The Mourning of Muharram (also known as the Remembrance of Muharram or Muharram Observances) is a set of rituals associated with Shia Muslims; and all believers in Islam , as well as some non-Muslims, also take part in the remembrance. The commemoration falls in Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar. Many of the events associated with the ritual take place in congregation halls known as Hussainia.
The event marks the anniversary of the Battle of Karbala, when Imam Hussein ibn Ali, a grandson of Muhammad, was killed by the forces of the second Umayyad caliph. Family members and companions accompanying him were killed or subjected to humiliation. The commemoration of this event during the yearly mourning season, with the Day of Ashura as the focal date, serves to define Shia communal identity. Muharram observances are carried out in countries with a sizable Shia population.
Both Sunni and Shia Muslims mourn during Muharram, although Sunnis do so to a much lesser extent. Storytelling, weeping, self-flagellation, and re-enactments of the Battle of Karbala form the crux of the observances.
|Mourning of Muharram|
|Significance||Marks the death of Hussein ibn Ali (Shi'a Islam)|
|Observances||Mourn and derive messages from Hussein's Sacrifice (Shi'a Islam); Fasting (Sunni Islam)|
|2018 date||September 11|
|2019 date||August 31|
|2020 date||August 21|
The words Azadari (Persian: عزاداری) or Sogvari (سوگواری) which mean mourning and lamentation; and Majalis-e Aza have been exclusively used in connection with the remembrance ceremonies for the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (A.S). Majalis-e Aza, also known as Aza-e Husayn, includes mourning congregations, lamentations, matam and all such actions which express the emotions of grief and above all, repulsion against what Yazid stood for.
Expression of grief with thumping of the chest by Shia Muslims is known as Latmya, Latmaya or latmia in Arabic-Persian countries. In India and Pakistan it is called Matam or Matam-Dari/Sina Zannee (chest beating).
Muharram rituals was often called by European observers "the Feast of Hasan and Hosayn," as the participants shout "Hasan! Hosayn!."
The term majalis has both a grammatical meaning and a meaning which relates to Aza-e-Husayn. In its technical sense, a majalis is a meeting, a session or a gathering.
According to Shia sources, the mourning of Muharram was started by the family, especially women, of Muhammad (the Ahl-ul-Bayt) immediately after the death of his grandson and even before entering Damascus. Following the battle of Karbala, Muhammad's granddaughter Zaynab bint Ali and sister of Imam Husayn, began mourning for the fallen and making speeches against Imam Husayn ibn Ali's opponents: Ibn Ziyad and Yazid I. News of Imam Husayn ibn Ali's martyrdom was spread by Imam Zain-ul-Abideen, who succeeded Imam Husayn as the Shia Imam, via sermons and speeches throughout Iraq, Syria and Hejaz.
According to the History of the Prophets and Kings, when Ali ibn Husayn Zayn al-Abidin gave the sermon in presence of Yazid, he let them hold the mourning of Husain ibn Ali for three days in a formal manner.
During the Umayyad Caliphate, the mourning of Husain ibn Ali’s Killing was performed furtively in the homes of Shia Imam and their followers, but during the Abbasid Caliphate this mourning was observed in public mosques by the Abbasid rulers to draw a people’s attention .
As Chelkowski said, in fourth century in Baghdad, contemporaneous with the reigns of Sulton Muizz ad-Dawla of the Shia Buyid dynasty, the first public mourning ritual happened, and the market was closed by order of him on day of Ashura. The mourning rituals evolved differently in different places, until the Safavid dynasty established a centralized Shia state in the 16th century::118 The annual mourning ceremonies and ritual cursing of Husayn's enemies acquired the status of a national institution. According to popular belief, Shia rituals spread to South Asia starting at the end of the 14th Century with the conquests of Tamerlane.:120 Observance has since spread to countries such as India, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan, Syria, Nigeria, Tanzania, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Yemen, Bahrain, Azerbaijan and Lebanon.
Shia Muslims around the world every year commemorate the mourning custom of death of Husayn ibn Ali, his family and his follower in months of Muharram and Safar. They entitle him "Prince of Martyrs" and know him as a spiritual and political savior. He still has an important role in the religious and national consciousness of the people.
