The 10th day of the Islamic month Muharram is known as Ashura. It is one of the most important days to the Muslims all over the world. The day has a great historical significance in Islam. Karbala Tragedy was the cruelest tragic incident in the Islamic history that took place on the 10th of Muharram in the Hijri year of 61 approximately 50 years after the death of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
In the Karbala battle Hazrat Imam Hussain (AS), a grandson of Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (peace be upon him) along with his other family members received martyrdom to uphold Islam and the teachings of our Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (SM). It was a battle between good and evil. The third Imam of the Muslims Hazrat Imam Hussain (AS) represented good and Yazid represented evil.
In Islamic history it was a great sacrifice of the family members of our last Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (SM) to establish justice and truth. This sacrifice symbolizes the struggles of the humanity against injustice, tyranny and oppression. Through martyrdom Hazrat Iman Hossain, his family members along with seventy two followers glorified their lives. In Surah Al-Baqarah (Verse 154) of the Holy Quran Allah says “And say not of those who are slain in the Way of God: 'They are dead.' Nay, they are living though ye perceive it not."
Different Islamic sources reveal that the day of Ashura has the connection of different events in Islamic history. It is narrated that it was the day when Almighty Allah showed kindness to Hazrat Adam (AS) and relieved him of his deed. Again, on the eve of the Great Flood the Almighty Allah ordered Hazrat Nuh (AS) to build a ship known as Ark to save the believers. It is claimed that on the day of Ashura the Ark of Hazrat Nuh (AS) reached the mountain known as Al-Judi. This is the day when Allah forgave the people of Hazrat Yunus (AS). On the day of Ashura, Allah Almighty recovered Hazrat Ayub (AS) from the disease.
The Almighty Allah saved Hazrat Musa (AS) on the day of Ashura. When Firaun and his army chased Hazrat Musa and his followers to kill. Allah commanded Hazrat Musa (AS) to strike on the Red Sea. With his strike the sea was divided and Hazrat Musa (AS) and his followers crossed the sea by the walk but when Firaun and his army tried to pass through, the sea closed in and Firaun along with other non-believers drowned in the sea. According to Sahih Muslim “This is a great day when Allah saved Musa (AS) and his people and drowned Pharaoh and his people”
Again, Islamic sources claim that out of total one lakh and twenty four thousand Prophets at least two thousand prophets came to the world on the day of 10th Muharram. Islamic sources also narrate that on the day of Ashura the Earth was created by the Almighty Allah and it will perish on the same day.
Many claim that fasting practice on the 10th of Muharram has begun since Hazrat Adam (AS). Sources from Sahih Bukhari state that at the time of Madinah’s life our Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (SM) found that the Jews fasted on 10th of Muharram and he asked the reason of their fasting. They said," This is a blessed day. On this day Allah saved the Children of Israel from their enemy (in Egypt) and so Prophet Musa [Moses] fasted on this day giving thanks to Allah."
Our prophet (peace be upon him) told the Jews that his nation had more connection to Hazrat Musa (AS). Then he fasted and ordered his companions to fast on the day. The Sahih Muslim narrates that our Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (peace be upon him) said about the importance of fasting in the month of Muharram “The best fasts after the fasts of Ramadan are those of the month of Muharram”.
Every year Muslims all over the world observe this day with religious rituals. They commemorate the great sacrifice of Hazrat Hossain (AS) along with his family members and followers who received martyrdom at Karbala battle. It is apparent that there are some misconceptions amid many Muslims that observing Ashura is the unique ritual of the Shia Muslims but it is merely a misconception. One thing is apparent that the way of observing the Holy Ashura is different between the Shia and Sunni Muslims around the world.
Sunni community fast on this day, pray a special prayers for the martyred of the historic Karbala battle. Some Sunni Muslims attend the mourning procession, especially who are the followers of Sufi traditions. Shia Muslims across the world honor this day greatly performing many religious rituals. Dressed in black Shia men and women parade through the streets and they slap their chest and mourn for Hazrat Hossain (AS).
In the capital city of Bangladesh, the Shia community bring out Tajia processions from Imambara Hussaini Dalan in Old Dhaka to mark the Holy Ashura. In some cases, Shia men are found to emulate the sufferings of Hussain by beating themselves with chains and cutting foreheads to stream blood from their bodies. Though due to Covid-19 pandemic, last year bringing out Ashura processions was prohibited. This year the government has also imposed a ban to bring out any Tajia processions on Holy Ashura due to corona pandemic.
However, it is very unfortunate to see that in the name of observing the glorious Ashura, many are found to go away from the true essence of Ashura. We should all remember that it is not the day to utter joyfulness. It is the day to be aware of the importance of Muharram and fill the heart of every Muslim with virtues and pray for the countless blessing from the Almighty Allah through good deeds. On top of that, it should be our expectation to seek help from Allah to start the Islamic year with true Islamic spirit on the day of Ashura.
Writer: Alaul Alam teaches at Prime University. He is also research scholar at the IBS. Email: [email protected]
BDST: 1402 HRS, AUG 19, 2021