Shi'ites commemorate Ashura

Shi'ites in Afghanistan, Iraq and Bangladesh mark the Ashura festival, commemorating the death of Prophet Mohammad's grandson Imam Hussein in 680 CE.

December 7, 2011 07:14
1 minute read.

Ashura 311 R. (photo credit: Reuters)


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Ashura in Afghanistan - the tenth day of the Islamic month of Moharram.

For Shi'ite Muslims, it's a day of mourning that commemorates the death of the Prophet Mohammad's grandson Hussein in 680 CE in the Iraqi city of Karbala.

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On this day, devout Shi'ites self-flagellate - in this case with steel-tipped flails.

In Bangladesh it's a day of celebration for the majority Sunni Muslims - a celebration of a victory for Islam through Imam Hussein's sacrifice.

But for Shi'ites it is a sad affair where, like in Afghanistan, they whip themselves in mourning until their backs bleed.

In the Iraq capital too, these Shi'ites have cut their heads with swords so they can relive the pain Hussein experienced in the fateful Battle of Karbala.

Shi'ites make up only 15 percent of the world's Muslims, and traditionally mourn for one month as part of the Ashura festival.

Ashura is also observed in many other countries with sizeable Shi'ite populations, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Syria.

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