâritha, the father of Zayd, became very angry and openly declared that from now on “Zayd is not my son.” The Prophet immediately responded by adopting Zayd. Zayd came to be known as Zayd bin Muhammad (Zayd, son of Muhammad).

This continued till after the Prophet migrated to Medina. Zayd had grown up and was now a married man. However, his marriage did not work out. Allâh revealed some verses related to Zayd's divorce in which He also talks about the issue of `re-naming' the adopted children. He says,

“Nor has He (Allâh) made your adopted sons your sons. Such is (only) your (manner of) speech by your mouths. But God tells the truth, and He shows the way. Call them by (the names of) their fathers, that is better in the sight of God”. (33:5)

After the revelation of this verse, Zayd was again called Zayd bin Hâritha and not Zayd bin Muhammad. However, this change in name did not affect the relationship of the Prophet and Zayd. They were still like father and son.

As the Qur'ân says, calling adopted children by the names of their adoptive fathers is contrary to “the truth,” and therefore, they must be called by the name of their real fathers.

Implications of this Verse

What this means is that adoption does not change the relationship of a person: adoption does not end the blood relationship between the child and his real parents and siblings, nor does it create a real relationship between him and his adoptive parents and their children.

The practical implications of this view, on the one hand, is that all the rules which apply between blood relatives are still valid: for example, the child will still be mahram; that is an adopted child cannot marry his real siblings; he or she is also eligible for inheritance from the real parents; and there is no need for hijâb between the child and his or her real family. (With the adoption system in the West, it is quite possible that a person would end up marrying his or her siblings!)

On the other hand, the rules that apply between non-related persons are still valid. For example, adoption would not create the mahramiyyat between the child and the new family—an adopted girl will have to observe hijâb in presence of her adoptive father and brothers; similarly, the mother and sisters will have to observe hijâb in presence of the adopted son; the adopted child can even marry the child of the adoptive parents. In Islam, the right of inheritance is based on uterine relationship:

“Those related by blood are more entitled to (inherit from) each other in the Book of Allah.” (8:75)

However, the adoptive parents can always use their discretion to write up to one-third of their estate for their adopted child.

Adoption & Foster Relationship

There is only one case of adoption where a sort of semi-familial relationship and mahramiyyat is created between the adopted child and the adoptive family: when the adopted child is below two years of age and is also breast-fed directly by the adoptive mother for at least a day and a night.

This creates a foster (rizâ`i) relationship, and the child is mahram to the new family—there is no need for hijâb, nor can the child marry the real children of the adoptive parents. However, in case of inheritance, even a rizâ`i child has not right in the estate of the adoptive parents. But as mentioned above, the adoptive parents can write up to one-third of their estate for their adopted child.

To Summarize

1) Adoption is allowed in Islam.

2) However, changing the family name of the adopted child is not allowed.

3) If the child was two years old or less and was also breast fed directly by the adoptive mother for at least a day and a night (or fifteeen times consequently), then the child will become mahram to the new family—hijâb won't be necessary.

4) If the child was not breast fed as mentioned above, then he or she will remain non-mahram to the new family.

5) Adoption in rizâ`i or non-rizâ`i form does not give the adopted child a right to inherit the estate of the adoptive parents; nor does it deprives him or her from inheriting the estate of the real parents. (However, the adoptive parents have the option of writing up to one-third of their estate for their adopted child.)

* * *

It is necessary to emphasize that hijâb should not be considered a barrier in the way of adopting an orphan or a poor child. Muslim ladies are expected to wear decent clothes at all times; so, at the most, they will have to put on the scarf.

To those used to the Western way of life, this might sound unusual but one should know that this happens even without the adoption—in case of extended family dwellings where, for example, two married brothers live with their families under the same roof: the wives and bâligha¹ daughters will have to observe hijâb by wearing decent clothes with a scarf on their heads.

¹ That have reached the age of Bulugh, the maturity, that for females Islam fixed it at 9 lunar- Hijri years, 8 year and 7 months of the Western calendar (DILP).



