As you probably see, Shias (every year) mourn for the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (a.s.) in different ways. I was wondering why we should mourn for the killing of Imam Al Hussein (علیه السلام)?


2 Answers 2


Both Shia and Sunnis agree that the martyr of Hussien(May Allah be pleased with him) is one of the most tragic incidents in Islam. However, Sunnis and Shia differ on the way we should mourn the martyr of Hussain(May Allah be pleased with him).


In Short: The shia should show sadness and grief on this day to celebrate the martyr of Hussein.

According to Imam Reza:

With the advent of the month of Muharram, my father Imam Kazim would never be seen laughing; gloom and sadness would overcome him for (the first) ten days of the month; and when the tenth day of the month would dawn, it would be a day of tragedy, grief and weeping for him.

Long answer:

Why do Shia do this?

Celebrating it every year reminds Shia Muslims about this tragic event, remind them about Hussien(May Allah be pleased with him), his teachings, and a way to increase the good deeds or even entering Jannah

Abu Abdillah (Imam Sadiq (as)) said:

"Allah has made it haraam for Hell to burn the face of anyone who sheds tears (on us) when we are mentioned in his presence." [Source: Kamil Az Ziyarat Chapter. 32 Hadees10]

Moreover, There are many hadiths which goes back to Imam Sadiq state that mourning and crying increase your deeds and status in Jannah:

Abu Abdillah (Imam Sadiq (as)) said:

"Crying is Makruh(not recommended) for the slaves (of Allah) over any matter except crying and Jaza over Husain ibn Ali. Verily the one who cries and acts impatiently over Husain will be rewarded." [Source: Kamil Az Ziyarat Chapter. 32 Hadees:2]

Another hadith,

Abu Abdillah (Imam Sadiq) said:

"Those who shed tears when Husain is mentioned in front of them will be rewarded by Allah (swt) Himself, even if their tears are as small as the wing of a fly. And Allah will not be pleased with any reward for them less than Paradise." [Source: Kamil Az Ziyarat Chapter. 32 Hadees:3]

Another reason for mourning Hussein every year, which has been mentioned by Lynda Clarke in her publication: "Shīʻite Heritage: Essays on Classical and Modern Traditions"

Zaynab binte Ali sister of Imam Husain after Karbala vowed that as long as the people do not recognise the actual cause of Karbala, the followers of Hussain will continue to protest on the streets and in the dwellings as to what happened in Karbala. She organized first majlis (mourning-assembly) while still in Damascus in honour of Imam Hussain

How do Shia celebrate this ?

This differs between different sects of Shia or different groups:

  • Crying
  • Listening to Latmiyat (sad songs about Hussien)
  • Visting Imam Husayn Shrine
  • Ma'atam (Chest beating)
  • Taziya (play about the incdient of Karbala
  • Tatbir (Using sharp metals to cause wound and let blood flow as remembrance to al-Hussien)


In short: The martyrdom of Hussein(May Allah be pleased with him) happened on the day of Ashura. In Sunnis hadith, the Prophet fast this day as a celebration because Allah save Musa(Moses) on this day. Thus, showing sadness contradicts the orders of the Prophet (PBUH)

Long Answer:

Contrary to Shia, Teachings of Sunnis restrict them from mourning Hussein(May Allah be pleased with him) in the same way as Shia do it.

What are the restrictions that prohibit Sunnis from mourning?

  • 1st restriction: Asking Muslims to be sad is never part of the teachings of Islam. When the son of the Prophet(PBUH) died, he said:

The eyes send their tears and the heart is saddened, but we do not say anything except that which pleases our Lord. Indeed, O Ibrahim, we are bereaved by your departure from us."

This is how Sunni Muslims deal with tragic events. Although sadness can never be avoided, the Prophet(PBUH) showed us that we should move on and never be sad. It is just a waste of time crying the whole day or week on something happened and never can be changed again.

  • 2nd restriction: Mourning the Hussein(May Allah be pleased with him) every year is considered an innovation in Islam because the Prophet(PBUH) never ordered Muslims to do

  • 3rd restriction: As I mentioned earlier, there are authentic hadiths that ask Sunnis to fast Asahura. Thus, showing sadness on this day is not recommended

  • 4th restriction:

How do sunnis mourn Hussein(May Allah be pleased with him)?

There is no authentic hadith or way in Islam which explains how Sunnis should mourn Hussein(May Allah be pleased with him). However, Scholars suggest Sunnis to mourn him by any permissible(halal) way, such as:

  • Read about him
  • Imitate his personality and actions
  • Dua'a for Hussein
  • Ask Allah that to grant them jannah with Hussein(May Allah be pleased with him)
  • 2
    So what's the 4th restriction?
    – Seeker
    May 17, 2014 at 9:44
  • 4rth restriction: The mourning period according to Ahadith is 3 days for everyone except a widow. A widow's mourning period is set in the Quran as four months and 10 days. May 16, 2016 at 10:31

Only to add that the prophet was the first who cried for Imam Hussain in many occasions. Since He knew what will happen to Imam Hussain, he cried when he was born and in the second occasion when the prophet wanted to stay alone in the room but Imam Hussain came to him and in this moment the angel jibril brought the soil of Karbala to the prophet and explain him what will happen to Imam Hussain.


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