Ziarat (visitation) has always been considered to be a way of obtaining peace of mind, expression of faith and achieving success in the hereafter. The ritual of Ziarat is seen to develop contemporarily with the religion of Islam. Whenever the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) went from Medina to Mecca for erforming Hajj he used to pay a visit to the grave of his respected mother. Janabe Amena. Never did he return to Medina without the Ziarat of her grave. Maqaam-e-Ibrahim at Masjidul Haraam is a place where the pilgrims offer two rakat Namaz. At this very place are the footprints of Janabe Ibrahim (a.s.). In order to protect these footprints an enclosure has been constructed around it. Till the day of judgment it will remain a place of Ziarat. Arafat and Mina are two venues of Ziarat where the pilgrims collect once a year. The ritual of Ziarat prescribed for this place is collectively known as Manasik-e-Hajj. It is noteworthy that the plains of Arafat and Mina are uninhabited throughout the year. Mina is occupied only for three days and Arafat for one. Whatever time a pilgrim spends at these places, all the time he has to fulfill various conditions. These conditions are obligatory upon all the pilgrims. He cannot depart from any of these. A venue of Ziarat has come into being at the burial place of Janabe Yasir and Janabe Sumaiya who were martyred before Hijrat. The graves of the martyrs of Badr have also attracted Ziarat of the pilgrims. The cemetery of the martyrs of Uhud is still a centre of Ziarat. The grave of Janabe Hamza (a.s.) in the ravines of Uhud is still held sacred. In short, the ritual of Ziarat has begun since the dawn of Islam or rather since Hazrat Adam (a.s.) stepped on the earth.
The background of Ziarat is steeped in some great sacrament and utilitarianism. It is for this very reason that traditions have stressed so much upon the significant of Ziarat. To consider Ziarat as sight-seeing and a form of relaxation is nothing but stupidity and foolishness. But when we realize the aim behind the performance of Ziarat, we are compelled to learn the rules and regulations that may vary according to the different cultures, societies and m annerisms. For example, in some mausoleums where the Sufis are buried some people come for visit and tie up a handkerchief to cover their heads as a mark of respect. The shoes are removed outside, and the visitor prepares himself mentally for the occasion and only then is Ziarat
performed. They express their faith and belief and love after this ritual.
Actually there are common rituals for all the Ziarats. But something unique and special is to be found in the Ziarat of the chief of the martyrs, Imam Husain (a.s.). Something which is not to be found even in the Ziarat of the most revered personalities. This Ziarat is found to exist before the tragic incident of Karbala , even though in a different form. In fact the soil of this consecrated place was shown by Jibraeel (a.s.) to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) as early as the time of the birth of Imam Husain (a.s.). In other words the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) actually performed the Ziarat of Karbala by the permission of Allah and also wept in grief. It is obvious that the arrangement for the performing of the Ziarat of a righteous person as Imam Husain (a.s.) are made by Allah Himself. And certainly the venue of this Ziarat is having connection with some amazing facts and completion of some divine mission. This connection enables the visitor, who is utterly helpless and tired of the difficulties, to pray to Allah for the termination of these hardships. And he does not feel any kind of reservation while begging from the Almighty through the one who is buried at the place. He does not even feel any distance from Allah nor does he opine of the superiority of the creature over the Creator. It is rather a product of the corrupt minds that have labeled this
recommended act to be Shirk and Haraam.
It is the unique personality of Imam Husain (a.s.), the beloved of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and the martyr of 10th Muharram, 61 AH which has changed the direction of the strong currents of history. Karbala was barely ifty years ahead when its importance and significance was propagated by its mention, sometimes in the mosque of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) sometimes in the house of Ummul Momineen Ayesha, among the companions. Along with it, the benefits of performing the Ziarat of the grave of Imam Husain (a.s.) were also described as also the details of the rules and regulations governing it. None of the divine acts are in vain. It must have some reason behind it. There must be an aim behind the elaborate arrangements at the residence of Umme Salma (s.a.). Imam Husain (a.s.) is yet a child and is alongside his brother Hasan (a.s.) with their mother Fatema Zahra (s.a.). Jibraeel (a.s.) comes and relates the incident of Karbala, the beloved daughter of the Holy Prophet (s.a.) laments so much that she faints. Water is sprinkled on her face to bring her to consciousness. After this lets pay attention towards the rewards for the visitor (Zaaer) of Imam Husain (a.s.). The acts of Allah, His Prophet (s.a.) and the household of the Prophet (s.a.) are all based on justice. Are all the visitors of the tomb of Imam Husain (a.s.) rewarded equally? Is there no difference between the righteous and the sinful person? There is! Certainly there is a difference. “You get what you deserve.”
