Sunday, April 1, 2018

Mourning in Muharram; lesson from the sufis

If one has to pick out one month in the Islamic calendar which is highly charged and eventful it would be Muharram. This month marks the sacrifice of Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Imam Hussain and his family which is accorded the respect it deserves. However the methods employed to confer the respect to prophet’s grandson are highly contested and vastly debated. The rituals to mark this month vary depending on one’s religious school of thought. However the matters between these antagonistic school of thoughts are premised on the question, whether it is justified to mourn the martyrdom or not in the Majalis(congregation where the events leading to the martyrdom are recalled) and individually. Those who are antithetical to the idea of mourning primarily point out that the martyrdom itself is the will of God and martyr should be celebrated not mourned. Some more orthodox elements in this camp don’t mark the events even after the demise of a loved one such as Qul, Chehlum, and Barsi (denoting the first, fortieth and anniversary after the demise). Although being aggrieved is natural in such instances however they aren’t expressive about it and rightly so as they are entitled to live as they will. My purpose here is to highlight another sort of response to death of a loved one which many of the readers might not have heard of and relate it back to the discussion above. When a Sufi passes away his demise is celebrated by his disciples as his death marks his union with the beloved that is God. The word ‘Urs’ that is the death anniversary of a Sufi literally means marriage. Hence it is celebrated year after year. This sort of response is simply not of the kind that one would expect when one passes away. However I would like to point out that some of the disciples who were closely associated to the Sufi mourned and pined over the demise of their master. Two examples will clear what I’m trying to convey here. After the Shams of Tabraiz, Rumi’s master disappeared or passed away(it’s not known with certitude if he died or disappeared), the people noted that Rumi used to weep so loud that his shrieks could be heard in every corner of the religious seminary that he taught in. Likewise, when Nizam ud din Aulia passed away, his disciple Amir khusro was so aggrieved that he didn’t leave his master’s grave for six months and became increasingly frail. Therefore he himself passed away after six months. This clearly depicts that pining over the demise of your loved is a natural element of human nature that can be cathartic, even the ones who were pre ordained by their master to celebrate their demise couldn’t curtail their emotions. Hence we should not trivialize the matter whether mourning is justified or not specifically in the month of Muharram as this month is a lot more than just mourning it teaches selflessness, empathy and patience which everyone forgets practice.
Submitted by B.H.

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