Is it correct that the Shia Muslims’ sanctity for Karbala is greater than that of Makkah and Hajj?

Is it correct that the Shia Muslims’ sanctity for Karbala is greater than that of Makkah and Hajj?

Is it correct that the Shia Muslims’ sanctity for Karbala is greater than that of Makkah and Hajj? 1920 1080 The Office Of His Eminence Sheikh al-Habib

QUESTION:

I am a Sunni, but as you are aware, there are many who speak against your school of thought.

I heard from some of Ahlus Sunnah that you sanctify the city of Karbala more than Makkah; furthermore, some are saying that you perform Hajj there and perform it for the graves, and that you consider its reward greater than Hajj so is this true? What is the evidence? And by Allah I doubt these claims; and if this is considered as Hajj, then what is intended by that? I would love to hear from you and not other than you.


ANSWER:

In the Name of Allah, the All-Beneficent, the All-Merciful.
May Allah bless Muhammad and his Family and damn their enemies.

It has been proven by our pure Imams from the progeny of the chosen Prophet (peace be upon him and his pure progeny), that the holy land of Karbala is superior to the great land of Makkah and that it (Karbala) is superior to the rest of the earth. More than that, it is even the best land in Jannah (paradise). And this has been mentioned in reliable Mustafid narrations [1]. 

And if they who oppose us, insist on denying that and are committed to rejecting the narrations of the Ahlul-Bayt (peace be upon them), then verily it is also proven (that they regard other places holier than Makkah) in their sources and from the statements of their Imams and scholars. And that is the following: 

Bukhari narrated from Rāfi’ bin Khudayj from the Prophet (peace be upon him and his pure progeny) that he said:

Al-Medina is greater than Mekkah.
Al-Tārīkh al-Kabīr by Bukhari, V1 p.160 and Tabarānī has likewise narrated this in Al-Mu’jamul Kabir, V4, p.288. 

And for this reason, Umar bin Al-Khattab, and Malik bin Anas, the Imam of the Malikis, and more ‘Ulema of Medina, used to believe in that (that Medina is greater than Makkah). 

Al-Manāwī said:

Al-Medina is greater than Makkah because it is the holy sanctuary of the Messenger (peace be upon him and his pure progeny) and the place of revelation and the abode of blessings and it is where the word of Islam became strengthened and where the laws were implemented, and where most of the obligations were revealed in.’’ For that reason, they held the opinion of the superiority of Medina over Makkah and this was the opinion of Umar, Malik and most of the people of Medina
Faydul Qadīr by Al-Manāwī, v.6, p.343

And Ibn Kathīr said:

Imam Malik and his companions swayed towards the view that Medina was better than the Sacred Mosque, because the Sacred Mosque was built by Prophet Ibrahim whereas Medina was built by the Prophet Muhammad and it is obvious that Muhammad (Peace be upon him and his pure progeny) is superior to Abraham (Peace be upon him).
Al-Bidāyah wan-Nihāyah by Ibn Kathir, V3, p.267

And even those from amongst the scholars of our opponents who favored the Ka’bah over Medina, made an exception when it came to the grave of the Prophet and said that it is even more superior to the Holy Ka’bah and they ruled a consensus on that.  And some of them favored his honorable grave even over the Throne of Allah! 

Al-Manāwī said:

It is agreed that the Ka’bah is better than Medina except for the place that includes the body parts of the Prophet (Peace be upon him and his pure progeny) which shows that this place is even better than the Ka’bah itself; this is held by the majority consensus.
Faydul Qadīr, by Manāwī, v6, p.343

And Ibn ‘Abidīn said:

What is included from the holy organs of the Prophet, is better than the rest of the earth by consensus.
Hāshīya rad al-muhtār by Ibn ‘Abidīn, v2, p.688

And Al-Hasfakī said:

What is included from his (the Prophets) organs are better than the rest of the earth completely, even more than the Ka’bah, the Throne and the Chair.
Al-Dar al-Mukhtār by Al-Hasfakī, v.2 p.688

And for this reason, our opponents said that the reward of prayer and worship in the honorable mosque of the Prophet, is greater than performing them in the Sacred Mosque.