According to the Shia belief, taking part in the mourning ritual will be a help to salvation on the Day of Judgment, as Elias Canetti (winner of Nobel Prize) said “[it] became the very core of the Shiite faith ... of all the traditional religions of lament which could be adduced for closer consideration -- that of the Islamic is the most illuminating... The lament itself, as an impassioned pack opening out, to a true crowd, manifests itself with unforgettable power at the Muharram Festival Shiites”.
At first the mourning ceremonies and custom have been done in the open air at the main thoroughfare of city of village, a major intersection in the bazaar, the yard of the mosque, caravanserai and private homes. After a while, in order to protect mourners from weather, the Hussainiya and the Tekyeh were built.
The event is observed by many Sunnis, but to a lesser extent, and as a time of remembrance, rather than mourning. There is mourning among Ahl-e-Sunnat wal Jamaa'ah, as well as they remember Ahl-e-Bayt, and in particular Imaam Hussein, as well as the Sahaabahs, through talks across masaajids (mosques) during the first 10 days of Muharram-ul-Haraam.
After almost 12 centuries, five types of major rituals were developed around the battle of Karbala. These rituals include the memorial services (majalis al-ta'ziya), the visitation of Husayn's tomb in Karbala particularly on the occasion of the tenth day of Ashura and the fortieth day after the battle (Ziyarat Ashura and ziyarat al-Arba'in), the public mourning processions (al-mawakib al-husayniyya or the representation of the battle of Karbala in the form of a play (the shabih), and the flagellation (tatbir).
Imam Husayn Shrine is located at the mosque and burial site of Husayn ibn Ali, the third Shia Imam in the city of Karbala, Iraq. Many Shia go on a pilgrimage to the shrine in Karbala, one of the holiest places for Shias apart from Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. Up to one million pilgrims visit the city annually to observe the anniversary of Imam Husayn ibn Ali's death. Shia Muslims believe that pilgrimage to Husayn ibn Ali’s shrine, like weeping, saves them from being condemned to hell on the day of judgment and all their guilt is removed.
The Arabic term matam refers in general to an act or gesture of mourning; in Shia Islam the term designates acts of lamentation for the martyrs of Karbala. Male and female participants congregate in public for ceremonial chest beating (matam) as a display of their devotion to Imam Husayn and in remembrance of his suffering. In some Shi'a societies, such as those in Bahrain, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and Iraq, male participants may incorporate knives or razors swung upon chains into their matam. There are two basic forms of matam:
One form of mourning is the theatrical re-enactment of the Battle of Karbala. In Iran this is called taziya or taziyeh. Theatrical groups that specialize in taziya are called taziya groups. Taziyas were popular through the Qajar dynasty until the early twentieth century, but the re-enactments slowly declined until they were mostly abandoned in the large cities by the early 1940s. Nonetheless, taziyas continued to exist in Iran on a smaller scale especially in more rural and traditional areas. Reza Shah, the first of the Pahlavi dynasty, had outlawed taziyas. Despite attempts since 1979, Muharram processions and various forms of the rawza khani are still more common.
By increasing the number of shia Muslim in cities and states, mourning of muharram’s ritual changed to a more elaborate form. In the ninth century, lamentation and wailing became propounded as a mourning tradition. Noha is the poem and story that be inspired from Maqtal al-Husayn (various books which narrate the story of the battle of Karbala and the death of Husayn ibn Ali) . The poet or another one read the noha with plaintive rhythm. The main subject of noha is the pain from the killing of Husayn ibn Ali. Noha consists of poems in different languages such as Arabic, Urdu, Farsi, and Punjabi.
The reaction of the audience in the reenactment of the battle of karbala’ episode is significant for strengthening of distinct Shia identity and the weeping over the killing of Husayn ibn Ali and his follower is one of these reactions. There is close relation between the lamentation and weeping. According to the narration, Shia Imams had emphasized to weep for them, so it had transmitted to future generation. According to Shia tradition, the weeping and the flow of tears provides condolences to Imam Husayn's mother and his family, as the living relatives (mostly women and children) were not allowed to weep or lament over their martyred family which involved Imam Husayn's, his family (including his two sons, a six-month-old baby martyred by an arrow/spear to his neck and another 18 year who took a spear to his heart) and his companions. Lamenting and weeping for the (mazloom) wronged and offering condolences to his family, thus, will serve as one of the good deeds done by the mourners of Husayn (azadaar e Husayn) and will be helpful in saving them from being condemned to hell fire on the day of judgement.
