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Ashura * - Islam (begins sundown on previous evening.)

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Sun, 01/10/2017 - 00:15 - 23:45
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EVERYWHERE.

1st October 

Ashura * - Islam (begins sundown on previous evening.)

An Islamic optional one day fast.  The Shia observance is based on the martyrdom of Prophet Muhammad's Grandson, Hussein,  martyred on this date in 683/684 AD at the battle of Kerbala.  Sunni observance is a recognition of Moses fasting in gratitude to Allah/God for liberation from oppression. 

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Ashura is on the tenth day of Muharram in the Islamic calendar and marks the climax of the Remembrance of Muharram.  Shiite celebrations of the day of ashura have traditionally included masochistic rituals which have been condemned by many religious authorities recently under the claim that such practices are wrong or unislamic.  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 Medina 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 hadith of Muhammad 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 Husayn along with his family, relatives, friends, and supporters[citation needed]. 

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.[citation needed] 

Historical background 

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 Quran, 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 next morning, as ʿOmar B. Sa’ad 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 Muhammad 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. 

Legacy 

“Zaynab bint Ali quoted as she passed the prostrate body of her brother, Husayn.  “O Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa'sallam)! O Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa'sallam)! May the angels of heaven bless you.  Here is Husayn in the open, stained with blood and with limbs torn off.  O Muhammad! Your daughters are prisoners, your progeny are killed, and the east wind blows dust over them.” By God! She made every enemy and friend weep.”  

Tabari, History of the Prophets and Kings, Volume XIX The Caliphate of Yazid. 

British historian wrote Edward Gibbon says: 

In a distant age and climate the tragic scene of the death of Hussyn will awaken the sympathy of the coldest reader. 

Scottish Orientalist William Muir wrote: 

The tragedy of Karbala decided not only the fate of the caliphate, but of the Mohammedan kingdoms long after the Caliphate had waned and disappeared. 

Shiite Imam Zayn al-Abidin declared: 

No day was more difficult for Allah’s Messenger than the Day (Battle) of Uhud in which his uncle Hamza, the lion of Allah and the lion of His Messenger, was killed, and after it was the Day of Mu'tah in which his cousin Ja'far ibn Abi Talib was killed.” Then he (Zayn al-Abidin) said: “There was no day like the Day of Husayn, when thirty thousand men advanced against him (while) they claimed that they belonged to this community, and that they (wanted) to seek proximity to Allah, the Great and Almighty, through (shedding) his blood.  He (al-Husayn) reminded them of Allah, but they did not learn (from him) till they killed him out of (their) oppression and aggression”.”