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Did Sayeda Zainab practice bloodletting rituals?

This a translation of an article by Shaykh Abbas al-Musa, the original can be found here


Tatbir is it a [religious] ritual or a bid’ah [heretical innovation]? This is a subject we have raised around 2 years ago and we dealt with some aspects related to this issue and we arrived at some conclusions according to our opinion. Some people may not like it, and some of them may like it, and here we try to study this phenomenon from an angle that I did not address there [in the previous paper], which is the narration that is depended on by the loved ones who say the act of tatbir is permissible or desirable.

We will deal here with the narration, or rather, the story, that talks about Zaynab hitting her head on the saddle of a camel which led to blood coming out of her forehead, and based on this story, some jurists and some scholars based the permissibility of tatbir, this is the matter of our subject here. I am not here to study the issue from all its aspects, as I have talked about a part of it previously, but I will focus the discussion on this narration only, and He is sufficient for us and we depend on Him and from Him comes success.

The text of the narration as mentioned in Bihar al-Anwar of Allamah Majlisi

أقول: رأيت في بعض الكتب المعتبرة روى مرسلا عن مسلم الجصاص قال: دعاني ابن زياد لاصلاح دار الامارة بالكوفة، فبينما أنا أجصص الأبواب وإذا أنا بالزعقات قد ارتفعت من جنبات الكوفة، فأقبلت على خادم كان معنا فقلت: مالي أرى الكوفة تضج؟ قال: الساعة أتوا برأس خارجي خرج على يزيد، فقلت: من هذا الخارجي؟ فقال: الحسين بن علي قال: فتركت الخادم حتى خرج ولطمت وجهي حتى خشيت على عيني أن يذهب، وغسلت يدي من الجص وخرجت من ظهر القصر وأتيت إلى الكناس فبينما أنا واقف والناس يتوقعون وصول السبايا والرؤوس إذ قد أقبلت نحو أربعين شقة تحمل على أربعين جملا فيها الحرم والنساء وأولاد فاطمة وإذا بعلي بن الحسين على بعير بغير وطاء، وأوداجه تشخب دما، وهو مع ذلك يبكي ويقول:……. إلى أن قال:
قال: وصار أهل الكوفة يناولون الأطفال الذين على المحامل بعض التمر والخبز والجوز، فصاحت بهم أم كلثوم وقالت: يا أهل الكوفة إن الصدقة علينا حرام وصارت تأخذ ذلك من أيدي الأطفال وأفواههم وترمي به إلى الأرض، قال كل ذلك والناس يبكون على ما أصابهم ثم إن أم كلثوم أطلعت رأسها من المحمل، وقالت لهم: صه يا أهل الكوفة تقتلنا رجالكم، وتبكينا نساؤكم؟ فالحاكم بيننا وبينكم الله يوم فصل القضاء فبينما هي تخاطبهن إذا بضجة قد ارتفعت، فإذا هم أتوا بالرؤوس يقدمهم رأس الحسين وهو رأس زهري قمري أشبه الخلق برسول الله ولحيته كسواد السبج قد انتصل منها الخضاب، ووجهه دارة قمر طالع والرمح تلعب بها يمينا وشمالا فالتفتت زينب فرأت رأس أخيها فنطحت جبينها بمقدم المحمل، حتى رأينا الدم يخرج من تحت قناعها

