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Ashura | Understanding A Sacred Observance

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Ashura, a significant event in the Islamic calendar, holds deep historical and religious importance. This annual observance occurs on the 10th day of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic lunar calendar.

Ashura is celebrated by both Sunni and Shia Muslims but carries distinct meanings for each sect. For the majority, this day signifies various pivotal events in Islamic history. Transitioning from one event to another, we delve into its significance.


The Day of Atonement

One pivotal occurrence on Ashura is the Day of Atonement, when Prophet Moses and the Israelites, escaping from the oppression of Pharaoh, witnessed the parting of the Red Sea. This story emphasizes divine intervention and liberation, essential themes in Islam.

The Shia Perspective

Transitioning to the Shia perspective, Ashura takes on a more somber note. It commemorates the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, and his followers.

This event unfolds the tragic tale of Karbala, where a small band of devoted individuals stood against oppression.

Rituals and Observances of Ashura

Switching gears, let’s explore the rituals associated with Ashura. Fasting is a common practice, and it is considered a way to purify the soul, emulate the sacrifices of the prophets, and draw nearer to Allah. Many Muslims break their fast with dates, mirroring the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad.

Public Gatherings and Processions

Shifting our focus to the physical aspect of Ashura, processions and public gatherings play a significant role. These events often include recitations of elegies, sermons, and reenactments of the tragic Battle of Karbala. The atmosphere becomes emotionally charged, invoking a sense of unity and mourning.

Charitable Acts

To further emphasize the communal aspect, charitable acts are prevalent during Ashura. Many people donate food, clothing, and other essentials to those in need, reinforcing the principles of compassion and charity.

Ashura Global Significance

Now, let’s shift to the global significance of Ashura. While this observance is primarily associated with Islam, its message of justice, compassion, and resistance against tyranny transcends religious boundaries.

It serves as a symbol of unity and a source of inspiration for people of various backgrounds who strive for justice and righteousness.


In conclusion, Ashura holds a multifaceted significance, with its roots stretching across time, cultures, and religious traditions. It is a day of both celebration and mourning, reminding us of the universal values of justice, compassion, and resistance against oppression.

By observing Ashura, individuals reaffirm their commitment to these noble principles and find inspiration in the stories and lessons it imparts.

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What to do on day of Ashura?

On the day of Ashura, Muslims engage in various acts of worship and reflection. Recommended actions include fasting, offering prayers, reading the Quran, giving to charity, and remembering the historical significance of Ashura, especially for Sunni and Shia Muslims. Fasting on this day is highly encouraged, and additional good deeds are performed to seek blessings and express gratitude.

What is forbidden in Ashura?

There is no specific prohibition for actions on the day of Ashura. However, some caution against practices like excessive mourning, self-flagellation, and rituals that deviate from mainstream Islamic teachings. It’s important to adhere to the principles of moderation and avoid any actions that may lead to harm or extremism.

Do you have to fast 2 days for Ashura?

Fasting on the day of Ashura is encouraged in Islam. Some traditions suggest fasting for two days either the 9th and 10th or the 10th and 11th of Muharram. However, fasting on the day of Ashura itself holds particular significance.

Does fasting on Ashura remove sins?

Fasting on the day of Ashura is believed to expiate sins of the past year, as indicated in the Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). It is considered a means of seeking forgiveness and demonstrating gratitude to Allah.

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