Guidance with important instructions by Grand Ayatullah Syed Al-Sistani on visiting the holy shrine of Imam Hussain (as) for the occasion of the Arbaeen
4 Safar 1439
Grand Ayatullah Syed Al-Sistani has given guidance with important instructions, on visiting the holy shrine of Imam Hussain (as) for the occasion of the 40th days after the 10th of Muharram (Ziyarat Al-Araba’in):
One finds below the question to the religious authority, i.e. his eminence Grand Ayatullah Ali Al-Sistani, and his guidance on this occasion:
Question: While we are aiming to walk for our visit to Karbala on the occasion of the 40th day after the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (as) -the master of martyrs- we feel the need for affectionate guidance on this great occasion, with a view to receiving the utmost benefits and rewards. We need you to remind us about what is forgotten or unknown to us, hoping that you will address your guidance to all different groups and classes of the Muslim society.
Answer: In the name of Almighty Allah (swt), the Merciful and Compassionate!
All praise belongs to Allah, and peace upon Islam’s great Prophet Muhammad and his purified progeny!
The believers, upon whom Almighty Allah (swt) has bestowed the blessing of this visit, must be reminded that Almighty God has chosen some prophets and apostles (as) amongst His servants and declared them as examples and made their teachings, actions and lives as role-models.
Almighty God (swt) has promoted visiting their holy shrines in order to honor them and to celebrate their elevated status, that it would lead people to remember Almighty God (swt), and reflect and adopt their teachings and practical rulings. Indeed they were superlativein obeying the Almighty and in their struggle and sacrifice for the sake of His true religion.
Based on this, some of the requirements for a perfect visit, in addition to the profound remembrance of the great sacrifices of Imam Hussein (as) for the sake of Almighty God (swt),are to observe the teachings of Islam, such as being punctual with prayers, observing the full modest Hijab (for both men and women), struggling for societal improvements, promoting forgiveness, patience, guidance, respecting public rights on the roads, amongst all other virtues. Observing these rights and moral aspects shall assist each and everyone to make this visit, (by God’s favor and support) a step forward in the techniqueof self-purification so that these spiritual effects will be strongly imprinted and expanded upon throughout subsequent years and visits. These steps shall assist each and everyone to understand that they are active classes and gatherings of educational circles and lectures on the Imam’s (as) teachings.
Despite the fact that we didn't witness the time of the Imams of the Ahlul-bait (as), Almighty Allah (swt) has saved their teachings and attitudesfor us in order that we may learn from them and be blessed with being spiritually nurtured under their guidance. He has encouraged us to visit their holy shrines as they shall prevail as a source of inspiration for us, and for us to be tested in our sincerity in believing, adopting and practicing their teachings, while one attends their holy sites and positively responds to their teachings. This is the institution of life, as those, who lived with them and attended their meetings, were tested. Therefore we must be careful and warn ourselves to be alert to our intentions, rather than be fooled by fakefar-fetched hopes, dishonest to ourselves! Rather we should be as they (as) wanted us to be, in supplications, deeds and actions, so that we will be recalled to life again just like those who have witnessed and lived with them. It has been narrated from the commander of the faithful, Imam Ali (as), that he had said during the battle of Al-Jamal, “They are many groups and folks, who have spiritually attended us and/or were mentally amongst us, while they are still in their grand-fathers’ backs and grand-mothers’ wombs”. As such, those who are true believers, and honest in their wishes, will not find it hard to diligently adapt their teachings and to assiduously follow them, so that one may be purified as they have given their instructions and be well-behaved as they have provided us with the ultimate examples of good behavior.