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QUESTION #52: My question is with regards to the ziyarat/salaam we recite to the Ahlul-bayt A.S. after prayers and majalis. The most common format is Ziyarat for Imam Hussein A.S. followed by Ziyarat for Imam Ali Ridha A.S. and lastly for our Imam Mahdi A.S. (I am talking about the daily ziyarat, not Ziyarat-e-Waritha etc). I know of some (very few) persons who mention the names of all 14 Ma'sumeen A.S. in the daily ziyarat. Thus I am wondering if you have more information about the origin and the reason for the current format and which is preferred.

ANSWER: Originally, the concept of Ziyaarat is based on the highly recommended practice of sending Salaam on the Holy Prophet (S) and his family (AS). After the death of the Holy Prophet (S), people would go to his grave and convey their Salaam or convey their Salaam from afar. This is the reason it is called Ziyaarat, which means to visit. When a person recites this Salaam he is visiting the grave of the Holy Prophet (S) and his family either physically or spiritually. It has become a practice to do this regularly, in many communities following prayers, Majaalis and other religious occassions.

As to why it has become a common practice to focus on Imam Ridhaa (AS), Imam Husayn (AS) and Imam Mahdi (AS), there could be many reasons. For example, Imam Husayn (AS) and the tragedy of Karbala plays such an important role in every Shi'ah community, his Ziyaarah is constantly being recited and people learn it very easily. In Iran, for example, people always turn and recite Ziyaarat for Imam Ridhaa (AS) since he is buried in Iran. Therefore, the current form of Ziyaarah is probably a combination of many historical and social factors.

The original concept, however, is to send Salaam on the Holy Prophet (S) and his family (AS) from near or afar. It is not necessary to mention each of the names of the A`immah (AS) separately, although their are many Ziyaarah which do exactly that. It is unfortunate, however, that the Ziyaarat of some makes only a passing reference to the Holy Prophet (S) who is actually the main object of the Ziyaarat. We should all try to do better in this regard. Was-Salaam. Ali A. Rasheed

['Aalim Network QR] Ziyaraat (Visitation) and Salaam (Greetings)

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Question #53: Where and when did mourning for Imam Hussein (A.S.) start first?

In order to clarify the answer to your question, it is necessary to take notice of the following points:

1. First of all, it should be said that the memory of those great and elect men should be kept alive and their traits and characteristics should be the focus of attention. For this reason, we see that the Holy Prophet (S) as well as the infallible Imams, peace be upon them, adopted different ways and methods to revive the memories and names of the martyrs of Karbala, especially the Chief of the Martyrs, Imam Hussein, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.

We know also that holding mourning ceremonies and gatherings and narrating the stories of the sacrifices and devotions of the martyrs of Karbala are a way of keeping their memories alive. Mourning for the martyrs is also a way for commemorating and expressing gratitude to the sufferings and efforts made by them. In addition, these ceremonies serve as classes for teaching and conveying the messages which they wanted to deliver to humanity.

2. Mourning for martyrs and holding mourning ceremonies:

We read in historical sources that:

a) When Hamza was killed, Safiya daughter of Abdul Muttalib went out to look for his body. The Ansar (Medinan citizen) tried to prevent her from doing so. In fact, they did not want her to see Hamza’s body. Seeing this, the Holy Prophet (S) said, “Let her do freely what she wants to do. Safiya walked to Hamza’s body and started crying. Since she was crying loudly, the Prophet (S) was also crying loudly, and when she started to cry softly, the Prophet (S) also cried softly. Fatima (S.A.), the daughter of the Holy Prophet (S) was also crying and the Prophet cried at her crying and said: “Never so great a calamity has reached me like this.” Then she said to Fatima and Safiya: “Glad news, now did Gabriel inform me that it is written on the seventh heaven that Hamza is the Lion of Allah and His Apostle."[1]

b) Following the Battle of Uhud, the Prophet (S) returned to Medina. As he was passing by an Ansar’s house he heard them crying on the martyrdom of their relatives. Tears sprang to his eyes and he said: “But there is no one crying for Hamza.” As soon as Sa’d bin Ma’az and Usaidi bin Huzair returned to Bani Abdul Ashhal’s neighborhood, they told the tribeswomen to ‘leave their work and go and cry on the death of the Prophet’s uncle.’[2]

