Id-ul-Fitra Id-ul-Zuhat Muharram g
Muharram Id-ul-Zuhat Id-ul-Fitra


All copyrights reserved

muharram Muharram means 'respected'. It is the first month of the Islamic calendar. Muslims, observe the first ten days of this month as a period of mourning particularly by those belonging to the Shiah sect, in memory of the tragedy of 680 AD. Hazrat Imam Hussain, the grandson of Muhammad the Prophet was killed in the battle of Karbala. This event, called Muharram, is named after the month in which it took place. The tenth day, called Ashura is observed as the day for a public expression of their grief and is a public holiday in India.

During the pre-Islamic period in the Arabian Peninsula, fighting was prohibited in four months of the year. These months, of which Muharram was one, were considered sacred. This period of inactivity was a necessity in the era of warring tribes. The tradition was maintained even after the advent of Islam, though provisions to accommodate and accept war in special situations, like a threat to the sovereignty of an empire, were introduced. The gory battle of Karbala was fought against this law and tradition of Islam.
The inhabitants on the banks of rivers Euphrates and Tigris were traditional rivals. Muhammad contained their animosity to some extent. But when his son-in-law Hazrat Ali was the Caliph, the old enmity re-surfaced. Hazrat Ali had two descendants, Hazrat Imam Hussain and Hazrat Imam Hassan. Hussain was the ruler of the part of the empire known today as Iran. The Umayyad ruled the other part in modern Iraq.

The Shiahs of Kufa, a small town in the Umayyad kingdom, to accept their allegiance and claim his place as the leader of the Islamic community, called upon Hussain. This was against the wishes of the ruler of Kufa, Yazid, who instructed his governor, Ibn-e-Ziad to take appropriate action. Meanwhile, in response to the call of the Shiahs, Hussain accompanied by his family members, headed for Kufa. When they reached Karbala, enroute to Kufa, the forces of the governor surrounded them and their 70 men. Hussain, his family and his troops were tortured and killed, and Hussain's head was severed and presented to the king. They received no help from the Shiahs of Kufa. This happened on the tenth day of Muharram and it was called Ashura.

To commemorate this tragedy, the 40 days starting from the first day of Muharram to Chehalum, are observed as a period of mourning by the Shiahs. During this period, women forsake all adornments, even their bangles. All kinds of celebration like marriage are disallowed during this period. Shiah Muslims are celibate for these 40 days. The first 10 days however, are the most important and passionately observed as a period of mourning. During the first nine days of the month, majlish (enacted grief-stricken scenes from the battle of Karbala) are organized in Shiah mosques. Huge Shiah crowds wearing black assemble at imambaras, where plaintive verses in memory of Imam Hussain are recited. These nine days are also spent in making Taziahs.

On Ashura, the most important day, processions with Taziahs are taken out in commemoration of the sad event. The procession also includes a well-decorated horse, representing the horse of Imam Hussain. Bare-chested Shiah men perform emotional plays, enacting scenes from the battle of Karbala. They strike their body with chains while some walk with bare feet on burning coals. Crying hai Hussain hum na rahe, meaning 'Oh Hussain, we were not there', they express their anguish at their inability to have prevented him from being tortured. By beating themselves, the Shiahs relive the pain Hussain suffered.