Bahrain Mirror: The spiritual leader of Shia majority in Bahrain, Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim, called for commemorating Ashura away from political tensions, stressing the need that the commemoration be held "outside the scope of harm" while adhering to preventive measures.
In a statement on Wednesday (August 19, 2020), Sheikh Qassm stressed the religion doesn't allow the outbreak of pandemic. "If the government had authorized the Husseini processions and the crowded gatherings in Husseiniyas as usual, with a rational degree of assurance or fear of the spread of the pandemic due to that, it would not be permissible to use this permission and hold Husseini mourning sessions and processions in this way," he noted.
He confirmed that Ashura commemoration is a congregation ritual and not an individual one. Sheikh Qassim called on families to commemorate the mourning of Imam Hussein on the roofs of the houses at a certain appropriate time of the night for half an hour, away from political disputes and problems. He reiterated his objection to the authorities' exploitation of the health conditions to impose restrictions on rituals performance.
The following is the statement:
In the name of Allah, the most gracious, the most merciful
The position on commemorating Ashura and Coronavirus
Peace, mercy and blessings of God be upon all believers. May God Almighty reward you over the tragedy of Abi Abdullah Al-Hussein (peace be upon him) and the righteous martyrs of his family and companions.
The stance in this issue would not be complicated if politics did not intervene.
The religion's standpoint is very clear after the neutral health scientific opinion is determined on the issue of the extent of harm and its circumstances, in terms of the degree of gathering that causes the spread of the pandemic, and the means of preventing it and what helps in that matter.
Religion and rite of commemoration do not contradict the condition of preserving health, and they are not a cause of the pandemic outbreak. They order to hold the commemoration outside the scope of harm, so there is no contradiction between the matter of prevention and the commemoration itself.
In addition, there is no difference between the congregational commemoration, meetings and gatherings for other purposes in terms of the conditions for preventing the spread of the pandemic. Therefore, what is sufficient for prevention in all these meetings is one thing that does not differ.
If the government had authorized the Husseini processions and the crowded gatherings in Husseiniyas as usual, with a rational degree of assurance or fear of the spread of the pandemic due to that, it would not be permissible to use this permission and hold Husseini mourning sessions and processions in this way.
If it was proven that holding the procession in a certain way is harmful to the health of the society, this certain way would be canceled and another way would be adopted.
It should be noted that the commemoration is originally a collective rite and not an individual one. This is shown by the way in which some of the Imams of Ahl al-Bayt (the family of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon them) held the commemoration, and the way Imams (peace be upon them) encouraged commemorating Ashura by gathering and meeting with others, as in the ritual of congregational, Friday, Eid and Hajj prayers.
The revolution of Imam Hussein (peace be upon him) is the affair of a nation, not an individual or a family, so commemorating his revolution and his tragedy is one of the duties of the nation.
Therefore, the commemoration is required to be a social event, and not be confined within the limits of the believer's individual personal practice.
It is not harmful and does not harm anyone, nor does it cost the families to perform the ziyarat of Imam Hussein on the roofs of the houses at a certain appropriate time of the night with some slapping on the chests for a period of half an hour, for example, or similar methods that keep an image, albeit reduced, of the social commemoration of the occasion, away from political disputes and problems.
We are not saying at all, nor have we said in the past or will say in the future, that the commemoration contradicts the health aspect, because that makes the commemoration lose its necessity. However, we entirely oppose exploiting poor health conditions, with a bad intention, to restrict the practice of rituals, and to hide behind these conditions in order to take away religious freedom.
Three things are important to us, religion and practicing its rituals, security and health, and there is no contradiction between these three among people of reason, religion, truth and justice.
May the peace, mercy and blessings of Allah be upon you
Isa Ahmed Qassim
August 19, 2020