I [Allamah Majlisi] say: I saw in some reliable books, that it is narrated in Mursal [disconnected] form from Muslim Al-Jassas [the plasterer], that he said, that (Ubaydullah) ibn Ziyad had summoned me to Kufa for the repair of the Royal Palace. While I was plastering the doors, suddenly voices of wailing arose from the surroundings of Kufa. A servant who was supervising us came and I asked him, “What is the news that I hear hue and cry in Kufa?” He answered, “The severed head of a rebel has been brought in, who revolted against Yazid”. I asked him as to who he was and he replied that he was Hussain bin Alee (a.s). I waited until the servant had left, then I hit upon my face with my wrist (with such force) and feared lest my eyes would have come out. I washed my hands and came out from the back of the palace until I reached the open ground of Kufa. I stood there while men were awaiting the arrival of the captives and the heads. Suddenly nearly forty litters upon forty Camels drew near wherein were women, family and children of Faatimah (s.a), while Imam Alee (Zainul Abideen) was seated upon a Camel without a litter. Blood was dripping from his legs and he was weeping in this state and said, “O evil nation! May you never be satiated! O the nation who did not respect us in consideration of our grandfather (saw)! What will you answer on the day of Qiyamah when we shall be joined along with our grandfather? You made us sit upon bare litters as though it is not us who had strengthened the foundations of Religion. O Bani Umayyah! Until when shall you keep oppressing us or refuse to respond to the call of our proclaimer? O those who clap your hands rejoicing upon our misfortunes and slander us upon the earth, is not my grandfather the Prophet of Allah (swt), Woe be to you, who guides abundantly than the path of the misguide? O event of Taff (Karbala)! You have made me the heir of grief and sorrow. By Allah (swt)! The veils will be pulled off the faces of those who have treated us badly”. The people of Kufa started distributing dates, bread and walnuts to the captivated children seated upon the litters. Seeing this Umme Kulthum (s.a) called out, “O Kufans! Charity is unlawful for us”. She took it away from the hands and mouths of the children and threw it upon the ground. It is said that when she uttered these words, people wept on account of this unpleasant event. Umme Kulthum (s.a) peeped out from the litter and said, “Quite O Kufans! Your men kill us while your women weep upon us? Allah (swt) is the Judge on the day of Judgment between you and us”. —->When she said this, the voice of wailing increased and the heads were brought forth. The head of Imam Hussain (a.s) was in the fore-front, it seemed similar to the Venus and moon and bore resemblance to the Prophet of Allah (saw) more than anyone else. His beard bore the mark of dye, while his face was glowing like a disc of the moon, while the wind was whirling it (the beard) to the left and right. Sayedah Zainab (a.s) lifted her head and saw the face of her brother and hit her head upon the wooden pillar of the litter. We saw with our own eyes that blood started flowing from under her veil […]

Bihar al-Anwar, vol 45, pg 114

Sources of the narration

Al-Majlisi transmitted this narration in his Bihar and everyone who narrated it after him has taken it from him, and before him nobody has ever narrated this even though al-Majlisi claims that it was narrated in reliable books and we do not know which reliable book this is!!

And it is also found in the book “Al-Muntakhab fi Jam’ al-Marathi wa al-Khutab” which was collected by Fakhr al-Deen al-Tarihi (d. 1085 AH) in the 11th century AH.

And whoever reported this incident later has transcribed it from one of the 2 previously mentioned books.

And the conclusion is that this narration did not become popular until the 11th century AH so where was this narration in the 10th centuries before, and where are the previous scholars [comments] in relation to it?!

And based on this [lack of multiple narrations], the study of this issue will be only through this narration in chain and content, in which we try to demonstrate the strength or weakness of this report.

First the study of the chain:

The disconnected narration

This narration is disconnected and a disconnected narration does not have hujjiyah [probative force] so how can someone rely on a disconnected narration to establish an incident.

Nevertheless, we shall simplify the words a little to clarify what we mean: the [definition of] mursal [narration] is: That which its chain of narrators is not complete, and this [is possible] because of: The lack of mentioning all the intermediary narrators between the main narrator and the infallible that he narrates the hadith from. Or by lack of mentioning some from the intermediary narrators, and this under the condition that we do not know the name of the narrator that is not mentioned in the chain, so if we do know the narrator that is missing its strength will be as if he was mentioned in the chain, and would be included among the musnad [connected] and not the mursal [disconncected] narrations.

So the question here is, of which type is this narration?

And the answer is that it is not of the first [musnad] nor second [mursal] type, why is that?

Firstly: The narration is not connected to an infallible, at all, rather it is narrated from “al-Jassas” whom we don’t even know.

Secondly: Al-Majlisi does not clarify what type of disconnection this narration was transmitted by, is it by lack of mentioning of all narrators, or only some of them.

And if we assume its disconnected as al-Majlisi said and don’t go into whether this is true or how it is disconnected, then we should elaborate on the [islamic] legitimacy of a mursal report and whether it is accepted, this under the assumption that it is indeed disconnected:

A study on the the jurists and scholars of Rijal on the legitimacy of a mursal hadith, and they have differed opinions on this: [1]

1. The hujjiyah of the mursal narration of a trustworthy narrator

Meaning that if the narrator of the disconnected hadith is trustworthy, his mursal narration is accepted and is a proof to be depended on. This opinion is attributed to Abi Ja’far Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Khalid al-Barqi who is the author of al-Mahasin, and it is also attributed to his father Muhammad b. Khalid al-Barqi who is from the companions of the 2 Imams, al-Ridha and al-Jawad.

2. Absolute rejection of the mursal narration

Meaning that even whether the narrator of the mursal narration is trustworthy or not trustworthy, and even if he did or did not used to only narrate disconnected narrations from people who are trustworthy, and Allamah al-Hilli chose this opinion as stated in his book Tahdheeb al-Usul.

