The recommendation of Chest Beating and Crying over the Master of Martyrs



It was mentioned in the report of Muʿāwiyah bin Wahab, from Abī ʿAbd Allāh (a.s.): All forms of grieving and crying is disliked, except for the crying over al-Ḥusain.1
However what is used as evidence for its recommendation by the report of ʿAlī bin Abī Ḥamza, from Abī ʿAbd Allāh (a.s.) – I heard him say: Indeed crying and grieving is disliked for the servant [of Allāh] in every type of grief, except for the crying and grieving over al-Ḥussain bin ʿAlī (a.s.) – for it is rewarded.

(Kāmil al-Ziyārāt, p. 201) In saying that, the chain of this narration is weak  due to the presence of ʿAlī bin Abī Ḥamza & al-Ḥusain bin ʿAlī bin Abī Ḥamza within it. However, it is possible to take [as an evidence] the authentic (ṣaḥīḥ) narration of al-Rayyān bin Shabīb, from al-Imām al-Reza (a.s.) where he said to him: O son of Shabīb, if you were to cry over al- Ḥusain (a.s.) such that tears flow onto your cheek, Allāh will forgive for you all the sins that you have committed, be it small or large, little or in abundance.

And the reliable narration from Ibrāhīm bin Abī Maḥmūd who said, al-Reza (a.s.) said:

Indeed, Muḥarram was a month that the People of Ignorance would forbid killing in it, while our blood was made lawful in it, and our sacredness was unmasked, and in it our progeny and women were insulted, burnt down our tents with fire, and all things of importance within it was finished. They did not respect the Messenger of Allah in regards to the sanctity in our affairs. Indeed, the day of al-Ḥusain wounded our eyelids, and shed our tears, and lowered our beloved into the earth of Karb and Balā.’3 We have inherited the Karb and Balā’

1 Wasā’il al-Shiʿa, al-Ḥurr al-ʿĀmili, Volume 3, Page 282; Āmāli al-Ṭūsi, Page 162. The narration has some discussion on its reliability. Firstly, some would object to its source, as there are question marks over al-Āmāli of al-Ṭūsi, and if it is correctly attributed to the great Shaykh al-Ṭūsi. Many would disregard this ḥadīth purely for this reason. Aside from this, one person in the chain, Abū Moḥammed al-Anṣāri, was weakened by al-Kishshi via Naṣr bin al-Ṣabbāḥ – however many rejected this weakening, such as al-Sayed al-Khū’i and al-ʿAllāmah al- Ḥilli, due to the weakness of Naṣr bin al-Ṣabbāḥ himself. Rather, al-Sayed al-Khū’i has stated that one can rely upon him due to a narration in al-Kāfi that apparently praises him [Muʿjim Rijāl al-Ḥadīth, Volume 23, Page 38]. This same narration was mentioned by al-Shaykh Hādi al-Najafi whereupon he stated that there is no problem with the chain of narrators [Mawsuʿat Aḥādīth Ahl al-Bayt, volume 2, pp 78-80].

2 Āmāli al- Ṣadūq, Page 192; Biḥār al-Anwār, Volume 44, Page 285-286, Narration #23. This has been graded as reliable by al-Majlisi I [Rawdhat al-Muttaqīn, Volume 5, Page 384]; al-Shaykh Hādi al-Najafi [Mawsuʿat Aḥādīth Ahl al-Bayt, Volume 2, Page 77-78]; al-Shaykh al-Moḥsini [Mashraʿat Biḥār al-Anwār, Volume 2, Page 154].

– The name which was given to the land

3 Karb wa-Balā’ – The name which was given to the land  (agony and adversity) until the day of abatement. So upon the likes of al-Ḥusain let the criers cry, for crying upon him wipes away the great sins.

He (a.s.) then said: When the month of Muḥarram would come, you would not see my father laughing, and dolefulness would be dominant over him, until ten days would pass. When it is the tenth day, that day was the day of his calamity, sadness and crying, and would say: This is the day that in it al-Ḥusain (a.s.) was killed.And the reliable narration from al-Ḥasan bin Fazāl, from Imam al-Reza (a.s.), who said:

… Whoever makes the day of ʿĀshūrā’ a day of calamity, sadness and crying for himself – Allāh, Mighty and Majestic, will make the Day of Judgement a day of happiness and buoyancy for him… And the reliable narration from Fudhayl, from Abī ʿAbd Allāh (a.s.), who said: Whoever mentions us and his eyes fill with tears, even if it were be the size of the wing of a fly, his sins would be forgiven even if it be as much as the foam of the ocean.And the reliable narration from al-Ḥasan bin Fazāl, from Imam al-Reza (a.s.), who said:  Whoever remembers our calamities and cries over what was perpetrated against us, he would be with us in our ranks on the Day of Judgement. Furthermore, whoever remembers our calamities and cries or causes others to cry, his eye will not cry on the day that eyes cry. Furthermore, whoever sits in a gathering which revives our affairs, his heart does not die on the day the hearts die.And the reliable narration from Moḥammed bin Muslim, from Imam Abī Jaʿfar (a.s.), who said:ʿAlī bin al-Ḥusain (a.s.) used to say: Any believer whose eyes tear up due to the killing of al- Ḥusain (a.s.) such that it flows onto his cheeks – through it, Allāh, most High, will make him dwell in a room in Paradise for a long period of time.

