A Disturbing Innovation
"Become an ornament for us, do not be a disgrace for us."
~ Imam al-Sadiq (a) ~
"Look at the people of the Prophet's family. Adhere to their direction. Follow their footsteps because they would never let you out of guidance, and never throw you into destruction. If they sit down, you sit down, and if they rise up you rise up. Do not go ahead of them, as you would thereby go astray and go not lag behind them as you would thereby be ruined."
~ Imam Ali (a) ~

Category: Uncategorized

What is Tatbir?

Tatbir (Arabic) is amongst a set of bloody rituals that are performed by some Shia Muslims in commemoration of the great tragedy of Karbala, when the family of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s) was massacred by a group of Muslims. Tatbir is performed by striking the head with a sword or knife until blood gushes […]

It was Never Practiced or Recommended by the Ahlulbayt (a)

Blood mourning rituals were never practiced by the founders and teachers of Shia Islam. There is not a single shred of evidence that the latter Imams (a) performed blood rituals. The modern day proponents of these damaging rituals shy away from mentioning this glaring fact. If these rituals had any inherent merit in the eyes […]

The Absence of Evidence is Sufficient

Some proponents of blood flagellation argue that the Imams (a) may have performed the rituals in private, and that may be the reason why we have no evidence that they (a) performed these rituals. Therefore we should not deny the fact that these rituals are Islamically recommended. Any sincere person with a working intellect would […]

Having a False Image of the Sunnah

If any open-minded individual were to study the Quran and the lives of the Infallibles (a), they would obtain an image of Islam that is quite different to what is being promoted by some Muslims. In order to understand the reasons for the discouragement of blood rituals, we must always keep in mind the lifestyles […]

The History of Blood Mourning Ceremonies

For about a millennium after the tragedy of Karbala, the Shia did not practice blood shedding when mourning the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (a) or any of the Ahlulbayt (a). Instead they mourned in a traditional and more natural manner, which included the methods used by the Imams (a) and their families. However this changed […]

It Gives Shia Islam a Gruesome and Hideous Image

The word barbaric is an understatement. Barbaric people may be cruel and uncivilized, however they generally do not cut and mutilate their own bodies in extremely bloody public demonstrations. There is nothing else in the whole of existence, which gives the Shias such a bad reputation as these rituals do. Millions of dollars have been […]

Humans are Naturally Repulsed by Self Harm and Blood

Most human beings are naturally averse to acts of bodily harm and to the shedding of blood. It is not surprising that the human mind and body are usually repulsed by the thought of cutting the skin, since they have been designed to ensure self-preservation. Most human beings are also repulsed by the blood of […]

Blood Rituals are a Health Hazard

The mourning ceremonies which involve the congregational spilling of human blood via methods such as Tatbir and Zanjeer, are very unhygienic and are a health hazard. The ceremonies involve men striking themselves with blades, causing blood to spill all over the surrounding environment and often onto other mourners who have open wounds. Blood can carry […]

Blood is Najis

One of the most unfortunate consequences of the blood rituals is the fact that it leaves the mourners and the surrounding environment Najis (ritually impure). Often these rituals are performed in the vicinity of mosques and the blood flagellators are then unable to pray because they are left in a state of impurity and the […]

Why Must Children be Involved?

Muslims and Non-Muslims alike are shocked when they come across incidents where parents make their children participate in blood shedding actives. There are many images on the Internet of young children cutting their own heads with swords and some infamous pictures of mothers cutting the heads of their babies! How far will some people to […]

The Obligation of Giving Islam a Good Image

Islam has made it incumbent upon its followers to give it and ourselves a good image. The religion commands us to beautify our manners and our physical appearance and to attract other towards the teachings of Allah with an appealing presentation. The Maraja have stated that we must give Islam a good image. Cultural practices […]

It Repels Potential Reverts

Many potential reverts to Shia Islam are repelled by the blood shedding rituals. The following statements have been given by a couple of reverts to Shi’ism to show how repulsive these rituals are to potential reverts: Sister Jennah of the Revert Muslims Association: In fact a good majority of people are repelled by the extreme act […]

The Fallacious Curiosity Argument

Some supporters of these acts claim that their shock value actually encourages people to investigate the religion. They argue that when non-Muslims and non-Shias view these acts, it raises curiosity within them which then leads them to studying Shia Islam. This line of argumentation cannot be used because it was not in the practice of […]

Don’t Other Acts of Worship Also Give Islam a Bad Image?

