There is no doubt that the tragedy of Kerbala, when ascribed to the killers, is a criminal and terrible act. However when ascribed to Husain (A) himself, it represents a conscious confrontation and a courageous resistance for a sacred cause.
What follows are some questions and their answers which has published in Ayatollah Sistani’s official website regarding Azadari (mourning) for Imam Hussain (p.b.u.h):
Question: What is the philosophy of Azadari (mourning and lamentation) for Imam Husain?
Answer: There is no doubt that the tragedy of Kerbala, when ascribed to the killers, is a criminal and terrible act. However when ascribed to Husain (A) himself, it represents a conscious confrontation and a courageous resistance for a sacred cause. The whole nation had failed to stand up to Yazid. They had succumbed to his will, and deviation and regression towards the pre-Islamic ways were increasing.
Passiveness by Husain (A) in this situation would have meant the end of Islam as we know it. Thus Husain (A) took upon himself the responsibility of the whole nation. The greatest tragedy was that one who stood up for the noblest of causes, the defense of Islam, was cut down in so cruel a manner.
It is for this reason that the sacrifice of Husain (A) is commemorated annually throughout the Muslim world. Our sorrow never abates as we relive the tragedy.
The commemoration of Ashura on the 10th of Muharram every year serves to remind us of the sacrifices of the family of the Prophet (S). It also makes us aware of the people, then and now, who tried to destroy Islam and the family of the Prophet (S) and all that they stood for – as well as those who watched, listened and did nothing.
Question: Is it permissible to wail and cry loudly as well as beat one’s head and face in mourning for Imam Hussein, peace be upon him?
Answer: There is no problem in it .
Question: Is mourning for Imam Hussain and other Infallibles (a.s.) recommended?
Answer: Yes, it is recommended and God will reward those who sincerely revive their memories and commemorate their martyrdom.
Question: I have a question about matam (Azadari) and the manner our people are holding Muharram rituals, what is our purpose of holding these events?
Answer: The main purpose of mourning during ‘Ashura, is to respect and revive the symbols of religion and remember the suffering of Imam Hussain (a.s.), his companions, and his uprising to defend Islam and prevent the destruction of the religion by Bani Umayyad dynasty. These rites must be done in such a way that in addition to serving that purpose, it draws the attention of others to these lofty goals.
Question: Is it permissible to jog (run at a steady gentle pace) in mourning processions which are taken out into the streets to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, peace be upon him?
Answer: There is no problem in it per se .
Question: I would like to ask your opinion about taking off the shirts in mourning processions. Is it permissible for men to take off their shirts while beating their chests?
Answer: There is no problem in it.
Question: What is the Islamic law on wearing full black during the months of Muharram and Safar? Is it recommended or abominable (makrooh)?
Answer: It is good to wear black and it being abominable (Makrooh) is not proved.
Question: Is there any objection to people holding up chandeliers or flags ahead of the mourning processions?
Answer: There is no objection in it.
Question: Over the past thirty years, we have been placing candles in our local mosque as a sign of grief and lamentation. Can we give lamps to the mosque instead of burning candles?
Answer: There is no problem in it.