Al-Dasūqī said:

And when Medina is considered superior, then the reward that follows for actions in its mosque such as salah or I’tikaf, are more rewardable than being performed in the mosque in Makkah.
Hāshīya Al-Dasūqī ala al-Sharh al kabīr, v2 p.173 

For this reason the holy Medina is superior to the holy Makkah, and the honourable shrine for the Prophet is superior to the honorable than the Ka’bah and that is due to it containing his pure Prophet (peace be upon him and his pure progeny) and this is the standard of superiority. We find that this standard is given to another individual out of honor for the Prophet’s essence; it is then necessary that the same ruling is given (to the next person with this position) and we find that this divine law has been mentioned by the Prophet:

Hussein is from me and I am from Hussein.
Narrated by Al-Bukhari in Tarikhul Kabir, v8, p.415 and by Al-Tirmidhi in his Sunan v5, p.658 and Ahmad in his Musnad v.4 p.172 and many others authenticated this such as Al-Albani in his Silsila al-Sahihah no.1227

And by the proof of this narration, it is understood that Divine law has made their status equal. Therefore every status which is for the Prophet, is also for his grandson and vice-versa except for those specific qualities that have been proven exclusively for the Prophet only [2]. Accordingly, the standard of preference is joined between them both (the Prophet and Hussein) which means that the place that Hussein is buried in, has the Divine status of the place which his grandfather’s remains are in. And the grave which includes the remains of Hussein, has the holy status as the grave of his grandfather which contains the Prophet’s remains. 

Therefore the result is that the holy land of Karbala is just like the holy land of Medina; superior to Makkah. The holy Husseini burial place is like the honourable burial place of the Prophet which is superior to the great Ka’bah. Especially with what has been reported regarding how the sanctity of a believer in the sight of Allah, is greater than the sanctity of the Ka’bah. 

And in a narration from Abdullah bin Umar he said:

I saw the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his pure progeny), circumambulating the Ka’bah and saying: ‘How good you are and how good your fragrance; how great you are and how great your sanctity. By the One in Whose Hand is the soul of Muhammad, the sanctity of the believer is greater before Allah than your sanctity, his blood and his wealth, and to think anything but good of him.
Sunan bin Majah, v.2, p.1297

And when that is shown to you, you know that those who defame the Shia of Ahlul-Bayt (peace be upon them) in their belief regarding the superiority of Karbala, have double standards themselves due to their caliph Umar, their Imam Malik and many from their scholars, who favor Al-Medina more than Makkah, and their veneration reached such an extent, that they said even the grave of the Prophet is more superior than the Throne of Allah and His Chair! And with this, you find them trying to close their eyes from that issue and instead, shoot arrows and attack the Shia only!

And they give an illusion to the common people that Shia are the only individuals who believe in some places having superiority over Makkah, and that no one else shares this belief. But why do those Nawasib not defame their caliph Umar, and their Imam Malik and reject them and those who incline towards their belief about Makkah being excluded of having most superiority? And accuse them of misguidance and aberration?!

The Shia believe in preserving the sanctity of holy Makkah and consider it to be the sacred territory of Allah (the Exalted) and amongst the most holy and honoured places on Earth. And the Ka’bah is their Qiblah during prayer and they do not modify (the direction) to something else. And their Hajj is performed there every year and the rituals of Hajj are not allowed to be performed other than there. And there have been a number of narrations from the Imams of Ahlulbayt which explain the excellence of Makkah and its honor.