I urge by Almighty God (swt) that you maintain performing prayers in the most appropriate way! As stated in the hadith, the prayers are the pillars of the Islamic faith and the pathway for the wayfarers; if they are rejected, everything is rejected, and if they are accepted, everything is accepted. So the believers, whom are the most beloved to Allah (saw), are those who perform them at their early timing. The beloved servants of Allah (swt) are those who attend the prayer quickly at their due time! They should not let themselves become preoccupied –even with any wishful worshiping acts- during the commencement of their time, as they are the best acts of worship. It has been narrated by the Imams (as): Our Intercession will not reach those, who disregard them. Referring to their importance, one can read from the historical records that it has been narrated that Imam Hussein (as) on the very critical moments of the day of Ashura’, told one of his companions, who had mentioned prayer at the commencement of its time: ‘God has blessed you, as you have remembered the prayers! May Almighty God (swt) make you someone, who will constantly remember prayers!’ Despite the heavy piercing showers of arrows from the attacks of their aggressive enemies, they prayed in the battlefield.
I urge by Almighty God (swt) that you obtain honesty and sincerity in your intentions throughout your works. The moral value of each of any human being’s act and blessing is solely dependent on the devotion to God, and how honestly one has been motivated. Almighty God (swt) would only accept acts that were exclusively meant to be solely for Him. It has been narrated from the Prophet (sawas) on the emigration of Muslims from Mecca to Madinah, that anyone who migrated for the sake of Almighty Allah (swt) and His Messenger, it will up to them to reward him. However if he, who emigrated to Madinah for the sake of getting benefits from a new worldly life, then he will get the rewards for his migration dependent on it. Surely Almighty God (swt) will compensate with His reward, up to the level and depth of the actor and of the work. He could reward with –in accordance with the degree of sincerity- up until seven hundred times, and Almighty Allah (swt) may multiply even more for whomever He pleases. As such the visitors should frequently remember God while they are walking and remain sincere and honest in every step and action. They should also know that Almighty God would not bless any act that was done with non-dedication to Allah (swt), rather it will expire with this life; however acting in full honesty and sincerely solely for the sake of God (swt) will be blessed with an everlasting blessing and reward for this life as well as for the life hereafter.
I urge by the Almighty God (swt) that you should observe Hijab [Muslim women modest cover] and it (modesty) is one of the most observed traditions by the Ahlul-bait (as), even in the most difficult and critical conditions on the day of ‘Ashura’. They observed it as they were the role model for it. They (as) were not bothered with anything more inhumane and more flagrant -by their enemies- as when they were deprived of their Hijab among the laity in the public. As such for all visitors, especially respected believing ladies, they should strictly observe the requirements of chastity, whether in their behavior, their clothing and their outlook. They should refrain from wearing any clothes that violate those rules of chastity, such as tight clothes and tight-fitting trousers, but also refrain from any use of cosmetic materials, avoid mixing and/or intermingling with the other gender in milieus that are associated with indecency. Therefore they must obtain the lowest level of mixing, in order to safeguard this holy institution and ritual act of worship from any contaminating indecent acts.
We urge Almighty Allah (sawas) to lift up the elevated status of the Prophet Muhammad (sawas) and his household [Ahlul-bait] (as) in this world and the Hereafter, due to their great sacrifices as well as for their struggle -in His name- to guide the human beings, and to shower them with His Mercy, as much as He had showered Mercy over all His Divine Messengers before them, in particular, Prophet Ibrahim and his family (as). We urge Almighty Allah (swt) to bless the visitors to Imam Hussain [Abi Abdillah Al-Hussain](as) with their ritual visit, and accept their rituals -as best acts of worship can be accepted- from his righteous servants. We hope that they will be the exemplary models for others in their walks and in their lifestyle throughout their lives. We pray that they will be rewarded by Almighty Allah (swt) on account of the Household of the Prophet (as), due to their extreme loyalty for them, for acting according to their teachings, for preaching their elevated message of peace. We hope they (as) will return for them their charity on the Day of Resurrection, when each and every individual -amongst all humanity- will be called with their chosen Imam (as), and that the martyrs -amongst them- will be resurrected in the same path with Imam Al-Hussain (as) and his companions, due to their sacrifices of their souls, after having endured the oppression, injustice and persecution for their loyalty!
Allah (swt) is listening and responding to our prayers, Amen!