Translated by: Manal Samhat
Q: What is the Islamic ruling regarding the performance of the incidents of Ashoura in a movie or play?
A: It is obvious that a memory such as Ashoura that is related to the popular and religious conscience, and to the cultural memory and political movement, as well, ought to witness development in the way of expressing it in accordance with the development of the means of expression throughout time, since these developed means are the ones which man opens up to. In the light of the above mentioned, not only do we encourage the commemoration of Ashoura, in the way it is practiced nowadays, but we also call for developing the means of portraying it.
We believe that the performance of the story of Ashoura on a primitive theatre via primitive means is too poor to lead to a good effect simply because the observer loses this lively and spiritual interaction which the commemoration of Ashoura aims to.
Therefore, we aim to make Ashoura an occasion that does not only concern the Shiites but also a universal occasion that concerns all the people due to its human dimensions. Thus, we need developed technical means and very creative playwrights and artists who would compose, direct, and perform the incidents of Ashoura on a well-developed modern theater.
Q: Is it possible for a famous actress who has played so many different roles to play the role of Sayyeda Zeinab (Imam Al-Husseinís sister) (a.s.)? Or do you prefer certain types of personalities to play this role?
A: Yes, it is very likely, especially if the actress is a Muslim woman who possesses all the human affections, and who, at the same time, understands the personality of Zeinab (a.s.) and knows how to play her role and represent her as she was; a Muslim heroin worthy of appreciation and respect.
Q: You have recently called for acting and performing the Husseini tragedy of the Imamís martyrdom on both theatre and television. Do not you think that you will face many objections from different jurists, since this could be unfamiliar to people and to jurists as well?
A: I do not think that well-educated and open-minded jurists who are fully aware of modern technology and its impact on the modern man would reject that from a jurisprudential point of view, if the means conform to the Islamic criteria. Indeed, we are all fully aware that the modern man is capable of using such technologies to deliver his messages. Similarly, Islam would make use of them so as to be widely spread and universally understood.
I know that some jurists and even ordinary people usually fear what is new and are wary of undertaking new steps, thinking that this newness would undermine what they are used to. However, we believe that swimming against the current is risky and needs patience; so, we advise those who are creative by their nature and are always looking for the best to endure the difficulties that will be facing them.
We all agree that customs are neither the end of the world nor they possess any sense of holiness. Thus, Allah, the Most Exalted, orders us in His Holy Book to liberate ourselves from the constraints of blind traditions and conventions. Allah wants us to observe, contemplate and think about such customs, in a way that makes us accept what conforms to our Islamic concepts and reject what does not, for Allah says: "We have found our fathers following a certain religion; we are merely walking in their footsteps. Each (apostle) said: What if I bring you a better guidance than that which you found your fathers following? But they replied: We deny the message you have brought." (43:23-24). Thus, we do not sanctify what is familiar. We believe that we ought to accompany the developments of life in a way that conforms to the Islamic general guidelines, which we do not believe that developing the ways of showing the tragedy of Ashoura violates.
Q: The act of changing the way we celebrate Ashoura to fit the mentality of this century is so important. But do not you think that this step will be followed by many others and lead to influential changes to several other Islamic concepts and issues in the coming generations?
A: Islamic concepts and thoughts are constant in their original and real content, but, here, we are talking about changing the means of expression and not the content. However, it has certain dynamism in Ijtihad, as a result of addressing new issues. Therefore, we do not usually fear the changes we have made or we are still making just because we are afraid that it will surpass the Islamic lines. We believe that the open minded and watchful jurists who understand the content of the Islamic conception and the mentality of our generations constitute a guarantee against any deviation.