From Academic Kids
- For the Canaanite and Ugaritic mother-goddess, please see Asherah.
The Day of Aashurah, sometimes spelled ‘Ashurah or Aashoorah (Arabic عاشوراء, ʿĀūrāʾ), falls on the 10th day of Muharram in the Islamic calendar. It commemorates the martyrdom of Husayn bin Ali, the grandson of Muhammad and the third Imam of the Shi'as, at the Battle of Karbala in the year 61 AH (AD 680). The word aashurah means simply ten in Arabic; hence the festival's name, literally translated, means "the tenth day".
This day is of particular significance to Shi'a Muslims, who consider Husayn a rightful successor of Muhammad. Many Shi'a make pilgrimages on Aashurah to the Mashhad al-Husayn, the shrine in Karbala, Iraq that is traditionally held to be Husayn's tomb. Shi'as also express mourning by thumping their chests. This is intended to connect them with Husayn's suffering and death. Husayn's martyrdom is widely interpreted by Shi'a as a symbol of the struggle against injustice, tyranny, and oppression. The regime of Saddam Hussein saw this as a potential threat and banned Aashurah commemorations for many years. In neighboring Iran, the festival became a major political symbol during the Islamic Revolution, as also occurred in Lebanon during that country's civil war.
Aashurah is also commemorated by Muslims as the traditional date on which Noah's ark came to rest, the Prophet Abraham(Ibrahim) was born and the Kaaba was built in Mecca. It was also a fast day for the Jews of Medina, in remembrance of their salvation from the Pharaoh of Egypt and was adopted by the Muslims as a recommended fast to demonstrate their claim over Musa (Moses).
Sunnis commemorate Aashurah for the foregoing reasons, though the day carries considerably less significance for them than it does for Shi'as. While Sunnis generally consider the martyrdom of Husayn to be an unfortunate event and one of great historical importance, they do not ascribe religious significance to it as the Shi'a do. Hence, Sunni practices commemorating Aashurah generally do not involve Husayn or his death and consist mainly of fasting and prayers.
The conventional meaning of Aashurah in the Shariah refers to the 10th of Muharram-ul-Haraam. In his book, Ghuniyatut Taalibeen, Sayyiduna Ghaus-ul-Azam, Sheikh Abdul Qaadir Jilani (radi Allahu anhu) writes that the Ulema have a difference of opinion, as to why this day is known as Aashurah. Since the reason has been explained in various ways, the consensus of the majority of the Ulema is that it is known as Aashurah because it is the 10th day of Muharram, while certain Ulema say that from the sacred days that Almighty Allah blessed the Ummat-e-Muhammadi with, this day is the 10th most important day, and it is for this reason that it is known as Aashurah.
Some Shia celebrate Aashurah with a traditional flagellation ritual called zanjeer zani or zanjeer matam, involving the use of a zanjeer (a chain with a set of curved knives at the end). The practice is not universal - many Shia enact the ritual by beating their chests symbolically. (http://www.newstatesman.com/200506060012)
Aashurah in the Western Calendar
While Aashurah is always on the same day of the Islamic calendar, the date on the Western calendar (the Gregorian calendar) varies from year to year due to differences between the two calendars, since the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar and the Gregorian calendar is a solar calendar. Furthermore, the method used to determine when each Islamic month begins varies from country to country. (For details, please see Islamic calendar.) All future dates listed below are only estimates:
- 2003: March 13
- 2004: March 2
- 2005: February 19
- 2006: February 9
- 2007: January 29
- 2008: January 19
- 2009: January 7, then December 27 (See note below.)
- 2010: December 16
NOTE: There are 2 days of Aashurah in the year 2009.
Reference / External links
- Ashura.com (http://www.ashura.com) – explains the background and significance of the festival
- What is Ashura? (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4274749.stm) (BBC News)
- Date of Islamic Holy Days (moonsighting.com) (http://moonsighting.com/holy.html)
- Description of Husayn's martyrdom on the day of Ashura (http://www.islamfrominside.com/Pages/Articles/Ashura.html)
- Annual Muharram Procession in New York, the largest Shi'a gathering in North America. (http://www.jana.org/cgi-bin/links/jump.cgi?ID=132)de:Aschura