The False Practices of Muharram

  1. Making a ‘Mangta’ of Hussain (رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ)

A disapproved practice that is carried out during Muharram is when families dress their children up in green and are termed as ‘mangta’ or beggar of Hussain (رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ). Their head is shaved off from the sides leaving a lock on the front of the head to have them identified as this ‘beggar.’ These children are then told to roam about the neighborhood knocking on doorslike beggars. They are told to ask people to give them donations for being the ‘beggar’ of Hussain (رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ). If they are asked why they are doing this and what is the need, they would answer that Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ) has blessed us with a child after several years. If this child is made the ‘beggar’ of Hussain (رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ), then if he is fed in the name of Hussain (رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ), he would be protected from all diseases and harm. You will witness many such children on the streets during Muharram following this practice.

 If this was allowed in Islam, then the one to copy should have been Hussain (رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ)’s grandfather, the Prophet ﷺ who was above all mankind. Children would have been fed on his ﷺ’s behalf and Hussain (رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ) would also have practiced the same. The fact is that there is no such concept in Islam. None of the Companions (RizwanAllahu Alaihim) carried this out and nor do the leaders of Deen today follow this.

As far as the haircut is concerned that is mentioned above, there is a strict ruling with regards to what is called ‘qaza.’

It is narrated in a hadith that Abdullah bin Umar (رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ) said:

أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللهِ ﷺ نَهٰى عَنْ الْقَزَعِ

Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) forbade Al-Qaza’ (leaving a tuft of hair here and there after shaving one’s head.)
(Bukhari 5921, Book of Dress)

If this has been forbidden by the Prophet ﷺ in clear words, do you think this could be made allowed for any reason?

In the Qur’an Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ) has mentioned:

يٰٓاَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اَنْتُمُ الْفُقَرَاۗءُ اِلَى اللّٰهِ ۚ وَاللّٰهُ هُوَ الْغَنِيُّ الْحَمِيْدُ

O mankind, you are those in need of Allah, while Allah is the Free of need, the Praiseworthy.
[Al-Fatir: 15]

The fact that many characterize a person becoming a beggar with the intention that their act of asking for food and feeding it to him will benefit him is against all against the fundamentals of tawheed. Do these people have evidence through Qur’an and Sunnah to justify their action in any way? Do they have any evidence from the following of the Companions doing the same?

  • Lamenting in the form of Grief

Many people manifest their sorrow by wearing black s do what is called ‘noha.’

In a hadith it is clearly stated:

Among my people there are four characteristics belonging to pre-Islamic period which they do not abandon: boasting of high rank, reviling other peoples’ genealogies, seeking rain by stars, and walling. And he (further) said: If the wailing woman does not repent before she dies, she will be made to stand on the Day of Resurrection wearing a garment of pitch and a chemise of mange.
(Muslim 934, Book of the Funerals)

In this hadith, we learn that noha and suchlike is a practice of ignorance. This act does not have a place in Islam. Additionally, there is this hadith that says:

لَيْسَ مِنَّا مَنْ لَطَمَ الْخُدُودَ وَشَقَّ الْجُيُوبَ وَدَعَا بِدَعْوَى الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ

Narrated `Abdullah (رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ):

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “He who slaps his cheeks, tears his clothes and follows the ways and traditions of the Days of Ignorance is not one of us.”
(Bukhari:1294, Book of Funerals)


أَبُو بُرْدَةَ بْنُ أَبِي مُوسَى قَالَ وَجِعَ أَبُو مُوسَى وَجَعًا فَغُشِيَ عَلَيْهِ وَرَأْسُهُ فِي حَجْرِ امْرَأَةٍ مِنْ أَهْلِهِ فَصَاحَتْ امْرَأَةٌ مِنْ أَهْلِهِ فَلَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ أَنْ يَرُدَّ عَلَيْهَا شَيْئًا فَلَمَّا أَفَاقَ قَالَ أَنَا بَرِيءٌ مِمَّا بَرِئَ مِنْهُ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَإِنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ بَرِئَ مِنْ الصَّالِقَةِ وَالْحَالِقَةِ وَالشَّاقَّةِ

Narrated Abu Burda bin Abi Musa (رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ):

Abu Musa got seriously ill, fainted and could not reply to his wife while he was lying with his head in her lap. When he came to his senses, he said, “I am innocent of those, of whom Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) was innocent. Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) is innocent of a woman who cries aloud (or slaps her face) who shaves her head and who tear off her clothes (on the falling of a calamity)

The above hadith clearly prove that self-harm is not permissible and the Prophet ﷺ has not only forbidden these acts but also absolved himself from being a part of those who practice them. Hence, all Muslims should stay away from them and if they have indulged in any such sin, should repent immediately and leave them.

These gatherings of wailing, lamenting and mourning are carried out in Muharram to mourn the martyrdom of Hussain (رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ). We are taught to practice patience and tolerance in all matters and the same is to be practiced upon the martyrdom of Hussain (رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ). Patience is no way shown in piercing of chests and self-flogging which in itself are forms of behavior of ignorant people. 

Martyrdom is actually not to be mourned. It is to be understood as that elevated rank that has been mentioned with high regards in both Qur’an as well as mentioned in hadith.

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “By Him in Whose Hands my life is! Were it not for some men amongst the believers who dislike to be left behind me and whom I cannot provide with means of conveyance, I would certainly never remain behind any Sariya’ (army-unit) setting out in Allah’s Cause. By Him in Whose Hands my life is! I would love to be martyred in Allah’s Cause and then get resurrected and then get martyred, and then get resurrected again and then get martyred and then get resurrected again and then get martyred.
(Bukhari: 2797)

The Ameer ul Mu’mineen, Umar Farooq (رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ) used to pray and make this du’a:

اللَّهُمَّ ارْزُقْنِي شَهَادَةً فِي سَبِيلِكَ وَاجْعَلْ مَوْتِي فِي بَلَدِ رَسُولِكَ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ

`Umar said, O Allah! Grant me martyrdom in Your cause, and let my death be in the city of Your Apostle.”
(Sahih Al-Bukhari: 1890)

Martyrdom is valued so much in Islam that Khalid Bin Waleed (رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ) used to say to the disbelievers:

You probably don’t love alcohol as much as we love being martyred.”

