Ashura (Arabic: عاشوراء ) marks the day that Shi'a Muslims believe Husayn, the grandson of Muhammad, was martyred. For Sunni Muslims, it marks the day that Moses was saved from the Pharaoh's tyranny.
Ashurah is the tenth day of Islamic month of Muharram. "Ashurah" is the most sacred day according to the Prophet Muhammad's companion Ibn 'Abbas (quoted in Abu Dawud). When the Prophet Muhammad migrated to Madinah, he found that the Jews of Madinah fasted on the tenth day of Muharram. The Jews believed the Prophet Musa (Moses), and his followers crossed the Red Sea and the Pharaoh was drowned in its waters on this day. Upon hearing this from the Jews, Muhammad, said, "We are more closely related to Musa than you" and directed the Muslims to fast on the day of Ashura.
Ashura Facts & Quotes
- It is common for Sahih Muslim to fast on the 10th of Muharram (first month of the Islamic calendar). According to Sahih Muslim writings of Abu Qatada (a companion of the prophet Muhammad), this fast atones for the sins of the preceding year.
- Shi'a Muslims commemorate the martyrdom of Husayn (also spelled Hussein) Ibn Ali on Ashura. He was killed in the Battle of Karbala in the year 680 AD. Husayn was the grandson of Prophet Muhammad as well as the third Shia Imam.
- According Abu Dawud, Book of Hadith, per the traditions of Prophet Muhammad, fasting on Ashura became nonobligatory when fasting during the month of Ramadan became obligatory.
- The Prophet Muhammad said:
The best fasts after the fasts of Ramadan are those of the month of Muharram (1st month of the Islamic calendar).
The progress of Islam does not depend on the use of sword, but on the supreme sacrifice of Hussain. I learnt from Hussain how to achieve victory whilst being oppressed. - Mahatma Gandhi
Ashura Top Events and Things to Do
- To commemorate the martyrdom of Husayn Ibn Ali Husayn, Shi'a Muslims often re-enact plays of the epic battle of Karbala.
- Many Shi'a Muslims go on a pilgrimage to Karbala (Iraq) where they pay homage to Muhammad's family on the day of Ashura.
- Some Shi'a Muslims flog themselves in parades. This is to and to pay tribute to the pain suffered by Husayn. This happens in Pakistan, Iran, and other countries where there are substantial Shi'a communities.