Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Reuters - Shi’ites Muslims around the world marked Tuesday the Day of Ashura.  Prayers signal the start of one of the most important days in the Islamic calendar. Shi’ites in Afghanistan, Iraq and Bangladesh mark the Ashura festival, commemorating the death of Prophet Mohammad’s grandson Imam Hussein in 680 CE.   For Shi’ite Muslims, Ashura - the tenth day of the Islamic month of Moharram, it’s a day of mourning that commemorates the death of the Prophet Mohammad’s grandson Hussein in 680 CE in the Iraqi city of Karbala.0 On this day, devout Shi’ites self-flagellate - in this case with steel-tipped flails. In Bangladesh it’s a day of celebration for the majority Sunni Muslims - a celebration of a victory for Islam through Imam Hussein’s sacrifice. But for Shi’ites it is a sad affair where, like in Afghanistan, they whip themselves in mourning until their backs bleed.

In the Iraq capital too, these Shi’ites have cut their heads with swords so they can relive the pain Hussein experienced in the fateful Battle of Karbala.  Mourners in large numbers participated in it by reciting marsiyas (elegies) and performing matam to observe the martyrdom of Imam Hussain.  Many Muslims including Shias observe fast from dawn to dusk on the ninth and tenth day of Muharram in order to pay tribute to the martyrdom attained by Imam Hussain and his companions.  Shi’ites make up only 15 percent of the world’s Muslims, and traditionally mourn for one month as part of the Ashura festival. Ashura is also observed in many other countries with sizeable Shi’ite populations, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Syria.

Shiite Muslims flagellated themselves and cut their scalps during religious rituals on the 9th day of holy Islamic month of Muharram and thousands draped in black clothes carried out the traditional Shab-e-Ashoor. The procession is taken out on evening before the 10th day of Muharram, which marks the martyrdom of Imam Hussain and his companions at Karbala nearly 1,300 years ago.  It is said that the Day of Ashura symbolizes the humanity’s struggle against tyranny.  According to different faiths, there are different voluntary penances (tapasya) which undergo their followers.
It has been explained that penance, sacrifice, charity and foods are divided into three categories: the modes of goodness, passion and ignorance. But whether first class, second class or third class, they are all conditioned, contaminated by the material modes of nature. When they are aimed at the Supreme - om tat sat, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the eternal - they become means for spiritual elevation. In the scriptural injunctions such an objective is indicated. These three words, om tat sat, particularly indicate the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. ... Bhagavad-gītā recommends, therefore, that any work done should be done for om tat sat, or for the Supreme Personality of Godhead. When one performs penance, charity and sacrifice with these three words, he is acting in Krishna consciousness. Krishna consciousness is a scientific execution of transcendental activities which enables one to return home, back to Godhead.
Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda :
“Bhagavad-gītā As It Is”
Chapter 17: “The Divisions of Faith” - Verse 23
Bhaktivedanta VedaBase

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