Azadari in the house of Imam (a.s)

Holy Prophet (as) said: “O Fatimah! Every eye shall be weeping on the Day of Judgment except the eye which has shed tears over the tra...

Holy Prophet (as) said:

“O Fatimah! Every eye shall be weeping on the Day of Judgment except the eye which has shed tears over the tragedy of Husain (as) for surely, that eye shall be laughing and shall be given the glad tidings of the bounties and comforts of Paradise.”
Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 44 page 193

In the Islamic tradition, the Year of Sorrow (Arabic: عام الحزن‎, translit. ‘Ām al-Ḥuzn, also translated Year of Sadness) is the Hijri year in which Muhammad's wife Khadijah and his uncle and protector Abu Talib died. The year approximately coincided with 619 CE[1][2] or the tenth year after Muhammad's first revelation.

The journey of Azadari traveled with his sister from Damascus to Karbala and to Medina. She returned with some family members which includes son and grandson of Imam HussainAS. His son and grandsons always encouraged the performance of Azadari but in their time it was performed in utmost secrecy as the regime was opposed to any remembrance of Karbala.

In Kamil al-Ziyarat by ibn Quluweyh, page 209 we read that gatherings to commemorate Imam Hussain (as) were conducted by Imam Jafar Sadiq (as) who would weep loudly over the same:

عن ابي عبد الله (عليه السلام)، قال: قال لي: يا ابا عمارة انشدني في الحسين (عليه السلام)، قال: فأنشدته، فبكى، ثم أنشدته فبكى، ثم أنشدته فبكى، قال: فوالله ما زلت انشده ويبكي حتى سمعت البكأ من الدار
Abu Amarah said: Abu Abdullah (as) said to me: ‘O Amarah, recite elegy about Hussain (as)’. Thus, I recite a elegy and he cried, then I continued with the elegy and he cried’. By Allah I kept reciting elegy and he kept on weeping to the extent that a weeping voice could be heard from the house’.

We also read:

عبد الله بن غالب، قال: دخلت على ابي عبد الله (عليه السلام) فأنشدته مرثية الحسين (عليه السلام)، فلما انتهيت الى هذا الموضع: لبلية تسقو حسينا * بمسقاة الثرى غير التراب فصاحت باكية من وراء الستر: وا أبتاه
Abdullah bin Ghalib said: ‘I went to Abu Abdullah (as) and recited an elegy about Hussain (as), when I come across this part “irrigating Hussain with sand” a woman from behind the curtain cried and said: ‘O father’.

Once Imam Raza (as) said to De’bil, a poet sincerely devoted to the Ahlulbayt (as):

“I desire that you recite for me poetry, for surely these days (of the month of Muharram) are the days of grief, that have passed over us, Ahlulbayt”..
Mustadrak al-Wasail, Volume 10 page 386

We read in Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 45 page 77:

Imam Ja’ffar al-Sadiq (as) said: ‘The sky wept over al-Husayn (as) for forty mornings with blood, while the earth wept over him for forty mornings with darkness blackness. The sun wept over him for forty mornings with an eclipse and with redness, the mountains dispersed, the oceans poured forth, whereas the angels wept over him for forty mornings. No woman amongst us ever dyed with henna, nor used any oil, nor any kohl nor cohabited with her husband until the head of Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad was brought to us, and we are still aggrieved even after all that’.

Imam Raza (as) said:

“Those who weep should weep over the likes of Husain (as) for surely, weeping over him evaporates one’s great sins”.
Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 94 page 184

Imam Baqir (as) also said:

“He who remembers us, or in whose presence, we are remembered, and (as a result) sheds eyes, even though they may be in the measure of the wing of a mosquito, Allah shall construct for him a house in paradise and make these tears a barrier between him and the fire (of hell)”.
Al-Ghadeer, Volume 2 page 202

In 350s AH an Islamic scholar Sheikh As-Suduq became the first person after family of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) who started reciting extempore on Karbala’s history to his students. His students used to write his lectures to share it further in the community.  The first ever procession took place in 351 AH in Baghdad and Egypt, when hundreds of men, women and children gathered on the roads beating their chests and weeping for Imam HussainAS. The recitation of elegies started from there and became the part of Azadari, and then Azadari started with an entirely different style. Tamerlane, the founder of Timurid dynasty, introduced the institution of (Taboot and Alam) the icons of flags and coffins of Imam HussainAS.