And in it he stated that: Of the requirements for the acceptation of a narration is the knowledge regarding the ‘adala [uprightness] of the narrator, and this cannot be proven, using the narrating of an upright person is not indicative of this, so this goes against the requirement – which is required for the acceptance – so the denying of the hujjiyah of the mursal narration is stronger.

3. The hujjiyah of the mursal narration is proven if the narrator is known to not narrate disconnected narrations except exclusively from whom are trustworthy

As has been mentioned regarding Muhammad b. Abi ‘Umayr and others from the narrators such as Safwan b. Yahya and Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Abi Nasr, as has been transmitted by al-Tusi. And this opinion was chosen by al-Mirza al-Qummi in his Al-Qawaneen.

With this introduction having explained the various views we will now judge the narration based on these 3 opinions:

  1. If we accept the first view, then we would conclude that al-Jassas is not trustworthy because he is unknown, so as a result the narration will not be reliable.
  2. If we accept the second view, then our position is clear, as the mursal narration is rejected absolutely as having any hujjiyah and this narration is mursal so its not a hujjah [proof], and using an analogy we say “Every mursal is not a hujjah, and this narration is mursal, so this narration is not a proof”.
  3. If we accept the third view, then we would conclude that the narrator is not from the ashab al-ijma’, whom some of our jurists and rijal scholars have agreed upon that they do not narrate a mursal narration except exclusively from a trustworthy person. And based on this, this narration wouldn’t be a hujjah either.

The conclusion is that the narration and its narrator are out of the fold of these three opinions, and therefore it is rejected and cannot be relied upon in establishing this incident.

The marfu’ [raised] hadith

The concluding of this narration being mursal is in the general sense of the meaning, according to what we have mentioned above, one who lost some of the chain of transmission while maintaining the presence of the Imam [in the chain], but if the Imam is not present in the chain then the narration is not called mursal but rather mawquf [suspended], albeit it is a kind of mursal, as some of the rijal scholars have said.

And the mawquf narration if it is taken from other than the companions of the infallible – as is the case with this narration – then it is of no use except in a limited way, so it would be said, person X waqafa [narrated in a suspended manner], and what is narrated like this is based on the view of the narrator not that of the Imam, as if he tells of a story of a specific event just as in this narration.

And it is of importance that we clarify that a mawquf narration is not a hujjah, even if all of its narrators were upright Imamis [Shi’as], because the word of a non-infallible is not a hujjah, because of his lack of infallibility.

The acting of the jurists upon this narration

It may be said that this narration was used by popular jurists, and every narration that is acted upon popularly then overwrites its weakness, and regarding this:

Firstly: This narration is not found in a source [asl] from our reliable sources [usul], nor in any of the 4 books of hadith, so how is it popoular.

Secondly: Not one of the classical scholars has mentioned this narration, nor acted upon it, so how it can it be popular among the jurists.

Thirdly: The depending on shuhra [popularity] is a fatwa in itself, and a narration or an act is not a hujjah in itself, and atrributing popularity to a narration is like attributing a stone to a human as Sayed al-Khoei said.

Fourthly: The depending on shuhra [popularity] is a fatwa in itself, and a narration or an act is not a hujjah in itself, and adding fame/popularity to a narration is like associating a stone to a human as Sayed al-Khoei said.

Fifthly: Nobody of the contemporary jurists has claimed that that the classical jurists have acted upon this narration, at all.

And based on this it is not possible to say that this narration has been acted upon by the jurists.

Its presence in a reliable book

It may be said that the narration is present in a reliable book, and every scholar who has transmitted a narration from a reliable book considers the [hujjiyah of] the narration he has reported, even though some of the narrations are weak.

There are several points to pay attention to:

Firstly: Who decides what is reliable or non-reliable? And is what Allamah Majlisi considers reliable and a hujjah to him, also a reliable hujjah to us?! [2]

Secondly: The goal of Allamah Majlisi was an attempt to transmit all transmitted Shi’i history from any source it may be from and what indicates this is his phrase “I saw in a reliable book” …. and because his goal was to collect the history, the wicked and the good, and this is what is contained in the book Bihar al-Anwar as result of this goal.

Thirdly: In terms of chains of transmission, only the narrator “who narrates the story and he is al-Jassas” was mentioned from this book directly. Does this mean that there is only this narrator and no one else in the chain of transmission? And who reports this directly? Is he the author of the book or someone else? And if it is someone else who is he?!

Fourthly: What is the name of this reliable book and where are those who preceded Al-Majlisi in the 10 centuries before him on mentioning this reliable book?!

Fifth: And if this book is reliable is it from one of the trustworthy people? And who is he? And who authenticated him?

Is this a jurisprudential matter or a doctrinal matter or something else?

