Rawze Khawni

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Rawze Khawni is a form of Shiite mourning on the sufferings of Imam Hussein and the other pure Imams. Mentioning the sufferings of the Ahl al-Bayt and talking about the incident of Karbala has been popular in Shia mourning gatherings since the era of Shia Imams.

History of Rawze Khawni[edit | edit source]

The first official and general Azadari took place on the day of Ashura in the year 352 AH. Moez al-Dawlah ordered the people of Baghdad to mourn by shutting their shops and wearing Musawwah (Pashmina clothes) as well as the women to perform Azadari in the streets (see: Ibn Aseer, vol. 8, p. 549). Before this and after it as well, public mourning of Shias in Muharram has been one of the main components of the ritualistic identity of the Shias. Mentioning the incident of Karbala, the sufferings and the occurrences in the private and public ceremonies of the Shias was often a part of these gatherings and the Rawze Khawns usually devoted a part of the assembly to it while enumerating the virtues and characteristics of the deceased.

However, before the 10th century AH, the title of "Rawze Khawni" was not used for these gatherings. Around the year 900 AH, during the era of the Timurid sultan Hussain Bayqra, Molla Hussein Vaez Kashefi (died 910 AH) in Herat, wrote a Maqtal called "Rawze ash-Shuhada" (meaning the Garden of the Martyrs) in Farsi containing 10 chapters. This work includes the mention of the sufferings and afflictions of the prophets, the Holy Prophet, the Ahl al-Bayt, especially the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, his companions, and the sufferings that befell his family. The use of this book spread quickly among the reciters and preachers of Ahl al-Bayt in Iran, Iraq, the subcontinent, and other Shia regions starting from the Timurid period, especially the Safavid era and the period after it, and those who learned the contents of the book and recited them to the people became known as "Rawze Khawn" meaning readers of the book of Rawze ash-Shuhada, and those gatherings took the name of "Rawze Khawni". (Saadi Shirazi, p. 52; Agha Buzurg, vol. 11, p. 295; Mahjoob, pp. 421-420; Jafarian, vol. 2, pp. 782, 877)

The custom of Azadari and Rawze Khawni of the martyrs of Karbala was mainly for the month of Muharram and especially its first decade. Some Rawze Khawns were famous for reciting Rawze Khawni in three languages, Persian, Arabic, and Turkish. (Kasravi, p. 419)

Places of Rawze Khawni[edit | edit source]

The ceremonies of Rawze Khawni are held mostly in public places such as mosques, Husseiniye, religious schools, places of stay, and coffee houses, as well as in homes, especially in the houses of eminent scholars, high-ranking clerics, statesmen, nobles, big businessmen and government centers (See Mustafawi, vol. 1, pp. 280-282; Motamedi vol.1, pp. 141-142, Foroughi, p. 211; Natiq, p. 308; Rezaei, p. 472-473). Some Shia governors and rulers also had special Rawze Khawns for themselves but the Rawze Khawni that became the center of focus was the Rawze Khawni that took place among the religious committees which usually had their reputation and identity, and some people present in them were considered permanent members of those committees (Motamedi, ibid). The gatherings of Rawze Khawni were not assigned to a specific time and it was possible to hold them on all days of the week and year, as well as during the day or at night. Some of them had so-called Hafte Khawni, that is, they dedicated a certain week to the Rawze Khawni (Mardum Nigari-e-Marasim-e-Azadar, pp. 35-36; Guzarish ha-e-Nazmiye az Mahallat-e-Tehran, vol. 1, pp. 195-235; Mustafawi, Ibid; Rezae, p. 469)

In some Rawze ceremonies, men and women participated together. They either sat in separate places or two separate groups but without barriers (Mustafawi, Vol. 1, p. 523).

Rawze Khawni in the Islamic World[edit | edit source]

It was customary among the Shias of Afghanistan to hold these types of ceremonies every week on the days or nights of Thursday or Friday and therefore would call it "Panj-shanbe Khawni" or "Jumm’e Khawni"(Farhang, pp. 313-314, 317-318).

In Lebanon and Iraq, a similar type of ceremony is famously called "Taziya Majlis" or "Zikri" and in Iraq, groups of Rawze Khawns are known as "Azaiya".

Among the Shias of India and Pakistan as well, Rawze Khawni is commonly recited in Farsi, Urdu, Deccani, English, and other languages. In the sub-continent, Rawze Khawni is called "Majlis-e-Aza" or just "Majlis" in general. (Saaedi Shirazi, p. 52) In Central Asia, in addition to the Rawze ash-Shuhada, the text of Rawze ash-Shuhada written by Siqli Hari, has been very famous and popular.

The method of Rawze Khawni[edit | edit source]

Rawze Khawni is associated with other types of Azadari. Sometimes before the beginning of the Rawze Khawni, the Qur'an, prayers, and ziarats are recited or the Madah (eulogist) or the Nauhe Khawn (monodist) would prepare the attendees to listen to the Rawze and after the Rawze, it would be the preacher's turn to give a speech to the people (See Mustafawi, vol. 1, p. 281; Shahribaaf, vol 5, p. 720)

Usually, the Rawze Khawns had pleasant voices and were somewhat familiar with musical instruments and sounds (See Nasri Ashrafi, vol 3, pp. 113-114; Yaar Ahmadi, p. 173) The teaching of this technique has been in the form of teacher-student training, however, nowadays books have been written and published to guide teachers (For example, see Hameed Samadi).

Rawze Khawns were not at a high level in terms of knowledge and religious education, but, some of them were famous for their grace as well as knowledge and had a good reputation among the people (see Dolatabadi, vol 1, pp. 54-55, 246; Mustafawi, vol 1, p. 227; Mahjoob, p. 418). Taking money from the people or gifts from the statesmen and nobles has also been a custom (See Masheeri, p. 349)

Rawze Khawni in Muharram[edit | edit source]

Every day from the first decade of Muharram is dedicated to a specific Rawze. For example, the first night and day: mentioning of the sufferings of Muslim bin Aqeel, second: the arrival of the caravan to Karbala, third: Hazrat Ruqayyah, fourth: Hur and his companions and the children of Zainab, fifth: Abdullah bin Hussain and his companions, sixth: Hazrat Qasim, seventh: Rawze about the thirst of Ali Asghar, eighth: Ali Akbar, ninth: Abu al-Fazl Abbas, tenth: Imam Hussein, eleventh: Sham-e-Ghareeban and captivity of Hazrat Zainab, and until the next few days as well, some Rawzes would be held (Rezae, pp. 469-470)

Sources[edit | edit source]

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