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Letter Exchange 5: Zanjeer, Azadari and Taqleed

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. Some Shia Ayatullahs declare Zanjeer to be haraam, and some who do not, discourage it, while some allow it. Please comment. The Usoolis and Akhbaris differ on the issue of zanjeer, and Akhbaris are in favor of Zanjeer because they do not have knowledge and they do not understand Taqleed. If an Ayatollah declares it haraam, it is haraam and we should not do it. The Akhbaris defy the Ayatullahs.
  2. Zanjeer and Qama Zani do not fullfil the purpose of mourning and is contributing to the loss of the spirit of Kerbala. The concept of Azadari is not about mourning, but about about values. We should donate our blood rather than shedding it and letting it go to waste.
  3. To help the mission of Imam Hussain, we do not need to beat ourselves, or curse Yazeed (the cursed), but to fight the Yazeed of our time. Zanjeer is useless.
  4. How does zanjeer help Azadari and the message of Kerbala? How is it productive.
  5. Mourning is allowed which is natural. Zanjeer and Matam is usually organized, it is not mourning. Most of the people who do zanjeer do it only to show off.
  6. Real mourning should unite the followers, but zanjeer is dividing the followers, some are in favor, while some oppose it.
  7. Zanjeer was not performed by Prophet Muhammad (SAW), nor by any of the Shia Imams who came after Imam Hussain (AS).
  8. Zanjeer is not haraam, but should be discouraged as during Matam and Zanjeer, men require to take off their shirts, and sometimes, namehram women are present.
  9. Islam teaches to live healthy and happy, while Matam and Zanjeer are unhealthy as well as unhappy. They are not even safe and Zanjeer can kill a person also.


I do not want to say anything against or for Taqleed. If i do not know how to perform ghusl, i will contact someone who is learned in the field, and I will do as he tells me to do, because there is not logical method to accept or refuse the methods of Ghusl. But if a scholar tells me that the punishment of theft is death, then this ruling will challenge all sorts of logical aspects in my mind. I will question him before i agree to his ruling.

I am not a man of hadith. We all are Muslims because we were born in Muslim families. If we were born to Hindu families, then Quran, Rasool (SAW), Hadith, would mean nothing to us. The only thing which would guide us to the true path, Islam, would not be aql, or Quran, but the use of our Aql, Logic.

Logic accepts that once established that Muhammad (SAW) is the prophet of Allah, unconditional obedience to him is necessary. It also accepts that if established, that Quran is the words of Allah, unconditional obedience to it is necessary as well. Aql also tells us, that if the Imam is proved to be the chosen one and the purified one, then unconditional obedience is necessary to it as well. However, this very Aql also tells us, that following someone other than these flawless examples is prone to error.

How can we call some one, the chosen-one by the Imam himself, someone who is like you and me, and is called an Ayatollah once he gets a specific degree? How can we attribute the authority of representing the Imam of time to a person. We speak against Saqifa, where people nominated the Caliph, to represent Islam and continue the legacy of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), and here we are doing it again, nominating people to represent the Imam and continue his legacy while he is not present.

I go to Hawzah, get a degree and become an ayatollah. I give a fatwa that marrying on 10th muharram is farz, or mustahab, will u believe me blindly? Will you call me the Nayb of Imam?

Can we, and should we follow something blindly, which our Aql or logic, our intelligence and sense of choice, declares to be illogical, or absurd. I for one, will not. Do not give a scholar the place of an Imam.

Even if some scholars give a fatwa that matam, zanjeer, or Qama is haraam, please do not follow it blindly. There was a fatwa on Imam Hussain (AS) also, that he was a traitor, and it legalized his blood for the state!

Please use your thinking and challenge whatever you believe. I am not telling people to not follow scholars. Use your resources aka Aql. In the end if you are satisfied that zanjeer etc is haraam, believe so, but those who still do it, let them do it, because it is their hub (love) in an Islamic way to them, until proven haraam, and the words of a man who calls it haraam is not sufficient

Instead of dividing yourselves into man made terms, the Usoolis and Akhbaris, unite under the banner of Shias of Ali (AS), the very Shias about whom Rasool (SAW) and Mawla Ali (AS) have spoken of. Do not let ignorance and wahabi propaganda get you.

Zanjeer and Qama are performed in one day (10th Muharam), or 4 other days as well depending from place to place (9th Muharam, 21 Ramzan, 28 Safar). Those who want to donate blood, have 360 other days in the year, where they can go and donate as much blood as they want to. Why is it that people only remember the donation of blood in these 4 days only?

Is their a shortage of blood somewhere? Or are people trying to make excuses in order to eliminate zanjeer, which has been a sign of the Shia of Hussain (AS) for centuries, just what the wahabis and nasibis want!

