ANS. Please refer to your conversation with Haji Ali about mourning of Martyrs of Karbala & your request that it should be recorded in writing.
First of all, let me emphasize that your whole approach to this matter is wrong. You are laboring under the presumption that everything to be lawful should be expressly allowed in Sheriat, while the dictum accepted in all the sects of Islam is that everything is lawful unless it is expressly forbidden. We cannot declare an act unlawful just on the ground that it was invented after the Prophet. Otherwise we shall have to bum all the books of traditions, commentaries of Qur'an, Fiqah of Imams Abu Hanifa, Shafii, Malik & Ibn Hanbal. Not only this, but we shall have to think whether it is not haram to have the Qur'an in our houses which has been divided in thirty parts & its alphabets marked by dots, & pronunciations made clear by adding fat'ha, kasra, & Dhamma etc. Again, we shall have to ponder whether it was lawful for the First Caliph & Third Caliph to unify the different qira'ats of Qur'an which were prevalent among the Companions of the Prophet.
Then we note that the Prophet never used paper notes in place of coins. Is it not haram to use currency notes for charity, building Mosques & other good deeds? It is alleged, though we say it is wrong, that the Prophet did not appoint anybody as his successor, & it is known that he never entrusted this duty to anybody else. What will be the legal status of those Khulafa who were elected by people to carry on the work of Prophet after the death of the Prophet?
I may here quote the universally accepted traditions of the Prophet that "Everything is allowed until it is forbidden" & "all things are allowed so long as you do not get any law for or against it" These traditions are accepted by Sunnis & Shias alike. But, of course, you are neither Sunni nor Shia; & you are not bound to accept anything recorded in their books. But, then, you have also no right to interfere in the internal matters of these Muslim sects.
Sheikh Islam, Allama Ibn Hajarul Asqalani, in his Sharh of Sahih Bukhari (Babul Iqtadae-bisunanirrasul) says: "Almost all Muslims divide Bid'at in five kinds
(1) Wajib Bid'at, viz arranging Qur'an & preparing of Ilmul-Kalam against atheists & wrong religions & sects;
(2) Sunnat Bid'at, e.g. writing books of religion, establishing Madressas & Musafirkhanas
(3) Mubah Bid'at, e.g. different kinds of dishes of food
(4) Makruh Bid'at, e.g. using good clothes & food so long as it does not reach the boundary of 'Israf' (extravagance); &
(5) Haram Bid'at, e.g. revolt against Imam & everything which is against the Sheriat & about which there is established proof of its being haram."
Imam Shafii also has said, which has been recorded by Allama Asqalani in the same book 'Sharhe Sahih Bukhari', that 'Bid'at is of two kinds
(a) Mahmudah (praiseworthy) &
(b) Mudhmumah (Condemned); what is in accordance with Sunnat is Mahmudah & whatever is against Sunnat is Madhmumah".
You see that it is not enough to say that such & such thing was not in the days of the Prophet & then declare that it is unlawful, because there are some innovations which are Wajib, Sunnat, Mubah & Makruhand all these are lawful & Halal. And, of course, there are some haram Bid'ats & we have to guard against every Bid'at of this type. One example of such Bid'at may be found in the traditions: "Whosoever innovates something & calls others to it or establishes a religion, certainly he goes out of Islam." I wonder what will be your reaction to this tradition & for such a Bid'at, because you have chosen to follow a religion which was invented 1300 years after the Prophet of Islam!
Still it is not my intention to leave you in darkness, and, therefore, I want to make it clear that actually mourning for Martyrs is not 'Bid'at (innovation) at all. Every history of Islam records that when the Prophet came to the corpse of his uncle, Hamza, he cried loudly & fainted. When he recovered from the faint, he again began crying & calling 'Hamza, O Hamza; O Uncle of the Prophet of God, O Defender of the Prophet; O Hamza, Lion of Allah & the Prophet'. It is called 'Nauha' in Arabic language. Not only this, but when the Prophet came back to Medina, he heard crying voices from every house of Medina for the Martyrs. Prophet did not forbid it. On the contrary, he sadly said, "But there are no women to weep for Hamza." People of Medina hurried back to their houses & asked their womenfolk to go to the house of Hamza & weep & cry for him. When the Prophet heard their crying voices & was told that they were weeping for Hamza, the Prophet was so happy that he said, "May Allah be pleased with you, with your children, & with the children of your children." Waqidi, in his history, records that after his incident, it became an established practice at Medina that whenever there was a death, the women cried first for Hamza & then for their dead relative.
I think you will now be satisfied that the practice of mourning for martyrs was established by Prophet himself, & the practice for mourning over Hamza was started in 3rd year of Hijra & the Prophet died in 11 A.H. & there is no record that he ever expressed his dislike against this practice. This is the answer to your query about mourning year after year. So far as the particular case of imam Hussein is concerned, I would like to quote some traditions & ayats to enlighten you:-
1. God says in Qur'an about Pharaoh & his army
"neither the sky nor the earth wept for them & they were not given chance " (Ad-Dukhan). Imam Muslim records in Tafsir of this Ayat, "When Hussein was martyred, the Sky as well as the Earth wept on him & weeping of the sky is its being red." (Sahih Muslim).
