Skip to: Site menu | Main content


Challenge your Beliefs. Verify any news which you hear. Ask us before you believe.  Your question will help us learn as well.
Guidance will come with true intentions.

Letter Exchange 6: Shabeehaat (Alam, Taziya), Idolworship and Bidat

The following Queries were mailed to us by a fellow visitor, student and seeker of truth. Below is an article-version of the email exchange.

  1. Taziyas, Alams, Taboots etc are a Bidat because Rasool (SAW) did not order these or practiced it himself.
  2. Why do Shias worship them, when it is the Hindus which worship the idols.


It is important to understand first, what a Bida, or innovation is. Bida is, to introduce something new in religion, or to alter something which was originally practiced and ordered to be practiced by Prophet Muhammad (SAW).

For example, if Rasool (SAW) and Quran have clearly declared the way of giving divorce, then any change in that rule will be Bida. If Rasool (SAW) has outlined the practices of Hajj, then a change in any of those activities will be a Bidat.

... This day have I perfected for you your religion and completed My favor on you and chosen for you Islam as a religion; ...
Quran [5:3]

Allah completed Islam in the life of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). Anything practiced after the demise of Rasool (SAW), claimed to be a part of religion, will be deemed a bidat, specially if it is against the teachings of Rasool (SAW). When Islam is perfected, we do not have any authority to add or remove something from the Deen.

The method of Using loud speakers in mosques is not a Bida, although it was not used in the time of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). It does not violate any teaching of Islam, nor goes against Rasool (SAW) teachings. The use of the loud speaker is not due to it's inclusion in religion, but only for the ease of the speaker.

Did Prophet Muhammad (SAW), or any of his Sahabi, use the words Hazrat or RA for each other, with each others name when talking with each other? Can you tell me if Umer used to call Abu Bakr, Hazrat Abu Bakr Radhi Allah Tala Anhu, when ever addressing him? Obviously not. Then can it be termed a Bida as we use it with people, while the prophet (SAW) did not, not even the companions? No again, because Hazrat or (RA) is used for a sign of respect. It is not compulsory, neither is it a part of Islam. It is through our emotions and intellect, that we choose to use them with the name of the companions or people we believe are the noble ones in the sight of Allah.

I hope I have made it clear what a Bida is. You can read a detailed account of Bidat, in the article, Bida; Innovation in Islam.

Azadari can not be termed as a Bida, because it does not contradict any order of Quran, Rasool (SAW), and it is not done as a part of Religion. There are Shias who do not do matam, do not do zanjeer. There are Shias who cry a lot, and there are Shias who do not cry. It is not farz, to commemorate Kerbala, and it is not a part of religion.

But as Islam ordered to love the Ahlulbayt, our Azadari is a sign and proof of this love. Quran told us to love the nearest relatives of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). The method we adopt to show this love, depends on person to person. If some one showed his love by doing something else, and later on, another person comes and does something new in order to show his true intentions and love for Mawla Hussain, it cannot be termed a Bida, because the practice is not done as a Part of Islam itself, but as a fulfillment of an order of Islam, loving the Ahlulbayt.

On mother’s day, you can give your mother chocolates and flowers in order to show your love. Some one else can kiss his mother to serve the same purpose. Yet, some one else will cook breakfast for her mother to show his appreciation. The method can differ, as long as the method doesn't go against the shariat, and it serves the same purpose.

The processions and the Shabeehs are not Compulsory, neither are they a part of Islam. But the spirit related to them, and their importance is significant. This would be discussed later.

Having said that how Azadari, and processions is not a bidat, it is time to clear another misconception.

What are Idols, what are Shabeehs, and what is worshipping? It is important to clarify the basics before continuing.

Idols are made by man, and associated with God or assumed to be God himself.

And when Ibrahim said: My Lord! make this city secure, and save me and my sons from worshipping idols:
Quran [14:35]

And he said: You have only taken for yourselves idols besides Allah by way of friendship between you in this world's life, then on the resurrection day some of you shall deny others, and some of you shall curse others, and your abode is the fire, and you shall not have any helpers.
Quran [29:25]

And We made the children of Israel to pass the sea; then they came upon a people who kept to the worship of their idols They said: O Musa! make for us a god as they have (their) gods He said: Surely you are a people acting ignorantly:
Quran [7:138]

Have you not seen those to whom a portion of the Book has been given? They believe in idols and false deities and say of those who disbelieve: These are better guided in the path than those who believe.
Quran [4:51]

And when Ibrahim said to his sire, Azar: Do you take idols for gods? Surely I see you and your people in manifest error.
Quran [6:74]

They do not call besides Him on anything but idols, and they do not call on anything but a rebellious Shaitan.
Quran [4:117]

(They invoke nothing but female deities besides Him (Allah),) "The idolators claimed that the angels are Allah's daughters, saying, `We only worship them so that they bring us closer to Allah.' So they took the angels as gods, made the shapes of girls and decided, `These (idols) resemble the daughters of Allah (i.e., the angels), Whom we worship. ''
Tafsir Ibne Kathir, Tafsir of Surah 4, Verse 117

The Quran gives the concept of idols and idol worshipping as;

Some  pagans used to believe in one Allah, and idols as his angel daughters. Pagans also used to believe in idols as many different Gods. When they worshipped the idols, they believed that the idols will give them what they want and pray for. This is worshipping idols.

