I was once chatting to a Christian via email so he said to me “What do you know about Christ?”
I replied, “The word of Allah, and a Prophet from those distinguished among the Prophets.”
He said “This is according to you.”
So, I asked, “Then what is correct, in your view?”
He replied, “The son of Allah (Allah is transcendent from what this man said) and he came to sacrifice himself for the sins of man.”
To which I remarked, “Why is he punished for the sins of others?”
He replied, “If we imagined that you were accused of a crime and put into prison, would your father, out of his intense love, not have the willingness to bear that punishment in your place?”
So, I said “Let us assume that he would be willing. The more important thing is: is this justice or not? If the judge was just, would he have ruled that my father be imprisoned because I am the criminal? Moreover, if Christ has taken my sin and the sin of others, then why should I not act immorally and promiscuously, doing as I please? After all, Christ has taken my sin and the matter is over.”
He said “If your father was imprisoned due to a sin that you had committed, would you have increased in your disobedience?”
I said, “Did he not bear the punishment, and did the matter not cease at that? My immorality will not increase his punishment, and neither will my piety lighten it! Also, I will not be punished regardless of what I do, so that is that. Do not try to invent justifications and flimsy excuses. For the matter to be correct, it is imperative that a man carries the results of his own actions, not that someone else bears them on his behalf.”
When he realized that he had no escape from these arguments he blocked me. A while after that, he sent me an email in which there were pictures of the Ta’ziyah rituals with blood flowing over the faces and bodies of the participants. He commented, “Look at the backwardness of Islam. These are the Muslims.” Among the pictures were pictures of children who were barely one or two years of age, and their mothers had made wounds on their heads with knives so that some blood can flow from them for the sake of Imam Hussain ‘alayh al Salam!
I was caught by surprise; how I was meant to answer him!
It was not long before my inspiration came so I wrote back, “If there is a careless driver who defiantly drives through a red light, then the problem is not with the car nor in the rules of the road. The driving rules do not allow for this. In fact, whoever does this will be reprimanded by the law. It is either that this driver does not know the rules or that he knowingly contravenes them. In either case, he is the blameworthy one, not the rules.”
There are hundreds of narrations from the Imams ‘alayhim al Salam that prohibit this type of behaviour. They include the narration from Imam al Sadiq ‘alayh al Salam where he says, “Wailing over the deceased is not permitted, and neither is it appropriate, but the people do not know.”
He also said, “He is not from us who smacks the face and tears the collar (in mourning).”
Sheikh al Tijani has explicitly stated that these practices are prohibited. He says:
The reality is that what some of the Shia practice is not part of the religion at all; even if the scholars have exercised their reasoning, and the jurists have given fatwas stipulating great reward for those actions. They are nothing more than customs and traditions. On account of unbridled emotions people do not behave normally and these evolve into rituals of folklore which children inherit from their parents in their blind acceptance, without any realization. In fact, some of the laypeople believe that self-flagellation is a means of gaining proximity with Allah, and some of them even believe that one who does not do so does not love Hussain.
He writes further:
I was not convinced [of the correctness] of those sights which most people with a sound disposition find repulsive; that a man sheds his clothes, holds a blade in his hand, and starts striking himself in violent motions, chanting at the top of his lungs in hysteria, ‘Hussain! Hussain!’. The irony is that in their frenzy you might be led to believe that they are overcome with grief, yet after a short while when the hysteria wears off, they are observed in a festive mood, enjoying expensive sweets, celebrating, and enjoying themselves. The sombreness is replaced by merrymaking as soon as the procession is over.
Even more strange is the fact that majority of these people are not even observant; which is why I allowed myself to criticize them directly a number of times and said to them that what they are engaged in is only folklore and blind adherence to customs.
He went on to clarify that the Imams: ‘Ali, Hassan, Hussain, and Sajjad ‘alayh al Salam did not engage in these frivolities. Imam Sajjad ‘alayh al Salam was present at a gathering that none of the people had attended; he witnessed first-hand the tragedy of Karbala’ wherein his father, his uncles, and his brothers were all murdered. He witnessed such tragedies that would make mountains move, except that history bears absolutely no record of any of the Imams ‘alayhim al Salam ever participated in anything of this sort, or that that they ordered their followers or their Shia to do so.
 Al Kulayni: Al Kafi, 3/226; Al Hurr al ‘Amili: Wasa’il al Shia, 3/273.
 Al Majlisi: Bihar al Anwar, 79/93; Al Nuri al Tabarsi: Mustadrak al Wasa’il, 2/452.
 Muhammad Tijani: Kull al Hulul ‘ind Al al Rasul, pgs. 148-151.Back to top