Tatbir in Bahrain, 2011
10th of Muharram, 19th century painting by Fausto Zonaro

Tatbir (Arabic: تطبير), also known as Talwar zani and Qama Zani in South Asia,[1] is an act of mourning by some of Shia Muslims for the younger grandson of Muhammad, Husayn ibn Ali, who was killed along with his children, companions and near relatives at the Battle of Karbala by the Umayyad Caliph Yazid I. Tatbir is a contested issue among Shia clerics. Some clerics deem it to be self-damage and hence Haram, while traditionalist clerics allow believers to indulge in Tatbir.

Performance of Tatbir

Tatbir is practiced by some Shia Muslims on the 10 Muharram of the Islamic calendar, known as "the Day of Ashura", and on the 40th day after Ashura, Known as "Arba'een/Chehelom" by Twelvers around the world. Some Shia may also perform tatbir on other occasions as well.

The practice of Tatbir includes striking oneself with a form of a talwar "sword" on the head, causing blood to flow in remembrance of the innocent blood of Imam Husayn. Some Twelvers also hit their back and/or chest with blades attached to chains.

Views of Grand Ayatollahs regarding Tatbir

Tatbir is contested among Shia clerics, while some traditionalist clerics allow believers to indulge in tatbir, modernist clerics deem it impermissible because it is considered self-harm thus Haram in Islam.[2] Most religious authorities associate all forms of self-flagellation and blood-letting as ways to relate to painful deaths during battle of Karbala by Imam Husayn and supporters.[3]

# Grand Ayatollahs Views Description
1 Ruhollah Khomeini Forbidden Ayatollah Khomeini forbade it, therefore Hizbullah does not allow the members to perform Tatbir. Instead, Khomeini and Khamenei encourage the members to donate their blood.[2]
2 Sayyid Sadeq Rohani Not Forbidden He said: "I love the youths that do tatbeer/GhameZani and I ask Allah to resurrect me with them."
3 Ali Sistani Forbidden Should be avoided actions that tarnish the mourning of Husayn ibn Ali.[4]
4 Ali Khamenei Forbidden Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran has stated that Tatbir is forbidden.
5 Sadiq Hussaini Shirazi Not Forbidden According to Shirazi, the ritual of Tatbir (Qama Zani) is Halal and Mustahab.[5] Shirazi deems tatbir permissible for women as according to him,tatbir was first practiced by Lady Zainab, a woman.[6]
6 Naser Makarem Shirazi Forbidden Muslims should avoid actions that display weakness in the Shia religon and damage the body.[4]
7 Mohammad Fazel Lankarani Forbidden Tatbir shows the harsh face of mourning of Husayn ibn Ali and it harms Shiism.[4][7]
8 Abdollah Javadi-Amoli Forbidden It is not permissible to insult Islam and the desecration of mourning. Therefore, it is better to avoid Tatbir and things like that.[4]
9 Mohammad-Taqi Bahjat Foumani Forbidden It should be avoided; every act that would be an insult to the Shia.[4]
10 Hossein Noori Hamedani Forbidden Should be avoided as actions that weakens the Shia religious.[4][7]
11 Hossein Mazaheri Forbidden When Wali e Faqih (Guardian Jurist) orders to avoid something, all people have to avoid it, even if they do not follow Guardian Jurist.[4]
12 Kazem al-Haeri Forbidden Tatbir is a superstition that causes the defamation of Islam and Shia.[4]
13 Mohaqiq Kabuli Forbidden There is no allowance to practice Tatbir or self-flagellation or something else that is considered as self-harm.
14 Muhammad al-Fayadh Not Forbidden Tatbir is permissible, if it does not cause serious damage to the body.[8]
15 Muhammad Saeed al-Hakim Not Forbidden Tatbir as one form of the mourning of Husayn ibn Ali is permissible. It is permitted under the intention of sympathy with God and trust-seeking, to promote searching for trust.



  1. "Fatwa on Tatbir [Qama Zani]". Pasbaan-e-Aza. Archived from the original on September 10, 2009. Retrieved 2010-07-03.
  2. 1 2 Monsutti, Alessandro; Naef, Silvia; Sabahi, Farian (2007). The Other Shiites: From the Mediterranean to Central Asia. Peter Lang. pp. 146–. ISBN 978-3-03911-289-0. Retrieved 2015-09-30.
  3. Tabbaa, Yasser; Mervin, Sabrina (28 July 2014). Najaf, the Gate of wisdom. UNESCO. pp. 154–. ISBN 978-92-3-100028-7.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "opinions of the Maraj'e in regard to using Qama". Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  5. "Bloodletting-Tatbir". shirazi.ir. Retrieved 30 November 2014. Question: Doing matam with Qama or Chain Leads is Halal or Haram? Answer: As for the ritual of Tatbir (Qama Zani) it is Halal and Mustahab.
  6. Shirazi, Sayyid Sadiq Husayni. Islamic Law: Books One and Two Volume 2 of Acts of worship & CULTURE, ECONOMICS, ETHICS. Fountain Books. p. 616. ISBN 1903323401. Retrieved 30 November 2014.
  7. 1 2 "What are the opinions of the Maraj'e in regard to using Qama in the past and in present time?". Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  8. "Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Ishaq al-Fayyad response to Tatbir". Retrieved 26 October 2015.
  9. "Tatbir". Tatbir.org. Retrieved 2016-01-05.
  10. Masaeli, Mahdi. "Tatbir" (PDF). Fetan. Golban Publication.
  11. 1 2 HUBBARD, BEN. "Bloody and Belittled Shiite Ritual Draws Historic Parallels". The New York Times Company. Retrieved November 2014. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  12. Mamouri, Ali. "Iraqi Shiite pilgrimage takes political turn". Al-Monitor. Retrieved December 2014. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  13. "Mohammad Mehdi Shamseddine(in Persian)". nbo.ir.

External links

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