Mirza Mohammad Ashfaq has left for Amsterdam, Aijaz Abbas for the US, Safi Haider for South Africa, Aazim Hussain for Pakistan while vice-president of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, Kalbe Sadiq, has left for London.
Several other clerics have got invitations from other parts of the country. Mirza Mohammad Athar and his son Yasoob Abbas are in Mumbai, Abbas Irshad is touring south India while Jafar Abbas too has reached Mumbai.
Muharram marks the martyrdom of Imam Hussain and his companions in Karbala in Iraq in 61 Hijri. Lucknow is the hub of Shias in India and these clerics have a following across the world. Many of them are revered for their high religious qualifications and exceptional oratorial skills.
They are invited to deliver sermons at the majlis organised by the Shia community in remembrance of the martyrdom of Imam Hussain and his companions. The cleric who addresses a majlis is known as Zakir and most clerics in Lucknow have their own following as Zakirs.
“I have been visiting Mumbai for the last 20 years. People there invite me and I address the majlis. This time also I have reached Mumbai,” Mirza Jafar Abbas said.
Mirza Mohammad Athar, who also heads the All India Shia Personal Law Board, has also reached Mumbai. This will be his 56th year addressing the majlis at Mughal Masjid in Mumbai. His son Yasoob Abbas too is in Mumbai and will deliver the sermon at the majlis in Zainabia in Mumbai, while his visa for Dubai from November 26 has also arrived. Another son Aijaz Abbas has already reached the US for attending a majlis.
During the first 10 days of Muharram, clerics describe the incidents at Karbala leading to the martyrdom of Imam Hussain. These clerics are well versed in reciting elegies which are a unique feature of the majlis in Lucknow. Other topics such as terrorism, education and social issues too are taken up during the sermon.
The clerics are rewarded for their services through offerings by devotees, called Nazrana, and their details are never disclosed. Travel expenses are also taken care of by local devotees.
Sometimes, clerics from other countries are invited to Lucknow. In 2011, a prominent cleric from Pakistan, Allama Zameer Naqvi, was in Lucknow during Muharram. He was flooded with requests from locals to visit their houses.