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Azadari is the mentioning of the calamity, condolence, wailing, and mourning for the loss of loved ones or relatives, and in the recommendations of Ahl al-Bayt, it is ordered to mourn the leader of martyrs Imam Hussein.

Meaning, concept, and signs[edit | edit source]

The word 'Azadari' means mourning, remembrance of calamity, condolence, and lamentation.

Being patient with the suffering and persevering in the loss of loved ones and relatives is also Azadari. The first sign of Azadari after learning of someone's death is wearing a dress of mourning, which is usually black, blue, or indigo.

Azadari in the Islamic culture[edit | edit source]

In Islamic culture, mourning for the dead ones does not contradict being patient with the suffering or being satisfied with God's judgment and destiny, moreover, crying is an instinctive thing and is a manifestation of emotional states as well as the compassion of human beings. Of course, the mourning must not contain conditions such as extreme panic, unrest in society, display of hair by women in front of men, or tearing or hitting the body. The Holy Prophet has said that Allah removes from His mercy those women who during a calamity, scratch their faces, tear their collars, and cry out woe to us and death to us. Imam Baqir has also warned the Shias against shouting, making loud cries, hurting the body, striking the head, and pulling hair.

At the time of mourning, it is recommended to recite the verse (Inna lillah wa inna ilayhi raje'oon), known as the verse of Istirja'a, and ask God to give patience in adversity and replace this misfortune with something better than it.

In the biographies of the infallible Imams, sadness or grief are not optional matters for a person, and a decision can be made regarding their undertaking or prohibition, and basically, the issue of crying or mourning for the loss of relatives is not subject to the Sharia prohibition, however, recommendations have been made to us in this field from the infallible Imams, especially if the mourning is for a martyr. If mourning for a martyr is free from extremism, it will be educational, constructive, positive, and reformative for society.

The nature of Azadari in the presence of the infallible Imams[edit | edit source]

Contrary to the claim that the ceremonies of Azadaris were secret during the time of the Infallible Imam, narrations and historical evidence clarify that the nature and duration of the mourning ceremony in the presence of the infallible imams was in a way that the imams tried to perform this ceremony in a group and if possible, with the presence of their family members to accomplish their holy missions. One of the methods used by the Infallible Imams in holding Azadari for Imam Hussein and keeping alive the memory of the uprising of Ashura was to use orators, poets, and people with good voices. They recited elegies in the presence of Imams but were far away from exaggeration and false speech.

Imam Sadiq while addressing Fuzail bin Yasar with a tone of encouragement said: Will you organize the Majlis (mourning ceremony) and speak about us together? Fuzail said: Yes! Imam said: I like this Majlis. So keep alive this mission of ours. May God have mercy on the ones who revive our mission and decree, and would say: "There is no eye or a tear more beloved than the eyes that cry for Imam Hussein" (Ibid p.81).

Deobak Khuza'ee, a famous poet of the Ahl al-Bayt has narrated: "During the days of Ashura, I went to Ali bin Musa. I saw him sitting with his companions, sad and glum. As soon as he saw me, said: Hello O Deobal! Hello to our helper through his hands and tongue. Then he called me to sit near him, and said: O Deobal! I would like you to recite elegy for me since these days were the days of grief for us Ahl al-Bayt and the days of delight for our enemies, especially the Umayyads. O Deobal! Whoever cries on the sufferings of my grandfather Hussein, of course, God forgives all his sins.

Then he stood up and drew a curtain between us and his family and then made himself sit behind the curtain so that he can wail upon his grandfather. Then he said to me: O Deobal! Recite elegy for my grandfather as you are our praiser and helper till the time you are alive. Aid us in this work and do not be neglectful about it. Deobal says: Tears started to flow from my eyes and I started reciting elegy in the lamentation of Imam Hussain. (Ibn Qulawiyyah, chapter 32, p. 12)

The course of development of the History of Ashura Azadari[edit | edit source]

Azadari of Imam Hussein, which came out as a Shia tradition after the incident of Ashura, underwent a lot of fundamental changes throughout history.