c) In the eighth Hegira year, the Prophet of Islam (S) dispatched Ja’far bin Abi Talib, Zaid bin Haritha and Abdullah bin Rawahah as the head of an army to fight the Romans in Ash-Shaam (Syria). They proceeded until they were close to Al-Balqaa', a region in Syria, where they were met by the Roman and Arab troops at a village called Mashaarif. The enemies went forward and the Muslims drew back to a village called Mu'tah. The armies met there and the Muslims prepared for confrontation. Zaid ibn Haritha was the first leader from the Muslims to be martyred whilst he was fighting courageously. Therefore Ja‘far ibn Abi Talib took the standard with his right hand and chanted lines of poetry referring to Paradise and his determination to fight the Romans. His right arm was cut off so he held the standard with his left hand, which was also cut off. He therefore enfolded the standard using the upper parts of his arms until he was martyred. ‘Abdullah ibn Rawahah grabbed the standard and endeavored to dismount from his horse. He recited lines of poetry swearing that he would dismount, and he went on wondering how his soul hated to be killed while it would later enjoy Paradise, and said to himself that if he was not killed in the battlefield, he would eventually die anyway.

After their martyrdom, the Messenger of Allah said: على مثل جعفر فلتبك البواكى  The lamenting women should cry on the like of Ja’far.”  Asma bint Umais Khas’ami who was Ja’far’s wife said: “when I heard the news of Ja’far’s martyrdom from the Messenger of Allah, I cried out: “Alas! Ja’far has been killed! Fatima, the daughter of the Messenger of God heard me while she was also crying “Alas! My cousin.” Then the Messenger of God pulled up his cloak and while he involuntarily wept, he walked out and said: “On Ja’far should the lamenting women cry.” Then he turned to Fatima and said to her: يا فاطمة اصنعى لعيال جعفر طعاما فانهم فى شغل (O’ Fatima, make some meal for Ja’far’s family as they are busy.” Fatima prepared meal for them for three days and this became a custom among Banu Hashim (clan of Hashim).[3]

d) Fatima (S.A.) wept for the Messenger of Allah (S):

Saeid bin Sulayman narrates from Ebad bin ‘Awam, he from Helal bin Khabbab, from Akramah, from Ibn-e Abbas that he said that when Sura Al-Nasr was revealed, the Holy Prophet (S) called Lady Fatima near and confided a secret to her which made her extremely happy. When the Holy Prophet (S) passed away, Imam Ali (A.S.) removed his hand from under the holy face of the Prophet and passed it over his face, and he closed the eyes of the Messenger of Allah (S), covered him with a cloth.  Someone asked Lady Fatima: “What did the Messenger of Allah (S) tell you?” She replied: “He told me not to cry as I would be the first to join him from Ahlul Bayt (A.S.) and I will not live much longer after the passing away of the Holy Prophet (S). Due to this my grief was dispelled.”[4]

e) The Shia Imams (A.S.) and Different Ways of Mourning for Imam Hussein (A.S.):

Holding Mourning Ceremonies:

One of the methods that the Imams used to keep the memory of the rise of Ashura alive was arranging gatherings for crying and mourning and making others cry for the tragic incidents that took place in Karbala and reminding people of those incidents on appropriate occasions.

Imam Sajjad would constantly cry and mourn for what had taken place on the day of Ashura during the years he was the Imam of the Ummah.  He cried so much to the extent that he was known as and called one of the "Bakka’een" (those who cried very much).[5]

Alqame Hadrami relates that Imam Baqir (as) would gather people in his house on the day of Ashura to cry and mourn, and the Imam himself would cry for his grandfather.  There was no Taqiyyah involved and he would tell those in the house to cry for Imam Hossein and to express their condolences to each other on the day of his martyrdom.[6]

On one occasion Imam Sadiq told Dawood Ruqi: "I have never drunk cold water without remembering Imam Hossein."[7]

It is narrated in a hadith that Imam Reza said: "When the month of Muharram would arrive no one would see my father (Imam Kazim) smile and sadness and sorrow would take over him until the day of Ashura. The tenth day of Muharram was the day of sorrow and sadness and tragedy and he would say: Today is the day in which Imam Hossein was martyred."[8]