From amongst these narrations is one from Imam Baqir (peace be upon him) from Maysir bin Abdul Aziz who said: 

I was with Abi Jafar (peace be upon him) and he was next to a canopy which included about 50 men, and he sat down after a long silence from us and said: “What is it? Perhaps you see that I am a Prophet of Allah! By Allah I am not that, but I have a special relationship from the Messenger of Allah and a birth ( likely means from his lineage), so then the one who arrives at us, arrives at Allah, and the one who loves us, Allah loves him, and he who denies us, Allah denies him. Do you know which piece of land is merited in the sight of Allah as His residence?” None from among us spoke. So he replied to himself and said: “That is Makkah which Allah chose as His sanctuary, and made it His house.” He then said:  “Do you know which piece of land is merited in the sight of Allah as having sacredness within it?” No one from among us spoke. So he replied to himself and said: “That is the Sacred Mosque.” Then he said: “Do you know which section of the Sacred Mosque has the greatest sanctity in the sight of Allah?” So none from among us spoke. So he replied to himself and said: “That is what is in between the black stone and the Maqam and the door of the Ka’bah, and that is the stone of Ishmael (peace be upon him). There, he safeguarded his spoils and prayed, and by Allah, if a servant lines up his feet praying in that place from the night until day comes to him, and fasts the entire day until night comes to him whilst not recognizing our (the Ahlul-Bayt’s) right and sanctity, then Allah will never accept any deed from him.
Thawābul ‘Amāl by Sheikh Sadūq, p.245

As for the non-Shias who refer to themselves as ‘Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama,’ we find that they shot at the holy Ka’bah with catapults and burned it with fire, and demolished it and did not preserve its sanctity! 

Al-Tabarī says:

Ibn Zubayr endured and fought them until night, and then they got away from him and this was during the first siege. They then rose against and fought him during the rest of Muharram and Safar, until three days passed after Rabiul Awal on the day of Saturday in the year of 46AH and they attacked the holy house of Allah with catapults and burnt it with fire.
Tārīkh al-Tabarī, volume 4, p.383

And Al-Mas’ūdī said:

Then stones and boulders were catapulted at the house of Allah and stones were cast with fire, oil, cotton and other burning substances, which led to the Ka’bah being destroyed. 
Tarīkh Al-Mas’ūdī, v1 p.379

And Suyūtī said: “And when Yazid did to the people of Medina what he did and Yazid drank alcohol, and performed abominable things, then the people hated him and rose up against him more than once. God didn’t bless his life and when the army of Harrah was heading towards Makkah to kill Ibn Zubayr, the leader of the army died during their journey and a new leader was chosen for them. They came to Makkah and besieged Ibn Zubayr and fought him whilst firing a catapult at him and this occurred in the year 64 Safar AH. The covering of the Ka’bah was burned due to a spark of their fire as well as the horns of the ram that was sacrificed by the order of Allah instead of Ishmael and this was hung on the ceiling (of the Ka’bah).
Suyuti’s Tārīkh al-Khulafah, v1, p.182

We find that those who claim that they are monotheistic Muslims from Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’a, perform the rights of Hajj in other than Makkah! And in recent years they tried performing Hajj to the alleged holy stone in the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem and they would circumambulate around it, and perform Sa’y and cut their hair and sacrifice animals! 

Ibn Kathīr said:

And this reached Abdul Malik resulting in him forbidding the people from Hajj there so they made a commotion. Therefore he built a dome atop the Rock and the Mosque of Al-Aqsa to distract them from Hajj and appease their hearts. And they would stand around the rock circumambulating it just how they would circumambulate the Ka’bah and they would spend the day of Eid there and shave their heads.
Al-Bidayah wa Al-Nihayah by Ibn Kathir, V8, p.308 from Sahib Miratuz-zaman

As for those who spread lies and falsely claim that the Shia ‘perform Hajj’ to the holy city of Karbala, know that their purpose is to deceive the gullible people portraying that the Shia carry out their Hajj duties in Karbala! When in fact they are going to Karbala to visit the grandson of the Prophet and his beloved which is Abi Abdillah (peace be upon him) and his Household and his (Hussein’s) companions who were martyred for him and there is not a state of ihram, or tawaf or S’ay or cutting the hair or stoning the rock of Shaytaan or making animal sacrifices and so on. Visiting Karbala is only a Ziyarah with a two unit prayer, just like when the people visit the Messenger of Allah and pray the two units by his honorable grave. Hajj by the lexical meaning has this intended meaning (of visiting) and the Shia don’t ascribe this description to their visitations of Karbala because the term Hajj, now has a specified lawful meaning which is only meant for Makkah, which requires its own special unique rituals and rites. [3]