Another argument that is often used by promoters of blood flagellation is the contention that other established acts of worship also give Islam a bad image, therefore there is no need to refrain from publicly performing acts such as Tatbir (which also portray a negative image). Established Islamic actions such as Salaat, Tawaf, and the […]

Double Standards

Some people find it quite difficult to admit the fact that blood flagellation is a source of mockery and revulsion. One of the best ways to make a promoter of blood shedding admit this very fact, is by pointing out their double standards with respect to other non-Islamic actions that carry a bad image. You […]

A Refutation of the Supposed Evidence

Promoters of blood flagellation bring forward certain narrations from Islamic sources to prove that their practices do indeed have an Islamic basis. Three narratives are usually used by them: 1, The story of Uwais al-Qarni (r) breaking all his teeth. 2, The claim that Lady Zainab (a) made her head bleed. 3, The words of […]

Owais Al-Qarni (r) Breaking His Teeth

Owais Al-Qarni (r) was a Muslim who lived during the life of Prophet Muhammad (s) and died fighting alongside Imam Ali (a) in the battle of Siffin. It is believed that that he accepted the religion of Islam during the life of the Prophet (s), despite never having the opportunity to meet him (s), due […]

Lady Zainab (a) Hitting Her Head

It is reported in Bihar al-Anwaar that in the aftermath of Karbala when the women were taken captive and taken to Kufa, the head of Imam Hussain (a) was paraded in public. Lady Zainab (a) was travelling in a carriage and upon seeing the head of her brother she hit her head on a pole […]

Imam Mahdi (a) Saying that He Will Weep Blood

The following are the words of Imam al-Mahdi (a) in Ziarat Nahiyah with regards to Imam Hussain (a): “I will, therefore, lament you morning and evening, and will weep blood in place of tears, out of my anguish for you and my sorrow for all that befell you ..” These words cannot be taken as […]

The Cupping Argument

Wet Cupping (Hijama) is the ancient medical practice of making shallow incisions over an area of skin and then placing a heated cup on the that area; as the cup cools, the reduced pressure causes some blood to flow out of the incisions and into the cup. This is usually done on the skin of […]

The Argument Against Losing the Symbols of Hussain (a)

This is perhaps one of the most common arguments that is used by promoters of blood flagellation. It is argued that since these rituals have become associated (amongst some people) with the commemoration of Ashura, they now represent the commemoration itself. So you will find that some people call these practices ‘Hussaini rituals’ or the […]

Is Tatbir Azadari?

In the same manner that these rituals have been incorrectly labeled as ‘Hussaini rituals’, they have also inappropriately been put under the category of ‘Azadari’. The word Azadari in some Asian languages means mourning; the Arabic equivalent is the word ‘Aza’. However many of us contend that blood shedding is not a natural means to […]

Misrepresenting and Falsifying the Opinions of the Scholars

Amongst those who promote blood rituals, there are some who have waged a mass propaganda campaign (in support of the rituals) involving means such as the creation of websites, the production of promotional videos, the sending of bulk emails, and the distribution of hundreds of thousands of booklets (often posted directly to the homes of […]

Asabiyyah and Political Motives

According to Ayatullah Khomeini Asabiyyah is: “an inner psychic quality which is manifested in patronizing and defending one’s kindred and those with whom one has some kind of affinity or relation, whether it be religious creed or ideology, or whether it be soil or home. The affinity may also be similarity of profession or the […]

Defamation and Vilification

People who have even questioned the suitability of the rituals have often been vilified and denigrated by ardent adherents of blood shedding. When Grand Ayatullah Muhsin al-Amin wrote in opposition to the rituals (whilst stressing the importance of Azadari) many protagonists vilified him and even resorted to cursing (la’na) him. They started to call his […]

Unjustified Extreme Emphasis

Of all the problems that are associated with the blood shedding rituals, one of the most serious is the unjustified extreme emphasis that is put upon the rituals by some of its proponents. This extreme emphasis has resulted in some people obtaining a distorted image of the religion. They believe that blood shedding is an […]

The Importance of Hijab

Some of the rituals are performed by shirtless men in public and are witnessed by members of the opposite gender. This is frowned upon in Islam and has been prohibited by some scholars: Ayatullah Khoei: “2830. There is no harm in beating one’s breast in the streets and bazaars (i.e. as a sign of mourning) […]

The Empathy Argument

Of all the arguments that have been but forward in support of blood shedding, the empathy argument is perhaps the only one that has some merit. However it cannot be used as a justification for blood shedding because it is outweighed by other opposing factors. The empathy argument contends that acts of self-harm allow us […]

The Harm Outweighs Any Contended Benefit

In the Qur’an when Allah discusses Alcohol and Gambling He says: “They ask you about intoxicants and games of chance. Say: ‘In both there is great evil as well as some benefit for man; but the evil which they cause is greater than the benefit which they bring.’” (2:219). Thus the harm brought about by […]

The Safest Course

Considering all the arguments that are presented in favour of and against blood flagellation, the safest course of action to take would be to refrain from the rituals. Consider the following four scenarios*: 1, If a person performs blood shedding and if the act is detrimental for all the reasons that have been given, then […]