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For the Canaanite and Ugaritic mother-goddess, please see Asherah.

The Day of Aashurah, sometimes spelled ‘Ashurah or Aashoorah (Arabic عاشوراء, ʿĀaūrāʾ), 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.

The 2004 (1425 AH) Shi'a pilgrimage to Karbala, the first since Saddam Hussein was removed from power in Iraq, was marred by bomb attacks, which killed and wounded hundreds despite tight security.

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).

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.

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:

NOTE: There are 2 days of Aashurah in the year 2009.

See also

Reference / External links

Last updated: 09-03-2005 18:37:12