¿AZAÚDAÚRÈ, to hold a commemoration of the dead, by extension, mourning, a word deriving from Arabic ¿aza@÷, which means commemorating the dead. This is also the basic meaning of the cognate ta¿z^a (q.v.), which came to designate in addition the passion plays mounted in Moháarram. Details of the commemoration of the dead as regulated by feqh are to be found in the chapters headed al-èana@÷ez (funerals) in the handbooks of all the legal schools.
Because of diverse historical, geographical, and cultural factors, a great variety of funerary rites and death customs has developed in Iran. Despite a series of political and religious changes, beliefs and customs regarding death have been deeply influenced by the distant past. A general survey of pre-Islamic funerary practices on the Iranian plateau has not yet been made, but an extensive archeological survey of sedentary Central Asia—a vast area of Iranian culture—has demonstrated the existence of a great diversity in the disposal of the dead (see F. Grenet, Les pratiques funeraires dans l'Asie centrale se‚dentaire de la conquête grecque aà l'islamisation, Paris, 1984, which discusses cremation, funerary towers, burial pits, embalmment, inhumation, ossuaries, and cinerary urns). Mourning customs in Central Asia generally followed non-Zoroastrian patterns (ibid., pp. 253ff.). References to pre-Islamic funerary practices are to be found in various versions of the Iranian national epic, as reflected in both textual and visual materials. Some of these practices may have continued to exercise an influence in the Islamic period. A case in point is the cult of kings and heroes such as S^a@voÞ, tentatively identified by Russian scholars as the figure being mourned in a Panjikent wall painting (see E. Yarshater “Ta¿ziyeh and Pre-Islamic Mourning Rites in Iran,” in P. J. Chelkowski, ed., Ta¿ziyeh. Ritual and Drama in Iran, New York, 1979, pp. 88-94, and in Camb. Hist. Iran III/1, pp. 449, 450, n. 2, and F. Grenet, op. cit., pls. XLVII and XLVIII). The cult of S^a@voÞ may have influenced the Shi¿ite mourning rituals of Moháarram (Yarshater, ibid., p. 151); some connection has also been found between this wall painting and mourning scenes found in the iconography of Ferdows^'s ˆa@h-na@ma (O. Grabar, “Notes on the Iconography of the "Demotte" Shah-Nama,” in R. Pinder-Wilson, ed., Paintings from Islamic Lands, Oxford, I 969, pp. 32-47, 45ff.; N. M. Titley, Miniatures from Persian Manuscripts, London, 1977, subject index under coffins, funerals, mourners, processions, etc.; J. Norgren and D. Davis, Preliminary Index of Shah-nameh illustration, Ann Arbor, 1969). The ˆa@h-na@ma abounds in references to ancient funerary beliefs and customs such as so-called Scythian Practices (see ASB ii. AMONG THE SCYTHIANS); in addition to mummification and embalmment, they include a cult of the horses of the dead prince or hero (see Ô. K¨a@leq^ Motálaq, “Yak-^ dakòma kard-aÞ ze somm-e sotu@r,” NaÞr^ya-ye Da@neÞkada-ye adab^ya@t wa ¿olu@m-e ensa@n^, Da@neÞga@h-e AÚdòara@ba@daga@n, 1357 ˆ./1978, no. 124, pp. 462-70; idem, “Yak^ da@sta@n ast por a@b-e ±aÞm,” Iran Nameh 1/2, 1983, pp. 164-205; F. Wolff, Glossar zu Firdosis Schahname, Berlin, 1935, under asp, summ, RaxÞ, etc.) as well as the destruction of possessions and the suicide of wives, concubines, and slaves (see, e.g., ˆa@h-na@ma [Moscow] IV, p. 65 vv. 888ff.). Customs such as disheveling, cutting or pulling out the hair, and biting or ripping the flesh off the arms, are also attested in the ˆa@h-na@ma (see VI, p. 315 vv. 1558ff., and F. Wolff, op. cit., under so@g).
Certain features of ancient practices persisted into the Islamic period, such as the use of banners (a¿la@m, see ¿ALAM VA ¿ALAÚMAT) and horses in funeral processions (see H. Masse‚, Croyances et coutumes persanes, Paris, 1938, I, pp. 86ff.). Mourning colors tended to remain dark: blue and purple were especially favored, with black, gray, and brown also being used (for the currency of these colors in pre-Islamic Iran, see H. Masse‚, Firdousi et l'e‚pope‚e nationale, Paris, 1935, p. 204; Wolff, op. cit., under banafÞ, kabu@d, s^a@h). Self-laceration and the tearing of clothes—practices condemned by Islam—persisted well into the Islamic period, being practiced especially by rural women. The practice of repairing tombs eight days before Nowru@z is an obvious link of funerary customs of the Islamic period with ancient times (see Masse‚, Croyances et coutumes I, p. 115). Finally, mention may be made of funerary dances—pre-Islamic in origin—which persisted until recently in Tajikistan (see Grenet, op. cit., p. 259).