Depending on the condition of society, the Muharram processions changes from one city to another. The common form is the starting of mourning processions from Hussainiya and the participants would parade through the streets of their town or village, finally they come back to Hussainiya for performing other mourning of Muharram’s ritual. The procession was common ritual’s mourning of dead persons in Arabic states before the appearance of Islam. The chest- beating, flagellation and face-slapping (latm) are usual acts doing during the mourning procession, but chest-beating and face-slapping (latm) have more precedence and the history of doing this acts had been reached to Buyid dynasty period.
Chest beating (Persian: سینه زنی) refer to common rituals practiced in mourning ceremonies of Shia Imams. In the nineteenth century, the Iranian practiced chest beating introduced by Indian Syed Dildar Ali Nasirabadi and the chest beating was attributed to the concept of Zuljinah (the horse with two wings) processions. The chest beating is allowed just in calamities belong to the family of Muhammad. At the Isfahanis’ mosque, mourners just gather into the middle of the courtyard bared their upper torsos هn the form of a procession and began randomly beating their chests to the melodic suggestions "if a cantor (who recite Noha) with no particular rhyme or rhythm to their chest beating".
Acts of flagellation are a symbolic reenacting of the blood-shedding of Husayn ibn Ali. The previous record of this dramatic act reaches back to the seventeenth century practice in the Caucasus and in Azerbaijan, and was observed in the nineteenth century by the Shia Twelvers in central and southern cities of Iran and the Arab world. There were various types of flagellation including striking of chests with the palms, striking of backs with chains, and cutting foreheads with knives or swords.
Rawda is one of the Shia Iranian mourning rituals to commemorate the death of Husayn ibn Ali and his followers – especially it is the kind of public lamentation. Rawda means garden in Arabic language and this name is acquired from the title of Rawdat al-Shuhada, literary masterpiece book authored by Husayn Waiz Kashifi in Persian. The word of Rawda-khawani means "recitation from Rawdat alshuhada" and generally is named Rawda. At first this ritual became customary on first ten days of Muharram, but by passing of time it was performed during Muharam and Safar and other days of year. Today, Rawda is either the story of Rawdat of al-Shuhada or stories that Rawḍa-k̲h̲ w ān (person who does the recitation) creates by his skills and knowledge to release the original text of the book. This ritual can be held at every where such as houses, the yard of mosque, the square of city or village and also Hussainiya and the Tekyeh. The origin place of Rawda was Iran, but then at Bahrain this ritual is seen in its original form and at other place like India, the modified form of it is held.
One of the most important and symbolic objects used at mourning rituals is Alam. It is the ensign of Husayn ibn Ali in the Battle of Karbala and a sign of truth and bravery. During the battle of Karbala, the original flag bearer of Husayn ibn Ali's Kafala (caravan) was Abbas, Husayn ibn Ali's brother. Abbas lost his life in battle when he went to retrieve water from the Euphrates River for the caravan's young children who were thirsty for three days. It is narrated that when he started to ride back to the camp with the water, he was surprised attacked. While in battle, the children of the camp were anxiously watching the Alam (flag) dip up and down from afar. Abbas lost both of his arms in battle yet he still continued to clench the water skin (mushk) with his teeth, determined to bring the water back to the children. The leader of the opposition saw Abbas gaining ground and ordered for more army men to attack the flag bearer, stating, "If water is brought back to their tent (Husayn ibn Ali), there is no stopping them." Archers then started bombarding Abbas with arrows which pierced the water skin, bringing Abbas down from his horse and the Alam falling to the ground. Alams are a reminder of Abbas' martyrdom and act as a symbol of affection and salutation towards the followers of Husayn ibn Ali who lost their lives in Karbala. Alams all vary in size but usually consist of a wood pole base, with a metal standard that is fixated at the top of the pole. The pole is then dressed with cloth and a banner with the names of Muhammad's family members. Alams with Abbas' name usually include an ornament that resembles the water skin that he intended to fill for the children. The length of an Alam can be about 15 feet. An Alam consists of flexible steel plates placed at the upper part of it. Also, an Alam is decorated by plumes and fine embroidered silks and brocades.
