The question of what Eid Al-Zahra is and why it is celebrated by some of the Shia has perplexed me for some time. A few days back Sheikh Bahmanpour gave a talk trying to address this question and qualify the purpose of the Eid.
The Sheikh suggested the Eid is to celebrate the beginning of the Imamah of the 12th Imam. This is an event that puts into motion the establishing of justice on Earth. There are however many problems I see with this narrative, but none the less, the talk is quite interesting and picks up on interesting issues like what is Eid and the meaning of the 12th Imam starting his Imamah.
The talk can be found on the Hujjat Stanmore website here
It can also be downloaded directly from here
My notes on the talk are given below.
All the translations of Quranic verses are taken from the translation by Ali Quli Qarai.
Talk by Sheikh Bahmanpour given at Hujjat Stanmore on the eve of Eid Al-Zahra on the 20th December 2015
8th Rabi Al-Awal marks the date of the 11th Imam, Imam Hasan Al-Askari (a.s) passing away - one of the greatest men not only in Islam but in all history.
9th Rabi Al-Awal is therefore the first day of Imamah for the 12th Imam, Imam Mahdi (a.s). For several centuries the Shia have been celebrating this day for different reasons. Some of the reasons commendable and at other times the reasons not so commendable. The name given to the day is Eid Al-Zahra which should give us some idea of why we celebrate this day.
The word Eid is from awd - coming back. We call a day Eid when the blessings of Allah comes back to us, or we go to Allah, which is the same thing. We are constantly 'shielding' our selves from his bounty and mercy, so if we go away from Him then the blessings of Allah stop coming to us.
وَلَو أَنَّ أَهلَ القُرىٰ آمَنوا وَاتَّقَوا لَفَتَحنا عَلَيهِم بَرَكاتٍ مِنَ السَّماءِ وَالأَرضِ وَلٰكِن كَذَّبوا فَأَخَذناهُم بِما كانوا يَكسِبونَIf the people of the towns had been faithful and Godwary, We would have opened to them blessings from the heaven and the earth. But they denied; so We seized them because of what they used to earn. (7:96)
What we do shields us from the mercy and bounty that is always available from Allah. Eid is when we have returned to the bounty of Allah. We have a Hadith from Imam Ali (a.s) that says
Every day that sin is not committed in is a day of eid.
The blessings of Allah are not just material with most of the time the blessings and mercy coming straight to your heart. These blessings are not monetary. Eid is when you receive blessings from Allah and that makes it for you an occasion of celebration.
Now who is Zahra - we have to now somehow distinguish our feelings from someone who has a completely different status. Our joy and feelings may be different to someone who has a completely different station.
Fatimah-tu-Zahra is a Sidiqua just like Maryam. The only women who the Quran directly mentions as a Sidiqua is Maryam.
مَا المَسيحُ ابنُ مَريَمَ إِلّا رَسولٌ قَد خَلَت مِن قَبلِهِ الرُّسُلُ وَأُمُّهُ صِدّيقَةٌThe Messiah, son of Mary, is but an apostle. Certainly [other] apostles have passed before him, and his mother was a truthful one. (5:75)
This Sidiqua have different joys and pleasures than other girls have. Maryam started her life differently to other girls being in conversation with Allah.
Sidiqul Akbar is Ali (a.s), Sidiqua Al-Kubra is Fatima-tu-Zahra. A greater Sidiqua than Maryam. There is a Hadith from the prophet saying:
I swear indeed that this is Maryam Al-Kubra.
Maryam is now a concept of Sidiqua and Fatima-tu-Zahra is the great Maryam.
So we are not talking about a teenager of our time: if an enemy dies they become over joyed; with victory they become very happy. Sidiquin and Sidiquat are the category immediately after the prophets, of course they are not the prophets but have many qualities and states like the prophets:
وَمَن يُطِعِ اللَّهَ وَالرَّسولَ فَأُولٰئِكَ مَعَ الَّذينَ أَنعَمَ اللَّهُ عَلَيهِم مِنَ النَّبِيّينَ وَالصِّدّيقينَ وَالشُّهَداءِ وَالصّالِحينَ ۚ وَحَسُنَ أُولٰئِكَ رَفيقًاWhoever obeys Allah and the Apostle - they are with those whom Allah has blessed, including the prophets and the truthful, the martyrs and the righteous, and excellent companions are they! (4:69)
For prophet or a sidiqua there joy, happiness, sorrow are very different from ours. We should not compare these with ours. Sometimes in a Majalis or poems we compare our feelings with theirs. We should not compare these, there feelings and joys are very different to ours.
So when we say Eid Al-Zahra we have to think about what would make Fatima-tu-Zahra happy and what would make her sad. If injustice is removed from the Earth that would make her happy. If everyone is educated with the knowledge of the Quran and religious behaviour that would make her happy, if everyone has a good conduct and no one wrongs one another that would be Eid Al-Zahra.
