What is wrong in doing Maatam?

Mu' meneen Brothers and Sisters,

As Salaam Aleikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.  (May Allah's Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon all of you)

 

 

One of our brothers/sisters has asked this question:

I have read the your answer to the question on significance of mataam where you have made a very strong statement in that "mataam and crying in a high pitch voice is absolutely prohibited in Islam".

 

I am not as learned as you are in Islamic matters.

 

I have no access to the hadiths of Rasulallah (SAWS). I make the following comments merely from the hadiths quoted by you. However, from my reading of the hadiths (please correct me if I am wrong), Rasulallah (SAWS) says "Allah does not punish a person for feeling pain in the heart". If one were to take the true meaning of mataam - an individual`s sign of grief - then what is wrong with doing mataam as it is merely an action to show "pain in the heart". Many a times, even when I have read a book on the event, I have been overcome with grief and have wept and have done mataam. This mataam was done in the confines of my own home and as a sign of my personal grief at what my Imam went through. What is wrong with that? My reading of the other hadiths (once again please correct me if I`m wrong) is that Rasulallah (SAWS) was referring to the "professional mourner". Yes, that is not allowed in Islam, but are you not taking things to the other extreme by terming mataam prohibited. Or do you consider the bhaisaheb or whoever is giving the waaz to be a `professional mourner`?

 

Also to me is seems as if rasulallah`s (SAWS) hadiths were directed towards the women wailing loudly. And what do you make of the hadith that of the 4 practises which rasulallah (SAWS) said would continue to be practised by the ummah, one was `wailing over the dead`. This hadith does not say that these practises should be stopped. Where (if at all) has Allah forbidden in the Holy Quran to recount a tragedy and to  show grief over it?

 

When did Rasulallah (SAWS) say that one should not do mataam? Every Muharram when I have listened to the heart-rending tales of Imam Husein`s (AS) sacrifice, I am invigorated. My faith in Allah is for all intents and purposes rejuvenated as I praise Him for letting truth win over evil.

 

I admire the courage and dedication of Imam Husein to the cause of Islam. I think of the pain Bibi Zainab and Umme-Kultum and Rabab must have endured and how they too were steadfast in their faith in Allah. At no time, do I say "Husein - I weep for you and I do mataam for you so that in return expect jannat". I may be one of the few Bohras who does not believe in the fiction that for each tear I shed in the name of Husein, Allah will give me jannat.

 

Yes, it is misused and abused, especially of late by the bohra leadership. But what is mataam to an individual like me? I admire your website and I must admit that in the last couple of days since I discovered your site, I have "seen the light" on many issues.

 

 But on some of your issues, it seems as if you are convinced that anything and everything to do with Bohraism is wrong and must be condemned! 

 

(There may be some grammatical and spelling errors in the above statement. The forum does not change anything from questions, comments and statements received from our readers for circulation in confidentiality.)

 

Answer:

 

What is wrong in doing Maatam?

In the name of Allah, We praise Him, seek His help and ask for His forgiveness. Whoever Allah guides none can misguide, and whoever He allows to fall astray, none can guide them aright. We bear witness that there is no one (no idol,  no person,  no grave, no prophet,  no imam,  no dai,  nobody!) worthy of worship but Allah Alone, and we bear witness that Muhammad (saws) is His slave-servant and the seal of His Messengers.

 

The act of matam, where one beats oneself physically, is absolutely prohibited by the Messenger of Allah (saws) in Islam.   

 

The Messenger of Allah (saws) said in an authentic narration “He is not a believer, who beats his face, or tears his clothes, or wails,  when afflicted by a misfortune.”

 

Your Question:  However, from my reading of the hadiths (please correct me if I am wrong), Rasulallah (SAWS) says "Allah does not punish a person for feeling pain in the heart". If one were to take the true meaning of mataam - an individual`s sign of grief - then what is wrong with doing mataam as it is merely an action to show "pain in the heart".

You have not quoted the full narration of the Messenger of Allah (saws).   It says and I quote:

 

It is reported in an authentic narration that the Prophet (saws) said: "Allah does not punish a person for shedding tears or feeling pain in his heart.  But He does punish, though He may show mercy, because of what he utters with this," and then he (saws) pointed to his tongue.