You earn. You take your family out to food. After paying all your religious dues, Zakat, Khums, regular charity, do you have a right to spend on your family? Will you give that money in charity also, instead of spending some on your own family? I doubt so.

If you save some of your resources for your family, does not Muhammad (SAW) and his family have a greater right over our resources?

You have 360 days to do good to people, to donate as much blood as u want to, but in days dedicated to Imam Hussain (AS), we should concentrate on the Imam (AS) only.

The mission of Imam Hussain (AS) is multidimensional. Every eye, every thinker, every philosopher, gives a new dimension to the Imam's mission. I will not discuss it here as to what it was, because it will only limit his mission.

The point is the same, again, we have 300 days in the year, in which we can fight against the Yazeed of our time, in which we can help people and fight against social justice. But the 2 months, we have dedicated to the remembrance of Imam Hussain (AS), specially the first 10 days and the days of the Chehlum, we should stick with his remembrance.

In the Majlis I heard this Ashura (I will not name it), the Allama said how the Iran is right and like Moses, and how the USA is wrong and like the pharaoh. He may be saying the right thing. And maybe, some one else's political views might differ to his. But why did the Allama try to impose his personal political views on public, who had gathered under the banner of Ali (AS) and Hussain (AS), not Iran.

The temperatures between USA and the Shia Iran are rising. It is a political tussle. I like Ahmedinajad and his stand, his strategy, but if supposedly i didn't, then it will be my political view. Who gave the speaker the right to share his political views with an illiterate public, who had gathered under the banner of Hussain (AS) in the Majalis of Ashura.

No matter how bad it sounds to fellow shias, or sunnis, or anyone, but the fact remains, that Muharam is the month of remembrance of Imam Hussain (AS). In Majlis e Hussain, the eulogy of Ahlulbayt, and Musayb of Hussain (AS) are worthy of mention.

If you think USA is the yazeed of the time, you are free to do so. Hold a session on another date, or hold a majlis on separate dates, any date in the whole year, dedicated to this issue, and talk to the people who come for this specific purpose. Is it fair to speak about political disputes and your personal views in Majalis where we want to listen about Muhammad (SAW) only?

Why do we always remember the yazeed of the time, when we were suppose to curse the yazeed (the cursed) of Kerbala? Do we forget about everything when Muharam and Safr end? And do we remember all good, all social justices, all blood donations etc, whenever Muharram starts? This is our fault, and we fail to realize the mission of Kerbala then.

Is it wise to burn the flag of America, on the jaloos of 9th Muharam, a jaloos which is held in order to display our anger at Kerbala, our dissociation from Yazeed, and our loyalty to Imam Hussain (AS)? To you it might seem the only day to raise a voice against the yazeed of the time. But the fact remains, you yourself are too lazy, too busy to do that on some other day in the year.

Whether Zanjeer is useless or not, will be discussed later.

How does the Zanjeer help in the mission of the Imam?  If helping others, giving charity, telling people to do good, fighting against social injustices, maintaining law and order, loving and doing justice with the people etc, is the only mission of Islam, then Salaat, Saum and Hajj do not serve any of the above said purposes.

Is it wise to tell people to leave Salaat, Saum and Hajj, which are more oriented towards personal benefit in terms of Sawaab and application, and instead promote helping the poor only? I think not. Just like it is unwise to tell people to pray salaat and perform hajj, even if they neglect the rights of the poor.

No doubt, the Shia of Imam Hussain (AS) is not only he who cries for him, but he, who helps the poor, feeds the hungry, fights the injustices and promotes good.

But seeing Zanjeer as useless, because of it's lack of impact on society, is like seeing Namaz as useless. The purpose of Namaz is to bow down to Allah. It does not aim at feeding the poor, yet the importance of namaz as an act of worship cannot be doubted. Zanjeer and Matam are a sign of mourning for Imam Hussain (AS). They are based on the love we share with the Prophet's grandson. Loving the Ahlulbayt is an act of worship, and Zanjeer and Matam are one way of expressing this love.

However, those who believe that matam and zanjeer are a sign of mourning only are wrong. I remember, when the cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) were published in Scandinavia, the mullahs came onto streets, to protest, and they burned public property. Matam is not only a sign of mourning but a way of our protest. Every hand which hits our chest, is a slap on Yazeed's (the cursed) face, it tells yazeed that the Hussain (AS) which he tried to eliminate is alive in our hearts. It is also a way through which you attract the non Shias who come out of curiosity, which leads to them listening to the nauhas and stories of Kerbala and alerts them as to why we mourn for two months.

I spend a Lakh rupee and go to Saudia, encircle a black brick house, kiss the stone, hit three pillars with stones, and come back (Hajj from an atheists eye). How is hajj productive? How is it helping the Muslim Ummah? A non believer will not understand how Hajj is productive, how Salat is productive and constructive to society. When we throw the stones at the pillars, are we really hitting the devil or am I wasting my time by a ritual, which is to hit three pillars with stones? is this doing any good cause to Islamic community?

