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Muharram: Mourning for Muslims

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Muharram is one of the most significant and sacred festivals for Muslims all over the world, as it marks the beginning of the Islamic New Year. The tenth day of Muharram, called the Day of Ashura, is of most significance for different Muslim factions for various reasons.

On the day of Muharram, Muslims all over the world set up langars where water and fruit juices are served free to all, no matter what caste or community the people belong to. The month of Muharram is observed with extreme grief and mourning due to the battle of Karbala that took place during this month. During the Battle of Karbala, the Last Prophet’s (PBUH) grandson, Imam Hussain, was martyred mercilessly and this is the reason that Muharram is related to grief, mourning, sadness and is critical to Muslims all over the world.

The month of Muharram also has a great importance among the followers of Islam. The month comes with deep grief, despair, and melancholy in Muslims who cry and wail on the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, the son of Hazrat Ali in the Battle of Karbala. During the battle, Imam Hussain was mercilessly beheaded by the forces of Umayyad Caliph Yazid I. The event took place in the 690 CE and has been since then observed among Muslims every year as ‘Muharram,’ meaning prohibition.

During this entire month, Muslims abstain themselves from any kind of joyous events and celebrations, as a way to pay tribute and honour to the martyrdom of Imam Hussain. During the first 10 days of Muharram, Muslims belonging to the Shia community wear black outfits and go for street processions as a way to mourn the death of their beloved Imam Hussain and the pain inflicted on his family members.

Muslims belonging to different communities observe Ashura in different ways, some keep fast, some observe abstinence and some participate in religious gatherings. In India, a glimpse of the Muharram procession can be seen on roads. The Shia devotees even cut their bodies and walk barefoot on fire. This act of self-harming is very rigorous. Muslims consider it as an act of mourning.

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