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Tatbir (Arabic: تطبير‎‎), also known as Talwar zani and Qama Zani in South Asia,[1] 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 clerics. Some clerics deem it to be self-damage and hence Haram, while traditionalist clerics allow believers to indulge in Tatbir.

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 killed in Kufa), 28 Safar (in commemoration of Muhammad's death and 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 Shia 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 Ayatollahs Views Description
1 Ruhollah Khomeini Forbade Ayatollah Khomeini forbade it and hence Hizbullah does not allow the members to perform this violent action. Instead, Khomeini and Khamenei encourage the members to donate their bloods.[2]
2 Sayyid Sadeq Rohani Not forbade He said: "I love the youths that do tatbeer/GhameZani and I ask Allah (swt) to resurrect me with them."[citation needed]
3 Ali Sistani Forbade Should be avoided actions that tarnish the mourning of Husayn ibn Ali.[4]
4 Ali Khamenei Forbade 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?[5]

5 Sadiq Hussaini Shirazi Not forbade According to Sadiq Hussaini Shirazi ritual of Tatbir (Qama Zani) it is Halal and Mustahab.[6] He also deems tatbir to be permissible for women; according to him tatbir was first practiced by Lady Zainab, a woman.[7]
6 Naser Makarem Shirazi Forbade Muslims should be avoided actions that weakness the Shia religious and damage to the body.[4]
7 Mohammad Fazel Lankarani Forbade Tatbir shows harsh face of mourning of Husayn ibn Ali and its harming Shiism.[4][8]
8 Abdollah Javadi-Amoli Forbade It is not permissible to insult Islam and the desecration of mourning. Therefore, it is better to avoiding Tatbir and some thing like that.[4]
9 Mohammad-Taqi Bahjat Foumani Forbade It should be avoided every act that would be an insult to the Shia.[4]
10 Hossein Noori Hamedani Forbade Should be avoided actions that weakness the Shia religious.[4][8]
11 Hossein Mazaheri Forbade When Wali e Faqih (Guardian Jurist) ordered to avoid something, all people have to avoid it. Even if they do not follow Guardian Jurist.[4]
12 Kazem al-Haeri Forbade Tatbir is a superstition that cause the defamation of Islam and Shia.[4]
13 Mohaqiq Kabuli Forbade There is any allowance to practice Tatbir or self-flagellation and something else that are considered as self-harm.[9]
14 Muhammad al-Fayadh Not forbade Tatbir is permissible, if it do not cause serious damage to the body.[10]
15 Muhammad Saeed al-Hakim Not forbade Tatbir as one form of the mourning of Husayn ibn Ali is permissible. It is permitted by 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 dagger/blades on their head and other parts of body. It is very unhealthy because blood permeating 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). In other hand, Tatbir can disrupt the mental balance of people of society. It has negative affect on onlookers of Tatbir as well.[11][12]
  • There are different opinion about the practice of Tatbir. Shia believes that it is a form of self-harm, so it must to be forbidden. On other hand some people considers it as "folk practice". According to some sects of Shia, Tatbir makes Shia look bad, by this reason they avoid it in a region where Sunnies live there. 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." Also, he stated: "If you search for pictures on Google and type Ashura or Shia Muslim, you won’t see anything but blood. It’s terrible!"[13]
  • Iraqi sociologist Ibrahim al-Haidari nominated to Tatbir as an irrational act. Also, he said the blood donation have to be replaced with Tatbir. Hussein Al-Sadr, Iraqi cleric and his followers donate blood every year during the mourning of Husayn ibn Ali. [14]
  • Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah in Lebanon, forms judgments and opinions about it to stopping. Instead of practice Tatbir, he offered to donate blood on Ashura day to patients who need it.[13]
  • Mohammad Mehdi Shamseddine established a Blood bank in Najaf to donate blood on Ashura day to patients who need it.[15]


  1. ^ "Fatwa on Tatbir [Qama Zani]". Pasbaan-e-Aza. Archived from the original on September 10, 2009. 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. Retrieved 2015-09-30. 
  3. ^ Tabbaa, Yasser; Mervin, Sabrina (28 July 2014). Najaf, the Gate of wisdom. UNESCO. pp. 154–. ISBN 978-92-3-100028-7. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "opinions of the Maraj'e in regard to using Qama". Retrieved 19 October 2015. 
  5. ^ A speech given to scholars of Kahgiluyeh and Bavir Ahmad, Muharram, 1372
  6. ^ "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. 
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ a b "What are the opinions of the Maraj'e in regard to using Qama in the past and in present time?". Retrieved 19 October 2015. 
  9. ^ "Message of Mohaqeq Kabuli in Muharram". Retrieved 26 October 2015. 
  10. ^ "Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Ishaq al-Fayyad response to Tatbir". Retrieved 26 October 2015. 
  11. ^ "Tatbir". Tatbir.org. Retrieved 2016-01-05. 
  12. ^ Masaeli, Mahdi. "Tatbir" (PDF). Fetan. Golban Publication. 
  13. ^ a b HUBBARD, BEN. "Bloody and Belittled Shiite Ritual Draws Historic Parallels". The New York Times Company. Retrieved November 2014. 
  14. ^ Mamouri, Ali. "Iraqi Shiite pilgrimage takes political turn". Al-Monitor. Retrieved December 2014. 
  15. ^ "Mohammad Mehdi Shamseddine(in Persian)". nbo.ir. 

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