But a believer knows, that when he throws stones at the pillars which represents the devil, we shun the devil. From that day on words, we will not let the Satan take over us, the same Satan who we just stoned. Before committing an atrocity, we will think about the Satan we stoned. A sense of purity runs in the blood, a spirit to do good is given birth to. This is the constructiveness of Hajj.

 Zanjeer is not a sign of mourning only. When you do zanjeer, you show Allah, and his Prophet that that if u were present in Kerbala, you would have let your blood flow before the blood of Banu Hashim and prophet's family were shed. You follow the sunnah of Zainab (AS), who hit her head once she saw the body of the imam being mutilated. This way, you follow the orders of Allah, to love Hussain (AS). This way, you are inspired to do good and spread the mission of Hussain (AS). If you are willing to shed your blood for Imam Hussain (AS) and his mission, then you will become loyal to his mission, and help the poor, do the good.

I do not say that Zanjeer is the same as Salaat or Hajj, do not get me wrong. But the essence, the spirit and the inspiration are similar.

As said above, Zanjeer and Matam is not about mourning. Their organization serve alot of other purposes as well, as stated above.

And as far as intentions are concerned, they differ from people to people. Our eyes can go as far as the flesh of a man. What is in his heart, only he knows, or Allah knows.

We all pray Salat, but how many of us pray to be seen? How many of us pray because it is a habit, or your parents force it on you, or you want the Hooris in paradise? How many of us prostrate to Allah because he deserves it? How many people give alms, do Hajj, in order to be seen? We all know many.

We can neither judge a person's intentions and nor are we allowed to do so. The intentions of a person will not determine the morality and permissibility of an action. Actions are based on intentions. You will not be judged for what you did! Because the outcome of daily life is not in our control. We will be asked for, by Allah, that why we did what we intended to do.

Killing on it's own is meaningless. It is the intentions which give meaning to it. If you kill a masoom, you sin, if you kill a murderer, it is rewardable. If you are holding a Majlis so that you get famous, you are doing it for the wrong cause. Your intentions will go with you to your graves. It is not the fault of Majlis, it is your fault.

Every man is accountable for his intentions. Judging an action, ignoring it's actual purpose but relying on the intentions of people, is immaturity. The people should realize what purpose does Zanjeer serve, and they should strive to follow it rather than do it with corrupt intentions.

We are not discussing someone's intentions here, because that is his personal action. We discuss Zanjeer, and it's purpose is much higher.

Shias who do matam and zanjeer, and then continue to do what Yazeed (the cursed) did, alcohol, gambling, murder, adultery etc, that is hypocrisy and negates the concept of Azadari. Understand the concept of Azadari and promote proper implementation of it! Criticizing the whole emotional bond just because you believe the people are not sincere, is peoples fault and should be rectified.

Do not be Salafis, who thought people worshipped graves (their misconception) and instead of stopping people from doing what they thought was wrong (which remains a misconception), they destroyed the graves of ahlulbayt. Do not bee like the children of Saud, and work for the finishing of Azadari because some/most/all Azadars fail to understand its meaning and waste their time and energy and blood. Tell the Azadars what is zanjeer and matam for!

Nothing unites people, nothing separates people. It is the lack of tolerance and knowledge amongst the people which serves as a segregating agent.

Read Fourteen hundred years later to know what sectarian division is.

The Muslims are divided into Shias and Sunnis etc. There is a sect which defends Yazeed (the cursed). Should we, the Shias, push aside our love for the Ahlulbayt and accept Yazeed (the cursed) as a notable Muslim in order to unite with the unfortunate and ignorant sect? Should we accept the Sunni way of divorce, and innovations like Tarawih in the name of unity?

Obviously not. Guidance, and facts, are there for everyone to see. In order to unite, we do not need to accept the practices of the others. In order to unite, we need to accept that the others are Muslims, with a different thought approach.

Shias who oppose Zanjeer base their opinions which this letter contained, and i am trying to answer them. Those Shias who oppose zanjeer because some scholar or Ayatullah bans it, are free not to perform Zanjeer. If you are ashamed of shedding your blood for Imam Hussain (AS), then do not do zanjeer etc, and be a witness to it when you stand in front of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) on the day. If you are proud of shedding your blood for Imam Hussain, then do zanjeer, or promote it and be a witness to it when you stand infront of Rasool (SAW) on the day.

Accept each other and live with it. Let "Ya Hussain (AS)" unite us rather than divide us into the terms made by men like you and me, terms like usoolis and akhbaris! Do not blame zanjeer for this division, but our lack of tolerance, far sightedness and respect for diversity.

No shia has ever claimed that Zanjeer was the practices of the Imams.

