Muharram is the sacred month of the Islamic calendar and also marks the beginning of the Muslim New Year. The tenth day of Muharram is called as ‘Ashura’, literally meaning ‘forbidden’. Though the day of Ashura holds a great significance to all Muslims around the globe, it is recognised differently in the two major sects – Shia and Sunni. For the Shia community, the day commemorates the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad and son of Ali, killed in the Battle of Karbala.
Here are 7 things to know about the day of mourning:
- Caliph Yazid-ibn-Muawiah, the second caliph of the Umayyad Caliphate, ordered the killing of Husayn ibn Ali. As he was against Yazid’s tyrannical rule and believed that Yazid should continue the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah.
- On the tenth day of Muharram, Husayn along with a small group of supporters fought against Yazid and his large group. Those killed in the battle are now remembered as martyrs.
- The Shia community shows grief by re-enacting the events of the Battle of Karbala. People refrain themselves from wearing new clothes or listening to music.
- The mourning of Muharram is a 10-day period and the tenth and also the last day is called as Ashura.
- The Shi’a community organise parades flagellate themselves with chains and blades and beat their chest to express their grief and remember the sufferings of Husayn.
- Pilgrimage is also made to the shrine of Husayn ibn Ali in Karbala.
- There is also a tradition to recite Ziarat Ashura, a salutatory prayer to Husayn ibn Ali and the martyrs of the Battle of Karbala, on the day of Ashura to pay tribute to Husayn ibn Ali and those died in the Battle of Karbala.