The Day of Ashura (Arabic: عاشوراء‎ ʻĀshūrā’ , colloquially: Urdu: ‫عاشورہ‎; Persian: عاشورا‎; Turkish: Aşure Günü) is on the tenth day of Muharram in the Islamic calendar and marks a very important day of the Mourning of Muharram.

It is commemorated by Shi’a Muslims as a day of mourning for the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of Muhammad at the Battle of Karbala on 10 Muharram in the year 61 AH (October 10, 680 CE in the Julian Calendar)

It is commemorated by Sunni Muslims (who also refer to it as The Day of Atonement) as the day on which the Israelites were freed from the Pharaoh (called ‘Firaun’ in Arabic) of Egypt. According to Sunni Muslim tradition, Ibn Abbas narrates that Muhammad came to Madina and saw the Jews fasting on the tenth day of Muharram. He asked, “What is this?” They said, “This is a good day, this is the day when Allah saved the Children of Israel from their enemy and Musa (Moses) fasted on this day.” So he fasted on this day and told the people to fast. Many Sunnis also recognize the importance of the events at Karbala and the martyrdom of Imam Husayn in regards to Ashura.

For Shi’as, commemoration of Ashura is not a festival, but rather a sad event, while Sunni Muslims view it as a victory God has given to his prophet, Moses. This victory is the very reason, as Sunni Muslims believe, Muhammad mentioned when recommending fasting on this day. For Shi’as, it is a period of intense grief and mourning. Mourners, congregate at a Mosque for sorrowful, poetic recitations such as marsiya, noha, latmiya and soaz performed in memory of the martyrdom of Husayn, lamenting and grieving to the tune of beating drums and chants of “Ya Hussain.” Source:


And example of a poetic recitation for Ashura is from Ghalib Urdu Love Poems

Black Passion Scar

Beside Qais, no one else entered in the field of action.

The desert was perhaps as narrow as a jealous eye.

Being distracted erased the black scar of passion in the heart.

Revealing that the substance of the scar was only smoke.

In the dream, the thought was carrying transactions with you.

When the eyes opened, there was neighter any gain nor any loss.

I still take lessons int eh school of heart’s grief,

But only this much that gone is gone and what remains no more.

The shroud veiled the wound of flaws of nakedness.

Or else, in every other attire, I was a disgrace to existence.

Without an axe, the mountain differ (Farhad) was not able to die

Asad stupefied he was by the intoxication of customs and rules.


For reflection:  Mourning is a way of cleansing sadness and grief from one’s body and soul.  It is a way of recognizing loss and broken-ness, clearing a path for renewal and growth.  Consider the significance of having a day of collective mourning and atonement?  Is that a part of your spiritual or cultural tradition?  I invite you to examine how mourning is present in your life this day.


As-salamu alaykum (السلام عليكم)       (Peace be to you)


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