Before I answer, I ask you;

  1. Which Imam or Prophet started to use "Hazrat" and "RA" or "AS" before and after the names of honorable people?
  2. Which Imam or Prophet celebrated the "Eid Milad ul Nabi"?
  3. Which Imam or Prophet introduced Quran as a printed book?
  4. Which Imam or Prophet did Muta?
  5. Which Imam or Prophet gave divorce?
  6. Did any of the Imams after Imam Hussain (AS) rise against the "Yazeed of their time"?
  7. Did any Prophet or Imam wear an amulet around his neck with "Naad e Ali" written on it?

We all know the answer. I appeal to all Shias, that beware of wahabis and their propaganda. It is the wahabi approach, that if something did not exist at the time of Prophet (SAW), then it does not have any right to exist at all. Bida or Innovation is something else and discussed already.

The permissibility of an action may not necessarily mean the Imams and Prophet (SAW) should have practiced it. I said in other articles as well, that there were some things which were only for the Prophet (SAW). You cannot practice them until you are told to do so.

For example, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) had the allowance of marrying infinite wives. Can we marry more than four times, believing it to be Sunnat? The Prophet (SAW) used to keep the fast of Wisal (which cannot be opened until the moon is sighted, and sometimes would continue for two or three days). He (SAW) clearly forbade his followers to practice it.

Similarly, there were some things forbidden to Prophet (SAW), which his followers could follow, Charity being a prime example.

The prophet (SAW) clearly told at many places, many hadith, many verses, that love for the Ahlulbayt is a must. The way we display this love depends on us. Zanjeer is not compulsory. Everyone has their own way of showing it! You can arrange a "sabeel" to show the Imam your love.

But zanjeer will be permissible, and encouraged, until proven else wise.

I am just surprised to see the arguments against Zanjeer. I am more surprised to listen to the thoughts of people. At a time of Azadari, when every eye has a tear for Hussain (AS), and every heart is filled with sorrow, hands are coming down onto the chests and backs are shedding blood through blades, a pervert is thinking about how a namehram women could be sexually aroused by the naked upper body of man.

Allah is creator of man and woman, and Allah knows how he created who. It is Allah, who has revealed the dress code for men and women, through his Prophet, Muhammad (SAW), as he is more aware of the desire and lust embedded in man and woman.

That is the reason why women have a stricter dress code, while men have a different code, because the eye of the man and the woman do not see alike.

Say to the believing men that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts; that is purer for them; surely Allah is Aware of what they do.
Quran [24:30]

It is important to note, that to wear a shirt is not a compulsory for man, is not included in the man's dress code and is no sin. The nakedness of a man is from below his navel upto the knee;

On the authority of `Ata' ibn Yisar, on the authority of Abu Ayyub, who said : I heard the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) say, "That which is above the knees is [part] of nakedness, and that which is below the navel is [part] of nakedness."
Bayhaqi, Volume 2, page 229

There is no such a thing as a naked upper body of man in Islam, just like there is no such a thing as a naked eye (or face, depending on your interpretation) of a woman in Islam.

Sports such as Olympic wrestling, karate, weight lifting etc, often require a man without a shirt. A fortnight ago, the sewerage line was blocked and in order to open it, the janitor went into the man hole. Guess what, he took his shirt of so it does not get dirty. This man, who is trying to do the society something good, who is earning his halal money, through the process of taking his shirt off, yet those who love to argue will argue, that what he did was haraam.

Unfortunately, we are so used to follow things blindly, that sometimes, we do not know what we are saying, and sometimes, we do not even bother thinking about what we say.

Healthy adults who are at least 17 years old, and at least 110 pounds may donate about a pint of blood—the most common form of donation—every 56 days, or every two months.

First thing, zanjeer or matam do not affect your health. Scientists encourage people to donate a pint, or 570 milliliters, of blood every 60 days.

Secondly, thousands of more people die in car accidents across the globe in one day, than the few accidental deaths related to Zanjeer over an year. Should we ban the use of cars as they are unsafe? Almost every year, hundreds of people die during Hajj, should we ban Hajj as it is unsafe?

As far as an unhappy life, the story of Yaqub (AS) is infront of us, who mourned for his alive son, so long, and so much, that;

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 [12:84-86]

I will not discuss something which is baseless.

To conclude, we are not Shias for muharram or Safr or Ashura only. Our character, our struggle to be good, help humanity should be there throughout the year. That is the constructiveness of shiaism. You want to bomb America, burn its flag, donate blood, you have 300 days to do it, but days in muharram and safr, which you have dedicated for Hussain (AS) and his house members, continue to dedicate those days to them.

I hope that Shias unite under the flag of Mawla Abbas. They live and let live, and do not let the wahabi propaganda get them and divide them. I also hope that many misconceptions and views against Zanjeer should be clarified by now. We are always here for any more input.

