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Apropos of:'s 'Matam: Self Flagellation'

Note: This page answers only selective parts of the article in question
Please Visit's "Azadari: The Mourning for Kerbala".


Because the faith of Islam is perfect, it does not allow for any innovations to the religion. However, the Shia have added many innovations to the faith, and this is why they are called Ahlel Bidah (the People of Bidah). One such Bidah (innovation) is the practice of Matam, in which the Shia beat themselves in Muharram on the day of Ashura. The Shia will slap their chests, beat their backs, and involve themselves in other practices in order to “commemorate” the dead.
As for the Ahlus Sunnah, they are saddened by the wrongful death of Hussain. He is one of the many great heroes of Islam that died in the Name of Allah. However, the Ahlus Sunnah does not engage in self-flagellation or self-mutilation, which are both considered strictly Haram (forbidden). The Prophet forbade barbaric practices like such, and he said: “No harm may be inflicted on oneself

The Shias are known by many names, the people of the bidah, the apostates, the rebels, the kaafirs etc. It doesn't matter really, what matters is what Allah will judge regarding us, and how Rasool (SAW) will see us on the day of judgment. And yes, without knowledge, piety and patience, being a shia or a sunni or a Muslim or a Hindu doesn't really matter, because mankind is in loss except those who believe, do good, tell others to do good and are patient. 

First of all, is Matam really an innovation?

(He is the Badi` of the heavens and the earth) Meaning He originated, created, invented and brought them into existence without precedence, as Mujahid and As-Suddi said. This is why the word for innovation - Bid`ah - comes from it, because it is something that did not have a precedence.
Tafsir Ibne Kathir, Tafseer of Surah 6, Verse 101

According to that definition, is the internet also a Bidah for surely it did not have precedence? Obviously it is an innovation, but an innovation which is constructive and promoted. When we speak about the haraam bidah, it is only in case of religion, ie introducing practices in Islam which were not a part of Islam, and which contradict the teachings of Islam.

For example, if Rasool (SAW) ever forbade to pray Tarawih in congregation and ordered it to be prayed individually in one's home, then performing Tarawih in congregation and in mosques is surely a Bidah, something forbidden. I am not saying that Tarawih is really a Bidah, I was just giving an example. However you must research more on this mentioned subject. What if what I said is true?

So any religious act, introduced in Islam after Rasool (SAW) is a Bidah, an innovation. I ask the author, is Matam an innovation and never practiced during the time of Rasool (SAW)? Furthermore, is Matam even a religious act, part of Islam, necessary?

Just to create awareness, Matam is not Farz, because it is not a religios act. It is not neccessary to do Matam. Infact, many shias do not do Matam and Matam is not the only sign of mourning, but definitely it is one of the signs.

However, what is Farz, and a part of Religion, is the love of the Ahlulbayt, of which Imam Hussain (AS) is a part of. It is necessary to love Imam Hussain (AS). Ways to show this love can differ from people to people. Those who want to sing and dance on the day he (AS) was martyred show their love for him. Those who shed tears for him show their love for him (AS). Those who follow his (AS) teachings show their love for him (AS). Those who shed blood for him (AS) show their love for him. What is important is our love for him, methodology can differ from people to people.

How can Matam then be concluded as an innovation when it is neither a part of Islam, nor contradicting any part of Islam?

Did not Prophet Yaqub (AS) loose his eyesight because of the sorrow of his single son, Yusuf (AS)?

He (Yaqoub) said: Nay, your souls have made a matter light for you, so patience is good; maybe Allah will bring them all together to me; surely He is the Knowing, the Wise. And he turned away from them, and said: O my sorrow for Yusuf! and his eyes became white on account of the grief, and he was a repressor (of grief). They said: By Allah! you will not cease to remember Yusuf until you are a prey to constant disease or (until) you are of those who perish. He said: I only complain of my grief and sorrow to Allah, and I know from Allah what you do not know.
Quran [12:83-86]

Is it too much what we do out of natural emotions, for the complete generation of children of Muhammad (SAW) who were slaughtered hungry and thirsty, and whose (SAW) women were arrested and marched on down the streets without their Hijab?

No harm maybe inflicted on ones self. And we do not harm ourselves during Azadari do we? People who blow themselves up in mosques and market places in the name of Jahad, the suicide bombers are more fit for the above mentioned statement. If we are harming our body through Matam (i do not know from where did the author get this notion from), then surely we harm our hands when we clap them because we are hitting our body part with another. I would like to see a fatwa on clapping first.


Do the Shia really think that Hussain would appreciate people engaging in self-flagellation and self-mutilation? If Hussain were alive today, he would think that these people have lost their minds. We ask the reader if he would want his family to commemorate his own death in such a manner? No sane person would want his death commemorated in such a manner, no matter how unfair or how violent his own death was. So why do the Shia assume that Hussain would want his death to be remembered in such a barbaric way?

