Monday, November 10, 2014
The Day of Ashura (Arabic: عاشوراء ʻĀshūrā’ , colloquially: /ʕa(ː)ˈʃuːra/; Urdu: عاشورا; Persian: عاشورا; Turkish: Aşure Günü) is on the tenth day of Muharram in the Islamic calendar and marks the climax of the Remembrance of Muharram. This day is commemorated by Sunni Muslims (who refer to it as The Day of Atonement) as the day on which the Israelites were freed from the Pharaoh (called 'Firaun' in Arabic) of Egypt. According to Sunni Muslim tradition, Ibn Abbas narrates that Muhammad came to Madina and saw the Jews fasting on the tenth day of Muharram. He asked, “What is this?” They said, “This is a good day, this is the day when Allah saved the Children of Israel from their enemy and Musa (Moses) fasted on this day.” He said, “We are closer to Musa than you.” So he fasted on the day and told the people to fast.
However, Shi'a Muslims refute these stories and maintain that Ashura is a day of great sorrow due to the tragic events of Karbala. In support of this claim, they cite many stories and ahadith of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) which mention that he wept profusely upon being informed of this day, as well as occasions when he talked about how Muslims would kill his beloved grandson Hussein along with his family, relatives, friends, and supporters.
It is commemorated by Shi'a Muslims as a day of mourning for the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of Muhammad at the Battle of Karbala on 10 Muharram in the year 61 AH ( in AHt: October 10, 680 CE). The massacre of Husayn with small group of his companions and family members had great impact on the religious conscience of Muslims. Especially Shia Muslims have ever remembered it with sorrow and passion. Mourning for Husayn and his companions began almost immediately after the Battle of Karbala, by his survivor relatives and supporters. Popular elegies were made by poets to commemorate Battle of Karbala during Umayyads and Abbasids era. The earliest public mourning rituals happened in 963 CE during Buyid dynasty. Nowadays, in some countries such as Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain, Turkey and Pakistan, the Commemoration of Husayn ibn Ali has become a national holiday and most ethnic and religious communities participate in it. Even in a predominantly Hindu majority but secular country like India, Ashura (10th day in the month of Muharram) is a public holiday due to the presence of a significant Indian Shia Muslim population (2-3% of total population, 20-25% of Indian Muslim population).
The root for the word Ashura has the meaning of tenth in Semitic languages; hence the name of the remembrance, literally translated, means "the tenth day". According to the orientalist A.J. Wensinck, the name is derived from the Hebrew ʿāsōr, with the Aramaic determinative ending. 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, with some scholars suggesting that this day is the tenth most important day that God has blessed Muslims with.
Main article: Battle of Karbala
In April 680, Yazid I succeeded his father Muawiyah as the new caliph. Yazid immediately instructed the governor of Medina to compel Hussayn and few other prominent figures to pledge their allegiance(Bay'ah). Husayn, however, refrained from it believing that Yazid was openly going against the teachings of Islam in public and changing the sunnah of Muhammad. He, therefore, accompanied by his household, his sons, brothers, and the sons of Hasan left Medina to seek asylum in Mecca.
On the other hand, the people in Kufa who were informed about Muawiyah 's death, sent letters urging Husayn to join them and pledge to support him against Umayyads. Husayn wrote back to them saying that he would send his cousin Muslim ibn Aqeel to report to him on the situation. If he found them united as their letters indicated he would speedily join them, because Imam should act in accordance with the Qoran, uphold justice, proclaim the truth, and dedicate himself to the cause of God. The mission of Moslem was initially successful and according to reports 18,000 men pledged their allegiance. But situation changed radically when Yazid appointed Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad as the new governor of Kufah, ordering him to deal severely with Ibn Aqeel. Before news of the adverse turn of events arrived in Mecca, Husayn set out for Kufa.