Follow Up on Letter 5: Zanjeer, Azadari and Taqleed


  1. I have seen zanjeer and rituals like that on the TV channel, National Geographic, "Taboo". They showed more African and Indian tribes who can do more painful and hurtful things. Most of them are illiterate. If the purpose of Azadari is to attract crowds, then those people can do it better. I also receive emails with blood-covered pictures of shias. Is this shiaism?
  2. I follow Sistani and he is the grand Ayatollah, he allows Zanjeer. I just want to tell how Azadari is deformed today.
  3. Azadari should be spontaneous, and not organized or planned. That is the true mourning.
  4. Azadars, specially in the sub-continent neglect Namaz and emphasize on mourning, believing that it will give them paradise.
  5. Have you heard the hadeeth, "Scholars of my nation are like prophets of Bani Israel". It wouldn't be justice that Imam of the time would go in occultation without leaving behind reliable resources for the nation to take guidance from. Just like it would be unjust for Prophet to leave nation without his Caliph appointed.
  6. Ayatullahs are more knowledgeable than us!


I was highly disappointed to see your comments on something which a man supposes is his bond with Imam Hussain (AS). Who gave u the authority to comment on some1 else's act of worship?

Yes, I have seen "taboo". if you are more concerned about the west, then go read what they dislike about Islam.

The west;

  1. sees hijab as a cruelty to women
  2. sees homosexuality as human rights
  3. sees polygamy is a crime
  4. sees premarital sex as healthy

To please the west, and make them accept Islam, I believe, we should ban hijab and polygamy, allow premarital sex and homosexuality. This is what you want? To please those who do  not believe, those who do not feel for Mawla Hussain (AS) what his Shias do?

I am sure u also saw the national geographic documentary of hajj, where the Muslims argued as to how many stones be pelted at the "pillars". The narrator said, "the Muslims are confused as to how much should the Satan be punished",  sarcastically. The Muslims went to kiss the stone and the black house. The Hindus ran into the Ganges to cleanse themselves.

A ritual, will be a ritual to the west, who have atheistic mind set. I thought we Muslims, and Shias, understood the purpose of zanjeer etc, but now i see that our education has forced us to cut off from something, which was to show Rasool (SAW), that if we were present at Kerbala, we would have allowed our blood to flow before that of Hussain (AS) and his family.

You don't worry about it. To keep the name of Hussain (AS) alive, if we are ever required to hire those stupid, ignorant African tabooers, we will! You continue to watch national geographic and the taboo programs, and pray they do not show hajj in it or bakra eid etc, because then you will tell us that we should stop those as well because taboo showed it.

(Apologies for the tone used to reply this specific letter)

If we accept that ayatollah Sistani is the biggest marjah today, and he doesn't prohibit zanjeer. After his death, the biggest ayatollah of time prohibits it! Those who did taqleed of sistani shall now to taqleed of someone else! Isn't it highly odd to logic, that two great scholars contradict each other, and we are blindly implementing them on our own lives?

How will i determine who is the most learned will depend on my views, my interpretations.

The 4 Sunni imam gave their fatwas. Sunnis do their taqleed in absence of Rasool (SAW). The Sunni ulemas exploit the fatwas of these 4 imams and tell the people what they said and what should be done according to the fatwas of these 4. Sunnis do not do ijtehad, their four imams did! What Sunnis did with their four Imams, we do with hundreds of Ayatullahs.

I am sad to know that you believe in the permissibility of Zanjeer, only because the opinion of a non-masoom declares it. The moment he changes his opinion, you will blindly too! Is he answerable for your grave?

Yes. Wickedness and flaws are increasing in every nation with the passage of time. The Shia Zakirs and Maulvis are charging money for their services to the Ahlulbayt, which they should not. The Azadars consume drugs, just like everyone else.

It is our duty to boycott such people who "sell the blood" of Imam Hussain (AS). It is the duty of the Azadars, to improve themselves in all fields to such a level, that on the day when they are standing infront of Rasool (SAW) and Imam Hussain (AS), Mawla does not feel ashamed by accepting us as one of his lovers and Azadars. And it is the duty of those who have resources and knowledge, to spread this message to the illiterate and the poor, and to make them understand the true essence of Azadari and Zanjeer.

This point has already been discussed in the last mail, that Zanjeer and Azadari do not serve the purpose of mourning Only. Matam, or "organized" matam, is a sign of anger at Yazeed, a sign of frustration because we couldn't help the imam then!

Allah said, if you remember me in your gatherings, I will remember you in my gathering. Sunni believe everything is from Allah. The amount of Hussain (AS), in every language, every country, city, street, every tribe, nation , gender and religion is a proof of the sincerity and purity of the "greater sacrifice" of Kerbala.