Nakhl Gardani (Persian: نخل گردانی, Persian pronunciation: [næxl ɡærdɑːniː]) is a religious ritual carried out on the day of Ashura for commemorating the death of Husayn ibn Ali's death. Nakhl is a woody structure used as a symbolic representation of Imam's coffin and Nakhl Gardani is the act of carrying the Nakhl form point to another, resembling Imam's funeral.
In South Asia, literary and musical genres produced by both Shias and Sunnis, that have been inspired by the Battle of Karbala are performed during the month, such as marsiya, noha and soaz. This is meant to increase the peoples understanding of how the enemies fought The Battle of Karbala against Husayn and his followers.
Agha Syed Hamid Ali Shah Moosavi (Arabic: آغا سید حامد علی شاہ موسوی) (born 1940) is the patron-in-chief of the supreme Shia ullama board and president of Tehrik-e-Nafaz-e-Fiqah-e-Jafaria (Arabic: تحریکِ نفاذِ فقہ), the Shiite-law implementation movement. His family is descended from Imam Musa al Kadhim, the seventh imam of the Shiites. Moosavi became president of Tehrik-e-Nafaz-e-Fiqah-e-Jafaria of Pakistan after the death of Mufti Jafar Hussain.Al-Hindiya
Al-Hindiya or Hindiya (Arabic: الهندية) is a city in Iraq on the Euphrates River. Al-Hindiya is located in the Kerbala Governorate and is the seat of Al-Hindiya District. The city used to be known as Tuwairij (Arabic: طويريج), which gives name to the "Tuwairij run" (Arabic: ركضة طويريج) that takes place here every year as part of the Mourning of Muharram on the Day of Ashura. It has 84,100 citizens.Al-Khaṣībī
Abu ʿAbd-Allāh al-Ḥusayn ibn Ḥamdān al-Jonbalānī al-Khaṣībī (Arabic: الحسين بن حمدان الخصيبي), mostly known as al-Khaṣībī (??–969) (Arabic: الخصيبي) was originally from a village called Jonbalā, between Kufa and Wasit in Iraq, which was the center of the Qarmatians. He was a member of a well-educated family with close ties to eleventh Twelver Imam Hasan al‐Askari and a scholar of the Islamic sect known as the ʿAlawiyyah or Nusayriyya, a branch of the Twelvers, which is now present in Syria, Southern Turkey and Northern Lebanon.
For a time, al-Khaṣībī was imprisoned in Baghdad, due to accusations of being a Qarmatian. According to the Alawites, after settling in Aleppo, under the rule of the Shīʿite Hamdanid dynasty, he gained the support and aid of its ruler, Sayf al‐Dawla, in spreading his teachings. He later dedicated his book Kitab al‐Hidaya al‐Kubra to his patron. He died in Aleppo and his tomb, which became a holy shrine, is inscribed with the name Shaykh Yabraq.He taught several unique beliefs. One such belief was that Jesus was every one of the prophets from Adam to Muhammad, as well as other figures such as Socrates, Plato and some ancestors of Muhammad. Similarly, other historical figures were the incarnations of Ali and Salman al‐Farisi.He and his works were praised by the influential Iranian Shiʿite scholar Muhammad Baqir Majlisi.Five Martyrs of Shia Islam
The five Martyrs (Arabic: الشھداء الخمسۃ) were five ulama of Shi'i Islam, living in different spans of history, who were executed by their respective regimes. The Shia remember them by the term Five Martyrs.Hussainiya
