Advice from the Office of His Eminence Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali al-Sistani
8 safar 1436H

In the Name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful

All praise is due to God, the Lord of the Worlds. May His peace and blessings shower upon our Master Muhammad and his Pure Progeny -

Undoubtedly, the faithful who are blessed by God to make this honorable visit should reflect on the fact that the Creator has made Prophets and Imams out of some of His servants so that they may be examples, role models, and testimonies for the people [in the hopes they would] then find guidance in their teachings and follow in their footsteps.

God Almighty has encouraged people to visit their holy mausoleums, thus making their remembrance everlasting and elevating their already lofty status. He did so that it may be a reminder for people, bringing their attention closer to God, His teachings and His laws. For, indeed, the Prophets and Imams were the prime examples of devotion to the One Most High, of struggling in His Way, and of sacrifice for His upright religion.

It follows, therefore, that in addition to remembering the sacrifices of Imam Hussein (as) in the Way of God, this visit also entails the following:

Attentiveness to abiding by the teachings of the true religion, including prayer, hijab, repentance, forgiveness, patience, good manners, the sanctity of the road from Najaf to Karbala, and all other virtuous acts and characteristics so that this visit may be – by God’s grace – a step toward building one’s individual character when it comes to these meanings that will have effects which last until the upcoming visits and beyond. That way, one’s presence in these visits becomes like one’s presence in the gatherings of learning and character building at the hands of the Imam (as).

Even though we have not witnessed the (physical) presence of the Imams of the Holy Household (as) so that we may be able to personally learn from them and have our characters built at their hands, God has preserved their teachings and positions for us and encouraged us to visit their holy mausoleums so that we may benefit from their example. In doing so, He tested the extent of our honesty when it comes to our hope of being in their presence and abiding by their teachings and admonitions, just as He tested those who lived with them and were in their presence. Therefore, let us be cautious in case our hopes are, in reality, false wishes. Let us be mindful that if we are as they (peace and blessings be upon them) wanted us to be then hopefully we will be resurrected alongside those who witnessed everything in their presence firsthand. For the following has been narrated in the Battle of the Camel, where the Commander of the Faithful (as) said, “Today there were people present here with us who are still in the backs of men and the wombs of women.”

Those amongst us who are honest in their hopes do not find it difficult to act according to their teachings and to follow their lead, thus we maintain our purity by their purification and our discipline in their etiquettes.

Therefore, have taqwa! Be conscious of God when it comes to prayer! For indeed, it has been mentioned in a noble tradition that prayer is the pillar of the religion and the means to ascension for the faithful. If it is accepted, all else is accepted. If it is rejected, all else is rejected. One should be committed to [performing] prayer at the very beginning of its time, for indeed the most beloved servants of God to Him are those quickest to answer the call to prayer. A faithful person should not turn away from prayer at the beginning of prayer time because of being busy with another act of devotion; for surely prayer is the best act of devotion. It has been narrated that the Masoomeen (as) have said, “Our intercession does not extend to one who takes prayer lightly.”

It has also been narrated that Imam Hussein (as) cared so profoundly for prayer, that on the Day of Ashura, he told the person who reminded him to pray at the beginning of its time, “You reminded me of prayer; may God make you among those who pray.” He then prayed in the battlefield despite the intensity of the arrows pouring down [upon him].

Have taqwa! Have God-consciousness when it comes to sincerity, for indeed, the value and blessing of a person’s action is to the extent of the sincerity to God in that person’s action. Indeed, God does not accept anything other than that which is done purely for Him, free from seeking anyone or anything other than Him.

Concerning the migration of the Muslims from Mecca to Medina, it has been narrated that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh & hf) has said the following: “Whoever migrates toward God and His Messenger, then that person's migration is toward Him, and whoever migrates toward a worldly aim then that person's migration is toward the world. Indeed, God multiplies the reward of the good deed according to the degree of sincerity that a person has in doing it, reaching up to 700 times the reward, and God multiplies the reward for whomever He wishes.”

Therefore, the zuwaar (pilgrims) must remember God abundantly during their walk, and be mindful of their sincerity with their every step and deed. Let them know that the Lord has not bestowed any blessing upon His servants without sincerity to Him in belief, word and action. Indeed, action without sincerity expires with the expiration of this world. As for action with sincerity to God, it is blessed forever in this world and beyond.

Have taqwa! Have consciousness of God when it comes to covering up with the hijab! For indeed, it is among the most important of that which the Holy Household – peace be upon them – cared for even in the harshest of circumstances on the Day of Ashura. They were the prime example in that regard. Out of all the acts carried out by their enemies, there was nothing that pained them as much as having the sanctity of their honorable (ladies) violated before the people. Therefore, all visitors, especially the faithful women, must abide by what chastity entails when it comes to their behavior, clothing and appearance. They should avoid anything that may taint (this image of chastity), such as tight clothing, inappropriate mixing, and forbidden adornments. Rather, one should be attentive to abide by all of these things to the utmost degree possible in order to safeguard this sacred ritual from being tarnished.

We ask God Almighty to elevate the status of the Chosen Prophet (pbuh & hf) and his Immaculate Holy Household – peace be upon them – in this world and the Hereafter for what they have sacrificed in the Way of God and what they have struggled through to guide God's creatures. We ask Him to multiply His showers of peace and blessings upon them, just as He showered peace and blessings upon the Chosen Ones before them, especially Prophet Ibrahim (as) and the Progeny of Prophet Ibrahim (as). We also ask God Almighty to bless the ziyaarah of the visitors of Imam Hussein (as) and to accept their deeds in the best way, just as He accepts the good deeds of His righteous servants. And due to His acceptance of their deeds, they will become an example for others in their walk [towards Karbala], their behavior throughout this visit, and for the remainder of their lives. We ask Him to reward them well on behalf of the Holy Household of their Prophet – peace be upon them – for their allegiance to them, for following in their footsteps and for delivering their message. (With such reward, we hope) that they may be called up alongside them – peace be upon them – on the Day of Judgment when everyone will be called up with whosoever is their Imam. As for those amongst them who are martyrs on this path, we ask God to resurrect them alongside Imam Hussein (as) and his companions for sacrificing their lives and bearing oppression and persecution because of their allegiance [to him]. Indeed, God is All-Hearing, and responds to prayer.