A worshipper carries torches during an Ashura procession in Kifah district, central Baghdad. [Ahmed Jalil/EPA]
Published On 10 Aug 2022
Ashura is observed on the tenth day of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic lunar calendar, by all Muslims, and it marks the day Nuh (Noah) left the Ark and the day Musa (Moses) was saved from the pharaoh of Egypt by God.
The Prophet Muhammad used to fast on Ashura, a common tradition commemorated by Sunni Muslims.
For Shia Muslims, the emotional event commemorates the 7th-century martyrdom of Hussein in the Battle of Karbala. Shia Muslims view Hussein as the rightful successor to the Prophet Muhammad, the issue at the heart of a schism with Sunni Islam.
To mourn his death in the year 680, Shia worshippers wearing black cry and beat their chests in unison and some flagellate themselves with swords and knife-edged chains.
More than 1,340 years after Hussein’s martyrdom, Baghdad, Tehran, Islamabad and other major cities were adorned with symbols of Shia piety and repentance: red flags for Hussein’s blood, symbolic black funeral tents and black dress for mourning, processions of men and boys expressing fervour in the ritual of chest beating and self-flagellation with chains.
In Afghanistan and Pakistan, authorities cut mobile phone services in key cities holding commemorations for fear of bombings. Internet monitoring group NetBlocks confirmed on Monday that Afghanistan was experiencing significant service disruptions.
In Shia powerhouse Iran, thousands of men and women shrouded in black thronged the streets of the capital, Tehran. Green plumage, the colour of Islam, fluttered in the air. Camels covered with multi-coloured cloth paraded through the city, evoking how Hussein set out from Mecca with a small band of companions. Iranians pounded their chests in mourning and chanted in unison, while some mourners clad in black wept.
In Iraq black flags of grief fluttered over the capital’s major thoroughfares. Portraits of Hussein hung from the doors of nearly every house in the Shia-dominated suburb of Sadr City.
Iraqis take part in an Ashura procession in Karbala, Iraq. [Anmar Khalil/AP Photo]
Shia Muslims in Baghdad re-enact the Battle of Karbala, in which Hussein was killed, as they mark Ashura. [Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP]
People watch Tazieh, a traditional theatre scene about the death of Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, in Nushabad, Iran, about 233km (140 miles) south of the capital, Tehran. [Vahid Salemi/AP Photo]
Afghan refugees living in Iran take part in the Ashura ceremonies in Tehran. [Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA]
Iranian and Iraqi Shia Muslims re-enact the Battle of Karbala during Ashura in Tehran. [Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA]
Supporters of Lebanon's Hezbollah take part in a procession to mark Ashura in Beirut, Lebanon. [Anwar Amro/AFP]
Indian Shia Muslims bleed from wounds sustained by cutting themselves with knives, as they mark Ashura in Kolkata, India. [Piyal Adhikary/EPA]
Bangladeshi Shia Muslims participate in a Muharram procession in Dhaka. [Monirul Alam/EPA]
Kashmiri Shia Muslims in Srinagar gather around a horse which symbolises Zuljanah, the horse of Hussein, during a procession on the tenth day of Muharram. [Tauseef Mustafa/AFP]
Shia Muslim devotees walk near a makeshift tent during Ashura in the Karte Seh neighbourhood of Kabul. [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]
Shia Muslims beat their chests during a Muharram procession in Islamabad. [Aamir Qureshi/AFP]
Shia Muslims participate in a procession to mark Ashura in Karachi, Pakistan. [Fareed Khan/AP Photo]
Pakistani Shia Muslims touch a horse symbolising the animal that carried Hussein during the Battle of Karbala, during a Muharram procession in Lahore. [K.M. Chaudary/AP Photo]