Once Christmas, Ashura and New Year were through, there was only one question people were continually bombarding me with: “when do you start your knew job?”. I’m not entirely surprised by this: I’d made a huge issue of the fact that on the 18th December I would finally escape THAT job, (yeah, THAT one!), but with respect to the happiness an exit would bring about in my world, I’d given little consideration to the reality that a confirmation letter without a start date would doubtless lead to some time without a salary! Apparently, no one else had thought of this either: (presumably they expected me to have taken care of such logistics appropriately when I resigned) (I hadn’t!). So, whenever I am asked this question I shake my head, look down and say “I don’t know!”, causing those around me to either shut up, or look at me with “huh?” looks of horror spreading rapidly from one ear to the other!
For my part, I’ve been busy with the TV programmes, with muherram and a few upcoming kitaba projects, and above all was revelling in having time to recharge and unwind, and so wasn’t really giving this a second thought! It wasn’t till a very close friend who knows me better than I know myself, (you know who you are!), dropped me a line saying “don’t worry about the job and the forthcoming degree programme: you’ll walk it!”, that the fear reached abnormally high levels of fractiousness! After a rood, urgent and panicked Email yesterday, I was told I’d “hear something on Monday”, and be given a start date in “a few weeks!”. That Email calmed me some what, but given the fall-out from my last job, and my former manager’s attempts so far to darken my reputation, you can understand my being unable to put this to rest! After spending countless sleepless nights, I figured I should quit feeling sorry for myself, and resort to some of my own advice (yes I know: generally never use it, but should!). Within the context of our blessed religion, we have cures for every illness, every disease, be they of the body, mind or soul. One that we often utilise for issues relating to health, wealth or unresolved matters, and resort to even more during these days of mourning, is of course ziyerat ashura. Much has been written and spoken about the miracles contained within it: our 6th Imam (A.S), said, “Whoever raises his hands and recites ziyerat ashura, from near or far, will be granted all of his righteous desires. He will be interceded for, and will receive the power of intercession, and reciting it is as though he has reached the thrown of Allah (SWT)”.
In addition, daily recitation of ziyerat ashura, with full understanding of its meaning and content, is reported to be a sure and certain vehicle to insure a visit from the Imam of our time (ATF). Ziyerat ashura is read for protection, safety and success, not just in this life, but in the next as well: it is said to ease the suffering of the grave and the passing of the day of judgement. Mullah Mohammed Yazdi reports a story relating to a relative in his family who past away: he was perhaps not the most religious person in the world, and so the mullah got a shock when he saw his friend in a dream, informing him of his well-being, peace and ease in the grave. When he asked him why, the friend said it was a result of a woman who had been laid to rest next to his grave. The very next day, Mullah Yazdi began to investigate as to the identity of the woman. He eventually traced her back to being an in-law of Mowlana Haddad, and yazdi visited him to enquire about the nature of this woman, and how she might have benefited the akhrit of his friend. He questioned mowlana Haddad about her prayers, fasting, reading qur’an etc, and found that there was nothing exceptional about this woman. Finally, he asked Mowlana Haddad if there was any thing in particular she recited regularly or made her habit, and he reported that she read ziyerat ashura on a daily basis. Mullah Yazdi said “I can bring you good news of your relative, and tell you that because of her recitation, her suffering has not only been removed from her, but all who are buried along-side her).
When I first heard ziyerat ashura being recited, and was not familiar with its meaning, I was shocked at how it affected me: it brought me to tears, but almost seemed to make my heart stop. It reached me at a very primeval level: as though it leaked from my soul: as though I had heard it before. When later on one uncovers its meaning, the affect is even more stark. Ziyerat ashura is perhaps like no other hadaith Qur’anic ayat or dua that you have ever seen before. It is fierce, loving, passionate and concise. It is the fuel of activism, and is the most profound statement of enjoining good and forbidding evil that you will ever see and hear on this earth. This is because ziyerat ashura is not some man made statement against the killers of our imam (A.S), as many outsiders seem to think. It was not even compiled by our Imams (A.S), or by our Prophet (PBUH). Ziyerat ashura is in fact hadaith khudsi (that is to say, the revelation which our Prophet received directly from Allah (SWT), thus the profound, other-worldly nature of its content and style.