A ḥosayniya or hussainiya (Persian: حسینیه hoseyniye), also known as an ashurkhana, imambargah, or imambara, is a congregation hall for Twelver Shia Muslim commemoration ceremonies, especially those associated with the Mourning of Muharram. The name comes from Husayn ibn Ali, the third of the Twelve Imams and the grandson of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Husayn was killed at the Battle of Karbala on 10 October 680 CE during the reign of Umayyad Caliph Yazid I. The Shia commemorate his martyrdom every year on Ashura, the 10th day of Muharram. There are also other ceremonies which are held during the year in hussainiyas, including religious commemorations unrelated to Ashura.Irfan
In Islam, ‘Irfaan (Arabic/Persian/Urdu: عرفان; Turkish: İrfan), also spelt Irfaan and Erfan, literally ‘knowledge, awareness, wisdom’, is gnosis. Islamic mysticism can be considered as a vast range that engulfs theoretical and practical and conventional mysticism and has been intertwined with sufism and in some cases they are assumed identical. However, Islamic mysticism is assumed as one of the Islamic sciences alongside theology and philosophy.Jaora
Jaora is a city and a municipality in Ratlam district in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Jaora is located in the Malwa region, between Ratlam and Mandsaur. It was the capital of the Jaora princely state of Jaora before Independence. During the Mourning of Muharram, thousands of people from all over the world visit the shrine of Hussain Tekri. Jains visit Jaora as a place that the Jain ascetic Rajendrasuri practiced tapasya.Maddahi
Maddahi is a ceremonial singing or eulogy recitation especially for Shia Muslims. The word Maddahi means "to praise" in Arabic. One who sings this style is called a maddah. Maddahs mostly sing on Ahl al-Bayt's birth and death anniversary. The theme of Maddahi may be joyous or sorrowful. Most maddahs are men but some women perform in exclusively female gatherings. The majority of maddahis are sung in mourning of Ahl al-Bayt, particularly at the Mourning of Muharram in the beginning of Muharram until the Day of Ashura and Arba'een.Mafatih al-Janan
Mafatih al-Jinan (Keys to Heavens) by Abbass Qumi is a Twelver Shi'a compilation of Abu Zebo , Taaqeebat e namaz (acts of worship after namaz), supplications narrated from the Ahle bayt and text of Ziyarats. The book is widely popular in the Twelver world and is widely available at Abu Zebo Shi'a shrines in much of Iran & Iraq. The book was originally in Persian translation & commentary accompanied with Arabic text, but later on was translated into Urdu, English and Hindi.Mohammad Yaqoobi
Mohammad al-Yaqoobi (Arabic: محمد اليعقوبي; born 9 September 1960) is a prominent Iraqi Twelver Shi'a Marja'. He is the second most widely followed Marja' in Iraq, the most widely followed being Ali al-Sistani. As well as heading the Al-Sadr Religious University in Najaf, he established one of the largest women's Hawzas in Iraq, and oversees many charitable organisations within Iraq. He is an active figure within Iraqi politics, and is considered by many to be the heir of Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr.Muharram
The Tenth day of Muharram is known as the Day of Ashura. Sometimes, as part of the Mourning of Muharram Shia Muslims practice faka (partial fasting) and Sunni Muslims practice fasting on Ashura.
