Shia Muslims Mark Religious Festival of Ashura with Prayers and Self-Flagellation

Muslims across the globe marked the religious festival of Ashura with parades, marches and some Shia worshipers participating in self-flagellation in remembrance of the Prophet Mohammed’s ﷺ grandson Imam Hussein at the battle of Karbala in 680 AD.

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Muslim Shi’ite women march during a re-enactment of the battle of Kerbala during a mourning process, one day before the Shi’ites will mark the day of Ashura, in Nabatiyeh, Lebanon October 11, 2016. © Ali Hashisho / Reuters

Devotees mourned Imam Hussein for the festival, which falls on the 10th of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic lunar calendar.

Men participate in self flagellation during the Shi'ite Muharram procession in Peshawar, Pakistan October 11, 2016. © Fayaz Aziz / Reuters
Men participate in self flagellation during the Shi’ite Muharram procession in Peshawar, Pakistan October 11, 2016. © Fayaz Aziz / Reuters

While Ashura is marked by all Muslims through prayer and voluntary fasting, the festival is vital for the Shia sect of Islam where devotees reenact the martyrdom of Hussein by participating in parades.

The event, which is due to culminate on Wednesday, is commemorated by Muslim communities across the Middle East including Iran, South Asia, and also across the West.

A Shi’ite Muslim man reaches out to touch the gold-ornamentation of sword and shield, placed on a symbolic sacred horse for a good luck, during the religious procession ahead of Ashura, in Karachi, Pakistan, October 11, 2016. © Akhtar Soomro / Reuters

In the British city of Manchester, crowds of Shia Muslims banged their chests outside the mosque during a ceremony for Ashura, while devotees in Athens and Bahrain used sharp objects to self-flagellate.

Shia Muslims flog themselves on Holy Day of Ashora in MANCHESTER

Blood, sweat and suffering: Shia Muslims flog themselves on Holy Day of Ashura in MANCHESTER

Posted by In the NOW on Monday, October 10, 2016

Shi’ite Muslim women shout Islamic slogans as they mourn during an Ashura procession in Istanbul, Turkey, October 11, 2016. © Murad Sezer / Reuters

Imam Hussein was killed by the army of the Caliph Yazid during the Battle of Karbala, in modern day Iraq. After his death, Islam divided into two main sects – Sunnis and Shias.

Shias make up around 15 percent of the population of the Muslim population across the world.

Self-flagellation has been criticized by some Muslim leaders who have said the graphic scenes portray the event in a negative light.


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