So it is fitting to say that the day when the 12th Imam starts his Imama that would be Eid Al-Zahra. This is when the ball is set rolling to remove the injustice from the Earth and this would be Eid Al-Zahra:
وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الَّذينَ آمَنوا مِنكُم وَعَمِلُوا الصّالِحاتِ لَيَستَخلِفَنَّهُم فِي الأَرضِ كَمَا استَخلَفَ الَّذينَ مِن قَبلِهِم وَلَيُمَكِّنَنَّ لَهُم دينَهُمُ الَّذِي ارتَضىٰ لَهُم وَلَيُبَدِّلَنَّهُم مِن بَعدِ خَوفِهِم أَمنًا ۚ يَعبُدونَني لا يُشرِكونَ بي شَيئًا ۚ وَمَن كَفَرَ بَعدَ ذٰلِكَ فَأُولٰئِكَ هُمُ الفاسِقونَAllah has promised those of you who have faith and do righteous deeds that He will surely make them successors in the earth, just as He made those who were before them successors, and He will surely establish for them their religion which He has approved for them, and that He will surely change their state to security after their fear, while they worship Me, not ascribing any partners to Me. And whoever is ungrateful after that - it is they who are the transgressors. (24:55)
What is this promise that Allah has given, has this promise been fulfilled - no. Both Suni and Shia exegeses have said that this verse is about the coming of the Mahdi. If these things are fulfilled then it is of course an Eid of a Sidiqua - that is when the blessings of Allah will come back to us and all the shields will be removed between us and the mercy of Allah.
What is the promise that should be fulfilled? This promise excludes certain people who claim to be Muslims but behave differently.
Those before them who were made successors is talking about Musa, Banu Israil. Of course they could not comply with the limits and they lost successor-ship. But for this final promise Allah says that this is going to be fulfilled and we will be established on the Earth
The religion He had accepted and was pleased with for them will be established. This is Islam + Wilaya. Allah is not pleased with the type of Islam we are seeing now. We kill each other, we hate each other we insult each other this is Islam without Wilaya.
The reason we say this is Islam + Wilaya is because when the prophet appointed Ali as his successor this verse was revealed:
اليَومَ أَكمَلتُ لَكُم دينَكُم وَأَتمَمتُ عَلَيكُم نِعمَتي وَرَضيتُ لَكُمُ الإِسلامَ دينًاToday I have perfected your religion for you, and I have completed My blessing upon you, and I have approved Islam as your religion. (5:3)
Only once Wilaya has come then is he pleased with the religion. In verse 24:55 it mentions that the religion will be established by the Mahdi and that will be the religion He is pleased with. This is the religion with wilaya.
After this, the verse goes on to mention, they worship Him without Shirk, which means we are currently worshipping Him with shirk:
وَما يُؤمِنُ أَكثَرُهُم بِاللَّهِ إِلّا وَهُم مُشرِكونَAnd most of them do not believe in Allah without ascribing partners to Him. (12:106)
So this is the beginning of the coming of the 12th Imam. So this is what makes Zahra happy and is Eid Al-Zahra.
What makes her sad is seeing that Shia youth go away from religion, or don't know how to read the Quran, or don't understand the Quran or do not know how to behave. What makes her happy is to see that the Muslims are educated in Quran, behave like Quran, help each other, love each other and there is no blood shed amongst Muslims. We know there are 20% Shias and 80% Sunnis. Is it good to do things that create blood shed, is it good to fight until the day of judgement which Insha-Allah Imam Mahdi will come and settle for us. It is not Eid to see what is going on in Syria or Iraq and Eid is when all of these atrocities are removed and all of these will be removed by the coming of the 12th Imam.
9th of Rabi Al-Awal is a great day because this is the beginning of the end, the beging of the Earth being filled with justice and blessings of Allah and that is the beginning of the Imamah of the 12th Imam.
Now there are other things which are mentioned for Eid Al-Zahra and in certain histories it is mentioned as the day that Umar ibn Sad was killed. That is a great celebration for us, however this is not anything that would make Zahra a Sidiqa feel any different in her feelings, this is just the killing of one villain and is insignificant in the longer history.
There is another thing that is mentioned, which is about the murder of Umar Ibn Khatab however, this did not happen in Rabi Al-Awal, but in Dhul Hidjah. This is anyway something that is creating hatred among Muslims and would not make Zahra happy and by us somehow fuelling this hatred and doing certain things would not make Zahra happy.
Tawala and Tabara are part of our religion, however if we say certain things and the saying of these things causes our brothers in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemn to be killed killed, can this make Fatima-tu-Zahra happy? Of course not.
Eid Al-Zahra is a great day and we should definitely celebrate it. However, how we celebrate it and what we say is very important and Zahra would be more happy to see the Ummah in solidarity and unity. We say that Ahlul Bayt are the blessing and grace of Allah on the Ummah, so how do we inform others of the Ahlul Bayt and call others towards the Ahlul Bayt. We can not insult them and swear at them, the only way is to create a good relation and have good interactions. In a hadith from the sixth Imam we are told:
Be an adornment for us and do not be a cause of shame and disgrace for us
Zahra is a Sidiqa and actions that are a disgrace should not be done in her name.