As long as "organized" Azadari remains, it will testify that Hussain (AS) did not go for a political war. As long as men shed their blood with emotions, irrespective of their intentions, the same men who do not care if Musharaf leads Pakistan or someone else, who do not care if USA wins the war against terror or not, their blood for the path of Hussain (AS) testifies that Kerbala was not a political war.

The miracle of Azadari is, that with the passage of time, it will continue to show more and more philosophies about it, and interpretations regarding it.

People have a view, thank to ignorant mullahs, and illiterate zakirs, that crying is sufficient for them to take them to paradise which is why they overlook things.

What is unfortunate is, that some Shias cry only because they believe it will take them to paradise, not because Kerbala desires tears, or because Kerbala happened to someone who we love or claim to love more than our parents.

This thing requires a change. We need to change the mindset of the people through knowledge and awareness and we should boycott people who preach as such.

But I must tell u, there are many many many Shias who are regular Namazis. However, i will also like to tell you, that the army of Yazeed (the cursed) comprised of men who had performed hajj and were regular namazis. Hur became Hazrat Hur not because he performed Salaat regularly, but because he came to Imam Hussain (AS).

Do not think that i am against namaz or believe it is insignificant, but I do accept I am not a regular namazi and i will be answerable for everything. I just wanted to tell you, do not judge people through their Azadari, or namaz, or fasts etc! It is a matter between man and Allah.

I have also heard the hadith that prophets do not leave behind anything, what they leave is charity (Fadak)!

Saudia is doing tehreef in all of the major books today. What we know today might not be historically lost tomorrow.  My point is that a hadith attributed to Rasool (SAW) or Imam (AS) is not sufficient if it doesn't satisfy your logical thirst, due to the possibility and ease with which tehreef can be done.

I do not see scholars as the prophets of bani Israel. There is a vast difference between the two, obedience to one is not compulsory, while to the other, the prophets, is!

As far as guidance is concerned, no one has the authority or the duty to guide people. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was not sent to guide the people. Imams did not guide the people.

And We will either let you see part of what We threaten them with or cause you to die, for only the delivery of the message is (incumbent) on you, while calling (them) to account is Our (business).
Quran [13:40]

So if they submit then indeed they follow the right way; and if they turn back, then upon you is only the delivery of the message and Allah sees the servants.
Quran [3:20]

And they who reject Our communications are deaf and dumb, in utter darkness; whom Allah pleases He causes to err and whom He pleases He puts on the right way.
Quran [6:39]

... this is Allah's guidance, He guides with it whom He pleases; and (as for) him whom Allah makes err, there is no guide for him.
Quran [39:23]

It is Allah who had always guided people. Those who have been guided, will be directed to the path of those on whom Allah bestowed his pleasure, Muhammad (SAW) and his progeny.

If we really want guidance, we should make sure our intentions are such that we truly want to be guided. Then wait and watch the miracle Allah does, for the sake of Muhammad (SAW) and Ali (AS). We do not require a scholar to guide us. If scholars were the ones who guided people, they would have done that centuries ago.

If i do not know how to do Ghusl or wudu, i will talk to some scholar who knows how to. It is a fiqhi or jurisprudence issue. But if a scholar tells me that Ali is not the Wali of Allah, I will ask him how?

why cannot I consult more than one scholars at a time, which I think taqleed does not allow? Why do scholars contradict each other? Because it is their opinion.

The Sunnis do taqleed of 4 imams, hanifa, malik, shafi and hanbal. They contradict each other yet following anyone of them is being on the right path. How is it possible? Sunnis do not follow Islam, but interpretations of four men, and they do their taqleed. We Shias are doing the same, just the difference, that instead of 4, we have many more.

I respect your views, but hadith and traditions are not enough for me to believe that scholars and ayatollahs are the vice of the imam. Only imam chooses his vice and that is what looks logical to me.

If traditions are to be accepted without logically challenging it, blindly following it, then I shall become a Sunni, many Sunni traditions claim that Ali (AS) was a sex addict (god forbid) and Umer would be the next prophet (God forbid again).

Yes. An ayatullah is a person with a specific degree. It is a course. The fatwas he gives is based on the knowledge he has. His knowledge maybe greater than mine, but he will still not be answerable for my actions.

What ever an ayatullah says, will be his personal opinion based on his knowledge and thought process. You are free to kill your thought process and rely on someone else's fatwa. I will not speak against, and work for prohibiting zanjeer or matam until any ayatollah who claims it, proves his claim.

An ayatollah being more knowledgeable than me, more elder than me, more well versed in ahadith, is not a proof of his righteousness or being right. The pope of Christians is 80ish, and is well versed in "his" books. Israr Ahmed is 60ish and knows more Quran than I do. Are they right, and our younger shia generation wrong, only because they are more old and speak more Quran and Bible and hadith and have more knowledge? Is that a proof that Shias who are not older or know more than them, on the wrong path? i hope not!