A person goes for Ziarat but after returning he still continues to neglect the virtuous deeds as he was before going for the Ziarat. So how is it possible that his recompense will equal that of a righteous ‘Zaaer’? It is illogical and
impossible. In this way the Zaaer qualifies himself for the rewards of the Ziarat. The conditions required for one to attain this status have been explained before the martyrdom of Imam Husain (a.s.). Further details were supplied by Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s.) a century after the incident. The above-mentioned incident at the residence of Umme Salma is no fiction. It is absolutely authentic that Jibraeel (a.s.) descends and informs about it. Janabe Fatema (s.a.) who was present with Imam Husain (a.s.) wept much and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a) was in tears.
Jibraeel (a.s.) departed and the lamentation ceased. The tragic information is conveyed to the hearts of the Shias. Now when we have arrived at the topic of rewards of the ‘Zaaer’ let us first see why so much stress has been laid upon the performance of Ziarat. What is its significance and what are the benefits? This is necessary if we wish to arrive at the conclusion of our discussion. Let us for a moment assume that Ziarat has no significance. What would be the result? The incident of Karbala would have diminished in importance, within a span of fifty years or so. And would have confined it to
be just a chapter of history. Due to Ziarat, the tragic memories are kept afresh, hence the incident cannot be confined by any boundaries. When Imam Husain (a.s.) enquired of its reward from his grandfather (s.a.w.a.), the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) told him that the reward for one who visits his grave shall be equivalent to “one hajj”. Imam Husain (a.s.) says, “Is that all?” The Holy Prophet (s.a.) increases the reward to be equivalent to three pilgrimages (Hajj). Then Imam Husain (a.s.) turns to his mother. She says, “I will myself not enter Paradise till I have sent each and every Zaaer
to it.” Hajj and Jannat (Paradise) are two of the items of belief and actions that cannot be separated from the prophetic teachings. And no one can separate these. Jannat is the mirror of the belief that is obtained by a person only after his actions have been tested according to the standard of Islam and Hajj re-enacts the historical happenings connected with Prophet Ibrahim (a.s.) who had converted the Nimrodic fire of tyranny and oppression into a bed of roses. Hazrat Ismael (a.s.) the son of Hazrat brahim
(a.s.) made a cool spring to gush forth from the arid desert of Mecca. Hence those who respect and pay obeisance to these signs and perform the prescribed rituals are rewarded. And those who do not shall not be able to achieve any benefits. The information that the Holy Prophet (s.a.) conveyed regarding Ziarat when he was seated at the mosque i.e. its rewards is equivalent to three pilgrimages (Hajj), and the explanation provided by the sixth Imam, Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s.) is for two apparent reasons. One is that
the people may not fall into extremes or be made a prey of superstitions. Secondly that the people may not start comparing and contrasting it with the importance of a wajib duty (Hajj).
Now let us examine the rules and conditions necessary for Ziarat as explained by Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s.) so that we may not be prone to exceed their boundaries.
(1) Mohammed Ibne Muslim the narrator of this tradition says that he asked Imam Sadiq (a.s.), “Master! Is a visitor to your grandfather [Imam Husain (a.s.)] the same as a pilgrim of Mecca (Hajj).” Imam (a.s.) replied,
“Yes.” The narrator further questioned, “Are the conditions that are binding upon a Haji also binding upon a visitor of your grandfather [Imam Husain (a.s.)]?” “From which point of view have you asked this question?” The narrator replied “those requirements that are especially for the Hajis during the time of Hajj.” Imam (a.s.) taught the following thirteen rules:
(I) One of the duties of a Zaaer is that he must behave amicably with his companions during the journey because they are also Zaaer like him. And this act of kindness enhances the character and personality of the person. Gradually this behavior moulds his character and begins to consider all the people as his family members. As his attachment with the abode of Imam (a.s.) has made him sensitive to the difficulties of others, he is not affected by the temporal injuries and is absolutely safe.