 

When a misfortune or calamity happens on a human being, it is only natural, and a sign of mercy from the All Merciful Lord, that one’s heart is in pain and one’s eyes shed tears!   That is beyond the control of the human being when afflicted with a calamity like the death of a loved one, etc.  But the Messenger of Allah (saws) specifically warned the believers that one must be careful to say only what is pleasing to Allah Subhanah, and not utter words or wail over the dead, which are absolutely displeasing and hated in the sight of Allah.

 

The Prophet (saws), wept on the death of his son, Ibrahim, and said: "The eyes shed tears and the heart feels pain, but we utter only what pleases our Lord.   O Ibrahim! We are aggrieved at your demise."   He (saws) also wept when his grand daughter, Umaymah, daughter of Zainab, died.   At this Sa'ad ibn 'Ubadah said: "O Messenger of Allah! Are you weeping?" The Prophet, peace be upon him, replied: "This (weeping) is the mercy that Allah has placed in the hearts of His servants.  And surely Allah bestows mercy upon those who are merciful among His servants."

 

Many a close family member and loved one of the Prophet (saws) died during his lifetime. His beloved uncle, Hadrat Hamza ibn Abdul Muttalib (r.a.) was brutally murdered and mutilated in the Battle of Ohud; but never did the Messenger of Allah (saws) wail or beat himself in grief; nor did he allow any of the believers to do matam on the martyrs or anyone or anything else.

 

The act of matam was extremely prevalent in the days of ignorance, but when Prophet Mohamed (saws) was appointed the Prophet of Allah, he absolutely forbade this act of the days of jaahiliyya.

 

Your Question:  Many a times, even when I have read a book on the event, I have been overcome with grief and have wept and have done mataam. This mataam was done in the confines of my own home and as a sign of my personal grief at what my Imam went through. What is wrong with that?

Your paining of the heart, and being overcome with grief to a point that you weep, are indeed signs of your esteem and love and respect for the noble Imam Hussain and his family; which is the state of any believer who reads or hears the heart-wrenching events and incidents that took place in the fields of Kerbala.   The noble and beloved grandson of the Prophet (saws), and the righteous son of righteous parents like Ameer ul Mumineen Imam Ali (r.a.) and Hadrat Fatima binte Rasool Allah (r.a.), and the leader of the youth in Paradise… Shaheed-e-Karbala,  Hadrat Imam Hussain ibn Ali (r.a.) was indeed brutally murdered at the hands of the aggressors; and this incident is without a doubt one of the darkest pages in the annuls of Muslim History.    But, whatever may happen, and whatever misfortune or grief may befall man in this worldly life,  it does not behove a believer, who sincerely believes in Allah and the Last Day, to disobey the commands of the Messenger of Allah (saws).  No matter how much grief one is befallen with, a believer must always stay within the boundaries set by Allah and His Messenger (saws)!  

 

It does not matter if one does matam in public or in private; this act of matam is strictly prohibited by the Messenger of Allah (saws) and he (saws) himself declared that one who beats himself or wails, cannot be a believer!  

 

Your Question:  My reading of the other hadiths (once again please correct me if I`m wrong) is that Rasulallah (SAWS) was referring to the "professional mourner".  Yes, that is not allowed in Islam, but are you not taking things to the other extreme by terming mataam prohibited. Or do you consider the bhaisaheb or whoever is giving the waaz to be a `professional mourner`?

It is not I who has termed the act of matam prohibited in Islam, nor do I have the authority to do so!   It is the Messenger of Allah (saws) who has prohibited the act of matam, or beating oneself, or wailing over a misfortune.   

 

A professional is someone who gets paid for doing something; and there is absolutely no doubt that every bhaisaheb or aamil or the ones who sing the marseeyas negotiate the price for their services before they give their sermons or sing their marseeyas!    And this is a well known fact.

 

Your Statement:  Also to me is seems as if rasulallah`s (SAWS) hadiths were directed towards the women wailing loudly.