Second Follow Up on Letter 5: Zanjeer, Azadari and Taqleed


  1. Sunnis have four Imams, their mufti's interpret among them. They consider all four correct even if contradictions exist amongst them. The Shias have 12 Imams, and the marajas and mujtahids interpret them, and all 12 Imams are correct, they do not contradict, and these 12 Imams narrate from the Prophet (SAW).
  2. Taqleed is undeniable, specially in Ibadaat and Mamlaat as you have accepted above. Taqleed is not done in Aqaids (beliefs).
  3. Zanjeer if is a message to Rasool (SAW) and Imam Hussain (AS), then shias do not need to show it off in public, but do it alone in a room, with the right intentions.
  4. I feel that Rasool (SAW) would appreciate actions that actually improve our faith and makes us better Muslims. I do not see how mourning, matam or zanjeer serves this purpose. There are other ways to show my love for Ahlulbayt.


Correction. Sunnis do not do Ijtehad any more. Their 4 Imams, were basically, their "Ayatullahs". The muftis interpret these Ayatullahs.

In early Islam ijtihad was a commonly used legal practice, and was well integrated with falsafa. It slowly fell out of practice for several reasons, most notably the efforts of Asharite theologians from the 12th century, who saw it as leading to errors of over-confidence in judgement since the time of al-Ghazali. He was the most notable of the Ashatites and his work, The Incoherence of the Philosophers, was the most celebrated statement of this view. It is debated whether Al-Ghazali was observing or creating the so-called "closure of the door of ijtihad". Some say this had occurred by the beginning of the 10th century CE, a couple of centuries after the finalizing of the major collections of hadith. In the words of Joseph Schacht: "hence a consensus gradually established itself to the effect that from that time onwards no one could be deemed to have the necessary qualifications for independent reasoning in religious law, and that all future activity would have to be confined to the explanation, application, and, at the most, interpretation of the doctrine as it had been laid down once and for all." This theory has been put in question recently by Wael Hallaq, who writes that there was also always a minority that claimed that the closing of the door is wrong, and a properly qualified scholar must have the right to perform ijtihad, at all times, not only up until the four schools of law were defined

The Sunnis do taqleed of 4 imams, hanifa, malik, shafi and hanbal. They contradict each other yet following anyone of them is being on the right path. As said earlier, we Shias are doing the same, just the difference, that instead of 4, we have many more.

I ask you. Ayatullahs are normal men, who can sin. If an ayatollah converts from shiaism, to hinduism at some point of his life (assumption), people following him will do what? Leave Islam?

I said earlier. My argument is not against Ayatollahs. They are scholars and should be asked about the not-knowns. I am against calling them the Vice of the Imam, for only the Imam can chose his representative, and i am against following them blindly.

To me, Zanjeer is not only a ritual, but also a belief. How can I nullify my belief just because some scholar said it is not permissible? You said ayatollah sistani hasn't abrogated zanjeer yet. That means the moment he does, thousands of people doing his taqleed, who did zanjeer before, will stop doing zanjeer automatically?

Those who consider Zanjeer as haram or forbidden because of a fatwa, should never say it is forbidden. They should always say, "I believe, in my views, that Zanjeer is useless, ignorant, Taboo, and is not allowed by Islam, because the scholar i blindly follow said so".

Because in the end, all we are left with, are interpretations and not the actual facts.

One of the dimensions of Zanjeer, is infact what you stated in your question. Doing it in a closed room will not serve it's wider purpose.

Salat is an act of worship. You pray Salat and bow before Allah. Allah is aware of your intentions and your bow is only for Allah. Why then is it encouraged to be performed in congregation, the five daily prayers? Are people showing off their worship to other worshippers?

The purpose of Salat is to bow before Allah but it is not it's only purpose. It also serves the purpose of bringing people together, socializing people, bringing the rich and the poor in one place, promoting equality. The congregation gives a sense to the non namazis to join the congregation and maybe inspires them. Congregational worship brings people of the same mind set together.

Zanjeer in public serves (in addition to those stated above for Salat) the purpose of inspiring people to love Hussain (AS), and remember the sand of Kerbala. Mothers who cannot bear to see their sons cut themselves with blades are reminded of the mothers of Kerbala, where they saw their sons, 6 month old and 18 year old, slaughtered in front of them. These mothers remember the courage and faith of those mothers and try to learn the lesson of patience and trust in Allah.

Obviously, mentioning something obvious, you never know if some one is already doing what you said in the question, because his zanjeer will be behind closed doors and he will disclose it only to Allah and his Rasool (SAW). The question you raised might already be into practice, but if it is in practice, then the person other than him who does it, can never know about it.

People can always show their love in anyway they want to. On mother's day, i can show her  my love by giving her chocolates, my sister can show it by hugging her, my father can show her his love by cooking him a nice breakfast. There is no hard and fast rule which will determine which is the only action which will prove our love to her. In the end, everything comes to intentions.

