Shia Muslims wear black when mourning and when attending the majalis (gatherings) of Imam Hussein (a) and Ahlulbayt (family) and attending mosques. Shias are known to wear black and many question why Shias wear black and in fact some such as Salafis and Wahabis accuse Shias of innovations or being like Jews!
To address such falsehood against us Shias, we must teach who is opposing our views and spreading such falsehood;
The Wahabis; Who Are the Wahabis and Salafis ?
Muhammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhab was follower of Hanbali school of thought and jurisprudence. He studied Islamic studies in Mecca, Media, and Basra in Iraq. His early teaches such as Ibn Humaydi, perceived him to be bad performing student who is arrogant and defiant with his teachers. Hence father of Muhammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhab pulled him out of that school and he did not complete his studies. He later became friend and student of a young Hanbali scholar, Mohammad Hayya Al-Sindhi whom was very influential on Abd al-Wahhab’s teachings that was a reformist movement that deviated from traditional teachings of Sunnis and even the Hanabli school of thought including rejection of popular religious practices associated with Walis (guardians, custodians of religion) and their tombs.
Early Teachings of Abd Al-Wahhab
His early teachings were in agreement with the Saudi ruler of the time Uyayna, Uthman ibn Mu’ammar in exchange of support of Abd Al-Wahhab’s views. His first teachings were banning what he called “grave worship”, which was simply visiting the graves of Ahlulbayt and companions and other respected people. The second was cutting down trees and destroying anything that people found to be holy. Then he and his followers oppressed and punished whoever celebrated birthdays or death anniversary of anyone, even Ahlulbayt or companions. They called it to be Shirk, (polytheism), and deviation from their version of Islamic teachings. His followers to this day are very intolerant towards any other school of thoughts in particular Shias and Sufis.
Followers of teachings of Abd Al-Wahhab were later called to be Wahabis by others (because of his last name) and over the years, they were also given other names such as Salafis because of their methods of following salaf. These groups are known to Takfir(deny and reject faith of) other Muslims whom don’t agree with their methods.
Wahabis and Salafis Accuse Wearing Black as an Innovation
Strong opponents of Shia Muslims are currently Wahabis and Salafis that accuse us Shias to be innovators. They say many practices that we Shias do such as mourning and wearing black is innovation and doesn’t have a place in Islam. In fact, they ban wearing black in their mosques and gatherings in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere where they have control over because they say this is not in Sunnah (tradition) of prophet Muhammad (SAWS) nor the Ahlulbayt (family) or companions of prophet. They claim prophet didn’t mourn nor did he wear black and he didn’t allow it either.
We Shia Muslims however reject that thinking and that that ideology with proof. Our Shia books there are many evidence that both prophet and his companions wore black, cried and mourn for their beloveds but to have a stronger proof, we have selection traditions from their own books (Sunnis books) that wearing black is indeed in accords with teachings and traditions of prophet Muhammad (SAWS) and all prophets.
Wearing Black is Prophet’s Sunnah (Tradition)
Below are according to Sunni sources where prophet and his companions wore black and ordered others to wear black.
According to Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d. 855), the founder of school of thought of Hanbali that Wahabis and Salafis are influenced by, prophet ordered people to wear black for 3 days for mourning of Hamza (a) his uncle after he became a martyr. After three days prophet then said that people could come out of mourning. Hence if mourning or wearing black was so bad and outside of Islamic practices, why did prophet order it and allowed it to continue for three days?
This order was also repeated after Jafar-ibn Abi Talib was martyred, the holy prophet ordered people to wear black for 3 days symbolizing his mourning.
It is also narrated in their books after martyrdom of commander of faithful Imam Ali (a), Imam Hassan (a) wore black to observe and mark mourning for his Imam and his father Ali-ibn-Abi Talib (a).
Also according to their sources, even Lady Fatima Zahra (sa), daughter of prophet Muhammad (SAWS), would follow this tradition. After prophet Muhammad (SAWS) passed, she wore black.
It is also narrated in the Sunni sources that after Imam Hassan (a) war martyred, people wore black for a year as result of mourning for him. They attended his funeral wearing black in presence of Imam Hussein (a).
If wearing black was against customs and tradition of prophet Muhammad (SAWS), wouldn’t Imam Hussein (a) oppose it? After all Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) had said;
Hussein is from me and I am from Hussein.
He who loves Hasan and Hussein, loves me, and he who makes them angry has made me angry
According to Ibn Asir, a Sunni scholar, admits that all Bani Hashim (from prophet’s family), were wearing black, all women and many people of that family were mourning for Imam Hassan (a) and wore black for a year mourning for the Imam.
In conclusion, wearing black is not against Islamic traditions neither is mourning when it comes to a believer. If there it was disallowed by prophet at any point, it was probably in regards to an enemy of Islam or a non-friendly non believer. When it comes to Muslims and believers especially the Ahlulbayt (family) and progeny of prophet, it is highly recommended to observe mourning and wearing black as they are arks of guidance and salvation.
The narrations claimed and mentioned above in regards to mourning and wearing black according to Sunnah of Prophet according Sunni books and sources below:
Faegh Fi Gharb 2, P 192
Taj Uroos 2, P 83
Gharib Hadith 1, P 490
Tabaqat Kubri 2, P 321
Sir Alaalam Nublah Zahabi 3, P 267