Muharram 2022: What Is Youm-E-Ashura? Know Its History And Importance

Muharram 2022: Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar. The lunar-based calendar started when the Prophet decided to migrate from Mecca to Medina in 622 AD. The process of migration is called Hijrah (Hegira) and the calendar year is also denoted as Hijri year. And the first of the Muharram is known as Al-Hijri which marks the beginning of the new Islamic year.

Muharram And Ashura

The word Muḥarram is derived from the Arabic root word ‘haram’ (short sound for a after r and before m) which means “forbidden”. The root of the word ‘Ashura’ means tenth in Semitic languages. While ‘Youm’ in Arabic means the day. So, the word ‘Youm-E-Ashura’ literally translated means the tenth day.

Significance Of Ashura

The month of Muharram and the day of Ashura are important to both the sects of Muslims, Sunni and Shias, for different reasons.

As per Sunnis, the sanctity of Youm-E-Ashura was established in the days when Prophet migrated from Mecca. Jews of Medina then observed fast on ‘Ashura’ as a day to signify Moses (Musa) victory over Pharaoh. The Prophet then asked his companions (or early followers of Islam) to celebrate Moses’ victory as well and observe fast on the day of Ashura.

Sunni Muslims generally fast for two days in Muharram. One on the day of Ashura and the other one either a day before or after Ashura (10th of Muharram).

For Shias, the month of Muharram is mournful and of remembrance. One of the most tragic episodes of Islamic history, the martyrdom of Husain Ibn Ali, grandson of the Prophet, took place on the Youm-E-Ashura in Karbala (a city in present-day Iraq).

Battle Of Karbala

Battle of Karbala took place 10th of Muḥarram 61 Al-Hijri or 680 AD. It was a brief military engagement in which a small party led by Husain Ibn Ali, the Prophet’s grandson and son of the fourth caliph, was defeated and massacred by an army sent by the Umayyad leader Yazid I.

Since then among Shia Muslims, the 10th of Muḥarram or Ashura became an annual day of mourning. Shias globally commemorate Husain Ibn Ali’s martyrdom on this day.

Shia preachers deliver sermons and recount the life of Husain and the history of the Karbala. Passion plays, funeral processions are also staged in remembrance while some believers practice self-flagellation as a show of extreme mourning.

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