To bring up a more relevant example, let us assume for the moment that a boy likes a certain girl. In order to impress her, he decides to beat himself up for her to show his undying love for her. Do we think that she would actually be impressed with a boy who beats himself up? Surely not! Rather, the girl would be frightened out of her wits and she would likely call the police to control this boy. Indeed, only mentally insane people beat themselves up. It is a recognized psychological disorder, and there is much medical literature on this topic.

What Hussain (AS) would do, only he knows. You or I cannot put words in His (AS) blessed mouth. Hussain (AS) will definitely not appreciate anyone who disobeys his grandfather, Prophet Muhammad (SAW), irrespective of the sect. And following his (SAW) path is verily a greater part of the love we speak about.

Hussain (AS) would definitely not appreciate self-flagellation if it was pointless. But when some one slaps his chest with his hand and testifies that he disowns everything yazeed stood for, adultery, murder, kufr, and when some one sheds his blood testifying that if they were present at the time of Kerbala, they would allow their blood to flow before that of Rasool's (SAW) family, then definitely, the point of view changes.

The author mentions a love example between a boy and a girl. How could some one possible relate it to the love a believer owes to Rasool (SAW) and his blessed Ahlulbayt? The comparison is blasphemy in itself. The love of Hussain (AS) is definitely not what a boy feels for a girl (God forbid).

I ask the author, when they show on national television, women in Kashmir, ripping their hair apart and beating their chests, slapping their faces, because their sons lay before their eyes, with scars and bullet wounds, or when sisters and wives mourn for their brothers and husbands who died in a mosque of a suicide blast, are these women suffering from psychological disorder? Instead of consoling them, I guess we should send them to a mental assylum because of the way they reacted to the murder and killings of their husbands, sons, fathers and brothers.

The example mentioned earlier, Yaqub (AS) mourned such that his sons thought he would die of sorrow, and he lost his eyesight (as the Quran states). God forbid, maybe Yaqub (AS) required some medical attention as well.


We can find no sane person on this earth who would want people to beat themselves up. It is completely abnormal and barbaric to beat oneself up even if to mourn the loss of a close one. This was a practise of the Jahiliyyah Arabs and the Prophet forbade it, as well as the Quran. Allah Almighty condemns the pagans for the barbaric way in which they would worship:“Their [pagan] prayer at the House (of Allah) was nothing but whistling and clapping of hands; therefore taste the punishment because you used to disbelieve!” (Quran, 8:35)

The Quran looks down on these barbaric and native ways of prayer which make the Muslim look like a wild tribesman and nothing more. In any case, there are better avenues of channeling grief, including reading Quran and being a good Muslim. What better way to commemorate the loss of Hussain than by trying to rid the world of evil and barbarity? A person could donate money to the poor, create a trust fund in the name of the deceased, etc etc….the options for channeling grief are almost infinite, so why beat oneself up? What does it accomplish? We can only wonder why the Shia follow a faith that advocates such barbarity.

Does the author real find it logical to compare an act of worship with an act of love and sorry? Definitely, whistling and clapping is not worshipping Allah. But is not a tear a sign of grief, a smile a sign of happiness?

Before i quote examples from history, let me ask the author a simple question. Can Allah ask you to kill your own son just for the sake of love of ALlah and worshiping him? Surely, killing your own son as an act of worship, is more barbaric and brutal. Allah can never allow it according to the author's attitude.

Unfortunately for the author, Allah did:

And when he attained to working with him, he said: O my son! surely I have seen in a dream that I should sacrifice you; consider then what you see. He said: O my father! do what you are commanded; if Allah please, you will find me of the patient ones.
Quran [37:102]

Salat as a sign of love and worshipping Allah makes sense, Saum, Zakat, Hajj etc also make sense, but does killing one's own son make sense to the Author? Or will the Author give the fatwa that the Prophet Ibrahim (AS) was about to do something brutal and ignorant (god forbid)?

And when Musa said to his people: O my people! you have surely been unjust to yourselves by taking the calf (for a god), therefore turn to your Creator (penitently), so kill your people, that is best for you with your Creator: so He turned to you (mercifully), for surely He is the Oft-returning (to mercy), the Merciful.
Quran [2:54]

You must also note that Ibn Kathir narrates the story of repentance of the people of Musa (AS) who worshipped the calf.