Indeed, one of the hadiths does refer to the women waling in a loud voice!

 

Abu Malik al Ash'ari reported that the Prophet (saws) said: "A (professional) mourner, unless she repents before her death, will be raised on the Day of Judgement wearing a garment of tar and an armour of blistering puss." This is narrated by Ahmad and Muslim.

 

Your Question:  And what do you make of the hadith that of the 4 practices which rasulallah (SAWS) said would continue to be practiced by the ummah, one was `wailing over the dead`. This hadith does not say that these practices should be stopped. Where (if at all) has Allah forbidden in the Holy Quran to recount a tragedy and to show grief over it? When did Rasulallah (SAWS) say that one should not do mataam?

Muslim has reported in an authentic narration that the Prophet (saws) said,: "Four practices of the ‘jaahiliyaa’ (pre-Islamic days of ignorance) will continue to be practiced by my ummah:

taking pride in one's parentage.

giving a person a father other than his own genealogical father.

believing that rain is caused by some stars.

wailing over the dead.”

 

You are right in saying that the above hadith does not specifically say that the above four acts of the days of ignorance are forbidden!   But, if one reads the Quran and the hadiths with understanding and in context, he/she would realize what is permissible and what is not.   The above four practices, by virtue of its being called the practices of the days of ignorance, means that these are hated practices and thus one should refrain from such acts.   From the words of the above narration it is evident that it is not as if the Messenger of Allah (saws) was pleased to announce that these four practices will continue to be practiced by the muslims; but rather he was displeased with it.  In the context of the Quran and Sunnah, whenever Allah and His Messenger (saws) state that so and so act is an act of jaahiliyya, it automatically means that there is no place in Islam for it!

 

Narrated Hadrat Jabir ibn Abdulla (r.a.) that the Messenger of Allah (saws) said:  “Behold! Everything pertaining to the Days of Ignorance is under my feet, and completely abolished.   Abolished are also the blood-revenges of the Days of Ignorance. The first claim of ours on blood-revenge which I abolish is that of the son of Rabi 'a ibn al-Harith, who was nursed among the tribe of Sa'd and killed by Hudhail.   And the usury of the pre-Islamic period is abolished, and the first of our usury I abolish is that of 'Abbas ibn 'Abd al-Muttalib, for it is all abolished.”

 

Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith Hadith 2.382         Narrated by Abdullah

The Prophet (saws) said, "He who slaps his cheeks, tears his clothes and follows the ways and traditions of the Days of Ignorance is not one of us."

 

Your Question: Every Muharram when I have listened to the heart-rending tales of Imam Husein`s (AS) sacrifice, I am invigorated. My faith in Allah is for all intents and purposes rejuvenated as I praise Him for letting truth win over evil. I admire the courage and dedication of Imam Husein to the cause of Islam. I think of the pain Bibi Zainab and Umme-Kultum and Rabab must have endured and how they too were steadfast in their faith in Allah.

Indeed, the pain and grief you experience everytime you hear the heart-rending incidents of Kerbala, is a sign of your deep love and respect for the noble family members of the Prophet (saws); and this should be the state of every believer, who sincerely loves Allah and His Messenger (saws).

 

But why should one dedicate a day, or 10 days, or a month to remember these incidents?   These painful events of Kerbala are something which a believer can read at all times of the year… and whenever a true believer hears or reads about the atrocities that were done on the noble grandson of the Prophet (saws) and his family… it indeed pains the heart and one feels grief…. But, at all times, we must follow the commands of Allah and His Messenger (saws), and say and do only what is pleasing to our Lord.  

 

It is against the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (saws), to appoint a day or days, every year, especially to remember some people or a particular family of martyrs or do any form of worship which was not done by the Messenger of Allah (saws), or to gather people and recollect those events, or to feed or give drinks to people in the name of these martyrs, or to sing marseeyas in their praise, or to collectively wail for them, or to beat oneself invoking their name, etc.  These acts are absolutely against the Sunnah or Way of the Messenger of Allah (saws); for he (saws) never did these acts, and nor did he command or encourage the believers to do so.

