According to the Islamic calendar, Muslims observe Ashura Holidays on the 9-10 Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar, which is a Holy month for Muslims everywhere. In 2023, Youm e Ashura will begin on July 27. For Shia Muslims, it marks the culmination of Muharram and the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (the beloved grandson of the Prophet Muhammad P.B.U.H.) at the Battle of Karbala. The ten days leading up to the festival are a time of mourning. On Ashura, many Muslims dress in black, and street parades are typical. On the occasion of Ashura, Muslims observe fasting and meditation and ponder the circumstances surrounding Hussain’s martyrdom. In many Muslim countries, 9-10 Muharram is a significant holiday, and Shia Muslims, particularly those in Pakistan, observe a sequence of rites known as the Mourning of Ashura.
Meaning and Background:
The term “Ashura” originates from the Syro-Arabic languages, and essentially the Meaning of Ashura is “the tenth day,” or the 10th of Muharram. Consequently, some scholars believe that the Day of Ashura is one of the momentous days in Islamic history.
Early on in the history of Islam, a political party known as the Shia supported Ali, the fourth caliph of the Muslim community and the Prophet Muhammad’s son-in-law.
A colossal rift between Sunnis and Shias arose when Imam Ali could not succeed the Prophet as the leader of the Islamic world.
At Karbala, Umayyad forces encircled and stopped Hussain and his supporters. Imam Hussain and his troops offered their last prayers on the Day of Ashura early in the morning, knowing their doom. The men remained devoted to Imam Hussain and his cause even though they knew they would perish that day. At midday, the Battle of Karbala started. Imam Hussain’s troops boldly fought Yazid’s army, knowing their sacrifice would spark the revolution. The companions perished one after another. Only Hussain was left standing by himself.
The Yazidi soldiers cut off Imam Hussain and his companions’ access to food and water. Heavily wounded and thirsty, Hussain did not submit to the will of Yazid. The army of Yazd attacked Imam Hussain from all sides as dusk fell, brutally killing Imam Hussain (R.A.), his companions, and family members. The brutal Yazid ordered the beheading of Imam Hussain and his companions.
What is Ashura, and Which Day is Ashura?
Muslims observe Youm e Ashura on 9-10 Muharram. It happens every year on the ninth and tenth day of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar. Shia Muslims remember Youm e Ashura, which honors the sacrifice of Imam Hussain (the grandson of Muhammad P.B.U.H.). Imam Hussain was put to death by Yazid because he refused to succumb to the evilness and tyranny of Yazid. Hussain preferred to give up his life and the lives of his companions than submit to an oppressor. On 9-10 Muharram, we commemorate the unparalleled fearlessness and courage of Imam Hussain.
How Do Sunni and Shia Muslims Celebrate Ashura?
Most Youm e Ashura commemorations in Shia communities take place as procession-style events. They are often accompanied by various ceremonies, from mourning and shrine visits to the more contentious activities of self-flagellation and chest-beating. They would perform a rite to mark this occasion, such as burning an oil lamp and praying. The ceremonies, which include temperance, fasting, skin-cutting with knives and other sharp objects, and gloomy marches, call for black clothes, are pretty standard. However, the teachings of Islam do not appreciate these activities.
Based on Muhammad’s hadith, Sunni communities commemorate three rounds of fasting: the day before Ashura, the day after Ashura, and the day afterward Ashura. While Ashura fasting is not mandatory, it is still strongly recommended. Although religious authorities do not acknowledge these practices, Muslims observe the day of Ashura in many ways, including distributing food to the poor, worshipping Allah, and oil-lamp lighting.