2. Some 50 years before the event of Karbala, the Prophet wept when he was told by the Angel that Hussein would be killed by the army of Yezid in Karbala.
Then Gabriel asked, "O Prophet of God, do you want me to give you some earth from his place of martyrdom?" The Prophet said,"Yes". Gabriel gave a handful of earth of Karbala & the Prophet began weeping uncontrollably. This tradition is recorded in Mishkat, Musnad Ahmed bin Hanbal, As-Sawaiqul-Muhriqa of Allama Ibn Hajar Makki & Sirrul Alamin of Imam Ghazali; & has been narrated by Imam Sha'abi, Imam Baihaqi, Imam Hakim & scroes of other traditionalists. The Prophet gave that earth to his wife, Ummul Mu'mineen, Umme Salma, & told her,
"When you see this earth turned into blood, know that Hussein has been martyred."
3. On the 10th Muharram, 61 A.H., Umme Salma was asleep in the afternoon when she saw the Prophet in her dream: He stood in tragic condition & his hair was dusty & disarranged & in his hand was a bottle full of blood. Umme Salma asked what it was. The Prophet said, "This is the blood of Hussein & his companions. I was collecting it since this morning."
Umme Salma woke up & ran towards the bottle which contained the earth of Karbala & saw red blood flowing from it. Then she cried & called her relatives & started mourning for Hussein. This tradition is in Musnad of Imam Ahmed bin Hanbal, As-Sawaiqul-Muhriqa, Mishkatul Masabih, Tirmidhi & other books.
4. Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani writes in his book "Ghunyatut-Talebeen", Vol. II page 62;
"70,000 angels came on the grave of Hussein bin Ali after his martyrdom & they are weeping on him & will remain weeping upto the Day of Judgment."
5. Matam (Beating of chests & Face): It is recorded in Madarij-un-Nubuwwat (Vol. II, page 163) that when Shaitan announced a lie that the Prophet was killed (in the Battle of Uhud), the Hashimite women, including the Lady of Paradise - Fatima Zahra (AS) - came out weeping, beating their chests & faces. The same book also records that after the death of Prophet, some of the companions wept & cried so much that they lost their eyesight. This is also recorded in "Kitab Mathabata-Bis-Sunnah". (Page 119).
6. When the Second Caliph was informed of the death of ibne Muqrim, he put his hand to his head & cried. (Iqdul-Farid, Vol. II, page 4).
7. When Imam Zainul Abedeen came back from Damascus, & people of Medina were informed that the family of the Prophet was outside Medina, the Madinites rushed to meet them & they were weeping, beating their heads, chests & faces. It should be mentioned that the practice of Madinites is one of basic laws in some sects of Ahlus-Sunna.
Actually, the notion that mourning on Hussein & his companions or weeping, crying, beating of chests, etc. is unlawful, is based on misinformation. People are misled by a tradition of Abdullah bin Umar, in which he alleges that the Prophet said that "dead man is punished if people weep for him." But wherever this tradition is recorded its correction & contradiction by Ummul Mu'mineen, Ayesha is also recorded. When she was told of this alleged reporting of Abdullah bin Umar, she said that "May God forgive him, he did not tell wrong (intentionally) but he has forgotten or is mistaken. The fact is that the Prophet passed by a corpse of a Jewess & people were crying for her. The Prophet said that they are weeping over her while she is punished."
You see the difference. The Prophet did not say that dead man is punished because of the action of weeping of people, & he could not have said it because Qur'an says, "Nobody will carry weight of others", & it would be a gross injustice to punish the dead man for the action of he living relatives. What the Prophet meant was that a kafir cannot gain anything through the weeping of his relatives. Unfortunately, misunderstanding of Abdullah bin Umar gave a chance to mischief mongers to make a stand against the family of the Prophet, & against the natural human feelings. What makes me wonder is the fact that they do not pay any heed to he correction by Ummul Mu'meneen Ayesha which is recorded side by side in every book of tradition. Does it not show that these people who raise objection against the mourning of Imam Hussein, do not want to seek the truth. They just want to further their own interest at the cost of Islamic truth. Of course, there may be some excesses in some places in the customs of mourning but it does not justify an all-out attack upon the basic principles of Islamic mourning.
These are only a few of the traditions of the Prophet regarding propriety of mourning on Hussein. As you have asked to know custom & rulings of our Imams, I would like to quote here a few of the traditions of our Imams. Even now it is not necessary to quote from our own books because so many Sunni scholars believe in this cause & they have given those narrations in their own books.
(a) Mulla Ali Qari writes in his book "Sharhul Mishkat" Vol. V, page 604, that Imam Hasan (our second Imam & fifth Caliph of Sunnis) said, "Whosoever sheds one drop of tear from his eyes concerning us, Allah ta'ala will give him Jannat." Same tradition is recorded in "Yanabiul Mawaddah" (page 153).
(b) Majlises (gatherings to hear about events of Karbala) were established just after Karbala by our fourth Imam, Ali Ibn Hussein ZainulAbedeen (as.) & was developed by our Sixth Imam Ja'far Sadiq (AS) & our eighth Imam, Ali bin Musa Ridha (AS).