A narration from Behaarul Anwaar says that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) saw Janabe Fatema Zahra (s.a.) wiping her tears. He told her that the reward of the one who performs the Ziarat of her sons is that, “… throughout his journey, the divine blessings will be showered continuously upon him and he remains in the refuge of Allah. And if he dies on the way he is given the reward of a martyr.”
(2) It is necessary for a Zaaer that he talks less and does not speak anything but well. By speaking to the minimum, a person preserves his capacities and his mental ability increases. He learns the skill of living a prudent life in this world. And when he moves his tongue to utter good words, they are effective. His less talking enables his mind to acquire knowledge and his internal thoughts are well-regulated. When his mind is purified from all vain thoughts he visits Imam Husain (a.s.) and thus he is easily able to grasp the greatness and the lofty position of the martyrs of Karbala.
(3) The third commandment for the Zaaer is that along with supplication (dua), he must incessantly implore Allah for forgiveness of his sins. It has been ordered to supplicate to Allah as much as possible because Shaitan is always busy creating corruption in the minds so that they may deviate to a path of jealousy and malice. This will cause all the rewards of the Ziarat to come to naught. He will thus derive no benefits from the springs of the blessings of Imam (a.s.).
Hence by more and more Istighfar (seeking forgiveness) one can remove the obstructions that prevent the acceptance of supplications. “O Allah! Forgive those sins of mine that prevent the acceptance of Dua!”
(4) When a person goes for Ziarat, he must wear clean and purified dress because he is to visit those holy personalities who are so pure that any type of impurity cannot be associated with them. They are celebrities whose chastity and purity has been mentioned in the Verse of Purification in the Holy Quran (Surah Ahzaab: 33) The same point is mentioned in ‘Ziarat-e-Warisa’: “I witness that you were light (Nur) in the loins of esteemed generations (ancestors) and in the wombs of chaste mothers. Ignorance failed in defiling you despite its efforts. Neither was ignorance able to make you wear its dark, tattered dress. Your fathers and mothers as opposed to the idolators’ customs followed the practice of Ibrahim (a.s.) during the period of ignorance.”
Imam JafarSadiq (a.s.) clearly explains that one must be dressed decently while performing the Ziarat of Imam Husain (a.s.). The same sort of cleanliness and purity that is required for the acts of worship is also applicable here. Thatis, both external and internal purity.
(5) According to the poet Iqbal, when the Kalima of ‘La Ilaha. Illallah’ was about to be obliterated by the tyranny of Yazid, it was Imam Husain (a.s.) who, with his blood painted the Kalima ‘La Ilaha Illallah ‘ on the arid sands of Karbala. This inscription not only acquired eternity but also became a ch annel of our salvation.
It is must for a Zaaer to perform Ghusl (ceremonial bath) before entering the sanctum. It should be with the intention that. “I perform this Ghusl for entering the Haram of Imam Husain (a.s.) for seeking nearness to Allah.”
A companion of Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s.), Safwaan Jamali asked, “Master! what is the reward if one performs Ghusl in Euphrates and then enters the shrine for Ziarat?” Imam (a.s.) replied, “The Almighty Allah forgives all his sins and takes him in His refuge.”
(6) One of the duties of the Zaaer is to be humble and sincere. This rule is noteworthy. The same conditions are required for a valid and acceptable Namaz. This is one of the ways of praying for the unseen help of Allah. Hence Allah the Almighty says, “Seek (ask) with fasting and Salat (prayers). It is difficult except for those who are humble.”
The same condition applies to the Zaaereen (Plural of Zaaer = visitor). If the visitor is not humble and sincere, Ziarat will not serve any purpose. A point
to be noted is that one whose birth restored the wings of Fitroos (the punished angel), his martyrdom can provide anything. But all this is only for the humble and sincere ones. The more one is humble the higher his grade. He can achieve perfection only by being absolutely humble. It is for this, that the sixth Imam (a.s.) states in the eighth point.
(8) It is necessary that when you enter the shrine you must perform as much Namaz as possible and send more and more Salawat (salutation) upon Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) and his purified progeny. Namaz prevents one from all sins, “Salat prevents from the indecencies and evil (acts)” (Holy Quran).