In general, however, Islamic tenets and practices relating to death have predominated: Belief in Azrael, the angel of death; Monkar and Nak^r, the interrogating angels; the torment of the tomb; and the entry of the soul after death into the barzakò (an intermediary realm) have determined popular conceptions of death and the passage into the hereafter (see Masse‚, op. cit., I, pp. 113ff.; B. A. Donaldson, The Wild Rue, London, 1938, pp. 70ff.).
When death approaches, the expiring person pronounces the Þaha@da, encouraged and accompanied by those around him. His body is laid out in the direction of the Ka¿ba, and to ease his passage into the hereafter the su@ra ya@-s^n (Koran 36) is recited. The body is ritually washed (g@osl-e mayyet) by the morda-Þu@r (corpse-washer) according to precise regulations and then wrapped in a series of funerary garments of which the outer-most is the kafan (shroud) before being placed in a ta@bu@t or nakòl (bier). Martyrs are not washed and are buried in the clothes in which they met their death (Masse‚, Croyances et coutumes I, p. 95). Following the tradition established by the Prophet, most schools of law—including the Ôa¿far^—recommend prompt burial, generally on the day following death. This is held to have led on occasion to fatal errors, with apparently dead persons being buried alive (see Y. Ragib, “Faux morts et enterre‚s vifs dans l'espace musulman,” Stud. Isl. 57, 1983, pp. 5-30; Masse‚, op. cit., I, p. 95). Sometimes the bier is placed on a hearse (na¿Þ-keÞ), but more often it is carried by young men on their shoulders, walking quickly. Passers-by participate in this meritorious act by helping to carry it for a few steps, meanwhile reciting the Þaha@da (ibid., pp. 98ff). Once in the cemetery (gu@resta@n/qabresta@n), the corpse is laid in the tomb, without bier, lying on its right side and facing the Ka¿ba.
Canonical prayers for the dead (nama@z-e mayyet or sáala@t al-èana@za) are followed by supplicatory prayers on his behalf (do¿a@-ye amwa@t).
Post-burial rites vary from a simple funeral gathering, known as maèles-e tarhá^m (assembly for invoking mercy on the deceased) or fa@teháa-k¨úa@n^ (recitation of su@rat al-fa@teháa), to a full kòatm (reading of the entire Koran), with separate ceremonies for men and women, known respectively as kòatm-e marda@na and kòatm-e zana@na. Those attending such gatherings are served food and drinks (generally tea or coffee). The kòatm takes place at the latest three days after the funeral (Masse‚, op. cit., I, p. 104). Sometimes a Koran reading takes place at the graveside, three days after burial; this is designed to assist the deceased in his interrogation by Monkar and Nak^r (see Donaldson, op. cit., p. 74; cf. the Zoroastrian parallel with the three days' judgment by Sro@Þ and RaÞn; see I. Goldziher, Muhammedanische Studien, p. 247, tr. C. R. Barber and S. M. Stern, Muslim Studies, New York, 1977, I, p. 224 n. 3). Further ceremonies are held one week (hafta or pa@-gereftan), forty days (±ella or arba¿^n), and one year (sa@l) after death, and optional ceremonies in commemoration of the dead are held in the cemeteries on the occasion of various religious festivals. It is also customary for women to visit tombs every Thursday evening (Masse‚, op. cit., I, pp. 106ff.). Prayers and passages from the Koran are recited, and food—mostly háalwa—and alms are distributed (Donaldson, op. cit., pp. 74ff. nn. 11 to 18; Masse‚, op. cit., I, pp. 111ff.). Sometimes complete meals (sofra) are offered in memory of the dead.
Although not viewed as forbidden (háara@m) by most legal schools—including the Ôa¿far^—the construction of buildings over tombs, as well as decorating and inscribing them, is regarded as reprehensible (makru@h). Nonetheless, Iran—like other Muslim countries—has seen a proliferation of richly laid-out tombs, mausoleums, and sanctuaries (see “K®abr,” “K®ubba,” “Makábara” in EI2; Masse‚, op. cit., I, pp. 102, 114ff.). A distinctively Iranian trait, found at tombs in tribal and other areas, is the presence of funerary effigies of lions or rams as symbols of bravery, connected, perhaps, both with the proverbial valor of ¿Al^ b. Ab^ T®a@leb (Asadalla@h “the lion of God”) and with pre-Islamic cults and beliefs (ibid., pp. 116ff.).
