As a result of the post "Ritual and Reason" below, which appeared in a few forums, I was accused of being an 'azadari basher', meaning someone against mourning on Ashura, and of basically being arrogant and anti-Shia. The accuser said that no one has the right to question azadari.
First of all, I didn't say anything to question azadari.
But secondly, in Islam anyone has the right and even the responsibility to question, even to question the existence of God, the nature of God. So of course someone has the right to question any practice. If people never question, then the result is that truth is lost over time due to corruptions that are never questioned. A brother mentioned a case in a village where people killed sheep or goats and then put the blood on themselves to commemorate Ashura - he mentioned it as a clear example where a practice becomes unIslamic even if done with apparently an Islamic intention.
And thirdly, so what, i want to know the origins and details of practices. Why should they not be known? Knowing that can only help to strengthen or improve practices. And to make it clear, I never condemned any particular practice or said that it should not be done, etc.
Finally, if you love someone, living or dead, you feel sad at their pains and joy at their joys. Remembering helps to preserve truth. Walayah requires empathy and compassion and walayah is the means to know someone, associate with them, follow them. If you do not have walayah for someone you cannot claim to be his/her follower or friend. Now expressing that walayah for Imam Husain (as) does not necessarily require any particular methods. Whatever those methods are, unless they are wajib (which in this case they are not) the methods are not what makes someone Shia or not or Muslim or not, or lover of Ahlulbayt (as) or not. It is the walayah. Everything should be judged in the context of walayah and shari'ah.
On another note,
for Ashura I went up to Fort Collins, about 150 miles north of here, to attend a small gathering at which Sheikh Idris led ziyarate ashoura and dua alqamah and gave a short, wonderful speech. I am very glad I went. Someone told me about it just the night before, so I consider it a blessing to have heard about it and gone. Further, I got to talk to Sheikh Idris's wife which was also wonderful.