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ashura lucknow 10th day of moharam shiasm

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Ashura Lucknow 2007

The Day of Ashura (عاشوراء transliteration: ʻĀshūrā’, Ashura, Ashoura, and other spellings) is on the 10th day of Muharram in the Islamic calendar and marks the climax of the Remembrance of Muharram but not the Islamic month.

It is commemorated by the Shi‘a as a day of mourning for the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of the Islamic prophet Muhammad at the Battle of Karbala on 10 Muharram in the year 61 AH (December 10, 680 AD). Sunni Muslims believe that Moses fasted on that day to express gratitude to God for liberation of Israelites from Egypt. According to Sunni Muslim tradition, Muhammad fasted on this day and asked other people to fast.[2][3]

In some countries and regions such as Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Bahrain, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica Commemoration of Husayn ibn Ali has become a national holiday and all ethnic and religious communities participate in it.

The word ashura means simply tenth in Arabic; hence the name of the remembrance, literally translated, means "the tenth day". Islamic scholars, however, give various explanations as to why it is thus called.

The word Ashura is Arabic for tenth. The day is indeed the tenth day of the month, although some Islamic scholars offer up different etymologies. In his book Ghuniyatut Talibin, Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani writes that the Islamic scholars have a difference of opinion as to why this day is known as Ashura. The general consensus is that the day is the tenth day of the month of Muharram. Some scholars, however, suggest that this day is the tenth most important day that God has blessed Muslims with; hence the name Ashura.

See also: Battle of Karbala

This day is well-known because of mourning for the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali the grandson of Muhammad and the third Shia Imam, along with members of his family and close friends at the Battle of Karbala in the year 61 AH (AD 680). Yazid I was in power then and wanted the Bay'ah (allegiance) of Husayn ibn Ali. Many Muslims believe Yazid was openly going against the teachings of Islam in public and changing the sunnah of Prophet Muhammad.[9] [10] [11]

Husayn in his path toward Kufa encountered the army of Ubayd-Allah ibn Ziyad, the governor of Kufa. On October 10 680(Muharram 10, 61 AH), he and his small group of companions and family members, who were between 108 and 136 men of Husayn ibn Ali (the grandson of Muhammad). [12][13], fought with a large army of perhaps 4,000 men under the command of Umar ibn Sa'ad, son of the founder of Kufa. Husayn and all of his men were killed. The bodies of the dead, including that of Husayn, were then mutilated.[14]

Commemoration for Husayn ibn Ali began after Battle of Karbala. According to Tabari

Zaynab bint Ali quoted as she passed the prostrate body of her brother, Husayn. " O Muhammad! O Muhammad! May the angels of heaven bless you. Here is Husayn in the open, stained with blood and with limbs torn off. O Muhammad! Your daughters are prisoners, your progeny are killed, and the east wind blows dust over them." By God! She made every enemy and friend weep. [15][unreliable source?]

After the massacre, the Umayyad army looted Husayn's camp and set off with his women and children for the court of Ibn Ziyad. A moving oration delivered by Zaynab in Kufa is recorded in some sources. The prisoners were next sent to the court of Yazid, Umayyad caliph, in Damascus, where one of his Syrian followers asked for Husayn's daughter Faṭimah al-Kubra, and once again it was Zaynab who came to the rescue and protected her honour. The family remained in Yazid's prison for a time. The first assembly (majlis) of Commemoration of Husayn ibn Ali is said to have been held by Zaynab in prison. In Damascus, too, she is reported to have delivered a poignant oration.[16]
A pilgrimage to Karbala for the celebration of Arba'een, 28 March, 2005.
A pilgrimage to Karbala for the celebration of Arba'een, 28 March, 2005.

Just few years after Husayn's death his grave became a pilgrimage site among Shi'a. A tradition of pilgrimage to the Imam Husayn Shrine and the other Karbala martyrs quickly developed, which is renown as Ziarat Ashura.[17] The Umayyad and Abbasid caliphs tried to prevent construction of the shrines and discouraged pilgrimage to the sites.[18] The tomb and its annexes were destroyed by the Abbasid caliph Al-Mutawakkil in 850-851 and Shi'a pilgrimage was prohibited, but shrines in Karbala and Najaf were built by the Buwayhid emir 'Adud al-Daula in in 979-80.[19]

It did not take long for public rites of remembrance for Husayn's martyrdom to develop from the early pilgrimages. Under the Buyid dynasty, Mu'izz ad-Dawla officiated at public commemoration of Ashura in Baghdad. These commemorations were also encouraged in Egypt by the Fatimid caliph al-'Aziz. From Seljuq times, Ashura rituals began to attract many participants from a variety of backgrounds, including Sunnis. With the recognition of Twelvers as the official religion by the Safavids, Mourning of Muharram extended throughout the first ten days of Muharram.[17]