On the way, Husayn found that his messenger, Muslim ibn Aqeel, was killed in Kufa. He broke the news to his supporters and informed them that people had deserted him. Then, he encouraged anyone who so wished, to leave freely without guilt. Most of those who had joined him at various stages on the way from Mecca now left him. Later, Husayn encountered with the army of Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad in his path towards Kufa. Husayn addressed the Kufans army, reminding them that they had invited him to come because they were without an Imam. He told them that he intended to proceed to Kufa with their support, but if they were now opposed to his coming, he would return to where he had come from. However, the army urged him to choose another way. Thus, he turned to left and reached Karbala, where the army forced him not to go further and stop at a location that was without water.
Umar ibn Sa'ad, the head of Kufan army, sent a messenger to Husayn to inquire about the purpose of his coming to Iraq. Husayn answered again that he had responded to the invitation of the people of Kufa but was ready to leave if they now disliked his presence. When Umar ibn Sa'ad, the head of Kufan army, reported it back to Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad, the governor instructed him to offer Ḥusayn and his supporters the opportunity to swear allegiance to Yazid. He also ordered Umar ibn Sa'ad to cut off HUsayn and his followers from access to the water of the Euphrates.
On the Day of Ashura
On the next morning, as ʿOmar b. Saʿd arranged the Kufan army in battle order, Al-Hurr ibn Yazid al Tamimi challenged him and went over to Ḥusayn. He vainly addressed the Kufans, rebuking them for their treachery to the grandson of the Prophet, and was killed in the battle.
The Battle of Karbala lasted from morning till sunset of October 10, 680 (Muharram 10, 61 AH) all Husayn's small group of companions and family members (in total who were around 72 men and few ladies and children)[a] fought with a large army under the command of Umar ibn Sa'ad. and were killed near the river (Euphrates) where they were not allowed to get any water from. The renowned historian Abū Rayḥān al-Bīrūnī states; "… then fire was set to their camp and the bodies were trampled by the hoofs of the horses; nobody in the history of the human kind has seen such atrocities." Before being killed, Husayn said "If the religion of Muhammad was not going to live on except with me dead, let the swords tear me to pieces."[unreliable source?] Once the Umayyad troops had mass murdered Husayn and his male followers, they looted the tents, stripped the women of their jewelry, and took the skin upon which Zain al-Abidin was prostrate. It is said that Shemr was about to kill him but Husayn’s sister Zaynab was able to make Umar ibn Sa'ad, the Umayyad commander to let him alive. He was taken along with the enslaved women to the caliph in Damascus, and eventually he was allowed to return to Medina.
History of the commemoration by Shi'a
According to Ignác Goldziher ever since the black day of Karbala, the history of this family … has been a continuous series of sufferings and persecutions. These are narrated in poetry and prose, in a richly cultivated literature of martyrologies …'More touching than the tears of the Shi'is' has even become an Arabic proverb. The first assembly (majlis) of Commemoration of Husayn ibn Ali, it is said to have been held by Zaynab in prison. In Damascus, too, she is reported to have delivered a poignant oration. The prison sentence ended when Husayn's 3 year old daughter, Sukayna, died in captivity. She would often cry in prison to be allowed to see her father. She is believed to have died when she saw her father's mutilated head. Her death caused an uproar in the city, and Yazid, fearful of a potential resulting revolution, freed the captives.
In terms of Imam Zayn AL Abidin(A.S.)The following is said about the Holy Imam.It is said that for twenty years whenever food was placed before him, he would weep. One day a servant said to him, ‘O son of Allah’s Messenger! Is it not time for your sorrow to come to an end?’ He replied, ‘Woe upon you! Jacob the prophet had twelve sons, and Allah made one of them disappear. His eyes turned white from constant weeping, his head turned grey out of sorrow, and his back became bent in gloom,[c] though his son was alive in this world. But I watched while my father, my brother, my uncle, and seventeen members of my family were slaughtered all around me. How should my sorrow come to an end?’[d] 
Husayn's grave became a pilgrimage site among Shiite only a few years after his death. A tradition of pilgrimage to the Imam Husayn Shrine and the other Karbala martyrs quickly developed, which is known as Ziarat Ashura. The Umayyad and Abbasid caliphs tried to prevent construction of the shrines and discouraged pilgrimage to the sites. 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 979-80.
Public rites of remembrance for Husayn's martyrdom developed 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 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.
