Etiquettes (adaab) of the Majalis in Muharram

Kindly reflect on the following points, which are not comprehensive, but a reminder for us all, as we attend the great majalis of Imam Hussain (a) throughout the world:

1. Sincerity

The participation should be purely for the sake of Allah (swt) and not for any other motive. The faithful are recommended to remind themselves on an annual basis, of the dangers of ostentation and falling into Satan’s traps. The formation of majalis should not be for the sake of fame, status, wealth or other worldly motives (God forbid). Once ikhlaas (sincerity) is established, and the intention is pure, the majalis will bring happiness to the heart of the awaited saviour, Imam Mehdi (atf), who is certainly one of the attendees at numerous majalis. We should not hold majalis to compete for worldly matters, ie who does the best majlis, but rather due to love of Allah and service towards Ahlulbayt (a).

2. Dress code

Due to the nature of these programmes and the month of mourning, the attendees should ensure appropriate dress code is observed. This includes the Islamic dress code of chastity, hijab, for the sisters. For brothers, attendance to majalis should be made with appropriate clothing that display respect for the occasion. Narrations tell us that the true followers of Ahlulbayt (a) are those who are in mourning when the holy household are sad, and are happy during their times of happiness. The way we present ourselves should be respectful and understanding of the circumstances. Having said this we should refrain from judging those who dont wear black for eg or their hijab is not what we expect. We should make attendance of majalis for them a good experience.

3. Service to others

The spirit of extending help and support in the establishment and running of the majalis is crucial and should be observed. Whether its financial help, volunteering time, designing the flyer or website, help with parking cars, collecting donations etc, we should assume the ethos of working together collectively with our fellow community members in order to serve the Imam (a) while fostering good relations with each other. Consider sharing cars to help your centre parking spaces, and please respect neighbours and avoid blocking drives etc.

4. Avoiding gossip and backbiting

Unfortunately, satanic vices are pervasive in every facet of life. Satan has a mission to derail the faithful from the lofty rewards of these gatherings by encouraging people to engage in profanity, slander, backbiting or spreading rumours. This can include talk after majalis and it is critical that we don’t spoil the thawaab received via the participation at the majlis by uselessly dissecting the lives of others and speaking inappropriately about them. Also, if we don't like the speech or recitation, we should not use social media to attack those who serve the minbar of Imam, but rather give them private constructive feedback.

5. Mourning

A crucial element of the majalis of Imam Hussain (a) is the practice of the various forms of mourning and the displaying of grief. This enables the faithful to connect emotionally with the events of Ashura and the Ahlulbayt. Crying, beating the chest and any other permissible method of mourning, as stipulated by the maraje, should be encouraged and observed. It is recommended to do tabaki, ie express grief and sorrow even if we can't cry.

6. Learning

The attendance of these majalis should be an active learning process, whereby we bring a means of recording notes and inspirational messages to help us positively advance in our lives. Many of us may have attended majalis for years, yet if we made the effort to document some of the knowledge we obtain from the sermons, it would indeed be very useful, both for family members and ourselves. Consider for eg discussing as a family in the drive home after majlis what was learnt.

7. Positive change

The commemoration of the epic of Karbala should be a great opportunity for each individual to make a positive transformation in his or her life. It should serve as a prospect for introspection and self-examination on how we can be enlightened by the teachings and actions of the Imam in our everyday lives. Stagnation is not an option and we should seek spiritual, social, political, economic and historical lessons so that we can advance ourselves as believers and propel ourselves onto a higher spiritual plane.

8. Propagation

Ashura and the majalis should inspire us to present the universal message of Imam Hussain (a) to the outside world. Whether through literature, YouTube clips, messages or water bottles, the majalis should be the springboard for positive propagation towards Islam and the refutation of misconceptions that the beautiful religion has been subjected to.

9. Ethical conduct

The Holy Prophet Muhammad (s) famously said:
‘I have been sent to perfect mannerisms’.
Likewise, he also said: ‘Hussain is from me and I am from Hussain’. Putting both these narrations together reflects how Imam Hussain’s movement was to reform the character and ethics of people, and instigate the all-important process of enjoining the good and forbidding the evil. The active attendance of majalis, and the mourning of Ashura should enable us to reflect on our morality and the traits of our behaviour, whether it’s with the family, people within our community or generally in society. Perhaps we can identify one or two traits that we should try to improve for the better, and seek the intercession of Imam (a) during his majlis.

10. Spirituality

Arguably the most outstanding feature of Imam Hussain (a)’s personality was his proximity and special relationship with Allah (swt). In the midst of the battle, while suffering from acute thirst, he stopped to perform his prayers. As we attend his majalis we need to securitize our own relationship with the Almighty (swt), and whether we are looking after some of the key barometers of this relationship, such as Salah. It is recommended to attend the majalis in wudhu and to fragrance our souls with remembrance of Allah (swt).

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