It is narrated from Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq that Imam Zainul Abideen (peace be upon them) cried over Imam Hussain for over 20 years, and “never would any food be placed before him that he would begin to weep.” (Bihar al-Anwar)

Imam Sadiq has further said, “O Lord, have mercy upon those eyes which have shed tears in compassion for us, and upon those hearts which have been restless and blistered for us, and upon those loud shrieks which have been [uttered] for us.” (Ibid.)

In regards to the Alam, we must realize that it is a replica of the flag and the standard of Islam – the standard under which 313 believes defeated an army of over a thousand at Badr, the standard which was planted by Imam Ali (peace be upon him) on the fort of Khaybar, the standard that Abul Fadhl al-Abbas (peace be upon him) lost both arms trying to protect, and the standard under whose shadow the Awaited One (may Allah hasten his reappearance) will receive allegiance from his followers.

As far as creating replicas of the shrines is concerned, it is interesting to note that Allama Majlisi has narrated from Shaikh al-Mufid and Sayyid Ibn Taoos in the recommendations of 17th Rabi al-Awwal: “If you wish to do Ziyarat of the Holy Prophet at a place other than Medina, then after doing Ghusl, make a small replica of his grave in front of you, and write his name on it. And turn your heart towards him and recite…” (Zaad al-Ma’ad)

Imam Raza (as) said:

“He who sits in a gathering in which our affairs (and our path and aims) are discussed and revived, his heart shall not die on the day (Day of Judgment) when hearts shall die (of fear).”
Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 4 page 178

Similarly Imam Sadiq (as) once said to Fudhail:

‘Do you sit together, talk and discuss amongst yourselves?’ Fudhail replied:’ Yes’. The Imam then said: ‘I approve of these sittings. So keep our ‘issue’ (Imamate) alive. May Allah exhibit mercy on those who revive our issue and mission!’
Wasail al-Shiah, Volume 10 page 391

On a historic note, it is recorded in Fawaid ar-Rijaliyah that once when Sayyid Mahdi Bahrul Uloom was walking through the streets of Karbala with some students, they came across some mourners who were passionately beating their chests for Imam Hussain. As the students looked at them with some scorn, suddenly Sayyid Mahdi Bahrul Uloom took off his turban, unbuttoned his shirt, and also began beating his chest vigorously. The astonished students attempted to control him, but to no avail. When he finally stopped, the horrified students asked him why he had started doing Matam in such an “undignified” way and lost control over himself, despite being the greatest Shia scholar of the time. Sayyid Mahdi Bahrul Uloom replied, “How could I not do what I saw my Imam doing?! When I went close to the group of mourners, I saw my Imam. His head was uncovered, and he was grieving on my grandfather (Imam Hussain) and doing Matam with the rest of them!”

The people, who migrated from Arab and sub-continent to the Western world, started Azadari-HussainAS with the same style as they adopted in back homes. For many years, immigrants relied on the original eulogies (Marsiyas, nauhas) of their languages. But the second generations of immigrants who were born in West and whose original language was English were facing issues grasping the complexity of allegories, idioms and metaphors of other languages.

Under the rule of Tamerlane’s grandson in central Asia, the Azadari went to sub-continent and deep rooted in the hearts of Muslims. Lucknow, one of the most developed, cultural cities of India, became the center of Azadari where many Indian poets started writing Marsiyas or eulogies in the remembrance of Karbala. These eulogies touched the peak by the hands of a famous poet Mir Baber Ali Anees. With Mir Baber many poets like Mir Moonis, Salamat Ali Dabeer, Mir Zameer, Ali Haider Tabatabai and Dr. Syed Ali Imam Zaidi wrote eulogies. In the earlier days, speakers and reciters used to read the eulogies and this is how Azadari started in Hindi or Urdu.

According to Muntazir Mehdi, the History Professor, in the era of 1930s, Maulana Sibte Hassan was the first to introduce Azadari in the form of lectures in Urdu and the mourners included eulogies, lectures, Nauhas (eulogies while beating chests) in one Majlis.



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Azadari in the house of Imam (a.s)
Message Of Peace
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