Ziyerat ashura is perhaps characterised most significantly for the ‘Lannah contained within it. Shias are often criticised for the Lannah that we sent on the killers of Imam Hussain (A.S), those who supported them and those who simply sat back and watched the tragedy unfold. We are also criticised for the Lannah we send on other so-called companions, who claimed to be close supports to the Prophet (PBUH), yet who were happy to kill his beloved daughter (A.S), to fabricate hadaith and to deny Imam Ali (A.S), his god-given right to leadership.
Lannah is even viewed by many shias as “abuse”, and something to be discouraged. While it certainly has a time and a place (and some of our brothers would do well to remember that!), it is certainly not “SAB” (abuse). A literal translation of Lannah is “Disassociation”, (i.e., requesting Allah to disassociate you mentally and physically from wrong-doing, and asking Allah to remove his mercy from those people that you condemn).
When I first learnt about Lannah, it seemed the most natural thing to me in the world: just as love has and requires various levels/channels of expression, so does the faculty of hate! As Islam is not a religion that denies the human essence as many organised religions do, it would not expect a person to swallow their hatred, deny or ignore it. After all: ‘Lannah, as a concept, was taught to us by Allah (SWT) in the qur’an.
In Sura 5 verse 73, Allah (SWT) tells us how Prophet Daood and Prophet Eesa (A.S) sent Lannah on the children of Israel, because they disbelieved and turned away. Allah also sends Lannah on Shaytan, on account of his questioning the superiority of Prophet Adam (A.S). The most poignant examples of Lannah in the qur’an relating to ziyerat ashura can be found in sura 2, verse 159, where Allah (SWT), sends Lannah on those who covet knowledge and prevent the truth from reaching the people (the very make-up of our Muslim communities today is testament to this practise: how many have heard of Karbala? How many people know who the Ahlulbayt (A.S), truly are, and how many know of the tragic death of Fatimah Zahra (A.S), and above all, who was behind it!).
Finally, and as if it wasn’t obvious enough!! Sura 33 verse 37
“Those who hurt Allah and his Prophet, Allah sends Lannah on them, in this world, and the hereafter).
If Allah (SWT) sends Lannah on the killers of Imam Hussain (A.S) and those who caused pain, suffering and torment to the family of our Prophet (PBUH), and advises us of the same in the qur’an, then how important is it for us to do the same?
Discovering Lannah was something almost heeling for me: strangely tranquil. Whenever I lamented on the tragedy of Karbala, I could never understand why the earth did not stop, why the skies weren’t still weeping blood, and how humanity carried on regardless, ignorant of this horrific atrocity (that is Muslim and non-Muslim). Lannah seemed like the most natural thing in the world: it took me beyond my tears, and a simple verbal disassociation from these acts: Lannah is something that begins in the soul and transfers to the external. It also puts a moral and social obligation upon the one sending Lannah, to insure his/her behaviour does not contain elements of the ignorant and cursed ones (drinking, listening to music and other associated acts of haram).
One of my favourite Persian poets puts it beautifully in one of his stanzas: “they tell me not to send Lannah on Yazeed
So I send double the Lannah!
For if Allah can forgive one as evil as him,
Then surely he will forgive my sending Lannah!”.
I remember reading a story about an elderly Iraqi woman who tripped and fell while out shopping, and cracked her rib on the pavement. They said that all the way through her surgery and recuperation, she continually sent Lannah on the killers of Fatimah Zahra (A.S). When she was asked why, she said that her injuries had given her just a glimpse of the pain that Fatimah Zahra (A.S) must have encountered leading up to her death. She said that if she felt this pain as a humble human being, how much greater would that pain have been on the blessed daughter of the Prophet (A.S).