 

Your Question: I may be one of the few Bohras who does not believe in the fiction that for each tear I shed in the name of Husein, Allah will give me jannat. Yes, it is misused and abused, especially of late by the bohra leadership. But what is mataam to an individual like me?

All Praise is due to Allah Subhanah, Who has guided you to do and believe the right thing; for it is indeed a false belief to believe that every tear that is shed in the name of Imam Hussain (r.a.), Allah will bestow Paradise upon those people!  There is absolutely no evidence for this belief in the Quran and Sunnah of the Messenger (saws).

 

The truth is that you have recognized that the above belief is a false belief; but are somehow not willing to accept the last inch of it, and believe that wailing and matam are acts of the days of ignorance as stated by the Messenger of Allah (saws).  

 

Allah says in the Holy Quran Chapter 33 Surah Ahzaab verse 36:It does not behove a believing man and a believing woman that when Allah and His Messenger have given their decision in a matter, they should exercise an option in that matter of theirs.  For whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, has indeed strayed into manifest error.

 

Alhamdo lillah!   Allah has guided you to the Truth so far… and we pray that Allah Subhanah have mercy on you and us, and guide us all to the Straight Path of Islam.

 

Your Statement:  I admire your website and I must admit that in the last couple of days since I discovered your site, I have "seen the light" on many issues.

All Praise is due to Allah Subhanah, Who has guided you and us to the Straight Path.   You are obviously giving us more credit than any of us deserve, for it is only the Mercy and Grace of Allah Alone, that He guides to the Straight Path whomever He Wills.    If we are able to bring even one brother or sister closer to the words of Allah and Islam with our humble efforts, we will consider ourselves very fortunate.  Allah is our witness, we ask for no thanks and no appreciation for our humble works.  We pray that Allah Subhanah accept our humble efforts, forgive us our short-comings, have mercy upon us, and save you and us all from the torment of the Hell Fire.  Ameen.

 

Your Statement: But on some of your issues, it seems as if you are convinced that anything and everything to do with Bohraism is wrong and must be condemned! 

Allah is our witness, nothing could be further than the truth!   There are many things that our Bohra brethren do that is worthy of appreciation, and in our humble opinion our brethren probably work harder in their deen than any other people in the world.    There are just two things, if our brethren could incorporate in their deen, they would be amongst the most successful people in the Hereafter:

Read the Message of the Glorious Quran with understanding, and,

Leave aside all the acts of shirk.

 

If they can bring themselves to do the above two things, Allah Subhanah will, if He Wills, have Mercy upon them and guide them to the Straight Path of Islam, and Insha Allah, admit them into the Gardens of Bliss which He has prepared for the pious.

 

It is only by understanding the Message of the Quran, can one understand the exact nature of the heinous and unforgivable sin of ‘shirk’!  Even if one does everything right all his life, but dies while in a state of ‘shirk’; Allah has Himself declared in the Glorious Quran that all his deeds will be worthless on that Inevitable Day, and he will thrown into the everlasting torment of the Hell Fire for ever!   That would indeed be a manifest loss!!!

 

Allah says in the Holy Quran Chapter 39 Surah Zumar verse 65-66:If you commit ‘shirk’ all your works will be rendered vain and you will be among the losers.  Therefore, you should worship Allah Alone, and be among His grateful servants.

 

Allah says in the Quran: Chapter 4 Surah An-Nisa Verse 48:Shirk (associating other deities with Allah) is the only sin that Allah does not forgive, and He forgives, whomsoever He pleases, sins other than this.  For whosoever associates any other partner with Allah, does indeed forge a big lie and commits the most heinous sin

 

Allah says in the Holy Quran Chapter 5 Surah Maidah verse 72:Whoever commits ‘shirk’ (invoking anything with Allah), Allah shall forbid for him Paradise, and Hell shall be his abode.  And for such wrong doers there will be no one to help.

 

Whatever written of Truth and benefit is only due to Allah’s Assistance and Guidance, and whatever of error is of me.  Allah Alone Knows Best and He is the Only Source of Strength.

 

Your Brother in Islam,

 

 

Burhan

 

 

 

 

 

 

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