In the Name of Allah, the All-Beneficent, the All-Merciful
The Holy Prophet (s) is reported to have said:
‘Indeed your Lord has breaths of His Mercy in the days of your time—so expose yourselves to them!’ (‘Allamah Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, v.68, p. 221)
The month of Muharram is an opportunity for us to expose ourselves to God’s special mercy that pours down abundantly on all of us moment by moment from the higher realms of existence. Exposure to such mercy is possible when we struggle [Q, 53:39] to ‘enhance’ and ‘widen’ the receptacles of our beings so that we are able to draw more of the indefinite grace that is bestowed perpetually by the All-Gracious. The Holy Qur’an in the course of a parable in chapter 13, verse 17, informs us that God’s grace is infinite and indefinite. In other words, His grace can never be exhausted. He always provides limitless grace to everyone and everything. However, the restrictions of the receptacle hamper it from greater grace.
Concerning God’s grace being constant and perpetual, apart from intellectual proofs, which need a separate discussion, the Holy Qur’an and the words and supplications of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) vocally inform us that God’s grace is perpetual (da’im). In a well-known supplication recited on the nights of Friday we address Allah saying ‘O He whose favor on the human beings is constant’ (Ya Daa’ima al-fadli ‘ala al-bariyyah).
Hence, God’s grace pours down on everything (1) constantly, and (2) indefinitely.
Gatherings of mourning and lamentation for the Leader of Martyrs (‘a) is one of the swiftest paths of widening our receptacles, and thus getting exposed to greater grace in this holy month. It enables us to clear the dirt of disbelief, ill-character, misbehavior, etc. from our souls and broaden our entities so that we are able to comprehend the sublime secrets that many are deprived of comprehending.
Our lamentations however need to be refined to be able to bestow its natural effects on our souls. Mourning for Imam al-Husayn (‘a) must transport us from the abyss of imperfection to the summit of perfection.
Every action, including lamentation for Imam al-Husayn (‘a) in order to lay its powerful effect must be performed with its proper conditions. If one engages himself in the different manifestations of lamentation such as weeping, recitation of poetry, and beating the chest, but is heedless of its conditions, he would not have perfectly exposed himself to the breaths of Divine Mercy spoken about in the aforementioned hadith. Hence he would not benefit from the powerful effects of lamentation.
Briefly, some of the significant conditions of upright action are: (1) Sound faith (al-iman), (2) Sincerity of intention (ikhlas al-niyyah), (3) Comprehension and Gnosis (al-‘aql wa al-ma‘rifah), and (4) God-wariness (al-taqwa). If we cultivate the spirit of these four in ourselves every action, including lamentation would actually elevate us and widen the receptacles of our beings. We must realize, however, that these conditions are in different levels. The spiritually conscious human being always aspires to attain the pinnacle and thus struggles to observe the highest levels of these conditions.
The insightful human beings, who in this month and other occasions are bestowed with greater knowledge about the secrets of the personality of Imam al-Husayn (‘a) and his loyal companions, the intricacies of his movement, and the profound subtleties of the events that transpired on Ashura day, are indeed quite fortunate. However, we must remember that it is their powerful action that serves as an intermediary to facilitate such profound knowledge.
Being the first of Muharram, let us look at what Imam al-Ridha (‘a) said to his companion al-Rayyan Ibn Shabib on this very day: ‘O son of Shabib, if you have to weep over something, then do so on al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali (‘a), for indeed he was slaughtered in the way a ram is slaughtered; and he was slayed together with eighteen male members of his household, who were unparalleled on the [face of the] earth. Indeed, the seven heavens and the seven earths wept due to his murder…O son of Shabib, if you weep over al-Husayn (‘a) until your tears reach your cheeks, Allah would forgive you for every sin that you committed, whether small or big, few or many…O son of Shabib if you desire to be with us in lofty stations of the Gardens of Heaven, then grieve in our sorrows and rejoice in our happiness; and on you is our guardianship and love, for if a man were to love a stone, Allah will surely resurrect him with it on the Day of Resurrection.’ (‘Allamah Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, v.44, p. 285, h 23)
Notice that in this profound hadith, sorrow and lamentation have a great station. However, as we mentioned, without its conditions, we must not anticipate elevation. Yes, sometimes the doer of action is weak in performing the action properly. In such circumstances he should always seek Divine Help to be able to participate in sincere and quality lamentation.
Peace be unto you, O totally obedient servant of Allah, and on the spirits that descended in your proximity…