Having said that, a Shabeeh should be understood. Shabeehs or resemblances are made which remind one of the events of Kerbala. Shabeehs such as the Alam (flag of Imam Hussain given to Mawla Abbas), Zuljenah (horse of Imam Hussain), Jhoola (Cradle of Infant Asghar), Taziya (Shrine of Imam Hussain) etc are revered amongst the Shias. These definitely are not the actual symbols but merely their resemblances which remind us the picture of Kerbala itself, which give us a sense and a desire to save ourselves from sins so that we can at least be able enough to hold the Flag of Mawla Abbas in our own hands.

The concept of Shabeeh is simple. You take a simple paper from your register. This paper is normal and can be thrown in the trash. But when you write Allah's names on this very paper, or the verses of Quran on it, or the names of Prophet (SAW) and his progeny on it, this paper becomes Holy. Respecting it is a part of faith now. This paper has been transformed into something very important just with writing a few words on it.

Similarly the Zuljenah (Shabeeh of Imam Hussain's horse) is not the actual horse Imam rode on Kerbala. It's a horse from a special breed which has been specially taken care of and brought up in the name of Imam Hussain (AS). It is decorated with sword and shields, blood-stained clothes, arrows and names of Allah, the prophet and the Imams written on it to create a visual resemblance of the war of Kerbala. People who respect these Shabeehs respect them by kissing them, due to their affiliation with Prophet's family and Allah himself.

That (shall be so); and whoever respects the signs of Allah, this surely is (the outcome) of the piety of hearts.
Quran [22:32]

Anything which reminds us of Allah is his sign. The Kaaba reminds us of Allah, Kerbala reminds us of Allah, the amulet with the Prophet's name on it reminds me of Allah. Respecting them, is not equivalent to idol worshipping.

We kiss the Taziya because it resembles the shrine of Imam Hussain (AS). We revere the shrine of Imam Hussain (AS) because that place testifies about Tauheed, the Imam gave away everything for a mission, for a cause, for someone, that someone being Allah himself.

The Muslims kiss the Kaaba, and the hajr aswad, the stone. Do we worship them? We kiss them because we love them, because they are the sign of Allah, they remind us of Allah. Shias pray to Allah, for the sake of Muhammad (SAW) and his Ahlulbayt. Intercession and tawassul are two different topics and I will not go there.

No shia worships the Shabeehs, I assure you. When we kiss the Alam (flag), it is because it reminds us of Kerbala. The memory of Kerbala makes us aware of the mission of Hussain (AS). If we kiss the Alam, it declares that our heart is with the mission of Hussain (AS). Thus we strive hard in order to help the mission of the Imam, which is to shorten, amr bil maroof wa nahi anr munkir.

No shia asks from the Alam or Zuljenah (the horse). No shia prays to them, or thinks them to be God or God like in any way. We kiss them because they remind us of the actual horse of Hussain (AS) and flag of Abbas (AS). We pray to Allah, for the sake of Prophet (SAW) and his Ahlulbayt, and these Shabeehs remind us of the Ahlulbayt.

I hope this is sufficient and it helps people understand why we do what. I also hope that the people who read this answer have clear intentions, and are tolerant enough to accept the feelings of other people.

Follow Up on Letter 6: Shabeehaat (Alam, Taziya), Idolworship and Bidat


  1. I want to know if Shabeehs were ever used in Islam or by Prophet (SAW). You said that Hindus make Shabeehs of Allah! Thus Shabeehs are not Islam. Please use the Quran and some Sunni references if possible.


The argument against idol worshipping, which Quran advocates against them, is not the use of Shabeehats or resemblances. The verdict against the pagans are;

The reply to the initial query should have been sufficient I guess. The method to give zakat is not in Quran. The method to pray Salat is not in Quran. Tarawih is not in Quran. Eid milad un Nabi is not in Quran or hadith. Using the words “hazrat” and “RA” with the name of people is not in Quran or hadith. Misyar is not in Quran or hadith.

The thing which I mailed you is what common sense denotes. However, if you really insist me to show you a shabeeh used in Islam, a shabeeh which is Islamic and it's concept is promoted, that too from a sunni's reference, then i believe we should go no further than Hajj.

The biggest example of Shabeeh is during the hajj.

Stoning of the Devil or stoning of the jamarat (Arabic: ramy al-jamarāt) is part of the annual Islamic Hajj pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Muslim pilgrims fling pebbles at three walls called jamarat in the city of Mina just east of Mecca. It is one of a series of ritual acts that must be performed in the Hajj, and routinely attracts vast crowds of over a million pilgrims.

When the Hajjis go and stone the Satan or Shaitan, they are not literally stoning him, but only throwing stones at three pillars. These three pillars, or the jamarat are the shabeeh of Shaitan. They represent Iblees himself. When we throw the stone at the pillar, our intentions are not to hit a pillar of concrete, but to hit the Shaitan himself. By hitting the shabeeh of Shaitan, we promise to ourselves that we will stay away from him and his traps. If some one refuses to pelt this pillar with stones, but kisses it for reverence, that means that by respecting this shabeeh of Iblees, he is respecting and loving Iblees himself. This person will then become the open enemy of Allah, just by kissing or respecting a pillar of concrete.

I am not astonished to see how the wahabis and nasibis raise their fingers at everything affiliated with Rasool (SAW) and his Ahlulbayt. I have never seen anyone question, when mullahs and extremists burn the effigy of George Bush and hit it with shoes. Is this effigy not the shabeeh of Bush?

I have a paperweight on my desk, which has the Shrine of Rasool (SAW) built in it (small-scale model). Should i respect this Shabeeh, and take special care of it, or should i treat this paper weight as any other paper weight?

I hope this should be sufficient

Feel free to email your comments/replies to this article at or post a message at our Forum, no registration Required.