[edit] Significance of Ashura for Shi'a Muslims

This day is of particular significance to Shi'a Muslims, who consider Hussein (the grandson of the Prophet) Ahl al-Bayt the third Imam and the rightful successor of Muhammad. Many Shi'as make pilgrimages on Ashura to the Mashhad al-Husayn, the shrine in Karbala, Iraq that is traditionally held to be Imam Hussein's tomb. On this day Shi'a are in remembrance, and mourning attire is worn. They refrain from music, since customarily in Islam when death has occurred music is considered impolite. It is a time for sorrow and respect of the person's passing, and it is also a time for self-reflection, when one commits oneself to the mourning of the Imam Hussein completely. Weddings and parties are also never planned on this date by Shi'as. Shi'as also express mourning by crying and listening to poems about the tragedy and sermons on how Hussein and his family were martyred. This is intended to connect them with Hussein's suffering and martyrdom, and the sacrifices he made to keep Islam alive. Hussein's martyrdom is widely interpreted by Shi'a as a symbol of the struggle against injustice, tyranny, and oppression. [20]

Shi'as believe the Battle of Karbala was between the forces of good and evil. Imam Hussain represented good while Yazid represented evil. Shi'as also believe the Battle of Karbala was fought to keep the Muslim religion untainted of any corruptions and they believed the path that Yazid was directing Islam was definitely for his own personal greed.[citation needed]
.

Shia refrain from drinking and eating in commemoration of Imam Hussein. This is known as Fakah, which is not a formal fast.[citation needed]

Many of the events associated with Ashura are held in special congregation halls known as "Imambargah" and Hussainia.[citation needed]

As suffering and cutting the body with knives or chains (matam) have been prohibited by many Shi'a marjas like Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran,[21], some Shi'a observe mourning with blood donation which is called "Qame Zani" [22] and flailing[23].

Certain rituals like the traditional flagellation ritual called zanjeer zani or zanjeer matam, involving the use of a zanjeer (a chain) are also performed[24]. These are not religious customs but are popularly done for the sake of Imam Hussain and his family. Many Shia's today in the West give blood to the Red Cross when commemorating the blood that spilled in Karbala.[citation needed]

At least many Shia believe that taking part in Ashura is to be absolved of sin. A popular Shia saying has it that, `a single tear shed for Hussain washes away a hundred sins.` [25]

[edit] Popular customs

For Shi'as, commemoration of Ashura is not a festival, but rather a sad event, while Sunni Muslims view it as a victory God (Allah) has given to his prophet, Musa. This victory is the very reason, as Sunni Muslims believe, Muhammad mentioned when recommending fasting on this day. For Shi'as, it is a period of intense grief and mourning. Mourners, congregate at a Mosque for sorrowful, poetic recitations such as marsiya, noha, latmiya and soaz performed in memory of the martyrdom of Hussein, lamenting and grieving to the tune of beating drums and chants of "Ya Hussain." Also Ulamas give sermons with themes of Hussein's personality and position in Islam, and the history of his uprising. The Sheikh of the mosque retells the Battle of Karbala to allow the listeners to relive the pain and sorrow endured by Hussein and his family. In Arab countries like Iraq and Lebanon they read Maqtal Al-Husayn. In some places, such as Iran, Iraq and the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, Ta'zieh, passion plays, are also performed reenacting the Battle of Karbala and the suffering and martyrdom of Hussein at the hands of Yazid.[citation needed]
Tabuiks being lowered in to the sea in Pariaman, Indonesia, by Shia Muslims.
Tabuiks being lowered in to the sea in Pariaman, Indonesia, by Shia Muslims.

For the duration of the remembrance, it is customary for mosques and some people to provide free meals (Niazz) on certain nights of the month to all people. Many people donate food and Middle Eastern sweets to the mosque. These meals are viewed as being special and holy, as they have been consecrated in the name of Husayn, and thus partaking of them is considered an act of communion with God, Hussain, and humanity.[citation needed]

Many of the male participants congregate together in public for ceremonial chest beating (matham/latmiya) as a display of their devotion to Husayn and in remembrance of his suffering. Women pay tribute to the time period by holding a Majilis, Surahs from the Quran and Maqtal Al-Husayn are read.[citation needed]

Today in Indonesia, the event is known as Tabuik (Minangkabau language) or Tabut (Indonesian). Tabuik is the local manifestation of the Shi'a Muslim Remembrance of Muharram among the Minangkabau people in the coastal regions of West Sumatra, particularly in the city of Pariaman. The festival includes reenactments of the Battle of Karbala, and the playing of tassa and dhol drums.[citation needed]


Hussein, according to Sunni tradition, is a historical personality who attained martyrdom in this special historical event. Accordingly, Sunnis deal with the tragedy of Karbala by investigating the historical causes that led to the martyrdom of Al-Hussein and his companions. Sunnis may at times differ in estimating its causes and results, what is right and what is wrong about it, but never ignore Hussein's grand religious rank, affirmed by religious texts and his being Muhammad's grandson and coming from Ahl Al-Bayt[26]. Nonetheless viewpoints in the Sunni community vary the reason being is that Sunnis accept the succession of caliphate including that of Ali as the fourth caliph. However, they do not see the remaining family members after Ali as the leaders of Islam. Whereas Shia Muslims follow the family lineage of Muhammad [4].