In literature, mourning has inspired the genres of eulogy (fazμa@÷el or mana@qeb), dirge (nu@háa/nawháa), and elegy (mart¯^a).
Iran's adherence to Shi¿ism from the Safavid period onward introduced new elements into Iranian funerary practice. Dust gathered from the tomb of Imam H®osayn (torbat) at Karbala@ would be mixed with water to form a beverage given to the dying. Burial at the Shi¿ite shrines in the ¿ataba@t (q.v.) in Iraq and at MaÞhad and Qom within Iran has been regarded as highly desirable. From Qajar times onward, the transport of corpses over long distances for interment in sacred territory became a common practice, one involving both legal and sanitary problems (Masse‚, op. cit., I, p. 102 n. 2). Bodies buried in MaÞhad would often be carried around the tomb of Imam Rezμa@ in a kind of táawa@f before interment (E. ˆaku@rza@da, ¿Aqa@yed o rosu@m-e ¿a@mma-ye mardom-e K¨ora@sa@n, Tehran, 1346 ˆ./1967, pp. 180ff.). Finally, various aspects of the Moháarram rituals have been imitated in general Iranian funerary practice (see I. Lassy, The Muharram Mysteries among the Azerbeijan Turks of Caucasia, Helsingfors, 1916, pp. 132-209).
The mourning ceremonies of Moháarram, commemorating the martyrdom of Imam H®osayn at Karbala@ in 61/680 and reaching their climax on the tenth day of the month (¿AÚÞu@ra@÷, q.v.), originated in Arab Iraq (see M. Ayoub, Redemptive Suffering in Islam: A Study of the Devotional Aspects of ¿AÚshu@ra@÷ in Twelver Shi¿ism, The Hague, 1978). However, they were held in Iran as early as the twelfth century, when both Sunnites and Shi¿ites participated in them (see J. Calmard, Le culte de l'Imam Husayn, thesis, Paris, 1975, pp. 434-49). In the Safavid period, the annual mourning ceremonies for Imam H®osayn, combined with the ritual cursing of his enemies, acquired the status of a national institution. Expressions of grief such as s^na-zan^ (beating the chest), zanè^r-zan^ (beating oneself with chains), and t^g@-zan^ or qama-zan^ (mortifying oneself with swords or knives) emerged as common features of the proliferating mourning-processions (dasta-garda@n^). In some towns these processions often led to clashes between rival factions known as háaydar^s and ne¿mat^s (q.v.). Mourning for the martyred imam also took place in assemblies held in buildings erected especially for the purpose, known either as háosayn^yas or tak^as (tekkes), as well as in mosques and private houses. At these assemblies, called either rawzμa-kòúa@n^ (the recitation of Rawzµat al-Þohada@÷ by H®osayn Wa@÷ezá Ka@Þef^ (d. 910/1504-05) or similar works on martyrs of the Imamite line) or mart¯^a-kòúa@n^ (the recitation of elegies), professional reciters and preachers would recount the deeds of the martyrs and curse their enemies, arousing the emotions of the mourners who responded by singing dirges at appropriate intervals in the narrative (see M. J. Maháèu@b “Az fazμa@÷el o mana@qeb-kòúa@n^ ta@ rawzμa-kòúa@n^,“ Iran Nameh 2/3, 1984, pp. 402-31). Theatrical representations of the tragedy at Karbala@ (Þab^h-kòúa@n^ or ta¿z^a)—possibly the most remarkable feature of the entire corpus of Moháarram ritual—also made their appearance in the Safavid period (on this significant development, see the works listed in P. Chelkowski, ed., Ta¿ziyeh: Ritual and Drama in Iran, New York, 1979, pp. 255-68 (“Bibliographical Spectrum”), and J. Calmard, “Moháarram Ceremonies and Diplomacy,” in E. Bosworth and C. Hillenbrand, eds., Qajar Iran: Political, Social and Cultural Change, 1800-1925, Edinburgh, 1983, p. 224).