Therefore, not only would the Infallible Imams attend these gatherings themselves and cry for Imam Hussein but they would always encourage people to cry and mourn for the Imam.  It has been said in a hadith that: "Whoever cries for Imam Hossein or makes someone else cry for the Imam will be rewarded paradise, and even those who show they are sad and crying [even if they aren't because of whatever reason] will also be rewarded with paradise".[9]

The eulogists and poets like Kumit Asadi, Da'bal Khaza'ei and Seyyed Humairi were praised by the Infallible Imams (A.S.) for their reciting elegies and composing poems on the tragedy of Karbala.[10]

Therefore, it is clear that not only the Holy Prophet (S) and Imams (S) did not forbade people from weeping and mourning but there are indications and ample evidence concerning the martyrs of Islam especially the Chief of Martyrs, Imam Hussein (A.S.) that leave no doubt in our mind that mourning for the martyrs was a tradition [sunnah] of the Prophet and Imams.

3. As for whether it is necessary that lamentation and mourning ceremonies be held in the same way in all regions and at all times, it should be said that it is inferred from religious sources that what is recommended is to mourn for the infallibles and keep their memories alive. As for the manner and style of holding the mourning ceremonies, it has been relegated to the custom prevalent in every city or town. Definitely, insofar as the Lawgiver (God or His Prophet) has not prohibited a certain way of mourning[11] or in case a particular way of mourning does not run counter to other principles and values of Islam and the school of Ahlul-Bayt, we can consider it as permissible.[12]

For further information in this regard, you may go through the following discourse rendered by Ayatollah Mahdi Hadavi Tehrani on proper way of holding mourning ceremonies:

Without doubt, mourning for Imam Hussein (A.S.) is one of the most important rituals in Shia religion. It has been able to preserve the values of the Shia school and transfer them from one generation to another. Imam Hussein (A.S.), as stated in the narrations, is the cause of the survival of the reality of Islam. The Prophet of Islam (S) said: “Hussein is from me and I am from Hussein” which has been interpreted as Hussein being the son of the Seal of Prophets or the “grandson of Prophet Muhammad (S)”.  If the Prophet (S) said “I am from Hussein”, he, in fact, meant that the school of the Ahlul-Bayt (A.S.) which constituted the reality of Islam and in which the real Islam was manifested was maintained and protected by Imam Hussein (A.S.) only. The protection of this school is guaranteed by these mourning ceremonies and by keeping the memory of Imam Hussein (A.S.) alive. However, keeping in view the importance of these religious programs which provide an opportunity for us to acquaint ourselves with Imam Hussein’s schools and the reality of the religion in general and the imamate in particular, we must note that the cultural aspects of these ceremonies should be as such that they must be consistent and congruous with the values and ideals of Imam Hussein (A.S.). They should not be opposed to the Islamic criteria and standards. One of the most important issues that has to be taken into consideration is keeping away from prohibitions or sins. Imam Hussein, peace be upon him, was martyred in the way of amr bil ma’ruf wa nahy anil munkar (bidding the good and forbidding from vice). That is to say, Imam Hussein (A.S.) sacrificed his life in the way of spreading virtues and forbidding people from what the religion of the Prophet forbade them. Therefore, the commemoration ceremonies and mourning for Imam Hussein (A.S.) should be held in a way such that those gatherings themselves should be the manifestation of bidding the good and forbidding from the bad. That is to say, those who enter these gatherings should be prompted to do the good, acquire virtues and do what God has commanded them to do.  In other words, they should be made to stay away from vice and evil. God forbid, if in these gatherings someone commits an offense or a sin or, let’s say, good act (ma’ruf) is neglected, for instance an obligatory prayer is missed and instead recommended acts are done, this definitely goes against the ideals and goals of Imam Hussein (A.S.).