Chest Beating

It has been reported by Khālid bin Sudayr, from Imam Abī ʿAbd Allāh (a.s.), who said: The clothes were torn apart, and the cheeks were slapped – by the women of Fatima – over al-Ḥusain bin ʿAlī (a.s.), and over his likes are the cheeks slapped and the clothes torn apart.6 This narration has in it weakness due to the lack of establishment of reliability of Khālid bin Sudayr. However, the aṣḥāb1 have acted upon it, and the tawātur2 of historical incidents surrounding it forces out the weakness found in it. And if someone were to oppose us in this point, we would reply that from a jurisprudential perspective, using the principle of the ibāḥa3 and the lack of any prohibition being found from a reliable narration, or lack of proof in its harm, it is judged to be permissible due to the principle in the affairs of al-ibāḥa.

Crying and Chest Beating from a Jurisprudential perspective

Al-Shaykh al-Ṭūsi said: Crying does not have any problems. However, as for chest beating, scratching or pulling out the hair and loud expressions of grief – then all of it is void and forbidden as per consensus.Perhaps him saying “consensus” indicates that the discussion is surrounding the loud expressions of grief that consists of lies, and not the general type of the loud expressions of grief, due to the popular opinion [amongst the scholars] that it is permissible. This is because it is hard to believe that these opinions would be hidden from the likes of al-Ṭūsi, for him to say there is consensus about it, in absolute. However, if we were to submit to al-Shaykh al-Ṭūsi stating the prohibition of “chest beating, scratching or pulling out the hair and loud expressions of grief in absolute”, then his statement has no intellectual weight with us. The consensus that he claims is not correct, due to the popular opinion being against what he says, and the prohibition has no foundation to it,

due to the weakness of the narrations that indicate it is so.

The truth is that the narrations that indicate its prohibition of loud expressions of grief, all of their chains are weak, so it is not possible to declare its prohibition or even it being disliked, so long as it does not contain any lies. Likewise, for scratching or pulling out the hair or tearing apart the clothes – all of the reports that have reached us are weak in their chain, so there is no room to declare these actions as forbidden – be it upon the infallible (a.s.) or upon any dead person in general. We also find that al-Shaykh al-Jawāhary in Jawāhar al-Kalām, uses as a proof for the prohibition the narration of Jābir from Imām al-Bāqir (a.s.): I said to him “what is al-jaza’5? He said: The greatest type of al-jazaʿ is the screaming with wailing, lamenting, and the slapping of the face and beating of chest, and the pulling out of hair from the crown of the head. Whoever establishes the loud expressions of grief has indeed abandoned patience and taken another path. (Wasā’il al-Shiʿa, vol. 3, pp. 271-271, Narration #3625) The direction that al-Ṭūsi and al-Jawāhary went towards is not correct, because the aforementioned narration has two paths. The first path (from Sahl bin Ziyād, from Aḥmed bin Moḥammed bin Abī Naṣr, and al-Ḥassan bin ʿAlī together, from Abī Jamīla, from Jābir, from Abī Jaʿfar (a.s.)) is weak due to the presence of Sahl bin Ziyād al-Ādami, and Abī Jamīla Mufadhal bin Ṣāliḥ. The second path is also weak due to the presence of Sahl bin Ziyād in the chain.
Alongside this, we find that al-Shaykh al-Jawāhary exempted from the prohibition the grieving and crying over the Master of Martyrs (a.s.). He said: …Indeed exempted from that (the prohibition of grieving) is over the Prophets and Imāms (a.s.), or  exclusively over my master and guardian, Imam al- Ḥusain bin ʿAlī (a.s.), as the aforementioned narration suggests, and likewise other reports, such as the good [in chain] (ḥasan) narration from Muʿāwiyah bin Wahab, from Imam al-Ṣādiq (a.s.): Every grieving and crying is disliked, except for the grieving and crying over the killing of Imam al-Ḥusain (a.s.).

  1. 1  Aṣḥāb: The companions.
  2. 2  Tawātur: Successive and numerous reports indicatingthe same thing.
  3. 3  Ibāḥa: Exemption from a burden or jurisdiction. If athing is mubāḥ it is permissible in nature, due to the religion being silent upon it. Aside from many other reasons, this is mainly based around the principle that everything is permissible until it is proven that it is forbidden.
  4. 4  Al-Mabsūṭ, Volume 1, Page 189.
  5. 5

    Al-jazaʿ – Generally translated as deep grief, sadness

    and/or sorrow.