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Mourning of Muharram

Tatbir (Arabic: تطبير‎), also known as Talwar zani and Qama Zani in South Asia,[1] is an act of mourning by some of Shi'i Muslims for the younger grandson of Muhammad, Imam Husayn ibn Ali, who was martyred along with his children, companions and near relatives at the Battle of Karbala by the Umayyad Caliph Yazid I.

Performance of Tatbir[edit]

Every year on 10 Muharram of the Islamic calendar, known as "the Day of Ashura", "Arba'een" and Chehelom by Twelvers around the world. Some Shia also perform tatbir on other occasions like 21 Ramadan (the day when the first Imam, Ali, was martyred in Kufa), 28 Safar (in commemoration of Muhammad's death and martyrdom of the second Imam, Hasan ibn Ali) and any time between 10 Muharram and 8 Rabi' al-awwal.[citation needed]

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[edit]

This is contested among Shi'a clerics, while traditionalist clerics allow believers to indulge in tatbir, modernist cleric deem it not to be permissible because it is considered as self-damage and haram in Islam.[2] 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.[3]

Grand Ayatollah Sayed Sadiq Rohani[edit]

He said, I love the youths that do tatbeer/GhameZani and I ask Allah (swt) to resurrect me with them.[citation needed]

Grand Ayatollah Sayid Sadiq Hussaini Shirazi[edit]

According to Sayid Sadiq Hussaini Shirazi ritual of Tatbir (Qama Zani) it is Halal and Mustahab.[4] He also deems tatbir to be permissible for women; according to him tatbir was first practiced by Lady Zainab, a woman.[5]

Grand Ayatollah Sayid Ali Khamenei[edit]

Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran has stated that Tatbir is haram (forbidden). He says:

It is an incorrect action which some people perform – taking a blade in one’s hand and hitting themselves on the head with it spilling their blood. What do they do this for? How is this action considered mourning? Of course, hitting one’s head with their hands is a form of mourning. You have seen over and over again, a person who has had something bad happen to them, hit themselves on their head and chest. This is a normal sign of mourning. But, have you ever seen a person who has had something bad happen to their most loved (ones) hit themselves on the head with a sword until blood flows down? How is this action considered mourning?[6]

Ayatollah khomeini and khamenei forbade it and hence Hizbullah does not allow the members to perform this violent action. Instead, they encourage the members to donate their bloods.[2]

Grand Ayatollah Sayid Ali Sistani[edit]

Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, has stated that Tatbir is permissible. He says:

“[Tatbir] is permissible, and in fact this is regarded as one of the best means of seeking nearness to Allah, since it is upholding and honouring the Sha’a’er of Allah Almighty.[7]


  1. ^ "Fatwa on Tatbir [Qama Zani]". Pasbaan-e-Aza. Retrieved 2010-07-03. 
  2. ^ a b Monsutti, Alessandro; Naef, Silvia; Sabahi, Farian (2007). The Other Shiites: From the Mediterranean to Central Asia. Peter Lang. pp. 146–. ISBN 978-3-03911-289-0. 
  3. ^ Tabbaa; Yasser; Mervin; Sabrina (2014). Najaf, the Gate of wisdom. UNESCO Office Iraq (Jordan): UNESCO. p. 154. ISBN 9789231000287. Retrieved 30 November 2014. 
  4. ^ "Bloodletting-Tatbir". shirazi.ir. Retrieved 30 November 2014. 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. 
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ A speech given to scholars of Kahgiluyeh and Bavir Ahmad, Muharram, 1372
  7. ^ Pate, Matthew; Newman, Laurie A. Gould ; foreword by Graeme R. (2012). Corporal punishment around the world. Santa Barbara Calif.: Praeger. p. 51. ISBN 9780313391316. Retrieved 30 November 2014. 

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