All those who take part in these gathering are responsible irrespective of whether they are participants or holders of the ceremony or whether they are the audience of the speakers.  All are responsible to preserve Imam Hussein’s ideals. Everyone should play a role in this regard proportionate to the position and status he enjoys in society. The speakers and lecturers who present religious knowledge to people in such gatherings must make sure that the knowledge they present should improve people’s knowledge and awareness about the religious truths so that their faith and belief may be strengthened. In Islam, belief in religious truths is based on rational values and standards.  Islam is the religion of reason, wisdom, knowledge, understanding and insight, not the religion of ignorance, superstition and myth. Therefore, the speaker, who sits on the pulpit and speaks to people, should provide people with such information about Islam that is correct and precise. God forbid, if he provides them with incorrect and false information, this by itself is a kind of spreading evil which is against Imam Hussein’s ideals and goals.

If these gatherings are held in a way such that they spread superstition and false ideas, and serve to weaken people’s beliefs and make our thoughtful and wise generation heedless to such gatherings, that is definitely opposed to Imam Hussein’s ideals and also to Islamic values. The ceremonies held to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (A.S.) should be, apart from the enthusiasm and love for Imam Hussein (A.S), gatherings for understanding the realities of the religion and religious teachings. If an eulogist or a narrator narrates the story of Imam Hussein (A.S.), he must make sure that what he narrates is authentic, historically documented and appropriate of the position of Imam Hussein (A.S.). He must use the best and the most beautiful language e.g. poem to describe the historical realities and the calamities which Imam Hussein (A.S.), his family, children and devout friends suffered. One should not relate stories that are not authenticated nor should he tell anything that is incompatible with Islamic concepts in the name of the teachings of Imam Hussein (A.S.) or in the name of his love. The love which is valuable in Islam is the love which is based on wisdom and reason. That is the red love which in fact enlightens the human intelligence. It is the love which should in reality manifest the reality of the religion and represent the public faith and belief.  We must not preach anything which is opposed to the religion, history and reason. We should not spread false ideas in society in the name of love for Imam Hussein or in the name of belief in Imam Hussein (A.S.).

Footnotes at the Source

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Question #54: Is there any objection to a person doing exercise with music? Are athletic actions with music considered to be dancing?

The Answer is: These are two separate issues. Please keep reading.

Before dealing with the aforementioned question, it is necessary to know the meaning of certain keywords pertaining to the question. These words include "tarab", "lahw" and "gatherings of frivolity and futile entertainment" with which ḥarām music is often described.

1. Tarab: It is a term used in Arabic to denote a state of musical ecstasy by the listener and/or the performer. It involves intoxication of the senses making him go out of moderation. This is not restricted to ecstasy only as it may be obtained through sad types of music also. [1]

2. Lahw: Any music or singing which due to its characteristics keeps human beings away from Allah, the sublime, and away from moral merits and spiritual matters and drives them towards sinful acts and carelessness is lahwī and ḥarām. [2]

3. Gatherings of frivolity and futile entertainment: These terms refer to the gatherings which have been held for revelry, sexual pleasure, dancing and the likes. Such gatherings according to the Urf (common view) of the pious people are considered to be "gatherings for sins" or "sinful gatherings". [3]

Keeping in view the above explanation, we shall now make mention of verdicts of some of the grand jurists about listening to music; most of the jurists consider lahwī music, not all types of music, as forbidden. Some others say that any type of music which is lahwī and mutrib in the common view — i.e., suitable for gatherings of merrymaking, it is ḥarām. [4]

Grand jurists like Imam Khomeini (r.a), Ayatollah Khamenei, Ayatollah Sistani, Fazel Lankarani (r.a) and Makarem Shirazi say:

It is not permissible to play or listen to any music or singing which due to its characteristics keeps human beings away from Allah, the sublime, and away from moral merits and spiritual matters and drives them towards sinful acts and carelessness. It does not make any difference whether it is sad or happy. [5]

Ayatollah Gulpaigani: Listening to and/or playing music is absolutely ḥarām [irrespective of whether they cause ecstasy or not]. [6]

Ayatollah Saafi Gulpaigani: "What is known as music according to the common view, is [absolutely] ḥarām to listen, play and make it or sell its instruments. [7]

Ayatollah Noori Hamedani: It is not permissible to listen to any music which is lahwī and mutrib and suitable for entertainment and sinful gatherings. [8]

Wahid Khurasani: It is not permissible to listen to any music which is appropriate for the gatherings of amusement and futile entertainment. [9]

