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Special Questions & Answer Concerning
Muharram Rituals

Beating Chest & Zanjir Zani

Q1: Why do Shiites beat their chests during Muharram? What is the reason?

A1: Beating chest is one of the important expressions of lamentation and a means of showing disgust and hatred to the oppressors. Not only it is not a mistake but it also plays an important role in reviving and continuing the goals of the Imam (a.s.).

Q2: It so happens that people beat their chests and their backs with chains and their bodies turn red and even start bleeding. Is it permissible?

A2: It is permissible and even preferable provided that it does not cause significant harm to the body.

Q3: Some men take off their clothes and become partially naked while beating theirs chests in front of women. Is it permissible?

A3: It is necessary for women to avoid looking. Of course, if men know that women would look at their bodies, it is not permissible for them (men) to take off their clothes.

Q4: Are beating chest and Zanjir Zani out of Riya (insincerity) permissible?

A4: They should avoid insincerity while performing rituals.

Q5: Some people are seen half-naked during Muharram while flagellating themselves in an extreme manner in front of non-Mahram individuals? Is this act permissible?

A5: Chest beating tradition in its customary and normal form does not have to be opposed, however, in the said situation women should avoid looking.

Q6:  What is the fatwa about Harvalah (jumping up and down while moving forward) in the mourning ceremonies held on the occasion of the martyrdom of the Infallibles?

A6: Harvalah has been recommended as a Mustahab act for male pilgrims after staying at Mash'arul Haraam and while doing Sa'iy between Safaa and Marvah and passing Mohassar valley.  Harvalah is not legal as a Mustahab act in places other than this.

Blood Matam

Q1:I have a question about blood matam or what is known as Qama zani or Tatbir? What is your ruling about using blades, knives, swords and spilling blood during mourning rituals? Is it permissible?

A2: The philosophy of mourning during 'Ashura, is to respect the symbols of Religion and remember the suffering of Imam Hussain (a),  his companions, and his uprising to defend Islam and prevent the destruction of the religion by Bani Umayyad dynasty.  These rites must be done in such a way that in addition to serving that purpose, it draws the attention of others to these lofty goals. Obviously, Qama Zani does not have such a role and the enemies of Ahlalbayt misuse it. So those actions which are not understandable for the enemies of Islam and causes misunderstanding and contempt for the religion must be avoided.

Wearing Black Clothes

Q1: Is it legally preferable to wear black clothes when mourning for Imam Husain and other Infallible Imams (a.s.)?

A1: Since it is considered respecting the signs (of Allah), it has legal preference. Moreover, prominent scholars such as late Ayatollah al-Uzma Broujardi used to wear black Qabaa (a long robe worn under Aba) during Ashura.

Q2: Is wearing black clothes makrooh (undesirable) when lamenting and mourning over the martyrdom of the Infallibles?

A2: Since wearing black clothes is a sign of expressing grief and lamentation, which is highly desirable, therefore praying in a black cloth is not makrooh.

Flags, & Use of Musical Instruments

Q1: What is the fatwa about the flags which are used during Azadari (lamentation) ceremonies? Some of these flags have lines and drawings on them.

A1: It is permissible to use them in Azadari.

Q2: Is beating drum allowed during Azadari?

A2: If drum is beaten in such a manner that it is suitable for gatherings of amusement and entertainment or is considered contempt and disrespect to the Infallible Imams, it is haram, or else, there would be no objection in it.

Q3: What is your ruling on a group of mourners using musical instruments in a competing manner against another group?

A3: The ruling about using musical instruments was explained above. Rivalry or competition however does not change the answer. Rather, if a competition is out of Reya (insincerity) and there is no intention of seeking nearness to God, and it causes unrest for others, it is not permissible.