THIS evening (Friday, September 29) marks the beginning of Ashura.
But what is the holy date all about and how do Muslims celebrate? Here’s what you need to know.
When is Ashura and how do Muslims celebrate?
Ashura is a Muslim religious celebration that falls on the tenth day of Muharram (the first month of the Islamic year) in the Islamic calendar.
This year, Ashura will begin on the evening of Friday, September 29, and ends on the evening of Saturday, September 30.
Islamic religious dates are tabular – they begin at sunset on the first evening and ends at sunset the second evening.
Ashura is a festival of remembrance in Islam – but Sunni and Shi’a Muslims celebrate for different reasons.
In Sunni Islam, Ashura follows the traditions of Judaism as Jewish people followed a day of fasting around this time of year (commemorating the parting of the Red Sea for Moses and his followers to escape the Pharaoh.)
The Prophet Muhammad thought that this tradition was worth following so he fasted and encouraged his followers to do the same.
On this day, Sunni Muslims fast and celebrate by reflecting, showing respect and thanks.
For Shi’a Muslims, Ashura is sacred as a day of remembrance of the death of the grandson of Muhammad.
Husayn ibn Ali was killed in the Battle of Karbala, and Shi’a Muslims passionately commemorate his death.
During Ashura, some Shi’a Muslims flog and beat themselves in parades to express their grief for Hussein’s suffering.
The Ashura is a public holiday in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Bahrain and Pakistan.