Muslims around the world commemorate Ashura, the martyrdom anniversary of the grandson of Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him), Imam Hussain. Ashura was the day Imam Hussain and 72 of his companions gave their lives to reform the Muslim community. They were violently killed and their women and children were taken as prisoners. As Imam Hussain mentioned in his will “I rose up to Reform the Muslim community of my grandfather, Prophet Muhammed. I want to promote virtue and prevent vice.” Ashura means 10, and it falls on the 10th day of Muharram. In 2016, this day fell on Wednesday, October 12th. Muslims all over the world remember his sacrifice on the Day of Ashura with sorrow and passion, as this day symbolizes a selfless stand against injustice and oppression. Muslims commemorate Ashura by taking part in mourning ceremonies and processions held worldwide. These ceremonies, usually held in mosques or in holy shrines, consist of listening to a speech, mourning for Imam Hussain (AS), praying for the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (AS), and distributing food among the mourners at the end of the ceremony. Huge crowds of pilgrims also visit the shrine of Imam Hussain in Karbala, Iraq during the ten days leading up to the Day of Ashura to mourn and give their condolences to the Imam. The lovers of Imam Hussain who are unable to visit the shrine commemorate his legacy and mourn his tragedy in their hometowns. Here are some pictures of Ashura being commemorated around the globe.
- Ashura in the United States
Ashura is commemorated across the United States, from New York City, Chicago, Houston, Orlando, Detroit, to Los Angeles. Many cities hold processions in honor of the tragedy, and the participants perform numerous community service acts like holding a blood drive, food drive, and passing out water to the bystanders. On the Day of Ashura, Muslims gather in their local community centers to give their condolences to the Imam. They dress in black and usually listen to a speech about Imam Hussain and the event of Ashura, and lessons learned from the event.
- Ashura in Tehran, Iran
Eve of Ashura in Iran this past year overlapped this year with a FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifying game against South Korea. Prominent scholars had requested FIFA for the game to be moved since the game clashed with the day of mourning. Supporters of the team wore black (the color of mourning) to watch the game, which Iran won 1-0. The stadium was turned into a place of mourning with black banners. In place of regular pre-match entertainment, two famous religious reciters narrated the story of the death of Hazrat Abbas, who was killed trying to bring water for the children in the camp of Imam Hussain (A.S.).
In Iran, Shia Muslims take part in the blood donation movement on the Day of Ashura more than on any other day. They also distribute free food and drinks to other mourners in public places during the first ten days of Muharram and on the Day of Ashura.
- Day of Ashura in Beirut, Lebanon
Tens of thousands of men and women gathered in Beirut’s southern suburbs in a procession to commemorate the day of Ashura this past year. The procession ended with a speech by Hezbollah chief, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. During the speech, Sayed Nasrallah dedicated the day to the suffering of people in Yemen and asked the participants to show solidarity with the struggling, and oppressed Yemeni people.
- Day of Ashura in Karbala, Iraq
Karbala, Iraq is home to the historical site where the tragedy took place in the seventh century. Two beautiful golden shrines now stand over the burial place of Imam Hussain, and his brother Hazrat Abbas. Millions of pilgrims gather here on the Day of Ashura to give their condolences and travel from all over the world. The pilgrims usually gather at the shrine to listen to a recitation of the story of Imam Hussain’s death and weep in mourning.
- Day of Ashura in Sanaa, Yemen
Although the country has been war-torn, Muslims in Yemen also commemorated the Day of Ashura. Thousands gathered in the main square in Sanaa despite the threat of Saudi air-strikes. There was a televised speech by the Houthi chief Abdelmalek al-Huthi. Demonstrators stressed their determination to fight against Saudi aggression and the war on Yemen. They stressed that they were facing a situation similar to that faced by Imam Hussain, where tyrants and dictators were claiming the lives of innocent people who refused to give allegiance to them.
- Ashura in Toronto, Canada
Thousands of mourners participated in the annual procession in downtown Toronto. Along with the procession, this year’s Ashura was also commemorated at a local high school by holding an interfaith Hussain Day. Part of this Hussain day included depicting lessons learned from Karbala in a theatrical performance by the students. Children in the school also remembered the children of Karbala and reflected upon the lessons that can be learned from these role models.
- Ashura in Kabul, Afghanistan
Ashura is a national public holiday in Afghanistan. Muslims commemorate the Day of Ashura with mourning processions, black clothes, and donning their neighborhoods with black banners and tents. The tents dispense free foods and tea to pilgrims on foot. The processions include chest beating, reciting poetry, and performing reenactment scenes from the battle. Thousands of people gather despite threats of violence and attacks. These commemorations were banned under Taliban control but since their control was overthrown, the commemorations have become more public again. There, however, continues to be violence and attacks on Shiite mosques and public gatherings like those for Ashura. Last year, at least 14 people were killed in an attack at the Karte Sakhi shrine in Kabul on the Day of Ashura.
- Ashura in Zaria, Nigeria
Hundreds of thousands of mourners took to the streets in Zaria city, Nigeria to mark the annual Ashura procession under the leadership of Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky. The procession was a culmination to programs and activities that were organized in the first ten days of Muharram to highlight the tragedy of Imam Hussain and lessons to be learned.