Muharram and Safar - A Time of Mourning
For the followers of the Ahlul Bayt (as), the first two months of the Islamic year are a time for grief and mourning. It was on the 10th of Muharram, 61 A.H/680 C.E that Imam Husayn (as) the grandson of the Holy Prophet (saw) was martyred in Karbala, "Ashura", meaning the tenth day. The Holy Imam went through great difficulties even after Ashura, and their grief and pain is remembered by their followers for two months. During these two months Shia"s try to avoid all forms of merry making. They are as one bereaved family, giving vent to their grief and sorrow through mourning rituals such as Majalis and Matam. This does not mean however that they make their lives miserable. What they try to do is not indulge in activities that make them oblivious of the great sacrifice of Imam Husayn (as) and his family for Islam.
Many people wonder why we Shia"s mourn so much. Why all the weeping and beating of the chests/ Do we not believe that the Imam was victorious, that the effect of his death was a victory for Islam? Why then do we mourn for him. To answer this question, think about the following points:
Our deep love for the Ahlul Bayt (a)
It is human nature to feel sorrow at the death of a loved one. When a member of our family or a beloved one goes through tragic difficulties, our love for this person is demonstrated through our sharing of the sorrow. Often the grief at the suffering of a beloved is even more intense than the grief of the sufferer himself, as when a parent grieves for the suffering of a child. To the Shia"s the Ma"sumeen are more beloved of the holy family.
Consoling Bibi Fatema (as)
Human etiquette demands that the bereaved be treated with sympathy. the holy family lost so many beloved members on the fateful day, and received no compassion from the cruel forces of Yazid. Instead their misery continued for long afterwards. Those who love the holy family now take the opportunity every Muharram and Safar, to express the sympathy that should have been given to them.
Upholding Islamic Values
Mourning for Imam Husayn (as) is not confined to rituals of mourning only. It is also remembering the principles he died for and gaining inspiration for the sacrifices of those who died at Karbala. Every Muharram and Safar, Shia"s gain new faith and vigour as they mourn. It is a revival of our determination to keep Islam alive against all odds, a boost to uplift our religious zeal and keep us headed towards the right direction. We owe a great deal to the practice of mourning in Muharram. It has kept our religion alive and enables many of us to become familiar with the lofty deals and goals of Shi"ism.
Not forgetting the Imam of our time
The direct ninth descendant of Imam Husayn (as) is still alive. He is the twelfth and last Imam of the Shias. By participating in "Azaa" rituals we are manifesting our commitment to the Imam of our time. Since he is in occultation, we cannot visit him or offer him our condolences. Instead we gather and mourn the unparalleled tragedy in his family.
"Husayn is from me and I am from Husayn" (Prophet s.a.w)
Other Useful Links:
The Special edition on Moharram
The Special edition on Arbaeen
Nice Speeches on Moharram
Sighs of Sorrow (Maqtal)
Nice Speeches on Arbaeen
Arbaeen Aamal and Ziyarat