Ashura is a special day observed by Shi’a and Sunni Muslims all over the world. Shi’a Muslims predominantly countries such as Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Bahrain observe Ashura as a national holiday on the 10th day of Muharram based on Islamic lunar calendar. Meanwhile, Sunni Muslims in many countries observe Ashura by fasting for two or three days from the 9th until 11th day of Muharram.
When is Day of Ashura 2013?
Day of Ashura 2013 or Ashura 1435 Hijri falls on Thursday, 14 November 2013. Please note that the date of Ashura may vary in different countries based on the moon sightings in each country. Also note that all Islamic festivals begin on the sunset of the previous day, so the commemoration of Ashura Day will start from the sunset of Friday, 13 November 2013.
Commemoration of Ashura by Shi’a Muslims
Shi’a Muslims all over the world observe Ashura Day as the mourning for the martyrdom of Husayn Ibn Ali at the Battle of Kerbala in 61 AH (680 AD). Husayn Ibn Ali was the grandson of Prophet Muhammad as well as the third Shia Imam. He continued the teaching of Islam and tried to straighten fallacious doctrine that puzzled the Muslims at that time. The leader of Kerbala, Yazid, was against the teaching of Islam, so he sent his armies to kill Husayn Ibn Ali and all of his disciples. Husayn Ibn Ali and about 70 of his disciples were killed after fought a large army of more than 100,000 men on the 10th day of Muharram. Shi’a muslims believe that the martyrdom of Husayn Ibn Ali and his disciples saved the continuity of Islam.
Shi’a Muslims observe Ashura Day by wearing mourning attire and refraining from all kinds of entertainment including music and movie. People mourn the death of Husayn Ibn Ali and feel the sorrow of losing him as well as remember all of his contribution to Islam. No party is held on Ashura Day by Shi’a Muslims. During Ashura Day, Shi’a Muslims shed their tears while listening to poems about the story of Iman Husayn’s martyrdom. They believe that the mourning for Ashura Day and every single tear they shed for Husayn Ibn Ali will wipe the sin they have done in the past.
Commemoration of Ashura by Sunni Muslims
Different with Shi’a, Sunni Muslims observed Ashura Day as the commemoration of the day when Allah saved Moses and his disciples from the pursuit of the Pharaoh. They were saved because the Red Sea was split into two parts creating a path for Moses and his men to pass through the sea while Pharaoh and all of his armies were drowned. Sunni Muslims believed that the Prophet Muhammad asked all Muslims to fast when he heard about the story from an Israelite who was fasting on the 10th day of Muharram. To differentiate the Muslims’ fasting with the Israelites’, Prophet Muhammad asked the Muslims to fast for two days on the 9th and 10th or the 10th and 11th day of Muharram. When Ramadan became an obligatory fasting month, fasting during Ashura became non compulsory but highly suggested.
Sunni Muslims commemorate Ashura Day by fasting for two or three days on between 9 and 11 Muharram according to Islamic lunar calendar. People also pray to Allah for forgiveness of every sin and mistake they did previously, and give charity to the poor or the orphans. The other traditions done by Sunni Muslims during Ashura Day are taking a bath, cutting nails, reading Surah Iklas for many times, gather with family to have a feast, and many others.