There are Shias who cry, there are Shias who do matam, and there are Shias who do Zanjeer. Everyone does not do Zanjeer. Just to conclude, you can still be a shia, u can still claim and prove the claim to love and follow the ahlulbayt (AS) without matam and zanjeer.

But if some one opts for them, then let them have their way.

The analogy is simple; You want to go to Clifton (area), and there are two roads which lead to it, then you can choose any road, because it is the end result which matters, that is you will reach Clifton. The statistical quantity of traffic, your knowledge of the routes, and the type of your transportation will matter and determine how fast and accurate you reach Clifton.

In the analogy above;

  1. Clifton, or the destination, equals loving the Ahlulbayt
  2. 2 Roads leading to it, or the methods, equals any action of yours which you think satisfies your love in their eye, with or without zanjeer
  3. Quantity of traffic per path, which varies, equals the creed, your aqeeda
  4. Knowledge of routes, is your level of guidance
  5. Type of transportation, is your intention

I can reach the destination by any route faster if i have the fastest means of transportations.

How is mourning helpful? I will let a User's email answer you;

"It is only when your own blood sings at the names of Muhammad, Ali and Husayn and drives you towards God, even as your body is tempted to stroll in another direction - it is only then that you realise that truly, this love of Wilayat is a thing beyond your comprehension.

I have always heard that if the whole world were to sit and mourn for Karbala and Husayn, they would never weep for him as he deserves to be wept for. I am now beginning to understand the unarguable truth of this statement. And with it comes the grief that we don't seem to be mourning more in our efforts, but rather less because of our distractions.

Somebody asked me why do you put so much emphasis on the 'crying bit'? And I was dumbfounded. Why indeed? Why not just learn the lessons from Kerbala and use them in our lives?  I have no great scholarly answer for this question. I can only say what I think and believe. We all try to implement the lessons of Kerbala in our lives all the year through. Yet, why did our Aimmah (a) put aside these two months as specific times to show our grief openly? What is the reason behind so many ahadith speaking of tears running down people faces, of how to wail as the houri's do in heaven? Personally, I cannot separate the mourning for Kerbala from its lessons.

The grief increases love, the love nurtures a sense of affiliation to the cause of Imam Husayn (a), the affiliation feeds a sense of duty and obligation, and the sense of duty leads to action. It is the most poetically logical sequence in my mind.

It may not be in yours. It doesn't really matter. Because at the end of the day, these are simply a chronicle of MY experience of Muharram. And I know I will be proud to pass it on to my children, and stand by it in front of my Imam (a).

One of the best interpretations i came across about Azadari. And with the passage of time, as more devoted and understanding people rise (not knowledgeable and highly educated), i am sure, Azadari will continue to throw forward light on new feelings and new philosophies, new interpretations. This is the magic of Azadari.

Everyone has a right to believe what they do and choose, irrespective of what many scholars say. But i was saddened to see the amount of "wahabism" in the youth of Shias today.

I wanted to remind everyone, that Ali (AS) is our recognition, Hussain (AS) is our inspiration. Instead of promoting Azadari, Majlis, zanjeer etc, we have started to shun them, just because the intentions of the people do not seem right. It were the nasibis and salaifs who wanted to eliminate them from Shiaism, and now, Shias themselves have started to support their misssion.

I repeat, let the difference be and live with it rather than let wahabis exploit it and divide Shias. Let Ali (AS) and Hussain (AS), their love and actions affiliated with their love unite us. You can love Hussain (AS) by donating your blood. Someone else an do that by doing zanjeer. Do not argue who did it better, and whose method was useless and less constructive, because it is the intentions which count. Do taqleed of who ever you want to, but respect the opinions of everyone.

The mission should be to literate the Shias, tell them the true spirit of Azadari. tell them that they don't cry because it will give them paradise, but because Kerbala is worth a cry even to nonMuslims, and because imam Hussain (AS) and his mission is dearer to us than our fathers and businesses, we should apply his mission to our lives, throughout the year.

The people of Kerbala, bibi Zainab (AS) and imam Ssajjad (AS), were allowed to do tableegh, they gave sermons in the shops and the courts, just like the majalis we give are tableegh oriented. But the ahlulbayt were not allowed to do one thing, which was to mourn for their relatives.
Qalb e Sadiq, Speech in Muharram, Karachi

Enemies of Islam and Shiaism still continue to press for the ban of Azadari. Sunnis, wahabis do not have as much problem with the Majalis, as much as they have with crying and Matam and Zanjeer. Continue with azadari and true mourning, and let it be a curse on yazeed, and his followers automatically.

In the end, if u do not feel like crying, you are not forced to cry, do not cry. But do not judge people who do!

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