Martyrdom of Imam Hussain:
The Battle of Karbala started after the succession of Yazid. Yazid, an Umayyad caliph, demanded that Imam Hussain swear allegiance to him, but Imam Hussain refused because Yazid’s authority was unfair and unjustified. Hussain left Medina to seek refuge in Makkah with his family, sons, brothers, and nephews. Hussain was performing Hajj when he discovered that Yazid had sent killers to Makah to kill him. To protect the integrity of the Makkah and the Kaaba, he discontinued his Hajj and advised his companions to migrate to Kufa. The Umayyad Caliphate established itself as a dynasty while disregarding human life, integrity, autonomy, and justice. Yazid was an unethical and dishonest leader. Imam Hussain objected to his nomination because it lacked democratic legitimacy, and the new ruler’s moral integrity was in doubt. The activities of Yazid were against the teachings of Islam and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet. Hussain questioned Yazid’s authority and popularised that moral values might occasionally supersede actual life. Since he was a young child, Imam Hussain, the Prophet Muhammad’s (P.B.U.H.) most adored grandson, has been sincerely committed to upholding the Quran’s teachings of justice and equality.
Imam Hussain was heading to Kufa upon the people’s invitation. On the route there, Hussain came across the army of Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad and learned they had murdered his messenger, Muslim ibn Aqeel, in Kufa. The people of Kufa abandoned and deceived him. They were all startled by Yazid’s military strength and stature, whose army had knocked out his adversaries. Despite being aware of the circumstances, Imam Hussain chose to speak with Yazid. Imam Hussain’s friends joined forces with his adversaries on the Day of Ashura. He battled to the finish. On October 10, 680, the Battle of Karbala lasted from dawn until dusk (Muharram 10, 61 A.H.). Around 72 men, in addition to women and children, fought the brutal army of Yazid. The Army of Yazid massacred all of Hussain’s comrades as they were fighting Umar ibn Sa’ad’s army near the Euphrates River’s bank, where it was forbidden for them to drink. They ruthlessly tortured Hussain during the Battle of Karbala. He was offering prayer when the Army of Yazid beheaded him. Sixteen members of his family were assassinated, along with his 72 followers. The man’s courage, bravery, and lack of fear throughout this battle, regarded as the most tragic in Islamic history, proved his devotion to his faith.
What is the Religious Significance of Ashura?
Ashura Holidays are of extreme significance in Islam. Therefore, we should increase our devotion and good acts on the 9-10 Muharram. You can perform different acts of worship on this holy day, such as Qur’anic recitation, fasting, and remembering Allah, or you can give charity during Ashura Fasting. You can create a long-lasting rainwater harvesting system, give impoverished communities worldwide access to clean water, and pay tribute to Imam Hussain’s (R.A.) and his family’s sacrifice. Providing water is an act of Sadaqah Jariyah. Thus the reward for your Youm e Ashura righteous deeds will be multiplied many times.
Historical Events on the Day of Ashura?
9-10 Muharram are some of the most critical days in the history of Islam. Among the incidents that happened on Youm e Ashura, Hazrat Umar (R.A.) highlighted the following:
• On this day, Allah created the Sky and the Earth.
• On Youm e Ashura, Allah created Hazrat Jibril, the most important Angel of Allah.
• Allah created Prophet Adam (AS) and his wife, Hawwa, on 9-10 Muharram.
• On Ashura, Allah designed Paradise.
• Allah granted access to Paradise to Adam (AS) on the day of Ashura.
• On Ashura, the first rain fell on Earth.
• Therefore, Ashura has been full of actual occurrences since before the beginning of human history.
• On the same day of Ashura, Allah appreciated the repentance of Hazrat Adam and pardoned him.
• Allah protected Hazrat Ibrahim from fire when Nimrood threw him into the fire.
• Allah freed Ayyub (A.S.) from the problematic test he had patiently experienced with unflinching faith despite losing his family, health, and possessions.
• On Youm e Ashura, Allah bestowed Hazrat Suleiman with a vast kingdom that no one has ever had since. He had authority over the winds and had an army composed of humans, ghosts, birds, and animals. He could talk to birds and animals.
• On Youm e Ashura, Allah rescued Hazrat Yunas from the whale’s belly and pardoned his people for their earlier disobedience.
Ashura in Pakistan:
Since it is a public holiday in Pakistan, all businesses and schools are closed on Youm-e-Ashura. The Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) recommended specific actions to be regarded as vital, giving this day a spiritual significance as well.