Bahjat (r.a): It is not permissible to use lahwī musical instruments for non-lahwī purposes nor is it permissible under any circumstances to use lahw. And music which causes ecstasy is ḥarām. [10]

Ayatollah Tabrizi: Any type of music which is appropriate for amusement gatherings is lahwī; it is ḥarām to play and listen to it. [11]

Therefore, the grand jurists agree that any music categorized due to its nature as lahwī is ḥarām[12] , irrespective of whether it contains the element of excitement or not, or whether it engenders in the listener a state of melancholy or not. Its sanction by any Islamic organization or any other Islamic institute does not serve by itself as a shar‘ī proof of being permissible. [13]

Based on the above, there is problem in doing exercise by itself but listening to ḥarām music during exercise is not permissible even if one aims to get fitness or lose weight.

As for the other part of the question which is about athletic actions and dancing, we must say that if these actions are considered according to common view as dancing, the rules concerning dancing would apply to them. Music and dancing are two different subjects each having its own specific rules.

The definitions given by grand jurists for dancing are varied:

Grand jurists like Imam Khomeini (r.a), Ayatollah Bahjat (r.a), Ayatollah Tabrizi (r.a), Ayatollah Khamenei, Ayatollah Sistani, Ayatollah Fazel Lankarani (r.a) and Ayatollah Gulpaigani (r.a) have said that the criterion to be used in judging whether or not an action is dancing is the Urf (common view).

Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi says: "Dance refers to rhythmic movement of the body, usually for entertainment." [14]

Hence, therefore if an action is considered to be dancing, the rules regarding it according to grand jurists are as under:

Imam Khomeini (r.a): As an obligatory precaution, it is not permissible for women to dance any where in any ceremony irrespective of whether it is a wedding or a birthday ceremony except for a woman's dancing for her husband. [15]

Grand Ayatollah Gulpaigani: A woman can dance only for her husband; it is not permissible for her to dance in front of any other people. [16]

Grand Ayatollah Araki: "Dancing is problematic [There is an objection to it]." [17]

Grand Ayatollah Bahjat: "Dancing is absolutely problematic." [18]

Grand Ayatollah Saafi Gulpaigani: It is not permissible for her to dance in front of any other people but her husband. [19]

Grand Ayatollah Wahid Khurasani: No type of dancing is allowed, as an obligatory precaution. It is immaterial whether or not it entails any evil or any other ḥarām acts. [20]

Grand Ayatollah Sistani: It is permissible for a woman to dance in front of her husband to please and arouse him. But it is not permissible for her to dance in front of other men; based on obligatory precaution, she must not dance in front of other women also. [21]

Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi: A woman can dance only for her husband. It is not permissible for her to dance in front of other people, men or women. [22]

Supreme Leader, grand Ayatollah Khamenei: There is no problem in dancing by itself. However, if dancing entails sexual excitation or committing a ḥarām act like listening to ḥarām music, or it is in the presence of non-mahram men, it is forbidden. And it does not make a difference as to the various types of music. [23]

He says: "Generally speaking, if dancing entails sexual excitation or committing a ḥarām act like listening to ḥarām music, it is forbidden. " [24]

If a woman dances for her husband or vice-versa, and the dancing is not accompanied with a ḥarām act, there is no problem in it. [25]

When it comes to the question whether or not a woman or a man can dance for fitness alone without others seeing him (even one's spouse), the answers given is as under:

Grand jurists such as Imam Khomeini, Tabrizi, Khamenei and Sistani say: "It is appropriate of a believer to avoid lahw." [26]

Grand Ayatollah Bahjat, Ayatollah Fazel Lankarani, Ayatollah Noori Hamedani and Ayatollah Wahid Khurasani: "It is not permissible, as an obligatory precaution." [27]

Ayatollah Saafi and Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi: It is ḥarām. [28]

The conclusion we draw is that, if an athletic action is considered to be dancing [29] , or it is deemed as listening to music, there is problem in it, or else, there is no problem in it. In such matters, it is necessary for every individual to refer to his own Marja (i.e. the jurist whom he follows).