And the lies of the Nawasib have reached to the extent to where they even falsely claim that the Shia built another Ka’bah in Karbala! And for that false claim, they used a picture from one of the birth commemorations of Amir al-Mu’minin when the people of Karbala made a replica model Ka’bah honoring the fact of Amir al-Mu’minin being born there. Similar to how ‘Sunnis’ have made replicas or models of the green dome of the Prophet’s Mosque on the day of the birth commemoration, or how they made other models which represent the domes of the Imams’ shrines which is done in many places around the world on the occasion of their blessed birth anniversaries. These ceremonial ornaments are usually placed on the ceremonial platforms or stages for the purpose of beautification and then after, they are removed when certain events have finished. However the Najdis (followers of Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahab), Nawasib and those who have sick hearts take advantage of these pictures from the commemorations and distribute them in the Islamic world claiming that the Shi’a created another Ka’bah in Karbala to turn people away from Hajj in Makkah! May Allah deal with them!

As for the issue with regard to the reward of Imam Hussein’s visitation then yes, confirmed narrations have been reported from Ahlul-Bayt (peace be upon them) which state the Ziyarah of Imam Hussein has a great reward equaling 1000 accepted Hajjs and so on. And within an honorable narration from Imam Ja’far bin Muhammad Al-Sadiq who said:

Whoever visits the grave of Hussein, Allah the Exalted will record a thousand accepted Hajjs and a thousand accepted Umrahs and grant a thousand requests pertaining to this life and Hereafter for one who performs the Ziyarah of Imam Hussain on the eve of 15th of Shaban, on the eve of Eidul Fitr and on the eve of Arafah, all in the same year.
Wasāilus Shiah V14 p.476

And the meaning is not that a person is absolved from his obligation of Hajj to Makkah if he performs the Ziyarah of Hussein! Nor does it indicate that his Ziyarah which he has performed, means that he has performed those actions and rites which are for Hajj! Rather the meaning is that when the believer performs this highly recommended action, which is the Ziyarah of Hussein, then Allah The Exalted writes for him a great reward which equals the portion and reward of a thousand Hajjs and Umrahs, and this is from the generosity of God The Exalted of His existence and good and favors. 

And similar narrations have been narrated in our sources as well as the sources of our opponents about other actions. It is narrated from the Prophet:

To return a coin derived from forbidden means, in the sight of Allah, is comparable to 70,000 Hajj pilgrimages.

From our sources: Al-D’awāt by Al-Marwāndī, p.25 and from their sources Al-Ansāb, by Al-Samānī, v4, p.87.

Thus Allah the Exalted has made some acts obligatory and some acts recommended which have a great reward and Allah sustains who He wills without accountability.   

The Office of Sheikh al-Habib


  • [1]  Al-Mustafīḍ (Arabic: المُستَفیض) narration is a type of narration with at least three narrators in each level of narration.
  • [2] Such as the Prophet being the superior over all of mankind due to him being the Seal of the Messengers or reaching the special destination on his holy ascension which none else had the honor of having.
  • [3] Hajj in the linguistic meaning may just mean the intention of visiting or going on a religious pilgrimage according to the Arabic dictionaries. However, the scholars discuss a particular concept of a legal literal meaning where they examine how terms have changed in the Prophet and Imam’s times. For example, Salah, may have meant any type of prayer or supplication in the linguistic sense but later on, it changed to a specific meaning in the period of the Prophet and Imams (peace be upon them). When someone hears the term ‘Salah’ they think of the specific Islamic Salah that is performed daily by Muslims. This is similar to how Hajj changed to have a specific meaning of the pilgrimage to the holy city of Makkah.

The Office Of His Eminence Sheikh al-Habib