The Advice of the Supreme Authority of Muslims, His Eminence, Grand Ayatullah Sayyid Ali al-Sistani,…
Advice to Pilgrims on the Occasion of Arbaeen
The following question was posed to Grand Ayatullah Sayyid Sistani:
As we are a group of pilgrims leaving for Karbala for Arbaeen, we are in need of your fatherly advice in order for us to benefit from this spiritual journey, earn the reward of ziyarah, and also to find out what we don’t know.
Answer: Answer by Grand Ayatullah Sistani (may God grant him long life):
In the Name of God, the Compassionate the Merciful
Praise belongs to God, the Exalted, and peace and benedictions of God be upon our master, Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his pure progeny (peace be upon them).
God, the Exalted, selected Prophets and their noble successors (p) from amongst His servants to be divine proofs and authority over people. God has encouraged people to visit the sacred sites so that those infallible leaders (p) are continuously remembered and held in reverence. Since those nobles are the best examples of servitude to God, visiting their shrines, commemorating them and narrating their stories will remind the believers of God, the Exalted, His doctrines and injunctions.
Hence, one of the essentials of this pilgrimage is that the pilgrim, in addition to remembering Imam Hussain’s (p) sacrifices and devotion in the way of God, the Exalted, observe the teachings of Islam including those relating to prayer, hijab, self-reform, selflessness and moral etiquette etc. In this way, his/her pilgrimage may be a step toward developing and training the soul for accepting these teachings and consolidating their effects until the next pilgrimage. By doing this, attending these ceremonies will almost be the same as attending the lessons of the Imam, peace be upon him.
As we have not lived during the time of the Ahl al-Bayt (p), God, the Exalted, has preserved their conduct and persuaded us to visit them so that we may model ourselves after them. God also wants to test us as to how sincere we are in our desire to be close to them and follow their teachings. We must know that if we act as per their advice, it is hoped that we shall be resurrected along with their friends. It has been reported that Imam Ali (p) said in the Battle of Jamal:
“Today we are accompanied by those who are still in the loins of their fathers and mothers.”
Therefore, it is not difficult for each of us, who cherish the hope to act according to the teachings of the Ahl al-Bayt, to obey them and benefit from their manners.
Fear God in relation to your prayers. As stated in the hadith, it is the pillar of your religion and the ascension of the believer. If it is accepted, all other acts will be accepted and if it is rejected, all other acts of worship will also be rejected.
It is befitting for believers to offer their prayers on time because God loves those who rush to prayer as soon as they hear the call for it. It is not appropriate for a believer to engage in any other acts of worship during the optimal time for prayer because prayer is the best form of obedience to God. It is has been narrated from the Ahl al-Bayt, peace be upon them, that they said:
“Our intercession (with God) will not be won or gained by that person who depreciates or undervalues the prayer”.
About Imam Hussain’s (p) special attention to prayer on the Day of Ashura, it has been reported that he told his companion who reminded him of the optimal time for prayer:
“You reminded me of prayer, may Allah include you amongst those who are conscious of (their duty to) prayer.”
Then and there he established prayer under a rain of arrows.
Fear God in sincerity as the value and barakah of one’s deeds depends how sincere one is in performing them for God’s sake, because God will not accept any deeds which are not purely for Him. It has been narrated from the Holy Prophet (pbuh) that he said during Muslims’ emigration from Mecca to Medina: “Whoever migrates for the sake of Allah and His Messenger, he has migrated to Him and whoever migrates to make worldly gains, he has migrated to the world. Allah will reward sincere deeds to the extent that it will increase to seven hundred folds and He doubles the rewards for whomsoever He wants.”
Hence, it is necessary on the pilgrims to remember God, recite dhikr and be mindful that every step and deed should be for God’s sake. They should know that God has not bestowed anyone with a blessing so precious as sincerity in belief, sayings and conducts. An act which is devoid of sincerity ends with the end of life in this world whereas a sincere act will be lasting and blessed in this world and the hereafter.
Fear God in observing modest clothing which is amongst the most important thing that the Ahl al-Bayt (p) heeded to even in the most difficult circumstances and were the best role models. For Imam Hussain (p) was not hurt as much as he was hurt by the enemy due to violation of his dignity and respect. It is, therefore, necessary for all pilgrims especially ladies to observe modesty in their conducts, clothing and appearance and to avoid whatever is deemed a violation of this e.g. wearing tight-fitting clothes, mixing, in an abominable way, with members of the opposite gender and wearing inadmissible jewelry. In fact, it is befitting for believers that in order for them to keep the sacred ceremony untainted, they have to, as far as possible, adhere to the highest levels of modesty.
We pray to Almighty God to elevate the position of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him and his descendants, and his pure family (p), due to the sacrifices they made in the way of God and their efforts to guide His creatures. May He increase salawat (greeting) and blessings on them as He has sent greetings to previous Prophets, especially Ibrahim and his family (peace be upon them).
We also pray to God to bestow barakah upon the pilgrimage of the pilgrims of Imam Hussain (p), so that they may, through their lifestyle and deeds in this pilgrimage, be a role model for others for the rest of their lives and be rewarded for their love of and obedience to the household of the Prophet (pbuh) and for preaching his mission.
Let’s hope that on the Day of Judgment when everyone of the people are called with his/her Imam, they (pilgrims) are called with the Ahl al-Bayt (p) and that those who are martyred, due to their sacrifices and the sufferings, are resurrected with Hussain, peace be upon him and his friends. Verily, He is all Hearing, Ever Responsive.