Commemoration of the drama at Karbala@ reached its apogee in the mid-nineteenth century. By then it had spread across a vast area, extending from the Middle East and the Caucasus eastwards to India, Indonesia, and Thailand, and it had even been established in Trinidad by Indian Muslim migrants. In Iran, the memory of Karbala@ came to permeate social and cultural life, with mourning assemblies and dramatic performances being organized throughout the year, not only in Moháarram. The occasion might be furnished by the death of a revered person or the need to fulfill a vow. Gatherings known as sofra (lit. tablecloth), in which the preparation and serving of food played a focal role, were exclusively feminine: the preachers as well as the mourners were all women, and the lives and tribulations of women such as Fa@táema and Zaynab were the principal topic of commemoration. Gatherings of this type appear to have originated in the late nineteenth century.
From the period of the Constitutional Revolution (1905-11) onward, mourning gatherings increasingly assumed a political aspect. Following an old established tradition, preachers compared the oppressors of the time with Imam H®osayn's enemies, the Omayyads (see J. Calmard, “L'Iran sous Naseroddin Chah et les derniers Qadjars,” in J. Aubin, ed., Le monde iranien et l'Islam IV, Paris, 1976-77, pp. 189-94; A. Fathi, “Preachers as Substitutes for Mass Media: The Case of Iran 1905-1909,” in E. Kedourie and S. G. Haim, eds., Towards a Modern Iran: Studies in Thought, Politics and Society, London, 1980, pp. 169-84).
The political function of Moháarram observances was very marked in the years leading up to the Islamic Revolution of 1357 ˆ./1978-79, as well as during the revolution itself. In addition, the implicit self-identification of the Muslim revolutionaries with Imam H®osayn led to a blossoming of the cult of the martyr, expressed most vividly, perhaps, in the vast cemetery of BeheÞt-e Zahra@, to the south of Tehran, where the martyrs of the revolution and the war against Iraq are buried (on the connection between recent events and the Moháarram cult in Iran, see E. Neubauer, “Muharram-Bräuche im heutigen Persien,” Der Islam 49/2, 1972, pp. 250-72; G. E. Thaiss, Religious Symbolism and Social Change: The Drama of Husayn, Ph.D. thesis, Washington University, 1973; P. J. Chelkowski, “Iran: Mourning Becomes Revolution,” Asia 3, May-June, 1980, pp. 30-37; M. J. Fisher, Iran: From Religious Dispute to Revolution, Cambridge, Mass., and London, 1980, pp. 136ff.; H. G. Kippenberg, “Jeder Tag ¿Ashura, jedes Grab Kerbala. Zur Ritualisierung der Strassenkämpfe im Iran,” in K. Greussing, ed., Religion und Politik im Iran, Frankfurt am Main, 1981, pp. 217-56; M. E. Hooglund, “Hoseyn als Vermittler, Hoseyn als Vorbild. Anpassung und Revolution im iranischen Dorf,” ibid., pp. 257-76; M. Momen, An Introduction to Shi¿i Islam, New Haven and London, 1985, pp. 233ff.).
Finally among modern developments, it may be noted that the legitimacy of some forms of self-mortification and of dramatic performances has been a subject of controversy among Shi¿ite communities in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq (see W. Ende, “The Flagellations of Muháarram and the Shi¿ite ¿Ulama@÷,” Der Islam, 55/1, 1978, pp. 19-36. See also ¿AÚˆUÚRAÚ÷; MOH®ARRAM; and MOURNING.
Bibliography : For details of Shi¿ite burial regulations see Moháaqqeq H®ell^, ˆara@÷e¿ al-esla@m, tr. A. Querry, Recueil des lois concernant les musulmans chyites, 2 vols., Paris, 1872, I, pp. 27-36, 96-100. On regional and tribal beliefs and customs, which are often quite distinct from those generally prevailing in Iran, see ¿A. Bolu@kba@Þ^, “AÚy^n-e be kòa@k sepordan-e morda wa su@gva@r^-e a@n,” Paya@m-e nov^n 7/9, 1344 ˆ./1965, pp. 73-84. Sá. Homa@yu@n^, Farhang-e mardom-e Sarvesta@n, Tehran, 1349 ˆ./1960, pp. 520-22. Y. Maè^dza@da et al., “AÚy^n-e su@gva@r^ dar Delfa@n-e Loresta@n,” Honar o mardom, N.S., 25, pp. 8-13. G. H. Nawwa@b^, “Rasm-e ta¿z^at dar ˆag@a@na@n,” AÚrya@na@ 12/4, p. 241. M. ˆaf^a@n^ and B. Da@var^, “Mara@sem-e ¿aza@da@r^ dar Bakòt^a@r^,” Keta@b-e hafta 78, pp. 115-16. E. ˆaku@rza@da, ¿Aqa@yed o rosu@m-e ¿a@mma-ye mardom-e K¨ora@sa@n, Tehran, 1346 ˆ./1967, pp. 177-93.