My purpose of writing all this is not to further alienate certain communities who don’t believe in Lannah, but to try and demystify the concept, and perhaps to increase our own awareness of it as followers of the Ahlulbayt (A.S). Just as the tears we shed in muherram are sacred and heeling, ziyerat ashura has the power to do the same. It has the power to transform lives, to soothe the mind and remove all kinds of illness, as well as elevating the soul to new spiritual dimensions and heights of closeness to the Imam (A.S), and Allah (SWT).
Below, I have pasted an English translation of ziyerat ashura: if you cannot read the Arabic right now, at least try to make the translation a part of your daily rituals: do not take my word for these things: implement them in your life, and watch the difference and the miracles unfold!
Peace be on you, O Abu Abdullah!
Peace be on you, O son of the Apostle of Allah!
Peace be on you, O son of the commander of the faithfuls, the forebear of the successors!
Peace be on you, O son of Fatimah, the choicest among the women of the worlds!
Peace be on you, O the select, surpassing, chosen in preference over all good of Allah, and son of Allah's (such) good.
Peace be on you, who was martyred while fighting heroically in the cause of Allah, the son of Allah's fearless warrior, you were isolated and had been attacked
with a vengeance!
Peace be on you and on those souls who had gathered in your camp, and strided along with you, in your journey. I pray and invoke Allah to keep all of you
tranquil and restful, for ever; so far I am alive, this is my prayer, and till nights and days follow each other.
O Abu Abdullah! unbearable is the sorrow, nerve-racking is the agony, you put up with,
for us and for all the (true) Muslims, crimes committed against you also shocked and unnerved the dwellers of the heavens, one and all.
May Allah condemn and damn the people who laid the basis and set up the groundwork,
to wander astray and turn aside from not only you and your family but to take liberties and bear hard upon you.
May Allah condemn and damn the people who tried to obscure and deny your office and status, willfully neglected your rank and class Allah had made know
in clear terms. May Allah condemn and damn the people who killed you.
May Allah condemn and damn the abettors who instigated and had a part in your murder. I turn to you and Allah, away from them, their henchmen, their followers
and their friends,
O Abu Abdullah, I pray and invoke Allah to send blessings on you. I make peace with those who make their peace with you,
I make war on those who go to war against you, till the Day of Judgement.
May Allah condemn and damn the family of Ziyaad and the family of Marwaan;
may Allah condemn and damn the group and the tribe of Umayyah, one and all, altogether;
may Allah condemn and damn the son of Marjaanah;
may Allah condemn and damn Umar son of Saad;
may Allah condemn and damn Shimr;
may Allah condemn and damn the people who bridled the horses and errected the saddles for your martyrdom. I, my father and mother are at your disposal.
Profound is my sorrow for you. I beg Allah, who honoured you above others, to be generous towards me on account of you, and give me the opportunity to
be with the victorious Imam, the descendent of Mohammad (blessings and peace be on him and on his children from Allah) at the time of the final and decisive
war against Allah's enemies.
O my Allah make me attend to Your cause, sincerely, in every respect following in Husayn's footsteps, in this world and the hereafter. O Abu Abdullah, I
pray and invoke Allah to send blessings on you. I come nearer and seek greater intimacy with Allah, with His Apostle, with Ameerul Moomineen, with Fatimah,
with Hasan and with you, with the help of your love and patronage, cutting off every connection with those who took up arms against you and killed you.
