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What to do on the Day of Ashura

by Nathan Zachary

Ashura is one of the most important days for Muslims all over the world, which is the 10th day of Muharram in the first month of the Islamic Lunar calendar. Ashura is derived from the Arabic word which means ‘number 10’. It falls on the same day when the battle of Karbala took place. In this battle, Imam Hussain Bin Ali was martyred who was the grandson of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). The Day of Ashura is very crucial in Islamic history and, holds distinct significance for the different sects of Islam.

For some Muslims, the Day of Ashura should not be celebrated as a day of joy. On this day they mourn the martyrdom of Imam Hussain and his family, who died in the battle of Karbala. They do not plan any kind of celebration on this day.

On the other hand, some Muslims, fast on the Day of Ashura, which is not obligatory like fasting during Ramadan. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) fasted on the Day of Ashura and so Muslims follow the tradition as a sign of respect and love for Prophet Muhammad. 

Battle of Karbala

The battle of Karbala was the most important event that took place on the Day of Ashura, Muslims remember this day as the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, who died in the battle. The battle took place on the 10th day of Muharram and was fought between a small army headed by Imam Hussain and Yazid I.

Imam considered Yazid a dishonorable man and felt that he was not sticking to the principles of Islam. So, Imam refused to pledge his allegiance to him, and Yazid planned to kill him along with his followers.

When Imam Hussain went to take refuge and perform Hajj, Yazid and his army took control of all the water resources around the camp of Imam, due to which no food or water was available to those staying in the camp. Yazid’s army attacked the camp which led to the martyrdom of Imam Hussain and his people. 

Day of Ashura 2022

Ashura in 2022 will fall on 8th August. According to the Islamic calendar, the holiday will begin after the sunset of the day before, so Ashura will be observed after the sunset of 7th August 2022.

Different sects of Muslims perform different kinds of rituals on this Day of Ashura. Imam Hussain Bin Ali was martyred in the battle of Karbala, so mourning is observed by some Muslims on this day.

Things to do on the Day of Ashura by Muslims:

● Visiting the tomb of Imam Hussain in Karbala, Iraq

● A pilgrimage should be made to Imam Hussain’s shrine after 40 days.

● No celebrations are held on this day, and a mourning attire is donned to express sadness

● People cry and mourn on the public marches called ‘al-mawakib al- husayniyah’.

● They try to feel the pain that Imam Hussain and his family faced by beating themselves with sharp objects.

● Drums beating and “Ya Hussain” chanting are frequently done during times of mourning.

● A dish is also prepared during this day called ‘Harees’, it is said that Imam Hussain loved the dish.

Fasting in Muharram

Muharram is the main occasion after Ramadan when Muslims all over the world fast. It is mainly done on the 10th day of Muharram, the Day of Ashura. As per the Islamic scholars, Muslims have the liberty to fast for 3 days (9th, 10th & 11th day of Muharram), 2 days (9th & 10th day of Muharram), or 1 day (10th day of Muharram).

Reasons for Fasting in Muharram

  • On the Day of Ashura Imam Hussain was martyred in the battle of Karbala, who was the grandson of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH).
  • Muslims also remember Prophet Musa on the Day of Ashura, who fought the Egyptian ruler thus liberating the slaves and overcoming the oppression. It is said that Allah helped the Prophet in defeating the Egyptian Pharaoh. Prophet Musa was very vocal in speaking against the false worship of the Egyptian Pharaoh.
  • It was mentioned by Al Tirmidhi that Ibn Abbas once advised the followers of Islam to fast for 2 days to realize their closeness to Musa.
  • On the 10th day of Muharram, Prophet Nuh’s ark landed safely on Mount Judiy when the great flood ended. Prophet Nuh fasted on this day to thank Allah for his blessings and mercy.

The 10th day of Muharram known as the Day of Ashura holds a crucial place in the history of Islam when Imam Hussain was martyred in the battle of Karbala. Muslims express their sadness and mourn the death of Imam Hussain, Prophet Mohammad’s (PBUH) grandson, and any kind of celebration is avoided on Muharram. On the Day of Ashura, they visit the tomb of Imam Hussain in Karbala, Iraq. Ashura is also significant as Allah helped Prophet Musa in defeating the army of the Egyptian Pharaoh.

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