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Friday, June 09, 2006

THE REALITY OF MATAM!!

THE REALITY OF MATAM!!

There has not been a holy revolution which was distorted as much as the shi'ites distorted the revolution of Al-Hussain in the pretext of loving him, Further more these ceremonies are the cause of bloody conflicts between the shi'ites and the Sunnis of Pakistan, where hundreds of innocent people from both sides have been killed.

I feel it is very important that people should know what is the reality of MATAM. The Tradition is still common in the gathering held for Imam Hussain in the Shi'ites world, It is imperative to end these gatherings by weeping for Al-Hussain because "He who cries or tries to cry for Al-Hussain, Heaven becomes obligatory for him" This is a statement which is found in the books of narrations and is attributed to the Imaams. But God forbid that such a statement should have come from an Imaam.

The Boyheys, who ruled Iran and Iraq in the name of protecting the khilafah of Banu-Al-Abbas, played a vital role in strengthening the tradition of celebrating the day of 'Ashura'. However, celebrating the day of 'Ashura' became a general tradition and a part of the Shi'ites existence during the time of Shah Ismail Al-Safawi. He forced Iran in to Shi'aism and created in it a denominational unity to squench the desires of the neighboring Ottoman KHILAFAH.

In the Safawi palace, every year the first ten days of Muharram used to be declared as days of mourning and the Shah used to receive the mourners on the day of 'Ashura'. On that day a special celebration used to be held in the royal palace. Many people used to gather for those celebrations, and the Shah himself use to attend them also, Shah Abbas Al-Safawi, whose rule lasted for fifty years and who was the shrewdest most powerful and most cruel of the Safawi Shahs, used to wear black on the day of 'Ashura' and put mud on his face as a sign of mourning for Al-Hussain. He used to lead the marchers in the streets, But We do not know for sure when the tradition of striking the shoulders with chains on the day of 'Ashura' came into existence.

This tradition spread into Shi'ites areas such as Iran and Iraq, and other region as well. However, there is no doubt that striking the heads with swords and causing blood to gush out as an act of mourning for Al-Hussain on the day of 'Ashura' came to Iran and Iraq from India during the British occupation of those countries. The British exploited the ignorance, simplicity and the great love the Shi'ites had for Al-Hussain. They even taught them to hit their heads with sharp objects. Until very recently, the British embassies in both Tehran and Baghdad used to finance the demonstrations for Al-Hussain. This demonstration portrayed an ugly image in the streets and neighborhoods.

The purpose behind the British colonial policies in their support for this ugly tradition, which has been grossly exploited by them, was to provide an acceptable justification to the British people to counteract the opposition by some independent newspapers and by some countries against the British occupation of India. The people of these countries were made to appear as savages who needed a civilizing force like the British to teach them human values and liberate them from ignorance and savagery.

British and European newspapers used to publish pictures of the demonstrators marching in the streets on the day of 'Ashura' with thousands of people hitting their shoulders with chains until they bled, and striking their heads with swords and other sharp objects until blood gushed out. The policy makers of the colonial powers used to use these pictures to justify the colonization of these countries under the pretext of wanting to educate the people of these countries and bring them toward civilization and progress, as dictated by their feelings of moral obligation towards their fellow human beings.

It is said that once Yasin Al-Hashmi, the Prime Minister of Iraq during the British occupation of that

country, visited London to negotiate with the British to end their occupation of his country. The British said to him :"We are in Iraq to help the Iraqi people achieve happiness and give up savagery." This statement caused the Prime Minister to become angry and he left the room where they were holding the negotiations. The British politely apologized to him and respectfully asked him to see a documentary film about Iraq. When he watched the film, it turned out to be a film of the demonstration held on the day of 'Ashura' in the streets of Al-Najaf, Karbala and Al-Kazimiyah. The film was full of horrible and sickening scenes which included striking the bodies with chains. The British, by showing that film to the Prime Minister were asking him whether a cultured nation even with degree of civilization would do this to itself

This article is taken from a scholar of Iran Imam Dr. Musa Musawi. Here I want to mention something amusing, yet full of wisdom and bright ideas. I heard it from one of the Shi'ite scholars and religious leader about thirty years ago, This elderly and respected man was standing beside me, The day was the tenth of Muharram and the time was noon and the place was the Rawdah of Imam Al-Hussain in Karbala.

