Praise be to Allah.
What the Shi’ah do on 'Ashura of beating their chests, slapping their cheeks, striking their shoulders with chains and cutting their heads with swords to let the blood flow are all innovations that have no basis in Islam. These things are evils that were forbidden by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), who did not prescribe for his ummah to do any of these things or anything similar to them to mark the death of a leader or the loss of a martyr, no matter what his status. During his lifetime (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) a number of senior Sahaabah were martyred and he mourned their loss, such as Hamzah ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib, Zayd ibn Haarithah, Ja’far ibn Abi Taalib and ‘Abd-Allah ibn Rawaahah, but he did not do any of the things that these people do. If it was good, he (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) would have done it before us.
Ya’qoob (peace be upon him) did not strike his chest or scratch his face, or shed blood or take the day of the loss of Yoosuf as a festival or day of mourning. Rather he remembered his missing loved one and felt sad and distressed because of that. This is something no one can be blamed for. What is forbidden is these actions that have been inherited from the Jaahiliyyah, and which Islam forbids.
Al-Bukhaari (1294) and Muslim (103) narrated that ‘Abd-Allah ibn Mas’ood (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “He is not one of us who strikes his cheeks, rends his garment, or cries with the cry of the Jaahiliyyah.”
These reprehensible actions that the Shi’ah do on the day of 'Ashura have no basis in Islam. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) did not do them, nor did any of his companions. None of his companions did them when he or anyone else died, although the loss of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was greater than the death of al-Husayn (may Allah be pleased with him).
Al-Haafiz Ibn Katheer (may Allah have mercy on him) said: Every Muslim should mourn the killing of al-Husayn (may Allah be pleased with him), for he is one of the leaders of the Muslims, one of the scholars of the Sahaabah, and the son of the daughter of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), who was the best of his daughters. He was a devoted worshipper, and a courageous and generous man. But there is nothing good in what the Shi’ah do of expressing distress and grief, most of which may be done in order to show off. His father was better than him and he was killed, but they do not take his death as an anniversary as they do with the death of al-Husayn. His father was killed on a Friday as he was leaving the mosque after Fajr prayer, on the seventeenth of Ramadaan in 40 AH. ‘Uthmaan was better than ‘Ali according to Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa’ah, and he was killed when he was besieged in his house during the days of al-Tashreeq in Dhu’l-Hijjah of 36 AH, with his throat cut from one jugular vein to the other, but the people did not take his death as an anniversary. ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab was better than ‘Ali and ‘Uthmaan, and he was killed as he was standing in the mihraab, praying Fajr and reciting Qur’aan, but the people did not take his death as an anniversary. Abu Bakr al-Siddeeq was better than him but the people did not take his death as an anniversary. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is the leader of the sons of Adam in this world and the Hereafter, and Allah took him to Him as the Prophets died before him, but no one took the dates of their deaths as anniversaries on which they do what these ignorant Raafidis do on the day that al-Husayn was killed. … The best that can be said when remembering these and similar calamities is that which ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn narrated from his grandfather the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), who said: “There is no Muslim who is afflicted by a calamity and when he remembers it, even if it was in the dim and distant past, he says Inna Lillaahi wa inna ilayhi raaji’oon (verily to Allah we belong and unto Him is our return), but Allah will give him a reward like that of the day when it befell him.”
Narrated by Imam Ahmad and Ibn Majaah, end quote from al-Bidaayah wa’l-Nihaayah (8/221).
And he said (8/220): The Raafidis went to extremes in the state of Bani Buwayh in the year 400 and thereabouts. The drums were beaten in Baghdad and other cities on the day of 'Ashura, and sand and straw was strewn in the streets and marketplaces, and sackcloth was hung on the shops, and the people expressed grief and wept. Many of them did not drink water that night, in sympathy with al-Husayn, because he was killed when he was thirsty. Then the women went out barefaced, wailing and slapping their faces and chests, walking barefoot in the marketplaces, and other reprehensible innovations… What they intended by these and similar actions is to impugn the state of Banu Umayyah (the Umayyads), because he was killed during their era.
On the day of ‘Ashoora, the Naasibis of Syria do the opposite of what the Raafidis and Shi’ah do. They used to cook grains on the day of ‘Ashoora and do ghusl and perfume themselves, and wear their finest garments, and they took that day as an Eid for which they made all kinds of food, and expressed happiness and joy, intending thereby to annoy the Raafidis and be different from them.
Celebrating that day is an innovation (bid’ah), and making it an anniversary for mourning is also an innovation. Hence Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
Because of the killing of al-Husayn (may Allah be pleased with him), shaytaan caused the people to introduce two innovations: the innovation of mourning and wailing on the day of 'Ashura, by slapping the cheeks, weeping, and reciting eulogies. … and the innovation of rejoicing and celebrating. … So some introduced mourning and others introduced celebration, so they regarded the day of 'Ashura as a day for wearing kohl, doing ghusl, spending on the family and making special foods. … And every innovation is a going astray. None of the four imams of the Muslims or any other (scholars) regarded either of these things as mustahabb. End quote from Minhaaj al-Sunnah (4/554).
It should be noted that these reprehensible actions are encouraged by the enemies of Islam, so that they can achieve their evil aims of distorting the image of Islam and its followers. Concerning this Moosa al-Musawi said in his book al-Shi’ah wa’l-Tas-heeh:
But there can be no doubt that striking heads with swords and cutting the head in mourning for al-Husayn on the tenth day of Muharram reached Iran and Iraq and India during the British occupation of those lands. The British are the ones who exploited the ignorance and naiveté of the Shi’ah and their deep love for Imam al-Husayn, and taught them to strike their heads with swords. Until recently the British embassies in Tehran and Baghdad sponsored the Husayni parades in which this ugly spectacle appears in the streets and alleyways. The aim of the British imperialist policy of developing this ugly spectacle and exploiting it in the worst manner was to give an acceptable justification to the British people and the free press that opposed British colonialism in India and other Muslim countries, and to show the peoples of these countries as savages who needed someone to save them from their ignorance and savagery. Images of the parades that marched in the streets on the day of 'Ashura, in which thousands of people were striking their backs with chains and making them bleed, and striking their heads with daggers and swords, appeared in British and European newspapers, and the politicians justified their colonization of these countries on the basis of a humane duty to colonize the lands of these people whose culture was like that so as to lead these peoples towards civility and progress. It was said that when Yaseen al-Haashimi, the Iraqi Prime Minister at the time of the British occupation of Iraq, visited London to negotiate with the British for an end to the Mandate, the British said to him: We are in Iraq to help the Iraqi people to make progress and attain happiness, and bring them out of savagery. This angered Yaseen al-Haashimi and he angrily walked out of the room where the negotiations were being held, but the British apologized politely and asked him with all respect to watch a documentary about Iraq, which turned out to be a film about the Husayni marches in the streets of al-Najaf, Karbala’ and al-Kaazimiyyah, showing horrific and off-putting images of people striking themselves with daggers and chains. It is as if the British wanted to tell him: Would an educated people with even a little civility do such things to themselves?! End quote.
And Allah knows best.