Nawafil Namaz (not obligatory but recommended) is prayed on the Day of Ashura and guaranteed that the benefits would be exceedingly high in the afterlife. Fasting is another practice that is very significant during the Ashura holidays in Pakistan. In actuality, fasting has been of such prominence that people are accustomed to paying attention to it, like Ramadan. On 9-10, Muharram, the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.), strongly advocated fasting. Ashura fasting is a source of worthwhile rewards in this world and the hereafter. It also helps us to realize the hardships and intensity of thirst faced by Imam Hussain (R.A.), his companions, and other martyrs. Additionally, individuals go to the graves of their loved ones to offer their respects and say the Fatiha.
Socio-Political Aspects of Ashura:
Observance of the day of Ashura has tremendous sociopolitical significance to Shia, who have historically been a minority group. Depending on how the Shia community observes Youm e Ashura, such observances may be the source of implicit criticism or even protest. For instance, this occurred during the Iranian Islamic Revolution, the Lebanese Civil War, the Lebanese resistance to the Israeli military invasion, and the Bahrain Uprising in the 1990s. In response to the well-known remark of Iman Hussain: “Every day is Ashura, every land is Karbala,” Ashura commemorations occasionally directly link the remembrance of the tragic martyrdom of Imam Hussain with the circumstances faced by modern Muslims.
After the Iranian Constitutional Revolution in 1905–1911, preachers began to compare the tyrants of today’s time with Imam Hussain’s enemies in their mourning rituals.
In the years of the Islamic Revolution of 1978–1979 and during the upheaval itself, the mourning ceremonies of Youm e Ashura played a significant political role.
The divine message of Imam Hussain also flourished as a result of the Muslim revolutionaries’ underlying devotion to Imam Hussain, perhaps most visibly in the large cemetery of Behesht-e Zahra, south of Tehran, where buried are the martyrs of the revolution and the war against Iraq. Conversely, some countries have outlawed the observance of 9-10 Muharram. Reza Shah prohibited it in Iran in the 1930s. Since the regime of Saddam Hussain considered the celebrations of the Ashura Holidays a possible threat, they outlawed Youm e Ashura’s observance for a long time. When citizens of Trinidad and Tobago sought to practice the rites of Ashura holidays, locally known as Hosay, the authorities killed 22 people during the 1884 Hosay massacre. This killing was a punishment because they disobeyed the rules of British Colonial Authorities.
In Pakistan, Ashura Fasting 2023 will occur from Thursday, July 27, until Friday, July 28. The Battle of Karbala claimed the life of Hazrat Imam Hussain. Millions of people worldwide observe Ashura Holidays as a mourning period to honor the sacrifice of Hazrat Imam Hussain. Shia men and women wear black clothes and march through the streets, chanting and beating their chests. In Pakistan, there are public holidays on 9-10 Muharram.
Observance in Pakistan:
Ashura Holidays commemorates the terrible “Battle of Karbala” event, in which Hussain Ibn Ali, a revolutionary leader from the seventh century, was brutally martyred. To honor Imam Hussain’s sacrifice and honorable stand on social justice, millions of Muslims in Pakistan observe Ashura Fasting. On the Day of Ashura, a variety of events are undertaken, including:
Food Preparation and Distribution:
On Youm e Ashura, a person experiences extreme melancholy as well as empathy for the suffering of others. So Ashura Holidays are when everyone tries to share food with the less fortunate. On 9-10 Muharram, everyone makes an effort to do something for their good and the good of others. Ashura serves as a reminder of the anguish endured by Imam Hussain and his children when Yazid forbade providing food and water to the entire family of Imam Hussain.
Paying Tribute to Hazrat Imam Hussain (R.A.):
On the Day of Ashura, the tyrant Army of Yazid outnumbered and killed Hazrat Imam Hussain (R.A.) and his companions at the Battle of Karbala. Hazrat Imam Hussain (R.A.) played a crucial part in upholding Islam’s cause and sanctity because he believed that the one who remains silent in the face of oppression is the oppressor himself. On 9-10 Muharram, Muslims worldwide join forces to honor the sacrifice of Hazrat Hussain.