Then a demonstration of those who strike their heads with Swords and Causes blood to gush out of their heads as a sign of grief and mourning for the death of Al-Hussain entered in great numbers to the grave site of Al- Hussain. Their blood flowing down their foreheads and the sides of their bodies in a sickening way caused one's body to shiver.

Then another large group of people who were hitting their backs with chains until they bled, That is when the old man, an independent scholar asked me "what is the matter with these people who have inflicted this disaster and pain on themselves?" I said : "you have asked this question as if you are not listening to what they are saying, which is, 'O Hussain,' expressing their grief for him. Then he asked again: Isn't Al-Hussain now 'firmly established in the favor of a Mighty King.' I said yes. Then he asked me again: Is not Al-Hussain now at this moment in a 'garden whereof the breadth is as the breadth of the heavens and the earth, which is the reward for those who ward off evil'? I said yes. Then he asked: Aren't there in paradise 'fair ones with wide, lovely eyes, like unto hidden pearls'? I said yes. Then he took a deep breath and said in a forceful way with pain and sadness: Woe to them, stupid, ignorant, for what they do to themselves, for an imam who is now in the 'gardens of delights, there wait on them immortal youths with bowls and a cup from a pure spring.'

In the year 1352 A.H., when the leading scholar of the Shi'ites of Syria, Hassan Al-Amin Al-Ameli, declared such acts to be forbidden, which was an unmatched demonstration of courage on his part in stating his opinion and by asking the Shiites to stop these practices, he was faced with strong opposition from within the ranks of the Shi'ia scholars, religious leaders and those who followed them, the kind of people described by Imam Ali (R) as "rag-tag and bobtailed." This step of the reform almost failed had it not been adopted by our grandfather Abu-Al-Hassan, who was the supreme leader of the Shi'ite denomination. Abu-Al-Hassan had the same view as Al-Amin, and he declared his full support for him and his ruling concerning that issue.

The stand taken by our grandfather gave great strength to the reform movement of Al-Amin. Even though many of the Fuqaha and Mujtahedeen opposed Abu-Al-Hassan was able to defeat all who opposed him due to his great status and perseverance. The public started to listen to the ruling of the great leader concerning religious matters, and their accustomed practice during the day of 'Ashura' started to diminish little by little and began to disappear from the Shi'ites' lives.

However, these practices did not completely vanish and weak traces of them remained until the death of our grandfather in the year 1365 A.H. (may Allah's Mercy be upon him). After his death, the new Shi'ia authorities started to urge people to practice these traditions again. These traditions made a comeback in the Shi'ite world; however, they did not reappear to the same level as in the era prior to 1352 A.H. After the Islamic republic was declared in Iran and the concept of Walaayet Al-Faqeeh became the basic of power, orders were given to revive those traditions as part of the policies of the Shi'ite denomination.

Furthermore, the young Islamic republic began helping the Shi'ite groups in all parts of earth, both financially and spiritually. It urged them to revive this invention which was brought into the Shi'ite Muslim world about 200 years ago by the policies of the colonizing British, in order to give Islaam and Muslims the worst image and to justify their occupation of the Muslim countries, as we mentioned earlier.

As I am writing these lines, the cities of Iran, Pakistan, India and Lebanon unfortunately witness on the tenth of Muharram every year a processing of people marching in their streets in the image we drew. Before the end of that day, many picture of that human savagery and terrifying foolishness are shown on the T.V. screens in both the east and the west to give strength to the enemies of Islam and to those who wish ill towards Islam and Muslims. Therefore, We must enrich ourselves in memory of Al-Hussain rather than destroying ourselves. we must give to Al-Hussain his respected place in the arena of struggle instead of tarnishing and defaming status. We must do this if we truly among the supporters of Al-Hussain and those who Love him.

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