On the eve of the martyrdom of the greatest lady in the universe (peace be upon her), one action that every Shia Muslim performs is to pick up the rosary and utter the words, "May the curse of Allah be upon the oppressors." Why do we curse those who are no longer alive and present? What is the importance of such as act in the light of Islam? Do we not spread the fire of hatred by cursing the ones who are respected and loved by other sects of Islam?
Tabarra is the word given for complete dissociation from the enemies of Islam and Ahlul Bayt (peace be upon them). According to traditions, this act is one of the foundations of religion. This article discusses about how Tabarra is viewed in our societies.
On a side note, although the term "curse" has been used in this article for the sake of convenience, we should know that the word lan'at cannot be translated directly as "curse", which is to appeal misfortune for someone. Rather, it is an invocation praying for the removal of blessings and mercy from the doer of evil.
The world is full of hate, and Tabarra adds more hate...we need to spread love instead
A wise scholar once said, "The one who can please each and everyone must be a hypocrite." The religion of Islam is a great fan of spreading love and friendship among all human beings, but not when they are perpetrators of falsehood and injustice. A society that can accept both good and evil at the same time is unstable and will break down at some point. Tabarra acts like the sieve that filters the slightest inclination towards evil from our souls, and guards our faith against hypocrisy.
Tabarra disunites the Ummah and strengthens the Shia-Sunni Schism
Publicly cursing the murderers of Lady Fatima Zahra (peace be upon her) can and will create friction between Shia and Sunni Muslims. Should Shia Muslims care about this problem? Indeed, yes. We must simply not overlook the advice of Imam Ali (peace be upon him) (especially in his last will) stating that Muslims should always beware of disunity. Cursing in public goes against the purpose of Tabarra, which is to stabilize and protect the Ummah. For this reason, our scholars have disallowed this type of potentially harmful cursing in public. No doubt we must curse those whom Lady Fatima herself would curse, but we must be mindful of doing it in a way that does not create Fitna and destabilize the Ummah.
Tabarra makes you dwell on too much past and forget the present
First of all, dwelling on the past isn't a bad thing. The remarkable thing about history is that it repeats itself so often! Islamic history is no different. As we curse the enemies of Ahlul Bayt, our curious mind seeks to know why we are cursing them, and most importantly, why the Ahlul Bayt did not approve of them. Let us recall that the Ahul Bayt did not dislike individuals for personal reasons; they disliked them because they acted against Islam. The end result of Tabarra is hatred towards everything which is against Islamic teachings.
We really don't achieve anything by uttering a simple curse...or do we?
Well, that really depends on how much Tabarra we are bringing into action. Tabarra of words is great, but quite meaningless if it only stays there. The wife of Pharoah, Lady Asiyah (peace be upon her), was a great example to show us how Tabarra should be performed. When she was severely tortured by her tyrant husband for accepting the call of Prophet Musa (peace be upon him), Lady Asiyah's prayer to Allah was:
"O my Lord! Build for me, in nearness to Thee, a mansion in the Garden, and save me from Pharaoh and his doings, and save me from those that do wrong." (66:11)
She could have simply asked Allah to save her from the tyrant Pharoah, but instead she desired separation from "his doings" and every type of falsehood and evil. When we do Tabarra, we must exactly do this. The effect of this would be to create within us repulsion towards the actions that made the accursed worthy of Allah's curse. As we do Tabarra against Yazid, we express disgust towards all his doings, and through our actions, we do nothing that resembles his actions. A person who curses Yazid would not go near alcohol. A girl who really curses Yazid cannot step out of her house without Hijab.
Is Tabarra only towards personalities in the past? Of course not! Tabarra is an always active form of worship that we need to be mindful of every day of our lives. If we are invited to a mixed gathering and we decide not to go, we are doing Tabarra. As we kill our desire for that creamy Frappucino at Starbucks or that cool Motorola Droid cell phone, we are doing Tabarra as we are boycotting Zionist goods. Every step we take against falsehood is Tabbara.
"The curse of Allah is on the wrong-doers." (Quran 7:45)