Why should we mourn for Imam Hussein (a.s)? Imam Khamenei answers
As the month of Muharram approaches, the first month on the Islamic calendar, the official website of Ayatollah Khamenei publishes statements on the importance of Muharram, by relying on Quran he argues why Muslims mourn for the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (Peace Be Upon Him).
Now I would like to discuss a point regarding the efforts to promote Islam in the month of Muharram. Some people may question the value of the ceremonies for mourning Imam Hussein's (a.s.) martyrdom. They may say, "If you want to speak about Imam Hussein's (a.s.) movement, just go ahead and speak about his movement. Why all the crying?" This is a wrong assumption. It will be extremely hard to move ahead on this path in the absence of this emotional connection to the infallible Imams. This is why Imam Khomeini (r.a.) recommended the traditional forms of mourning.
The Quranic verses about the role of the infallible Imams are interpreted in three different ways. Wilayat [Guardianship] is one of these interpretations. "Your guardian can only be Allah - and His messenger and those who believe, who establish worship and pay charity, and bow down (in prayer)." [The Holy Quran, 5: 55] Another interpretation is submission and obedience. "Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority from among you." [The Holy Quran, 4: 59]
Friendship is the third interpretation. "Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but love for my near relatives." [The Holy Quran, 42: 23] What is this friendship? People are advised to accept their Wilayat and obey them, but what is friendship for? This friendship is a kind of assurance. After the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) passed away, those who ended this friendship gradually brushed aside the leadership of the infallible Imams (a.s.). In the absence of this sense of friendship, the Islamic Ummah will face the same disasters. Therefore, this sense of friendship is of paramount importance, and it can be achieved through this emotional connection to the infallible Imams (a.s.). Narrating the tragedies that happened to them is an attempt to establish this emotional connection. Similarly, praising their virtues [through the mourning ceremonies] is another way to form this emotional bond.
Therefore, it is necessary to hold the mourning ceremonies and narrate the events of Ashura. Some people should not adopt a so-called intellectual position and reject the necessity of these mourning ceremonies. These ceremonies are necessary, and they will always be necessary. Of course some forms of mourning are unacceptable. For instance, "Qame Zani" [a religiously prohibited ritual in which people cut their foreheads] has been declared haraam, and it must not be practiced. That is because Qame Zani will make the enemies more insolent and will give them an advantage over those who love the members of the Holy Prophet's household. But the common mourning rituals can increasingly strengthen one's emotional connection to the infallible Imams. These rituals are very good.
Statement made during a meeting with the seminarians and clergy; December 13, 2009 .