Fasting is another practice that is very important during the Ashura Holidays. Muslims in Pakistan observe fasting on 9-10 Muharram to commemorate the thirst of Imam Hussain. Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) has highly recommended Ashura Fasting and the valuable rewards in this world and the hereafter.
The Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) greatly encouraged and recommended Nawafil Namaz in addition to the Ashura Fasting and assured that the blessings would be exceedingly high on the day of Judgement. On the 9-10 Muharram, before the Zuhar prayer, Muslims recite 4 Rakat Nafil Namaz, 6 Rakat Namaz with three salams and 4 Rakat Nafil Namaz.
Ziarat e Ashura:
An Islamic greeting prayer to God is known as Ziyarat e Ashura. The prayer is a ceremony component used during visits to Karbala’s Hazrat Imam Hussain (R.A.) shrine. As a symbolic visit to the shrine, Muhammad Al-Baqir, the Prophet’s descendent and fifth Shia Imam, suggested reciting Ziyarat e Ashura on 9-10 Muharram while facing Karbala. The fifth Shia Imam, Muhammad Al-Baqir, is credited with teaching his followers Ziyarat e Ashura. The hadith that contains the prayer was narrated by Shaykh Tusi in Misbah al-Mutahajjid and by Ibn Qulawayh in Kamil al-Ziyarat, in that order. Both Bihar al-Anwar by Allamah al-Majlisi and Mafatih al-Jinan by Abbas Qumi mention the prayer. Ziyarat e Ashura stresses Tabarra: separating oneself from people who oppose God, Muhammad, or his family, Tawalla: loving the Ahl al-Bayt(Family of Holy Prophet), self-sacrifice for society, and never surrendering to oppression and dictatorship.
Dua e Ashura:
In the Battle of Karbala, only Hazrat Imam Zain ul Abideen (R.A.) was a male survivor. He was Hazrat Ali’s grandson and Hazrat Imam Hussain’s son (R.A). According to certain narrations, he declared that anyone who recites or hears someone else recite Dua e Ashura on the 9-10 Muharram between sunset and dawn would gain immense blessings in this life and hereafter. Given below is the link to Dua e Ashura that you can recite during Ashura Fasting:
How Many Holidays Does Ashura Have in Pakistan?
On the occasion of Ashura, Muslims observe two holidays in Pakistan on 9-10 Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar. Ashura is a public holiday in Pakistan. Hence all businesses and educational institutions are closed on that day. This day also has a spiritual significance because the Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) said that even the most minor good deeds are of immense importance.
What is Ashura?
The Day of Ashura is observed by Muslims worldwide on 9-10 Muharram following the Islamic calendar. Muslims honor the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hussain (the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson) during the Battle of Karbala and regard it as significant.
How to perform Ashura namaz?
The Nawafil Namaz, which is not necessary but highly recommended during the Ashura Fasting, was strongly promoted by the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.W.). He also promised that the rewards would be extraordinarily high in the hereafter. Muslims are encouraged to recite 4 Rakat Nafil Namaz, 6 Rakat Namaz with three salams, and 4 Rakat Nafil Namaz on Youm e Ashura before Zuhar Namaz.
How is Ashura celebrated?
Most Sunnis observe Ashura Holidays by fasting and offering special prayers at mosques. It is a day of melancholy and grief for Shia Muslims as it commemorates the brutal killing of Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Hazrat Imam Hussain (R.A.), during the Battle of Karbala.
There is the tremendous religious significance of Youm e Ashura. The tragic martyrdom of Imam Hussain and his family gives us a valuable lesson: Never submit to tyranny; give your life instead so that goodness may triumph. The greatest tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty committed by the evildoers but rather the inaction and silence of the good people. On the blessed Ashura Holidays, all the Muslims in the world commemorate and pay tribute to the unmatched bravery and courage of Imam Hussain and his whole family.