The office of Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali al-Sistani issued a statement on Sunday, August 25, 2019 as the Shi’ah world is preparing for ten-day mourning ceremonies that will start September 1 for 10 days onward.
A part of Ayatollah al-Sistani’s statement reads:
In the Name of God, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful
We are ahead of the month of Muharram al-Haram and the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn, his Ahl al-Bayt and companions, (a martyrdom) that is reminiscent of the innocence of the Prophet Muhammad’s Ahl al-Bayt in his Ummah. Although they were the chosen the grandchildren of Islam’s Prophet, his heirs and equivalent to the Holy Quran, they were taken away from the positions, they were chosen for by God Almighty and were isolated from the leadership of the Ummah. That was because they did not capitulate to injustice and cruelty, wrongness and immorality and advised [people] to justice, righteousness and goodness and that resulted in their massacre.
That martyrdom was the highest level of the sacrifices made by the Ahl al-Bayt in the path of God, to raise the name of God and the rule of rationality, wisdom, justice, goodness; the values that have been the cause of all messengers of God. As the Holy Quran says: “Certainly We sent Our messengers with clear proofs and We (also) sent down with them the Code (of shari’ah) – law and justice- and the Balance so that people might conduct themselves with equity and justice.” [al-Hadid: 25]
This is the advice of our Imams when they asked the faithful to observe the mourning events, remember, remind and get lessons from the atrocities carried out [against Imam al-Husayn and his Ahl al-Bayt]. All the faithful Muslims in line with the advice of our Imams, from the bottom of their hearts and in solidarity with the Ahl al-Bayt should participate in these ceremonies. The good fate of the believers in this world and hereafter lies in respecting these ceremonies. All Muslim believers must look at those events with love, sorrow and humility as if it happened to their own family members because the Prophet Muhammad and his Ahl al-Bayt are the dearest to God Almighty, more than any other Muslim faithful or his family.
Certainly, preachers should narrate these difficulties (that occurred to Ahl al-Bayt) in the month of Muharram to keep them alive, as the slogan and the sign of mourning sessions. They are the beginning of mourning. These speeches would calm down the hearts of the faithful people, increase their faith and encourage them to do good and right that would be sent down to them by God Almighty.
The event of Karbala has turned into a reminder of God, zikr, evidence of the motion of the religion (Islam) and protecting Islamic values and teachings in the hearts and minds of the followers of Ahl al-Bayt and other Muslims. It is also an opportunity for Muslim scholars (May God help them) to pay attention to their duty to invite people to God Almighty and remind them of the position the Ahl al-Bayt have in the leadership of the religion and Ummah. This is a respected tradition that should be protected and used to obtain religious objectives and explain the position of Ahl al-Bayt.
Some points that preachers, scholars, eulogists and all people active in this arena should pay attention to include:
Using the messages of the Holy Quran in their speeches, as God revealed; the Holy Quran is the balance between righteousness and wrongness. God sent the Holy Quran to people as a guide, light and insight. It is a blessed zikr and a wise reminder. The attitudes and approaches of Ahl al-Bayt are all the same and taken from the Holy Quran, their sacrifices were made on the advice of this Book and therefore the Holy Quran should be the main point in mourning ceremonies and everything else comes after it.
A speech must contain true principles, strong reasoning with passion and easy for the ordinary listeners to understand the same as the Holy Quran and the Prophet’s tradition that sits in people’s minds easily and eradicates any doubts. A preacher could use the reasoning used by God Almighty in describing the universe and his creation, or use the reasoning and proofs that show the Prophet Muhammad was telling the truth; as the evidence to his mission is stated in the Holy Quran, and historic facts do support them.
A preacher should remind people of the certainty of the Day of Resurrection when everybody’s life will be thoroughly reviewed and justice will be done and each man will receive the results of his evil or good deeds. Preachers could take their examples from the Holy Quran, the Hadith of the Prophet and remarks by the Ahl al-Bayt and Imams. The comments of Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib that have been gathered in the book of Nahj al-Balaghah as well as various pieces of supplication in al-Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah by Imam Ali ibn al-Husayn, Zayn al-Abedin are the best examples that a preacher can read to make people get familiar with them.
Preachers should explain divine and humane values that have been shown in in the Prophet Muhammad’s call and the Ahl al-Bayt where the grandchildren of the Prophet have been the imams and the leaders of the Ummah. They must remind people of the values dear to the Prophet and Ahl al-Bayt such as justice, goodness, loyalty, rationality, wisdom and morality as they sacrificed their lives in this path. Poets must try to recite poems in admiration of the Prophet Muhammad, his Ahl al-Bayt and encourage people to follow the path of the Prophet and the Ahl al-Bayt with passion and use rational and noble causes.
Speakers must review and recite the advice of the Ahl al-Bayt to the faithful, which mostly reiterate people to remain committed to their religious duties and learn the best moral points even if needed from the followers of other religions or sects. As Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq said: “Oh Shi’ahs! Be our ornament not shame and disdain, speak with people well and beware of nonsense and foul speech.”
Preachers should refrain from making expressions that would trigger animosity and disunity between Muslim sects. They should try to keep Muslims united and increase friendly bonds among them. They should advise Muslims against saying anything that would sow sedition with other Islamic sects, as they are followers of the same religion by testifying to the uniqueness of God and the Prophet Muhammad as his messenger.
Speakers should encourage their listeners to attend religious gathering of the followers of other Islamic sects, participate in their funerals because it was the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad and his descendants. Anyone who acts against this tradition certainly has made a big mistake.
Speakers should remind people not to make expressions about religious matters that they do not have information of and do not trust those who claim to be experts in Islamic teachings. A preacher should be well informed of the topic he speaks about.
Speakers must have enough information about the current events in the world, what happens in the region and do not speak about these topics if they do not anything about them.
A speaker should pay attention to his own deeds and behaviors, if he wants people to heed his advice. He should try to explain matters honestly without any hypocrisy because this is the only way to affect the listeners.
Speakers and preachers should pay attention to what they say in mourning ceremonies that are held specially in foreign countries and run these holy gathering in simple and friendly manner. They have to try to keep God Almighty satisfied in their mission.
“Oh Lord! Accept (this service) from us. You, indeed You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.”