Source: Understanding Karbala
(A) The Prophetic Sunnah is practical
Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal has mentioned a detailed narration in his Musnad. It is quoted from Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali bin Abi Talib (a.s) as follows:
(Sunni Tradition): His Eminence,‘Ali (a.s) said: One day I came to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) and saw tears in his eyes. I asked, “Has someone angered you?” Why are there tears in your eyes?” The Holy Prophet (s.a.w) said, “A little while ago Jibraeel told me that Husayn shall be slain at the banks of Euphrates. Jibraeel asked me if I would like to get the soil of that place so that I can smell it. I said, ‘Yes.’ Thus Jibraeel extended his hands and then gave me a handful of soil, due to which tears flow from my eyes.”
The Ahl al-Sunnah Imam, Shafei has also mentioned this narration. Two points are noteworthy in this tradition:
Firstly: The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) wept on the incident of martyrdom even before its actual occurrence and he often used to weep upon it as seen in many traditions recorded in the Shia and Sunni sources. This shows that if the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) had been alive after the martyrdom how much more he would have been aggrieved? And from this you can understand the rewardibility of mourning for Husayn (a.s).
Secondly: The love and affection the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) had for Imam Husayn (a.s) is known to all clearly. And Husayn (a.s) was present before the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) at that time. Inspite of this, he did not weep merely upon hearing the news of martyrdom. Rather, Jibraeel gave him the soil of Karbala’. At that time his condition became such that “tears flow from my eyes…” Thus when a sign was needed for the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) to take him to the point of weeping, it is all the more needed for us to have such signs before us because indeed we are not having the same affection for Imam Husayn (a.s) as the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) had and we are also removed much further away in time.
Before the martyrdom there were only two things that could lead to create the imagination of martyrdom. The personality of Husayn (a.s) himself and the land of Karbala’ and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) gathered them at one place and allowing his imagination a free rein, he wept upon it. Therefore we also follow the verse:
…in the Apostle of Allah is an excellent exemplar…18
We also keep all the things and signs connected with the tragedy of Karbala’ before us and we visualize those events. And this action of ours is exactly in accordance with the divine command:
…Whatever the Apostle gives you, accept it…19
As I have already stated, the above narration clearly proves the legality of various replicas (Ta’ziyah, Taboot, Alam, Cradle, Mashk, Tauq, Zanjeer, Kafan,20 Zuljana21). It is so because all those things give impetus to the emotion of grief and they help in imagining the events of Karbala’ like the soil of Karbala’ did for the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w).
(B) The Practice of the Prophet is Verbal
Not only the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) only acted upon it he also emphasize upon the community to act thus. Rather our traditions inform us that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) also exhorted the people to observe the Azadari of Husayn (a.s).
(Shia Tradition): When the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) informed Lady Fatima (s.a.) about the impending martyrdom of Husayn (a.s) and told her what calamities were to befall them, she wept severely and asked, “Dear father! When shall this come to pass?” The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) replied, “At a time when neither I, nor you or ‘Ali shall be there.” So Fatima (s.a.) wept more and asked, “Dear father! Then who shall mourn for my son and who would establish his mourning?” The Holy Prophet (s.a.w) told her, “O Fatima! The ladies of the community shall weep upon the ladies of my Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) and their men shall weep on the men of my Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) and generation after generation, every year they shall keep the grief and mourning fresh. Thus when the Day of Judgment arrives, you Fatima, shall intercede for the ladies and I shall intercede for the men. And for those who weep in the grief of Husayn (a.s), we shall hold their hands and make them enter Paradise… and so on.22
(C) It is the Sunnah of the Imams
The Holy Imams (a.s) have urged the people to establish the Azadari of Husayn (a.s) and themselves also put it into practice.
(Shia Tradition): Imam Ja’far Sadiq (a.s) said: O Abu Harun! Recite an elegy (Marsiya) of Husayn for me. Abu Harun says that he, obeying the Imam’s command recited the Marsiya…23
Hence, we also come to know that the Holy Imam (a.s) himself requested for the recitation of Marsiya and himself listened to it. This is the practice of the Imam and his verbal instruction also. After presenting this brief justification, I present a tradition each for each of the items associated with Azadari.
Weeping for the Dead
(A) The Prophetic Practice is Practical
Leave alone the narrations in which the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) is reported to have wept on the demise of his son, Ibrahim, or the serious condition of the son of Zainab, or at the time of the burial of Umme Kulthum or at the illness of Saad bin Ubadah, and the Ahl al-Sunnah book of Mishkatul Masabih is full of such traditions.24 The weeping of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) on the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s) has already been mentioned in the tradition of Musnad Ahmad Hanbal. In addition to all this, please pay attention to the following tradition of Mishkatul Masabih:
(Sunni Tradition): The aunt of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) (wife of His Eminence, Abbas Ibn Abdul Muttalib), Ummul Fadl narrates (leaving the beginning events): Thus one day I came to the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) and placed Husayn in his lap. Then I glanced elsewhere, and when again I glanced at the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) I saw that a flood of tears was flowing from his blessed eyes. When I asked him about it he said that Jibraeel had arrived to him and informed him that: “My people shall slay this son of mine.” Ummul Fadl asked, “This son?” “Yes,” he replied, “then he brought to me the red soil of that place.”25
Further discussion on this report is uncalled for, because it is self-explanatory.
(B) The Prophetic Practice is Verbal
In addition to this the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) has himself explained that weeping on the dead is actual mercy and sign of the sorrow of the heart. (Sunni Tradition): In connection with the events of the death of Ibrahim the Prophet’s son, Anas is reported to have said that they entered the house with the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w)…and Ibrahim was on the verge of death. Thus tears were flowing from the eyes of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w). Abdur Rahman bin Auf said, “O Messenger of Allah (s.a.w)! You also weep?” The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) replied, “O Ibn Auf! This is actual mercy, after which weeping also occurs.” Then he said, “The eye weeps and the heart is aggrieved but we do not utter anything against Divine will and O Ibrahim, we are indeed aggrieved of your separation.”26
(C) It is the Practice of the Holy Imams
Let us see how, before the martyrdom, His Eminence, Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) wept for Imam Husayn (a.s).
(Biharul Anwar, Vol. 10, Chapter of What the Holy Prophet (s.a.w), Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) and Imam Hasan (a.s) informed about the martyrdom)
(Shia Tradition): Ibn Abbas is reported to have said that he was with Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) when he was departing for the Battle of Siffeen. “When we reached Nainawa and descended to the banks of the Euphrates, the Imam asked aloud: ‘O Ibn Abbas, do you recognize this place?’ ‘No, O, Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s),’ I replied. So he told me that, ‘If you had been familiar with it like me you would not have passed through here without weeping as I weep.’ Ibn Abbas says, ‘After saying thus Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) wept for a long time and his beard became wet with tears and tears began to fall upon his chest and we also wept with him. And the following words were on the tongue of Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s):
Aah! Aah! What is the connection between me and the progeny of Abu Sufyan? What is the connection between me and the progeny of Harb? The group of Satan! The friends of the infidels! O Husayn! Be patient as it befits to be; as your father has received the same difficulties from these people as you shall receive…until the end.
The report of the weeping of Lady Fatima (s.a.) has already been mentioned above. We can mention the accounts of other Imams also here, but I refrain from it for the sake of brevity.