Significance of Ashura for Shi'as
Mourning of Muharram
Battle of Karbala
Ali Akbar ibn Husayn
Ali Asghar ibn Husayn
al-Abbas ibn Ali
Zaynab bint Ali
Sukayna bint Husayn
Muslim ibn Aqeel
Imam Husayn Shrine
Day of Ashura
10th of the month of Muharrem: The Ashure Day - Huseyn bin Ali was murdered at Kerbela  Remembrance by Jafaris, Qizilbash Alevi-Turks and Bektashis together in Ottoman Empire.
This day is of particular significance to Twelver Shi'a and Alawites, who consider Husayn (the grandson of Muhammad) Ahl al-Bayt the third Imam to be the rightful successor of Muhammad.
Muharram procession in Kashmir, India
Shi'a devotees congregate outside the Sydney Opera House, Australia to commemorate Husayn.
According to Kamran Scot Aghaie:"The symbols and rituals of Ashura have evolved over time and have meant different things to different people. However, at the core of the symbolism of Ashura is the moral dichotomy between worldly injustice and corruption on the one hand and God-centered justice, piety, sacrifice and perseverance on the other. Also, Shiite Muslims consider the remembrance of the tragic events of Ashura to be an importance way of worshiping God in a spiritual or mystical way."
Shi'as make pilgrimages on Ashura, as they do forty days later on Arba'een, to the Mashhad al-Husayn, the shrine in Karbala, Iraq that is traditionally held to be Husayn's tomb. On this day Shi'a are in remembrance, and mourning attire is worn. They refrain from music, since Arabic culture generally considers music impolite during death rituals. 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 Husayn completely. Weddings and parties are also not planned on this date by Shi'as. Shi'as also express mourning by crying and listening to recollections about the tragedy and sermons on how Husayn and his family were martyred. This is intended to connect them with Husayn's suffering and martyrdom, and the sacrifices he made to keep Islam alive. Husayn's martyrdom is widely interpreted by Shi'a as a symbol of the struggle against injustice, tyranny, and oppression. Shi'as believe the Battle of Karbala was between the forces of good and evil with Husayn representing 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.
Shia Imams strongly insist that the day of Ashura should not be taken as a day of joy and festivity. According to a hadith which is reported from Ali claiming it was on that day the God forgave Adam, Noah's Ark rested on dry land, the Israelites were saved from Pharaoh's army, etc.[clarification needed] The day of Ashura, according to Eighth Shia Imam, Ali al-Rida, must be observed as a day of inactivity, sorrow and total disregard of worldly cares.
Some of the events associated with Ashura are held in special congregation halls known as "Imambargah" and Hussainia.
Cutting with knives or chains
Suffering and cutting the body with knives or chains (matam) was banned by the Shi'a marja Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran and by Hezbollah in Lebanon. Other marjas like Mohammad al-Husayni al-Shirazi promote hemic flagellation rituals as a way of preserving the revolution of Imam al-Husayn.
On Ashura, some Shi'a observe mourning with blood donation which is called "Qame Zani" and flailing.
Certain traditional flagellation rituals such as Talwar zani (talwar ka matam or sometimes tatbir) use a sword. Other rituals such as zanjeer zani or zanjeer matam involve the use of a zanjeer (a chain with blades).
These religious customs show solidarity with Husayn and his family. Through them, people mourn Husayn's death and regret the fact that they were not present at the battle to fight and save Husayn and his family.
In some areas, such as in the Shi'a suburb of Beirut, Shi'a communities organize blood donation drives with organizations like the Red Cross or the Red Crescent on Ashura as a replacement for self-flagellation rituals like "tatbir" and "qame zani."
Some Shi'a believe that taking part in Ashura washes away their sins. A popular Shi'a saying has it that, "a single tear shed for Husayn washes away a hundred sins."
For Shi'as, commemoration of Ashura is not a festival, but rather a sad event, while Sunni Muslims view it as a victory God has given to his prophet, Moses. 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 Husayn, lamenting and grieving to the tune of beating drums and chants of "Ya Hussain." Also Ulamas give sermons with themes of Husayn'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 Husayn 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 Husayn at the hands of Yazid.
