Warning: some of the images are graphic and may be distressing for viewers.
It’s an emotional time for Shia Muslims across the globe. Every year the day of Ashura, which means the “tenth day” in Arabic, commemorates the martyrdom of Prophet Mohammed's (PBUH) grandson, Imam Hussain, who was killed during the battle of Karbala on the 10th day of Muharram in the year 61 AH (after Hijra).
Also referred to as the “Muslim Passover”, Ashura is a day of painful commemoration of the assassination of Hussain. On this day, Shia Muslims express their grief and reenact the pain and sorrow endured by Hussain while on his quest to protect his people from the Umayyads. The Umayyad caliph won a lot of supporters but Imam Hussain, refused to give his pledge of allegiance to the caliph and chose to die an honorable and dignified death rather than live on in humiliation. As a result, Imam Hussain, his 72 family and followers (including women and children) were brutally killed.
Shia Muslims around the world mark Ashura with the gory ritual of self-flagellation- that’s right, by flaying and cutting themselves with whips and knives until they are soaked in their own blood. Shia believe that the practice of inflicting pain washes away their sins and preserves the suffering of Hussain and his people.
Like other sacred days, Ashura is observed for different reasons and in different ways. Take a look at some incredible images of Ashura practices throughout the world.