The Shia activities manifested clearly and obviously in 352 AH, almost three centuries after Ashura for the first time in the history of Islam. In such a way that with the coming to power of the Buyid dynasty (322-448 AH/ 933-1056 CE) in Baghdad, Mo'aziz al-Dawlah Dilmi, on the Ashura of that year, ordered that the people mourn Imam Hussein and the family Prophet (PBUH) on that day. They would shut the markets and buying or selling would be abandoned on that day. Historians say that this was the first time that mourning was held formally and openly for the Martyrs of Karbala. (Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil, vol. 8, pp. 549-550) In addition to the Shias, the Sunnis also performed Azadari in the mourning of Imam Hussein (AS) and his Ahl al-Bayt based on historical reports similar to that of the Shias. As the preacher Khwarazmi (died 568 AH) wrote a Matal in the middle of the 6th century to be used in mourning ceremonies. Sahib bin Ibad (died 568 AH), the scholarly minister and poet of Buyids, had a special interest in promoting and spreading the Azadari for Imam Hussein. He composed several hymns in praise of the Imam, which were performed during the mourning ceremony of Ashura. (See: Amini, vol. 4, pp. 57-60) Abu Bakr Khwarazmi (323-382 AH/ 935-993 CE), an Iranian poet, scribe, and editor of the 4th century AH, encouraged the Shias to honor the Ta'ziya of Imam Hussein. (Yaqut Hamavi, vol. 2, p. 196)

Other than the Buyids, the Fatimid government (297-567 AH) also spread the Azadari in Egypt. In the year 360 AH Shias of Egypt considered the days of Ashura as of mourning and sorrow and would recite monodies in their mourning rituals.

With the fall of the Buyids, a powerful Shia dynasty, worrying restrictions came up but Azadari remained common among the Shias and the moderate Sunnis also welcomed its programs. Two famous preachers named Ali bin Hussain Ghaznavi and Amir Ebadi, both of whom were Sunnis used to perform Rawze Khawni for Aba-Abdullah al-Hussein. Ibn Juri (vol. 8, p. 102) would present contents from their pulpits. In his book too, Abdul Jalil Razi provided a complete description of the Azadari of the Sunnis for Martyrs of Ashura in the sixth century.

In the 9th century and during the rule of the Timurids (771-916 AH), a preacher from the Sunnis wrote a book on the sufferings of the Ahl al-Bayt, especially Ashura, and spread the practice of Rawze Khawni among the Shias (Yafei, vol. 3, p. 246; Faqihi, p. 446).

Since the Safavid period (907-1148 AH/1502-1735 AD) when Shiism became the official religion of Iran, Ashura events became the focus of Safavid kings' plans, and the importance of this great religious mourning was increased every year, but unfortunately, since the announcement of the officialization of Shia religion, the Hussein’s movement changed noticeably, that is, instead of using the opportunity to awaken the people and explain the goals of the Ashura movement, Ashura was used for reciting elegies and Azadari. Although the spirit of Islam was justice اعدوا هُوَ اقرب للتقوی) Be just, it is nearer to piety), unfortunately, the governments that came to power couldn't implement it and none of them were able to realize social justice in the Islamic society.

After the suffocating period of the Afghans and the Afshars passed, in the 12th century of Hijri, Azadari remarkably got a new life, and innovations accompanied it. This progress that took place in the north and South of Iran was associated with the expansion of the devices made to set up the mobile Tazi'yas, groups of Sine zani, and live scenes of suffering. (Chelkovsky, p. 166)

This Azadari spread and prospered in the Qajar era, especially during the time of Naser al-Din Shah. Processions, Sine zani, and reciting the Nauhe which were common and had developed during the Safavid era, became more popular in the capital during this period with even larger outreach and more ceremonies and were held with great etiquette and protocol having extensive pomps.

Azadari became popular among the people of Iran and some countries and had various forms, including attending gatherings wearing black, mourning and Rawze Khawni, Nauhe, carrying a coffin, carrying a plate, carrying a flag, Kutal, banner, hand, tog, sine zani, zanjeer zani and qamah zani, drum-beating, cymbal-striking and stone-hitting.

Nauhe and its reciting became less prosperous during the Pahlavi period (1925-1978) and were suppressed. The suppression of this type of ceremony was the result of Reza Shah's opposition to holding these types of rituals and his anti-religiousness.

After the victory of the Islamic Revolution (February 1979) and especially during the Iran-Iraq (1980-1988) war, Nauhe and its reciting flourished again. This time, the place of Nauhe and its recitation, apart from religious ceremonies, rituals, and mourning, were the nights of war operations.

Today, in all countries of the world, in Europe and America, in addition to Muslim countries such as Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, India, Pakistan, and other countries, Shias consider the day of Ashura as a great religious mourning every year. On this day, businesses are closed, and people take to lament and keep the memory of this great mourning alive.

Sources[edit | edit source]

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