One of the main reasons the Shia Muslims opposed Tawhidi – before his transition – was his obsession and strong stance on self-flagellation, commonly known as tatbir.
The act involves striking ones-self with a sword (or knife), in mourning for the martyrdom of Imam al-Hussain (as), the grandson of the Prophet (sawa). It is seen as a symbolic act and a reviving of the oppression that the family of the Prophet (as) endured.
The topic of self-flagellation is a much contested and hotly debated topic within Shia circles. Sunni Muslims generally strongly condemn this act. Within Shia circles, you will find differences of opinions.
Some believe it is recommended to do.
Some believe it is acceptable, as long as it does not tarnish the images of Islam.
Some believe it should be completely forbidden and outlawed.
Tawhidi was of the opinion that it is not only recommended, but an act that if anyone opposes, should be strongly condemned.
Tawhidi taking part in the tatbir rituals – and proudly posing for the cameras.
This act is something strongly promoted by the teacher, mentor, and idol of Tawhidi – Sayed Sadiq al-Shirazi. In 2013, Sayed Sadiq Shirazi made the statement that one should take part in these rituals even if it may mean risking losing your life!
His Eminence said: “I supplicate Allah that all the Husseini rituals would be blessed in all of its types and ways, and I hope that all the Shiites participate in these rituals even if it requires the loss of one’s own life.
In fact, he goes on to state that it could well strengthen Islam in the West! He says in his book “Islamic Laws”, English Translation, Page 609:
Q: As part of their devotion to Imam Husayn, peace be upon him, on the tenth day of Muharram, some of the faithful strike their scalp with daggers or swords; a practice commonly known as tatbir. Does this practice tarnish the reputation of Islam in the West?
A: The assumption that this practice would tarnish the reputation of Islam is not necessarily correct or valid. And even, for the sake of argument, if this were deemed to be tarnishing the reputation of Islam, it does not necessarily mean that we should give up the practice. For example, in the view of some, wearing hijab constitutes tarnishing and misrepresenting the reputation of Islam. Similar criticisms are made of other practices such as our prayers and hajj pilgrimage; but this does not mean we should abandon hijab, prayer and hajj. The practice of tatbir could indeed initiate others to enquire as to why we do this, and this could prove to strengthen Islam, especially when the idea, values, and background are explained.
Thus, we find Tawhidi taking part in these rituals, when he visited Otowa, Canada. The following video was once posted on his facebook page (now deleted). You can see him leading the way, being the head of many youth, in this ritual.
What worried and angered the Shia more than this, is he went on to make audacious claims for anyone that did not accept these practices. See the multiple screenshots below:
Note: Many of these tweets may have been deleted by Tawhidi. However, please note this was all done from his official page, and not the account that he claims is a “parody.” Videos were also deleted, but thankfully – he cannot claim they are fake.
He has also supported the inclusion of children in these acts:
Tawhidi has also been involved in other rituals which include crawling and rubbing ones self with dirt.
Probably the strongest attack on those who do not support self-flagellation came in a video he posted circa 2015, where he even suggested those who oppose any mourning ritual, including rolling on glass or walking on thorns, has a disease in their hearts, and one should check their lineage (that their mother was not a prostitute):
This also goes with his claims that those who don’t support tatbir are ‘pigs’ and ‘infidels’ from his old account @brothertawhidi.
Of course, after his transition, he needed to maintain the image of being an “Imam of Peace” – while the images of him performing self-flagellation were surfacing. How was he planning on maintaining this image while he has images of him drenched in blood – holding a sword? Well, to say he has changed and denounce such Islamic rituals. And that is exactly what he did in one of his first self-produced videos in 2017.
However, the question remains. Does he really condemn this act, or is this just taqiyyah to maintain his image? It is fascinating, how overnight, he changes is opinion on the act of tatbir once he became the darling of Australian media.
Furthermore, if Tawhidi truly believes that these acts are now unacceptable, why hasn’t he spoken out or condemned his teacher, mentor, and idol – Sayed Sadiq al-Shirazi – for his strong support of these rituals??
In fact, this video was released while speaking to ex-Muslims. Notice how he says this topic is a red line and refuses to denounce it. He then praises the knowledgeable Shirazi for being knowledgeable and having valid opinions.
On October 1, 2017 – Tawhidi made this post attacking Sayed Khamene’i, the Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, for attacking Tatbir. Why would Tawhidi attack him for apparently having the same view? The post was made on his personal Facebook account, then later deleted. Note: Shimr is a historical figure despised by Shia Muslims for being a butcher of the family of the Prophet, peace be upon him and his family.
Tawhidi, are you lying to Australia? If not, why do you still promote your teacher, whom you gained legitimacy from – while he promotes these acts you deem “unacceptable” ?