Shia Muslims mourn the death of Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī and his family, honoring the martyrs by prayer and abstinence from joyous events. Shia Muslims do not fast on the 10th of Muharram, but some will not eat or drink until Zawal (afternoon) to show their sympathy with Husayn. In addition there is an important ziyarat book, the Ziyarat Ashura about Husayn ibn Ali. In the Shia sect, it is popular to read this ziyarat on this date.Noha
A noha (Persian: نوحه, Urdu: نوحہ; translit. nūḥa/nawḥa), when interpreted in light of Shia views, is a lament about the tragedy of Husayn ibn Ali in the Battle of Karbala.Marsiya and Noha has the historical and social milieu of pre-Islamic Arabic and Persian culture. The sub-parts of Marsiya are called Noha and Soaz which means lamentation. It is usually a poem of mourning. Lamentation has a central part in the literature of the followers and devotees of the Shia sect and its offshoots. The tradition of elegizing Hussain and the Karbala tragedy is not limited to Arabic speaking poets, poets from different languages have also contributed a significant poetic literature in their language. In Urdu language, a number of poets like, Mir Anis and Mirza Dabeer have contributed a treasure in Marsiya and its sub branch Noha. In like manner, English-speaking poets, whether Muslim, Christian, have also made significant contributions to produce elegies for Imam Hussain and the Karbala tragic incidents. Noha (Latmiyat in Arabic) in English language written by various poets may be listened in voices of different Noha readers like Bassim Al-Karbalaei, Nazim Ali, Syeda Fatima Zaheer Rizvi, Darakhshan and Farheen Fatima in Urdu language, Hashim sisters, Rahil Abbas Rizvi etc.Nuqtavi
The Nuqtavi (Arabic: نقطوية Nuqṭawiyyah) movement was founded by Mahmūd Pasīkhānī (Persian: محمود پسیخانی) when he proclaimed himself the Mahdi in 1397. The group is an offshoot of the Ḥurūfī movement, from which Pasīkhānī was expelled for arrogance. The group first arose in Anjudan near Kashan an area known for its Nizārī Ismā'īlī Shia Islam. The group attempted to proclaim Shah Tahmasp as Mahdi after Pasīkhānī died.Qalandariyya
The Qalandariyyah (Arabic: قلندرية, Hindi: क़लन्दरिय्या, Bengali: ক়লন্দরিয়্য়া), Qalandaris, Qalandars or Kalandars are wandering ascetic Sufi dervishes. The term covers a variety of sects, not centrally organized and may not be connected to a specific tariqat. One was founded by Qalandar Yusuf al-Andalusi of Andalusia, Spain. They were mostly in Iran, Central Asia, India and Pakistan. (The word also entered English as calender.)
Starting in the early 12th century, the movement gained popularity in Greater Khorasan and neighbouring regions, including South Asia. The first references are found in the 11th-century prose text Qalandarname (The Tale of the Kalandar) attributed to Ansarī Harawī. The term Qalandariyyat (the Qalandar condition) appears to be first applied by Sanai Ghaznavi (died 1131) in seminal poetic works where diverse practices are described. Particular to the qalandar genre of poetry are terms that refer to gambling, games, intoxicants and Nazar ila'l-murd, themes commonly referred to as kufriyyat or kharabat. The genre was further developed by poets such as Fakhr-al-Din Iraqi and Farid al-Din Attar.Qom Seminary
The Qom Seminary (Persian: حوزه قم) is the largest Islamic seminary (hawza) in Iran, established in 1922 by Grand Ayatollah Abdul-Karim Haeri Yazdi in Qom.Rawda Khwani
Rawda khwani (Persian: روضه خوانی, "reading the Rawda") is the Shia Iranian Muslim ritual of the Mourning of Muharram. It is held every day of the year to commemorate the death of Husayn ibn Ali and his followers during the Battle of Karbala.Shaykh Junayd
Sheikh Junayd (died 1460) (Persian: شیخ جنید Shaikh Junaid) was the son of Shaykh Ibrahim. After the death of his father, he assumed the leadership of the Safaviyya from 1447–1460.Tekyeh Dowlat
Tekyeh Dowlat (Persian: تکیه دولت lit. "State Theater") was a Royal Theater in Tehran, Iran. It was the most famous of all the ta'zieh performance spaces, for the Mourning of Muharram. It has a capacity for more than 4,000 people. Built in 1868 by Naser al-Din Shah Qajar south-east of the Golestan Palace on the site of the Síyáh-Chál, the Royal Theater's sumptuous magnificence surpassed that of Europe's greatest opera houses in the opinion of many Western visitors. It is comparable to Verona Arena, Samuel Greene Wheeler Benjamin told at his first visit.
Karim Pirnia has introduced Hossein-Ali Mehrin as the architect of this building.Ya Hussain
Yā Hussain (Arabic: يا حسين) is an Arabic phrase used by Muslims to invoke the memory or intervention of Hussain ibn Ali. It is especially used in the context of the Mourning of Muharram.
The British in colonial India heard Muslims chanting "Yā Hussain! Yā Hassan!" (a reference to Hussain ibn Ali, brother of Hasan ibn Ali) during the Mourning of Muharram, and approximated it as "Hobson-Jobson", which became a term referring to the similar derivation of an English equivalent for a foreign-language words by adapting English words or names that have a superficial resemblance in sound.
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