Nevertheless, Sunni historiography recognizes that Yazid was a wrong doer and regrets the death of Husayn, whom Sunnis view as righteous.[8] Also in some countries Sunnis mourn for Hussein as the Shi'as do. Mourning was already carried out in Iran as early as twelfth century, when both Sunnis and Shias participated in them.[27] Sunnis in the Maghreb often mourn the dead on this day.[28]

Sunnis Shariah law shuns mourning for more than 3 days after the demise of a person. Thus, Sunni Muslims totally disregard mourning on this day. Sunni Jurisprudence stresses that Ashura was revered by Muhammad long before the Battle of Karbala.[citation needed]

[edit] Commemoration of Husayn ibn Ali by non-Muslims
A tadjah at Hosay in Port of Spain during the 1950s
A tadjah at Hosay in Port of Spain during the 1950s

In some countries other religious communities commemorate this event. In Iran, some Armenians and Zoroastrians participate in mourning.[29]

It is reputed that Mahatma Gandhi said: "I learned from Hussein, how to be wronged and yet emerge a winner."[citation needed]

In Trinidad and Tobago[30] and Jamaica[31] all ethnic and religious communities participate in this event, locally known as "Hosay" or "Hussay", from "Husayn".[citation needed]

[edit] Socio-political aspects

Commemoration of Ashura has great socio-political value for the Shi'a, who have been a minority throughout their history. "Al-Amd" asserts that the Shiite transference of Al-Husayn and Karbala ' from the framework of history to the domain of ideology and everlasting legend reflects their marginal and dissenting status in Arab-Islamic society. Such an ideology helps Shiites maintain and reinforce their collective spirit against the Sunni multitude.[original research?][citation needed] According to the prevailing conditions at the time of the commemoration, such reminiscences may become a framework for implicit dissent or explicit protest. It was, for instance, used during the Islamic Revolution of Iran , the Lebanese Civil War, the Lebanese resistance against the Israeli occupation and in the 1990s Uprising in Bahrain. Sometimes the `Ashura' celebrations associate the memory of Al-Husayn's martyrdom with the miserable conditions of Muslims in other non-Islamic third-world nations, on the pretense that every nation and era has their own Husayn.[32]

From the period of the Iranian 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 Hosayn's enemies, the umayyads.[27]

The political function of commemoration was very marked in the years leading up to the Islamic Revolution of 1978-79, as well as during the revolution itself. In addition, the implicit self-identification of the Muslim revolutionaries with Imam Hosayn led to a blossoming of the cult of the martyr, expressed most vividly, perhaps, in the vast cemetery of Behesht-e Zahra, to the south of Tehran, where the martyrs of the revolution and the war against Iraq are buried.[27]

On the other hand some governments have banned this commemoration. In 1930s Reza Shah forbade it in Iran. The regime of Saddam Hussein saw this as a potential threat and banned Ashura commemorations for many years. In the 1884 Hosay Massacre, 22 people were killed in Trinidad and Tobago when civilians attempted to carry out the Ashura rites, locally known as Hosay, in defiance of the British colonial authorities.[citation needed]

[edit] Violence during Ashura

The Sunni and Shi'a schism is highlighted by the difference in observance by Sunni and Shi'a Muslims. The violence is perpetrated by Sunni and Shia extremists. In countries that have significant populations of both sects, there is often violence during the holiday.[citation needed]

On June 20, 1994 explosion of a bomb in a prayer hall of Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad[33] that killed at least 25 people.[34] The Iranian government officially blamed Mujahedin-e-Khalq for the incident to avoid sectarian conflict between Shias and Sunnis[35]. However, the Pakistani daily The News International reported on March 27, 1995, "Pakistani investigators have identified a 24-year-old religious fanatic Abdul Shakoor residing in Lyari in Karachi, as an important Pakistani associate of Ramzi Yousef. Abdul Shakoor had intimate contacts with Ramzi Ahmed Yousef and was responsible for the June 20, 1994, massive bomb explosion at the shrine Imam Ali Reza in Mashhad."[36]

The 2004 (1425 AH) Shi'a pilgrimage to Karbala, the first since Saddam Hussein was removed from power in Iraq, was marred by bomb attacks, which killed and wounded hundreds despite tight security.

On January 19, 2008, 2 million Iraqi Shia pilgrims marched through Karbala city, Iraq to commemorate Ashura. 20,000 Iraqi troops and police guarded the event amid tensions due to clashes between between Iraqi troops and members of a Shia cult, the Soldiers of Heaven, which left around 263 people dead (in Basra and Nasiriya).[37]

excerpts from wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashura
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