We learn that martyrdom is not a time to be express sorrow or grief. It is not a time to inflict upon one’s self.

Do we continue grieving throughout the year?

If we are to grieve for those who died in the way of Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ), we would continue on grieving throughout the year. There would not be one day that we will not be sad for a demise for any Companion. No other nation or religion has made as many sacrifices as the Muslims in order to protect their faith. If we are to dig into history of Islam, we will realize that there is no day, week or month when a Companion has not been martyred or some story of grief will not have come up. If we are to sit and grieve every incident, we would just end up full of sorrow and grief for our entire lives unable to do any other constructive work in life.

If we were allowed to grieve for this long, then our saddest day every year would be the 12th of RabiulAwwal as that was the day when our beloved Prophetﷺ left the world. He would have been the most important person for whom we would be allowed for to express our sorrow.

If we were allowed to grieve in the manner that we have discussed above, we would be wailing on the 1st of Muharram as that marks the day of the martyrdom of second Caliphate, Umar Farooq (رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ). It is said about Umar (رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ) that if another Umar was to be born in the world, all of the disbelievers would be eradicated from the face of this earth.

If we were given permission to continue on this yearly sorrow, then we would be saddened each 18th of Dhul Hijjah as that is the day when the son-in-law of the Prophet ﷺ, Usman Bin Affan was martyred after a fifty (50) days siege. He was martyred in extremely adverse condition.

If we were to inflict harm upon ourselves to show that we are saddened, then we would do this every 21st of Ramadan as Hussain (رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ)’s father, Ali (رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ) was martyred by a dagger pierced in his chest.

If a procession was allowed to show our feelings, then we would continue to carry out a procession for Hamza (رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ) for he died a distressing death where his body parts were mutilated so much so that he became unrecognizable. His nose, ears, fingers were cut off and his stomach was slit. He was the uncle of our beloved Prophet ﷺ as well as a maternal cousin. Additionally, Hamza (رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ) was the suckling brother of the Prophet ﷺ.

If we were to practice ‘noha’ which includes wailing and loud lamenting with physical manifestation if slapping cheeks, we would do the same for Summaiya (رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْھَا) and her husband, Yasir (رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ) who died defending their Deen. Obituaries would be read for them also. Even today, to recall the incident of their deaths leaves us shaking. Jaffar Tayyar (رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ) was martyred in the Battle of Mutah who left behind young children. The Prophet ﷺ was deeply grieved by his death, yet he did not make even that day for a day of sorrow on a yearly basis.  

Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ) says in the Qur’an:

وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُم بِشَيْءٍ مِّنَ الْخَوْفِ وَالْجُوعِ وَنَقْصٍ مِّنَ الْأَمْوَالِ وَالْأَنفُسِ وَالثَّمَرَاتِ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ الصَّابِرِينَ ﴿١٥٥﴾ الَّذِينَ إِذَا أَصَابَتْهُم مُّصِيبَةٌ قَالُوا إِنَّا لِلَّـهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ ﴿١٥٦﴾ أُولَـٰئِكَ عَلَيْهِمْ صَلَوَاتٌ مِّن رَّبِّهِمْ وَرَحْمَةٌ ۖ وَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُهْتَدُونَ

And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient, Who, when disaster strikes them, say, “Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return.” Those are the ones upon whom are blessings from their Lord and mercy. And it is those who are the [rightly] guided.
[Al-Baqara: 155-157)

Another verse in the Qur’an says:

اِنَّمَا يُوَفَّى الصّٰبِرُوْنَ اَجْرَهُمْ بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ

Indeed, the patient will be given their reward without account.
[Az-Zumar: 10]

3. To not waste water

Another false practice in Muharram is that some people regard Muharram as a month when they are not supposed to use alot of water for any of their daily routine life. They attribute this to the fact that Hussain (رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ) was deprived of water so they should also follow suit and not use alot of water in this month.

  • The Sabeel of Hussain (رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ)

During Muharram, you will see everywhere that people are distributing drinks in various forms and this is called a “Sabeel.” All of this distribution is in the name of Hussain (رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ). We are taught:

۔التحیات للہ والصلوٰت والطیبات

All the compliments are for Allah and all the prayers and all the good things (are for Allah).

It is evident that all our worship whether it is with the tongue, our bodies and with our wealth is for Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ) Alone. If this distribution is for Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ), it need not be singled out only in the month of Muharram. It should continue for the rest of the year.

  • To put soil on the graves

In the first ten days of Muharram, people visit graveyards and go to the graves to put soil on the graves. The Prophet ﷺ has strictly forbidden not to build anything on the graves, to add more soil to the graves and to cover the graves with cements, marble or any other structure that would solidify them. This is clearly forbidden in the following graves:

“The Messenger of Allah forbade plastering over graves.”
(Sahih 2029)

  • Clay Pots

With the start of Muharram, many shopkeepers sit down with a pile of clay pots. As soon as 10th Muharram begins, all men and women fill these clay pots with a dessert (kheer or halwa), a milk drink (lassi) or milk and then it is distributed amongst the children. Food is distributed in the name of Hussain (رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ).

In this manner, we see many practices that are in no way a part of Deen being practiced. These are all false practiced which need to stop immediately as they have no basis, evidence or ground in the teachings of Qur’an and Sunnah.

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