Azadari! Act of Love and its limitations
Azadari - An act of love
Allah (swt) says in the Holy Quran:
قُلْ لَا أَسْأَلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ أَجْرًا إِلَّا الْمَوَدَّةَ فِي الْقُرْبَىٰ
Say: "No reward do I ask of you for this except the love of my near of kin” (42.22)
The act of Azadari is a practical implementation of this verse of the Holy Quran known as the verse of “Mawaddat”.
This verse of the Holy Quran orders every Muslim to love the Ahlul Bait (as). Hence the love of the AhlulBait (as) is obligatory.
As per the narrations of the Imam’s (as) there are no fixed ways of expressing ones love towards the AhlulBait (as) and hence any act (which does not go against the clear and specific laws of Islam) done with the intention of expressing love for the AhlulBait (as) is praised and accepted by the AhlulBait (as). Below we quote a couple of narrations of the Imam’s (as) to prove this.
قال أنس : كنت عند الحسين عليه السلام ، فدخلت عليه جارية فحيته بطاقة ريحان ، فقال لها : أنت حرة لوجه الله ، فقلت : تجيئك بطاقة ريحان لا خطر لها فتعتقها ؟ قال : كذا أدبنا الله ، قال الله " وإذا حييتم بتحية فحيوا بأحسن منها أوردوها " وكان أحسن منها عتقه
Anas bin Maalik narrates:
Once I was with Imam Husain (as) when a slave girl came and gave a bundle of flower to Imam Husain (as) as a gift. In return Imam Husain (as) said the slave girl, I have freed you in path of Allah (swt).
Anas then said to Imam Husain (as), “This slave girl gave you a bundle of flower which is of no value and in return you freed her?”
Imam Husain (as) said, “When a (courteous) greeting/gift is offered you, meet it with a greeting still more courteous, or (at least) of equal courtesy. Allah takes careful account of all things.” [Chapter.4 Verse.86] Hence the return for the bundle of flowers that she gave was this only that she be freed.
[Source: Bihar Al Anwar Vol.44 Pg.195]
عن تفسير العياشي، عن بريد بن معاوية العجلي قال: كنت عند أبي جعفر عليه السّلام إذ دخل عليه قادم من خراسان ماشيا، فأخرج رجليه و قد تغلّفتا (تفلقتا)، و قال: أما و اللّه ما جاء بي من حيث جئت إلاّ حبّكم أهل البيت، فقال أبو جعفر عليه السّلام «و اللّه لو أحبّنا حجر حشره اللّه معنا، و هل الدين إلاّ الحب؟ إن اللّه يقول : قُلْ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ اللَّهَ فَاتَّبِعُونِي يُحْبِبْكُمُ اللَّهُ و قال: يُحِبُّونَ مَنْ هاجَرَ إِلَيْهِمْ و هل الدين إلاّ الحب؟
It is quoted in Tafseer Al-Ayashi from Burayd bin Muawiya Al-Ijli, he said:
"I was in the holy presence of Abu Jafar al-Baqir (عليه السلام), while a person come to Him walking all the way from Khurasan, he extended out his legs and they had cuts/fissures and he said, "I have not come from where I travelled, but for your love the Ahlulbait (عليهم السلام)."
Then Imam Abu Jafar (عليه السلام) said, "I swear by Allah (عز وجل) that if a stone loves Us, it will be raised with us, and what is divine religion besides love?
Surely Allah (عز وجل) says, "Say: If you do love Allah, Follow me: Allah will love you". (3:31)
The Imam (عليه السلام) further said, "They love those who migrate towards them, and what is the divine religion, besides love?"
[Source: Tafseer al-Ayyashi Vol. 1 Pg.167]
The above 2 narrations clearly indicate that any action (which does not go against the clear and specific laws of Islam) that is done as an expression of love towards the AhlulBait (as) is considered good and acceptable in the eyes of the Imam’s (as) and hence will be considered as acting upon the verse of Mawaddat “Say: No reward do I ask of you for this except the love of my near of kin” (42.22)
This is also very clearly specified in the following narration of Imam Sadiq (as):
عن أبي عبدالله عليه السلام قال : سمعته يقول : إنَّ البكاء والجزع مكروهٌ للعبد في كلِّ ما جزع ما خلا البكاء والجزع على الحسين بن عليّ عليهما السلام ، فإنّه فيه مأجورٌ
Abu Abdillah Imam Sadiq (as) said,
"Crying and JAZA* is Makruh for the slaves (of Allah) over any matter except crying and Jaza over Husain ibn Ali (as). Verily the one who cries and acts impatiently over Husain (as) will be rewarded."
[Source: Kamil Az Ziyarat, Chapter. 32 Hadees:2]
*JAZA - uneasiness, restlessness, and acting impatiently. Some examples include wearing black clothes and hitting the chests or things over a tragedy. All acts of Azadari come under this category and hence considered Mustahab.
