Allah says in Qur'an:

And do not kill yourselves. Verily Allaah is All-Merciful to you. [Surah An-Nisaa: 29]

And He says:

And do not throw yourselves into destruction with your own hands. [Surah Al-Baqarah: 195]

I can understand that the Shi'ites are mourning. However, this practice of harming oneself through chest beating to the point of bleeding excessively (Matam) and striking oneself with sword (Tatbir) seems to be something excessive and extreme that is prohibited in the light of above mentioned verses. You can see graphic images of these events all over the internet which I do not want to link here.

Moreover, the Grand Ayatollahs seem to endorse it as a desirable deed. There are news of Shia scholars favoring Tatbir. However, I am not sure of its authenticity. Here are videos of some Shia scholars endorsing Tatbir (one even calling it wajib).

How does the Shia school of belief justify this act when it contradicts the verses of Qur'an?


2 Answers 2


First note that although inflicting harm on body is haram in Islam but the verses you mentioned are irrelevant because they refer to killing not injury.

From the view of Shi'a scholars similarly any inflicting any kind of harm to body including this action is haram.

But as for your claim that some Shi'a scholars endorse it, this is not true. The wiki link you mentioned is based on a fatwa which is taken from imamshirazi.com, but this is a fake site with no address or telephone or known office; it has no verifiable connection to the scholar you mentioned.

Here is a website that presents prominent Shi'ite scholar's view on tatbir. tatbir.org

We should keep me mind that tatbir is a local culture and not based on Shi'a Islam. It is mostly practiced by uneducated people and only in some regions. Over the last years the popularity of the practice has significantly waned and most of pictures you see belong to the past.

  • 1
    @Ahmadi nice answer but it would be great if you can produce a reference of a shia scholar who says this practice is unislamic or allowed and even praise worthy, what ever the case may be.
    – muslim1
    Commented Sep 2, 2012 at 23:39
  • I am reading this answer now and with all the comments inside the body of the answer, the answer doesn't make sense. @Ahmadi: Can you do some cleanup of the answer so that it is more coherent instead of the current state it is in.
    – Aamir
    Commented Sep 3, 2012 at 4:24
  • 2
    Ahmadi, I removed my comments and yours from the answer for a bit more clarity. I would like to see some more answers from other Shia members. If there aren't any, I can gladly accept your answer.
    – Abdullah
    Commented Sep 3, 2012 at 5:40
  • This answer needs a lot of clean-up. Please cite things relevant to your answer and remove all the links; they don't have anything directly to do with your answer.
    – ashes999
    Commented Sep 9, 2012 at 16:02
  • 1
    @wiser Imam Hussain a.s. is an exeption in this regard. many hadith says so. you can ask for them in a new question. Commented Feb 22, 2015 at 3:42

The verses that you have mentioned are totally irrelevant. They are about killing oneself. According to Shia scholars hitting oneself with sword is haram. Just go to khamenei.ir for example and search for it. There is a link here as well, unfortunately in Persian. Use a translator for the last couple of questions.

Anything that causes any harm to your body is haram. Doing professional sports also harms often but it is not considered as haram and it is permissible. This holds true for biting yourself with chain. If it harms you it is haram. Look the one before the last question in that link for the definition of harm.

Hope this helps,

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