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Last Updated: 2010/07/21
Summary of question
What are the opinions of the Maraj'e in regard to using Qama in the past and in present time?
1- Why Qama zani? Is using Qama the same as Hejamat?
2- Using Qama or cutting the head or making the face bleed which are all ways of hurting or injuring our bodies while mourning are allowed by the Ulema (even the Ulema that have passed away like the Grand Ayatollahs Haeri, Araki, Abolhasan Esfehani, Sheikh Ansari and etc). Doesn't their opinion relate to circumstances of the past? Please mention the opinion of all the Ulema in this regard.
3- Is it not true that today the adversaries of Islam use this issue to introduce Islam in the wrong way?
4- Is it true that at some period Grand Ayatollah Abolhasan Esfehani had declared it wajib for all to do Qama zani?
Concise answer

Mourning for Imam Hossein has always been emphasized on by the Imams and Muslim scholars, and throughout history, there have always been gatherings in which people would mourn for the Imam.

One of the ways people in some cities and countries would perform the mourning for the Imam and his companions was to use Qama.  This method was allowed by the Ulema of that time under the condition that it does not threaten one’s life. However there is no hadith that has mentioned this type of morning in particular, therefore it is not considered a Mustahab act.

But today this act has given the adversaries of Islam the chance to take advantage and misrepresent Islam and Shiism by showing these ceremonies and making it a big issue, to the extent that this act today is considered harmful to Shiism. Subsequently, today the Waliyy Faqih and the majority of the Maraj'e have declared the usage of Qama as Haram.

Detailed Answer

Mourning for Imam Hossein has always been emphasized by the Imams and Muslim scholars, and throughout history, there have always been gatherings in which people would mourn for the Imam after his martyrdom. These gatherings have promoted the culture of Ashura as well as given the people the chance to learn about Islam and the Quran. Imam Khomeini says: "It is through the Minbars, the Rozas, the tragic events and the mourning that they (the Ahlul-Bayt) have protected us for a thousand and four hundred years."[1]

What has always been accepted and emphasized on by the Ahlul-Bayt and Muslims scholars was the very act of mourning; even the Imams themselves strived to arrange gatherings for mourning for the Imam.[2]  But regarding the details of these gatherings and the way of mourning, no type of mourning has been mentioned in the ahadith in particular. The truth of the matter is that all ways and types of mourning are permissible and accepted by Islam and the Ahlul-Bayt as long as it is not forbidden by Islamic law and does not cause considerable damage and does not harm the Shia school of thought. When Imam Sadiq asked Abu Harun to do Roza in a gathering for Imam Hossein he said: "Do the mourning for the Imam the same way you and your people would mourn while sitting near the Imam's grave."[3] It was not until later that people to some extent changed the way of mourning and would make groups and march on the streets while mourning.

The ways of mourning for Imam Hossein differ depending on the culture and customs of the people and the time and place of the mourning and no particular way has been mentioned in the ahadith or Quranic verses, instead it all depends on the norms of a society and the way they mourn.

Qama zani has been used as a means of mourning by some Shiahs in some cities and countries like Iraq, Pakistan and India. (It is said that the message of such mourning is that the mourners are ready to sacrifice and give away their lives in the path of Imam Hossein).

The ruling of Qama has always been a matter of dispute among the Ulema and the Maraj'e; there have always been two different opinions, some would allow it while others would forbid it.           

The Grand Ayatollah Na’ini was the first to be inquired about the ruling in Islam regarding the usage of Qama, and his fatwa was considered the base of the fatwa of the other Maraj'e of his time and after him.

The Grand Ayatollah Na’ini held that there is not one verse or hadith that relates to Qama in particular, therefore if there is not fear that one might cause notable damage to his body through the use of Qama then it is permissible.  Tens of the Ulema after him did not issue a different fatwa and simply accepted his fatwa. At the same time there was a group of the Ulema that forbade the usage of Qama due to the negative impact striking the head and making it bleed had on non Muslims and because it was used to misrepresent Shiism and harm it. For example the Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Abolhasan Isfihani had declared the usage of Qama haram.[4]

It is noteworthy that even those of the Ulema that did not consider the usage of Qama haram would only allow it to the extent that it would not cause considerable damage to the body.

Not only hasn’t this type of mourning been mentioned in the ahadith to make it one of the "Sha'air" (sacraments), it is not even mustahab[5], but today the adversaries of Islam are taking advantage of these ceremonies by showing them to the world and misrepresenting Islam and the Shia school of thought all of which end up in Islam and Shiism being harmed.

This is why the Great Imam Khomeini says in response to a question regarding these ceremonies: "In such a situation they should not use Qama in the ceremonies…".[6]

It is due to the same reason (the capitalization of the west on the harsh face of these ceremonies and its harming Shiism) that some of the Maraje like Grand Ayatollahs Khamenei, Fazel, Makarem, Noori Hamedani and Tabrizi have declared the use of Qama haram at this time.[7]  

However some of the Maraj'e still believe the use of Qama to be halal because they do not believe these methods result in the harm of Shiism.

It must be noted that Hijamah is a Mustahab act that has its own conditions and rituals[8], but even if it is scientifically proved that the use of Qama has the same effect of Hijamah, it will still be haram, because it brings about the harm of Shiism and the adversaries of Islam take advantage of it.

[1] Muhaddithi, Javad, Farhange Ashura, pg. 339.

[2] Maqtal Imam Husein, pg. 367; Porsesha va Pasokha, vol. 13, pp. 169-170.

[3] Farhange Ashura, pg. 341.

[4] Farhange Ashura, pg. 215.

[5] Fadlullah, Seyyid Muhammad Husein, Negahi Eslami be Ashura, pg. 44.

[6] Farhange Ashura, pg. 387.

[7]Is hitting oneself with swords halal if it is done in discretely? Or is your fatwa in this regard absolute? A: In addition to the fact that it is not held in the common view as manifestations of mourning and grief and didn’t take place in the imams’ time and even after that, and we have not received any tradition quoted from the Infallibles about any support for this act, be it privately or publicly, this practice would, at the present time, give others a bad image of our school of thought, therefore, there is no way that it can be considered permissible.

[8] Qummi, Sheikh Abbas, Safinatul-Bihar, vol. 1, root: حجم

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