(9) One must not see any type of sinful things. Imam Sadiq (a.s.) has stressed upon the training of the eyes after the training of the tongue. Controlling one’s eyes is very important. During a journey, the eyes are responsible for the awakening of the desires. Slowly the eyes lead one to prohibited things. This leads to the committing of a greater sin. Hence it is necessary to control the eyes so that the rewards earned by Ziarat are not wasted.
(10) It is necessary to be generous to those Zaaereen who have been robbed. One must not be miserly in helping them. Now it would have been difficult to understand this rule and condition if this writer himself had not witnessed an incident while performing Ziarat. The writer had gone for Ziarat and saw that a lady who had come from Punjab was robbed of her entire amount of twenty thousand rupees. Her agony and fury was non descript. Thus one understands this point as explained by Imam (a.s.) at a time when such occurrences were rare. It is a miracle of the infallible (Masoom). He (a.s.) had been cognizant of the times to come. And it also holds good for the future.
(11) One of the conditions for the acceptance of Ziarat is that the Zaaer must practice Taqaiyya (dissimulation) if it is required by the prevailing circumstances.
This only means that if between the Zaaer and Ziarat the ruling power or the government is a hurdle, he must act in a prudent way so as not to endanger his own life as well as of his companions or the co-religionists.
(12) Ziarat also requires that one must abstain from the prohibited acts of the Islamic shariat. If he does not refrain from them, it means that he considers the Shariat insignificant and unimportant. It is obvious that the Ziarat of such a person would be meaningless. He has no regard for the sacrifices of the chief of the martyrs (a.s.). Neither does he wish to please Imam (a.s.). He is merely following his desires.
(13) It is prohibited for a Zaaer to swear or take an oath in order to make others believe his assertions. It may be due to some enmity or a controversy.
It is seen that some people swear with every utterance. Some people who are unable to defend themselves stoop to this method. Others are so much emotionally excited that they begin swearing. They do not even realize upon what they have sworn. Actually he himself does not believe in what he says. In this way he swears time and again and becomes unreliable not only before other people but even before his own self. This loss of confidence affects all his abilities. As a result he has to face defeat in every field. By prohibiting such an act for a Zaaer Imam (a.s.) saved him from a great risk. Otherwise he may have lost faith even in the esteemed personality he has gone to visit.
In the end Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s.) said, “Those who fulfill all the above conditions, their Ziarat will be equal to a Hajj or Umra (lesser pilgrimage).”
A visitor who performs the circumambulation of the Zarih (grill), stands at the head-side of Imam Husain (a.s.)’s grave and performs two rakats of Namaz, according to traditions, whatever he supplicates is granted provided that his wish is legitimate.
It is reported in ‘Kamiluz Ziaraat’ that when Imam (a.s.) was asked as to what should be the diet of a Zaaer, he said “Milk and bread.”
Abul Muzaa was a companion of Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s.). He says, Imam Sadiq (a.s.) asked me, “Have you been to the Ziarat of my grandfather?” “Yes! O son of the Messenger of Allah?”, I replied, “I have been.” Then Imam (a.s.) asked, “When you were there did you see delicious foods and partook them?” When I replied in the affirmative, Imam (a.s.) said “Do you follow these elaborate arrangements while you visit the grave of your parents? ” Actually Imam (a.s.) wished to convey that one must abstain from rich foods while at the ‘shrine’.
At the end, let us see what is that requisite special for Ziarat and it is not to be found for the pilgrimage of Hajj and Umra. It is the supplication for. seeking the permission for entering the sanctum (haram).
A companion asked Imam Sadiq (a.s.), “How does one know that the Chief of Martyrs has accorded the permission?” He (a.s.) replied, “If tears begin to flow, deem that permission has been granted.”
May my parent be sacrificed for you! O son of the Messenger (s.a.w.a.). O the beloved of Fatema (s.a.). O the light of Ali’s (a.s.) eyes. O the thirsty one of Karbala ! O the great martyr slaughtered in a strange land. The owner of a contented self. Bestow the opportunity to your slaves to perform your Ziarat and do not neglect us in the realm of Barzakh and on the day of reckoning.