As we find ourselves in the sacred nights and days of Muharram, our hearts are moved with emotion and love for the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp) and his family (pbut) as we remember the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (p) and his companions. Their sacrifice at the Battle of Karbala serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of striving towards noble values and developing unwavering support of God’s religion.

In Muharram, communities around the world come together to mourn these blessed personalities. We can make better use of our presence at such gatherings by observing proper etiquette. Here’s a practical guide of what to keep in mind on these potentially transformative days:

  1. Self-reflection: Muharram is a time for deep introspection and personal growth. In his reminder for Muharram gatherings, Sayyid Sistani advises that we should take care to utilize the Ahlul Bayt (pbut) as role models for they “exemplify the values of morality like justice, truth, kindness, fulfillment of pledges, piety, virtue and high ethics.” So consider questions like: How can I embody the values of patience, courage, and resilience displayed by Imam Hussain (p)? How can I better align my character with the teachings of the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp) and his family (pbut)?
  2. Seeking knowledge: Many of us gather in mosques and Islamic centers in our local communities to learn from respected scholars during these nights. Sayyid Sistani advises us to be mindful of listening “to the speeches of knowledgeable scholars in order to elevate ourselves to a better life, not just to mourn and cry.” In addition to attending lectures and discussions, let us also be proactive in our learning. Imam al-Rida (p) is reported to have said, “Learn our words and teach them to [others]. If people knew the beauty of our words, they would follow us.”  Let us ask questions, engage in meaningful dialogue, and even spend a couple of minutes every day reading about the tragedy of the Imam and his family.
  3. Service opportunities: As we walk in the footsteps of the Ahlul Bayt (pbut), we should feel motivated to engage in activities that benefit the community or a charitable cause. This reflects the spirit of social justice championed by the Master of the Martyrs (p). Consider volunteering at a local food bank, organizing a blood drive, or participating in charity walks and runs.
  4. Cultivate an environment of mourning in our homes: By creating a solemn environment in our homes for friends and family to discuss themes and life-lessons from the tragedy of Karbala, we turn our homes into a place of God’s glorification and a space that is beloved to the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp) and his family (pbut). Imam al-Sadiq (p) is reported to have said, “The [sigh] of the one who is concerned for us due to our oppression is glorification, and their concern for our affairs is worship.”[i]
  5. Connecting our children with the story: If we help connect our children with this historical event, it will never leave them, and they will live their life with all of its most important themes: love, patience, sacrifice, mercy and resilience. We should strive to engage our children in age-appropriate discussions about the significance of Muharram and the importance of standing up for what is right. For as the tradition of the Prophet states, “Raise your children upon three characteristics: love for your Prophet (pbuh&hp), love for his Ahlul Bayt (pbut), and reciting the Quran.”[ii]

Remember, Muharram is a time for remembrance, reflection, and community. By following these guidelines, you can create a meaningful and respectful observance that fosters spiritual growth, strengthens community bonds, and keeps the memory of Imam Hussain (p) alive.

[i] Shaykh Kulayni, Al-Kafi, v. 2, p. 226. The hadith in Arabic:

نفس المهموم لنا المغتم لظلمنا تسبيح وهمه لامرنا عبادة

[ii] Muhammad Rayshahri, Mizan al-Hikmah, v. 4, p. 2680. The hadith in Arabic:

أدبوا أولادكم على ثلاث خصال: حب نبيكم، وحب أهل بيته، وقراءة القرآن

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