Indian Shia Muslims take out a Ta'ziya procession on day of Ashura in Barabanki, India, Jan, 2009.
For the duration of the remembrance, it is customary for mosques and some people to provide free meals (NAZRI) on certain nights of the month to all people. 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.
Participants congregate in public processions for ceremonial chest beating (matham/latmiya) as a display of their devotion to Husayn, in remembrance of his suffering and to preach that oppression will not last in the face of truth and justice. Others pay tribute to the time period by holding a Majilis, Surahs from the Quran and Maqtal Al-Husayn are read.
Shia Muslims take out an Al'am procession on day of Ashura in Barabanki, India, Jan, 2009.
Today in Indonesia, the event is known as Tabuik (Minangkabau language) or Tabut (Indonesian). Tabuik is the local manifestation of the Shi'a Muslim Mourning of Muharram among the Minangkabau people in the coastal regions of West Sumatra, particularly in the city of Pariaman. The re-enactment includes the Battle of Karbala, and the playing of tassa and dhol drums.
In countries like Turkey, there is the custom of eating Noah's Pudding (Ashure) as this day in Turkish is known as Aşure.
As the Anjumam Parwane Shabeer began reciting my favorite Noha of Sacchey Bhai Aye Shere E Nayastane Haidar Abbas I pulled my dagger out and began cutting my head ..
Picture shot by my friend Boaz .
abbas ay shere nayastane hyder
deti thi sada zainab rokar
abbas ay shere....
kya isi din ke liye maangi thi baba ne dua
aake pardes may hojaoge tum humse juda
sotay ho chain se darya ke kanaare bhaiya
kya sunayi nahi deti tumhay halmin ki sada
abbas tanha hai khade ran may sarwar
abbas ay shere....
ay mere shere jawan ay mere bhai ho kahan
shaakh hai dil pe mere teri judaai ho kahan
dayr se deti hoo bhaiya mai duhaai ho kahan
lut-ti hai fatema zehra ki kamayi ho kahan
abbas khanajr hai halqe sarwar par
abbas ay shere....
kya isi din ke liye saath behan thi aayi
aagayi neend jo darya ki tarayi paayi
phir palat kar hame soorat bhi nahi dikhlayi
aagaya ran se alam tum nahi aayi bhai
abbas phat-ta hai mera sadme se jigar
abbas ay shere....
girke ghoray se sada baap ko akbar ne jo di
dibare fatema zehra ki ajab haalat thi
haath malte thay kabhi ghaat ko taktay thay kabhi
thaam kar tooti kamar kehti thay farzande nabi
abbas laaun kaise laashe akbar
abbas ay shere....
haal shabbir ka ab to nahi dekha jaata
hai kamar kham nahi aankhon se soojhayi deta
ye zeefi ye jawan laal ka sadma bhaiya
thaam lo badke zara haath tumhi bhai ka
abbas khaate hai thokar par thokar
abbas ay shere....
bhai ko bhool gaye dhyaan na behno ka raha
yaad aaya na koi paayi jo darya ki hawa
haye kis dil se kiya tum ne gawara bhaiya
har tamache pe sakina ne tumhay yaad kiya
abbas jab cheene gaye kano se gohar
abbas ay shere....
hai qayamat ka saman loot hai har simt machi
koi pursa nahi haalat ajab bachon ki
taaziyane koi khaata hai tamache koi
aag daaman may hai masoom sakina ke lagi
abbas bhaiya utho lo jald khabar
abbas ay shere....
chor kar dashte musibat may behan ko bhai
tumne acha hi kiya door basayi basti
dekh sakte thay kahan tum to haye halat meri
balwaye aam may bhaiya mai khule sar hoo khari
abbas aada le gaye chaadar
abbas ay shere....
azmato izzate saadat bhula di bhai
aag qaimo may layeeno ne lagadi bhai
masnade ahmade mursal bhi jaladi bhai
taaziyano se hai abid ko saza di bhai
abbas ghash may hai pada mera dilbar
abbas ay shere....
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