Here is another narration that talks about beating the cheeks for Imam Husain (as):
وَ قَدْ شَقَقْنَ الْجُيُوبَ وَ لَطَمْنَ الْخُدُودَ الْفَاطِمِيَّاتُ عَلَى الْحُسَيْنِ بْنِ عَلِيٍّ ع وَ عَلَى مِثْلِهِ تُلْطَمُ الْخُدُودُ وَ تُشَقُّ الْجُيُوب
Narrated as part of narration that Abu Abd-Allah Imam Sadiq (عليه السلام) said:
"The Fatimad women (عليهم السلام) tore off their collars/pockets (refers to tearing of part of the dress) and slapped their cheeks upon Imam Husayn ibn Ali (عليهم السلام), upon the likes of Husayn (عليه السلام), cheeks must [certainly] be slapped and collars must be torn"
[Source: Tahzeeb al-Ahkam - Shaikh Tusi, Vol. 8, Pg. 325]
Another narration: Amir al-mu'minin, peace be upon him, said on the grave of the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his descendants, at the time of burial:
قال أمير المؤمنين (ع) على قبر رسول الله (ص) ساعة دفن: إن الصبر لجميل إلا عنك, وإن الجزع لقبيح إلا عليك, وإن المصاب بك لجليل, وإنه قبلك وبعدك لجلل
"Certainly, endurance/patience is good except about you; becoming impatient/restless is bad except over you, and the affliction about you is great while every other affliction before or after it is small."
[Source: Nahjul Balagha, Saying 292]
Even the acts which are originally part of culture of the people in a particular area/country will be considered as acceptable and valid and those who do it will be rewarded. This has been very clearly said by Imam Ali (as):
In the famous letter of Imam Ali (as) to Maalik al-Ashtar:
وَلاَ تَنْقُضْ سُنَّةً صَالِحَةً عَمِلَ بِهَا صُدُورُ هذِهِ الاْمَّةِ، وَاجْتَمَعتْ بِهَا الاْلْفَةُ، وَصَلَحَتْ عَلَيْهَا الرَّعِيَّةُ،لاَ تُحْدِثَنَّ سُنَّةً تَضُرُّ بِشَيء مِنْ مَاضِي تِلْكَ السُّنَنِ، فَيَكُونَ الاْجْرُ بِمَنْ سَنَّهَا، وَالْوِزْرُ عَلَيْكَ بِمَا نَقَضْتَ مِنْهَا. وَأَكْثِرْ مُدَارَسَةَ الَعُلَمَاءِ، وَمُنَافَثَةَ الْحُكَمَاءِ، فِي تَثْبِيتِ مَا صَلَحَ عَلَيْهِ أَمْرُ بِلاَدِكَ، وَإِقَامَةِ مَا اسْتَقَامَ بِهِ النَّاسُ قَبْلَكَ
"Do not discontinue the good practices which the earlier people of this community had acted upon, by virtue of which there was general unity and upon which the people agreed. Do not innovate any line of action which injures these earlier practices because (in that case) the reward for those who had established those practices will continue, but the burden for discontinuing them will be on you. Keep on increasing your conversations with the scholars and discussions with the wise to stabilize the prosperity of the areas under you, and to continue with that in which your predecessors had established."
[Source: Nahjul Balagha - Letter 53]
The same as above is stated by Imam Muhammad Baqir (as):
وبالاسناد الاول عن علي بن مهزيار، عن أحمد بن محمد، عن حماد بن عثمان قال: قال إسماعيل الجعفي: سمعت أبا جعفر محمد بن علي صلوات الله عليهما يقول: من سن سنة عدل فاتبع كان له مثل أجر من عمل بها من غير أن ينقص من أجورهم شئ، ومن سن سنة جور فاتبع كان عليه وزر من عمل بها من غير أن ينقص من أوزارهم شئ
Imam Abu Ja'far Muhammad b. Ali, peace be upon them both said:
"Whoever sets a balanced, just tradition, which is then followed by the people, he earns the reward of everyone who acts accordingly, without they losing anything from their rewards. And whoever sets an unjust tradition, which is then followed, he shall bear the burden of those who act accordingly, without any mitigation in the burdens of the followers."
[Source: Al Amali - Sheikh Mufeed, 23th Assembly, Hadees no. 19]
Limitations in Azadari
Now let’s see what’s the extent to which one can go in expressing his love towards the AhlulBait (as). Following is what Quran says about the extent to which Prophet Yaqub (as) went in mourning for this son Prophet Yusuf (as):
وَتَوَلَّىٰ عَنْهُمْ وَقَالَ يَا أَسَفَىٰ عَلَىٰ يُوسُفَ وَابْيَضَّتْ عَيْنَاهُ مِنَ الْحُزْنِ فَهُوَ كَظِيمٌ
And he turned away from them, and said: "How great is my grief for Yusuf" And his eyes became white with sorrow, and he fell into silent melancholy. (12:84)
قَالُوا تَاللَّهِ تَفْتَأُ تَذْكُرُ يُوسُفَ حَتَّىٰ تَكُونَ حَرَضًا أَوْ تَكُونَ مِنَ الْهَالِكِينَ
They said: "By Allah! (Never) wilt thou cease to remember Yusuf until thou reach the last extremity of illness, or until thou die!" (12:84)
فَلَمَّا أَنْ جَاءَ الْبَشِيرُ أَلْقَاهُ عَلَىٰ وَجْهِهِ فَارْتَدَّ بَصِيرًا قَالَ أَلَمْ أَقُلْ لَكُمْ إِنِّي أَعْلَمُ مِنَ اللَّهِ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ
Then when the bearer of the good news came, He cast (the shirt) over his face, and he forthwith regained clear sight. He said: “Did I not say to you, 'I know from Allah that which ye know not?" (12:96)
From the above 2 verses we understand that Prophet Yaqub (as) wept for Prophet Yusuf (as) to such an extent that his eye sight was affected as it required a miracle in the form of the shirt of Prophet Yusuf (as) to cure it. Also the mourning of Prophet Yaqub (as) was such that his other sons got the impression that he would get himself extremely ill or killed because of mourning.
The above verse of the Holy Quran clearly defines the permissible extent for mourning.