Anyway, your question has also been sent to the office of some grand jurists. The answers which we have received so far are the following:

Office of Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi (may Allah grant him long life):

If music is not suitable for the gatherings of entertainment and  moral depravity, there is no objection in it.

Office of Grand Ayatollah Khamenei (may Allah grant him long life):

If music does not cause ecstasy and it is not lahwī either, there is no objection in it. The duty-bound (mukallaf) himself should distinguish whether the music is lahwī or not.

If dancing entails sexual excitation or committing a ḥarām act like listening to ḥarām music, or it is in the presence of non-mahram men, it is forbidden.

Office of Grand Ayatollah Saafi Gulpaigani (may Allah grant him long life):

Exercise is good by itself but if it is accompanied with music or it is meant for dancing, it is not permissible. God knows best.

Notes at the source.

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Question #55: Was the wife of Hazrat Abbas, Lady Lubaba, present in Karbala?

Lubaba was the daughter of Ubaidullah bin Abbas[1] (the Prophet”s cousin) and the wife of Hazrat Abulfazl Abbas (AS).  Following the event of Karbala and the martyrdom of Hazrat Abbas, she married Zaid bin Hasan[2].[3] It has been said that she had two sons from Hazrat Abbas (AS) who were named Fazl and ”Ubaidullah.  It has been further added that Abbas” lineage and offspring continued through ”Ubaidullah only.[4]

When it comes to Lubaba”s presence in Karbala, there is no solid report in any reliable historic sources in this regard and that her name is not seen among a list of people from the Prophet”s household who were taken captives by Yazid.  However, there is no concrete proof or evidence to indicate that she was absent in Karbala on the day of Ashura. Therefore, one cannot say anything in this regard in the affirmative or in the negative.

[1]  According to the following historical sources, Lubaba was the daughter of Ubaidullah bin Abbas: Ibn Habib Hashemi (245 A.H.), Muhammad al-Muhber, research, Elza Lekhtan, Shutaiter, p. 441, Beirut, Dar al-Afaq al-Jadidah, Zubairi (236 A.H.), Mus”ab bin ”Abdullah, The Lineage of Quraish (Nasab-e Quraish), research, Leifi Borofensal, p. 32, Cairo, Dar al-Ma”aref, 3rd edition (date missing).
[2] Zaid bin Hasan bin Ali bin Abi Talib, Katib Waqedi, Muhammad bin Sa”d, al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, research, Abdul Qadir Ataa, Muhammad, vol.5, p. 244, Beirut, Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiyyah, first edition, 1410 A.H.
[3] Alavi, Ali Muhammad, Al-Majd fi insa Bit Taibeen, research, Mahdi Damghani, Ahmad Mar”ashi, Sayyid Mahmood, p. 231, Qom, Ayatollah Mar”ashi Najfi Library, first edition, 1409 A.H; Namazi Shahroudi, Ali Mustadrakat ”Ilm al-Rijal al-Hadith, vol.2, p. 391, Tehran, Haideri, first edition.
[4] Mustadrakat Ilm Rijal al-Hadith, vol.4, p. 351. 

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Question #56: What is "The Most Hopeful Verse in the Qur’an'?

There is a tradition in Majma Ul-Bayan which says: “One day Imam Ali looked at the people and asked: Do you know which verse of the Holy Qur’an is the most hopeful one? Some people said it was the following verse:

“God forgiveth not that partners should be set up with Him; but He forgiveth anything else, to whom He pleaseth; to set up partners with God is to devise a sin most heinous indeed.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Nisaa 4:48]

The Imam said no. Others said it was the following verse:

“If anyone does evil or wrongs his own soul but afterwards seeks God's forgiveness, he will find God Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Nisaa 4:110]

Again, Imam Ali said: No, that is not what I mean. Others said it was the following verse:

“Say: "O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of God: for God forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Zumar 39:53]

Again, Imam Ali said no. Then the people asked him which verse it was. Imam Ali said: I heard God’s Prophet say that the most hopeful verse is:

“And establish regular prayers at the two ends of the day and at the approaches of the night: For those things that are good remove those that are evil: Be that the word of remembrance to those who remember (their Lord).” [The Holy Qur’an, Hud 11:114]

Arabic is on page 146 at the source:


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