An-Nasa'i, Ibn Jarir and Ibn Abi Hatim recorded Ibn `Abbas saying, "Allah told the Children of Israel that their repentance would be to slay by the sword every person they meet, be he father or son. They should not care whom they kill. Those were guilty whom Musa and Harun were not aware of their guilt, they admitted their sin and did as they were ordered. So Allah forgave both the killer and the one killed.'' This is part of the Hadith about the trials that we will mention in Surat Ta Ha, (20) Allah willing. Allah ordered Musa to command his people to kill each other. He ordered those who worshipped the calf to sit down and those who did not worship the calf to stand holding knives in their hands. When they started killing them, a great darkness suddenly overcame them. After the darkness lifted, they had killed seventy thousand of them. Those who were killed among them were forgiven, and those who remained alive were also forgiven
Tafsir Ibne Kathir, Tafsir of Surah 2, Verse 54

Musa (AS) allowed seventy thousand of his people to be "brutally" killed in the name of repentance? Again, according to the Author's perspective, how brutal has God been, no?

Enough about hitting others, killing others, as a sign of repentance (story of Musa (AS)) and as a sign of ultimate love and devotion (story of Ibrahim (AS)). Do these stories show love, emotions for Allah, feelings, or brutality, depends on the eye with which you see, an the heart which beats in your chest. Let us come to the point of hitting (not killing) one's self in the name of feelings.

To beat oneself up even if to mourn the loss of a close one is abnormal, barbaric and practice of jahiliyyah?

Has the author ever heard about the esteemed Sahabi of Rasool (SAW), the only Sahabi (RA) who was given that title without seeing rasool (SAW) with his own eyes? Yes, I am talking about Owais Qerni (RA). What he did, he was one of the biggest Jaahils, God Forbid, with respect to the Author's ideology.

Uwais said, "On the day when the blessed tooth of Rasulullah was martyred, why did you not martyr your own teeth? The requirement of love was that you conformed." Hadhrat Uwais opened his mouth and they observed that all his teeth were missing. He said: "I broke my teeth without seeing the mubaarak face of Rasulullah. After having broken a tooth, I was not satisfied. Perhaps another tooth of Rasulullah was martyred, not the one I broke in my mouth. In this way I continued breaking my teeth until all were removed
Scattered Pearls, Mujlisul Ulama of South Africa, Page 12


Abbas narrates: "I heard Aisha saying "The Messenger of God died on my bosom during my turn, I did not wrong anyone in regard to him. It was because of my ignorance and youthfulness that the Messenger of God died while he was in my lap. Then I laid his head on a pillow and got up beating my chest and slapping my face along with the women".
Tareekh al Tabari, Volume 9, Page 183, English Translation by Ismail Poonawalla

Similarly, when Hamza (RA) was martyred in uhud, every woman was grieving for their dead ones and no one was coming to prophet (SAW) for condolences. When the companions saw this, they told their women to leave their own dead ones and first go to the house of Muhammad (SAW) and grieve for the leader of the martyrs, Hamza (RA). I just opened Ibn Ishaq's Seerah Rasool;

 .. then the apostle went back on his way to medina and there met him hamma daughter of jahsh so I have been told. As she met the army, she was told about the death of her brother Abdullah and maternal uncle hamza. She exclaimed “we belong to god and to him do we return”. Then she was told about the death of her husband musayb b umayr and she shrieked and wailed. The apostle said, “the women's husband holds a special place with her, as you can see from her self control at the death of her brother and uncle and her shrieking over her husband”. The apostle passed by one of the settlements of the Ansar of the Banu Abdul Ashaal and Zafar and he heard the sound of weeping and wailing over the dead. The apostle’s eyes filled with tears and he wept and said, “but there is no weeping women over hamza”. When saad bin muadh and usayd bin hudayr came back to their quarter, they ordered their women to gird themselves and go and weep for apostle’s uncle. Hakim b hakim b abbad bin hunayf from a man of the banu abdul ashal told me: “ when the apostle heard their weeping over Hamza at the door of his mosque, he said, go home, may god have mercy on you. You have been a real help by your presence”
The Life of Muhammad, translation of Ibn Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah, by A. Guillaume, page 389

To what cause did mourning and wailing for Hamza (RA) contribute? If mourning, shrieking, and grieving over one of the martyrs is permissible and appreciated by rasool (SAW), then how should we react to all of his sons being martyred, mutilated, and daughters being arrested without their hijab and marched in front of evil drunk men?

The author calls Matam and Zanjeer barbaric. A mother can allow everything but her child to get hurt, that too infront of her eyes. If what the Shias do is infact barbaric, why would millions of mothers encourage their children to shed their blood in the name of Kerbala?

The author said that channeling of grief has infinite ways. Why not this way also? Does this mean that people who perform Matam and Zanjeer do not help others, and end their struggle to rid this world of its evil?

Do you know what is more barbaric? Slaughtering millions of goats and cows and camels on the Eid ul Adha. It may not be barbaric to you and me because we understand the spirit and essence behind it. It would be barbaric for a vegetarian human rights activist from the west.

Matam and Zanjeer will only look barbaric to you if you fail to understand, or refuse to understand the spirit behind it.

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