I disconnect all links with those who, in the beginning, took the first steps to take liberties with and bear hard upon you, I take refuge with Allah and
His Apostle (blessings of Allah be on him and on his children), free from the guilt of associating with those who laid the foundation for (your suffering),
devised and carried out their corrupt plan of action, boldly gave currency to reign of terror and cruelty to oppress you and your friends and followers;
I detach myself from them and present myself to Allah and to you, I (first) seek greater intimacy with Allah and then with you to win your love and patronage,
and to make friends with your friends, cut off all links with your enemies, and with those who planted the seeds of hostility against you, and reject and
discard their associates, their followers and their friends. I make peace with those who made their peace with you, I search out and confront those who
waged war against you, I make friends with those who stood by you, I strive against those who came in conflict with you, therefore, I make a request to
Allah to acquaint (me) with the awareness that perceives you and your friends, to set me free from the corrupting influence of your enemies, to make me
keep company with you in this would and in the Hereafter, stand firm beside you and follow your footsteps closely in this world and in the next world.
I beseech Him that he helps me to reach your highly praised station, given to you by Allah, (to meet you), that He provides me the opportunity to fight
for justice and fairplay alongwith and under the leadership of the rightly guided guide (in your progeny) who surely will come and speak the truth. I beseech
Allah in the name of your right and the purpose He assigned to you, that He overwhelms me with grief in memory of your sorrows, more than the personal
grief that torments any one who is in great agony, sorrows which have no parallel and overshadow all calamities that took place in the history of Islam,
for that matter, through out the whole universe.
O my Allah, in my on the spot situation, treat me like him (or her) who obtains from You
(Your) blessings, mercy and forgiveness.
O my Allah, bring me to life again, after death, in the place Mohammad and his "Aal" (children) are dwelling, and make me depart from this world like Mohammad
and his "Aal" (children) had left,
O my Allah this day is a day of rejoicing for the "Bani Umayyah", the herd of hardened criminals, the eternally damned and accursed group, a fact that had
been made public by You and by Your Prophet (blessings of Allah be on him and on his children), who, in every place and at all occasions, drew attention
of people to this truism.
O my Allah condemn and damn Abu Sufyaan, Yazid son of Muwa'awiyah and let it be an everlasting curse upon tem from You. Today the descendants of Ziyaad
and Marwan make merry, laugh and dance because on this day they killed Husayn (blessings of Allah be on him).
O my Allah, therefore, double up the curse You brings upon them and also the punishment You decrees for them.
O my Allah, I seek nearness to You today in this frame of mind, cutting off all links with them for the rest of my life, denouncing them because of my love
for Your Prophet and his children, peace be on him and them.
Then again say 100 times:
O my Allah condemn and damn the first tyrant who unjustly and wrongfully usurped that which rightly belonged to Mohammad and the children of Mohammad, and
bring curse upon those who, after him, followed in his footsteps.
O my Allah condemn and damn those conspirators who vexed and harassed Husayn, showed eagerness, agreed mutually, and joined hands to kill him. O my Allah
bring curse upon all of them.
Then again say 100 times:
Peace be on you, O Abu Abdullah, and on those souls who came to your camp to put themselves at your disposal.
So far I am alive and the days and nights follow each other I invoke Allah to send blessings on you for ever and ever.
May Allah not make my this pledge of close association, physical as well as spiritual, with you the last fulfillment.
Peace be on Husayn, and on Ali son of Husayn, and on the children of Husayn, and on the friends of Husayn.
O my Allah, let the curse I call down on the head of the first tyrant stick like a leech; and stay put for ever on the first, then the second, the third
and the fourth.
O my Allah damn and call down evil on the fifth, Yazid son of Mua'awyah, and bring a curse upon Ubaydullah son of Ziyaad, ibna Marjanah, Umar son of Saad,
and Shimr, and on the descendants of Abu Sufyaan, on the descendants of Ziyaad, on the descendants of Marwaan, till the Day of judgement.
Then go is Sajdah and say:
O my Allah! (All) praise is for You (alone); praise of the "Ever-thankful to You", who glorify You whatever come to pass. (All) praise is for Allah for
my deep-felt intense grief. O my Allah make available for me the recommendations of Husayn on the day I present myself before You, let me stand firm in
safety before You on account of my sincere attachment with Husayn, alongwith him and his comrades, who sacrificed everything they had (heart, mind, soul
and life) for Husayn, peace be on him.