Tatbir (Arabic: تطبير), also known as Talwar zani and Qama Zani in Iran and South Asia, is an act of mourning by some of Shia Muslims for the younger grandson of Muhammad, Husayn ibn Ali, who was killed along with his children, companions and near relatives at the Battle of Karbala by the Umayyad Caliph Yazid I. Tatbir is a contested issue among Shia. Most clerics deem it to be self-harm and hence Haram. However, a small minority of Shia do perpetuate the practice in defiance.
Performance of Tatbir
Tatbir is practiced by some Shia Muslims on the 10 Muharram of the Islamic calendar, known as "the Day of Ashura", and on the 40th day after Ashura, Known as "Arba'een/Chehelom" by Twelvers around the world. Some Shia may also perform tatbir on other occasions as well.
The practice of Tatbir includes striking oneself with a form of a talwar "sword" on the head, causing blood to flow in remembrance of the innocent blood of Imam Husayn. Some Twelvers also hit their back and/or chest with blades attached to chains.
Views of Grand Ayatollahs regarding Tatbir
Tatbir is contested among Shia clerics, while some traditionalist clerics allow believers to indulge in tatbir, modernist clerics deem it impermissible because it is considered self-harm thus Haram in Islam. Most religious authorities associate all forms of self-flagellation and blood-letting as ways to relate to painful deaths during battle of Karbala by Imam Husayn and supporters.
|1||Ruhollah Khomeini||Forbidden||Ayatollah Khomeini forbade it, therefore Hizbullah does not allow the members to perform Tatbir. Instead, Khomeini and Khamenei encourage the members to donate their blood.|
|2||Sayyid Sadeq Rohani||Not Forbidden||He said: "I love the youths that do tatbeer/GhameZani and I ask Allah to resurrect me with them."|
|3||Ali Sistani||Abstained from answering||Refer to another Marja for guidance on this issue |
|4||Ali Khamenei||Forbidden||Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran has stated that Tatbir is forbidden. |
|5||Sadiq Hussaini Shirazi||Not Forbidden||According to Shirazi, the ritual of Tatbir (Qama Zani) is Halal and Mustahab. Shirazi deems tatbir permissible for women as according to him,tatbir was first practiced by Lady Zainab, a woman.|
|6||Naser Makarem Shirazi||Forbidden||Muslims should avoid actions that display weakness in the Shia religion and damage the body.|
|7||Mohammad Fazel Lankarani||Forbidden||Tatbir shows the harsh face of mourning of Husayn ibn Ali and it harms Shiism.|
|8||Abdollah Javadi-Amoli||Forbidden||It is not permissible to insult Islam and the desecration of mourning. Therefore, it is better to avoid Tatbir and things like that.|
|9||Mohammad-Taqi Bahjat Foumani||Forbidden||It should be avoided; every act that would be an insult to the Shia.|
|10||Hossein Noori Hamedani||Forbidden||Should be avoided as actions that weakens the Shia religious.|
|11||Hossein Mazaheri||Forbidden||When Wali e Faqih (Guardian Jurist) orders to avoid something, all people have to avoid it, even if they do not follow Guardian Jurist.|
|12||Kazem al-Haeri||Forbidden||Tatbir is a superstition that causes the defamation of Islam and Shia Islam in particular.|
|13||Mohaqiq Kabuli||Forbidden||There is no allowance to practice Tatbir or self-flagellation or something else that is considered as self-harm.|
|14||Muhammad al-Fayadh||Not Forbidden||Tatbir is permissible, if it does not cause serious damage to the body.|
|15||Muhammad Saeed al-Hakim||Not Forbidden||Tatbir as one form of the mourning of Husayn ibn Ali is permissible. It is permitted under the intention of sympathy with God and trust-seeking, to promote searching for trust.|
- Tatbir is a mourning ceremony that calls for self-flagellation and consequent blood shedding. At the ceremony, mourners strike themselves with daggers/blades on their head and other parts of their body. It is considered unsanitary as blood introduced into environment through open wounds of mourners can carry dangerous diseases, such as, Hepatitis B (HBV), Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Hepatitis C (HCV), Syphilis, Malaria, Brucellosis, Babesiosis, Leptospirosis, Arborviral Infections, Relapsing fever, Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (Mad Cow disease), and Viral hemorrhagic fever (Ebola virus).
- Tatbir can also cause disturbances in the mental balance of people of society gathering to view it.
- There are different opinion about the practice of Tatbir. Shia believes that it is a form of self-harm, so it must be forbidden. Others who practice Tatbir consider it as "folk practice". According to some sects of Shia, it is felt Tatbir reflects on Shia observers poorly, so they typically avoid it in a region where Sunnies also reside. Abbas Shams al-Din, a Shia cleric, said: "these practices used to be limited and no one paid attention to them, but they have started to spread and defame the image of the event in a huge way." 
- Iraqi sociologist Ibrahim al-Haidari has called Tatbir an irrational act. He states blood donations should replace Tatbir. Hussein Al-Sadr, Iraqi cleric and his followers donate blood every year during the mourning of Husayn ibn Ali. 
- Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah in Lebanon, has also taken steps to end Tatbir. Instead of practicing Tatbir, he offered to donate blood on Ashura day to patients who need it.
- Mohammad Mehdi Shamseddine established a Blood bank in Najaf to donate blood on Ashura day to patients who need it.
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Question: Doing matam with Qama or Chain Leads is Halal or Haram? Answer: As for the ritual of Tatbir (Qama Zani) it is Halal and Mustahab.
- Shirazi, Sayyid Sadiq Husayni. Islamic Law: Books One and Two Volume 2 of Acts of worship & CULTURE, ECONOMICS, ETHICS. Fountain Books. p. 616. ISBN 1903323401. Retrieved 30 November 2014.
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