Regardless under which matter it falls; it does not have hujjiyah because it does not fulfill the requirements for the hujjiyah of khabar al wahid [solitary report] this is if we say it is jurisprudential, and if we say it is a doctrinal matter then it requires tawatur [narrated in multiplicity] and it does not have tawatur even among weak narrations.

And if we say it is a historical matter then it needs to be mass transmitted at the very least by the historians and there is no trace of this event in their books!

Who is Muslim al-Jassas

He is an unknown man who has no mention in Ilm al-Rijal, in addition he has not narrated from an Imam from the Purified Imams and he is a man whom we don’t know his origin nor his lineage nor anything.

Al-Namazi has tried in his Mustadrak al-Rijal to soften the atmosphere around this man, after he quotes this same narration, he then mentions in his introduction to him:

Muslim al-Jassas: Ibn Ziyad summoned him to Kufa to repair the royal palace. And he narrated the presence of Ahlulbayt in Kufa. And it contains what indicates of his love for Ahlulbayt.

I [Shaykh Abbas al-Musa] say: And I do not know what indicates this mans love for the Ahlulbayt, is it just his mere transmitting of what happened, on the assumption that this is even authentic, or is it his presence in the narration, and how can we trust someone who worked for Ibn Ziyad? And is the mere transmitting of this incident an authentication for this man?

So what authenticated what? Does the narrator authenticate the narration? Or does the narration authenticate the narrator?

It seems that Al-Namazi tried to authenticate the narrator through the narration, so the narration first authenticates the narrator, then the narrator authenticates the narration, and this method is clearly invalid.

In fact, this seems to be a habit of his, because he always tries to establish and introduce the narrations of the ghulat [extremists] and muffawidha [delegationists] which they tried to introduce into the Imami Shi’i thought and were not able to, so he has provided them with a great service, he will be thanked for this, by them not by us.

Where is Imam Zayn al-‘Abideen in relation to this narration/story?

Is every carrier of any report a reason to take that report! Why should we neglect some of the narrations in any book! Rather why do we not take the narrations of al-Bukhari which conveys that Allah descends on a donkey every Friday?

Where is Imam Zayn al-‘Abideen in relation to this hadith? And what was his role in this fabricated story? And did he perform this same act at the same time or later, or not? And did he encourage this act in his words and supplications?

And where is al-Jassas in relation to Imam Zayn al-‘Abideen? And where is this story transmitted from the Imam?! Why did Imam Zayn al-‘Abideen not transmit it to us for it to be a lesson and an example for us, he is the Imam whom we are expected to obey and emulate, and it is not al-Jassas, whom we don’t know his identity except that he worked for the house of Ibn Ziyad. Perhaps he fabricated the story – and if it does not stand correct to us – it will stir up doubt and suspicion.

There remains a last thing here: The so-called “Muslim al-Jassas” does not have any narration – rather in reality it is a story – other than this story, even in the book Bihar al-Anwar itself, so where is he before or after ‘Ashura? Or did he die directly after the majlis of Ibn Ziyad? Allah knows best!!

Research into the content

There are some notes on the content, the most important of which are:

Firstly: Did al-Jassas know Imam Zayn al-‘Abideen and Um Kulthoom and Zaynab al-Kubra or what?! For if he knew the Imam from before, where did he meet meet him and when was their first meeting? And does history mention him meeting any of our Imams? And if this isnt the case [and he had never met him before] then how did he know that he was the Imam? As he said “while Ali bin Al-Hussain [Imam Zayn al-‘Abideen] was seated upon a camel without a litter. Blood was dripping from his legs”.

And Um Kulthoom and Zaynab, are they 2 different people or are they the same person? A clear confusion for those who ponder on history, and the narration transmits it as if Um Kulthoom differs from Zaynab and from this premise our further notes are:

From where does he know Um Kulthoom, did he know her from before? So if he knew her from before does that mean he knows her by recognising her face or not? And if her face was covered then did he know her based on her voice?! And if he did not know her before, how did he get to know her during her entry into Kufa so quickly when she has not spoken her sermon yet?!

Secondly: How do you know about Sayeda Zaynab while she is in her mahmal! And how did he see the blood flowing under her veil?!

[…]


In exchange for their attempt to spread the teachings of Islam there are those who destroy Islam in the name of Islam and there are those who destroy the madhab in the name of the madhab.

 إنا لله وإنا إليه راجعون.

We belong to God and to Him we shall return

Footnotes

1. The arguments for and against these theories have not been translated from the original article as it would take too long, refer to the books on ‘Ilm al-Rijal for the arguments provided for these theories or the original Arabic article
2. Rather the opposite is actually proven, see for example the book Fiqh al-Riḍā which al-Majlisi considers reliable and is popularly rejected

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