THE Day of Ashura is a holy festival of remembrance in Islam, dating back 1,300 years to events that followed the death of the Prophet Muhammad.
Here’s when the festival is this year, how it’s celebrated by Sunni and Shia Muslims and whether it requires participants to fast.
What is the Day of Ashura?
Ashura marks the day that Moses and the Israelites were saved from Pharaoh by God creating a path in the Sea, and is the Islamic equivalent to Yom Kippur.
In Sunni Islam, Ashura follows the traditions of Judaism as Jewish people followed a day of fasting around this time of year – commemorating the parting of the Red Sea for Moses and his followers to escape Pharaoh.
The Prophet Muhammad thought that this tradition was worth following so he fasted and encouraged his followers to do the same.
On this day, Sunni Muslims fast and celebrate by reflecting, showing respect and thanks.
For Shia Muslims, Ashura is sacred as a day of remembrance of the death of the grandson of Muhammad, Husayn ibn Ali.
Ashura is celebrated in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Bahrain and Pakistan.
Is fasting required?
Fasting is not compulsory during Ashura, but some – particularly Sunni Muslims – choose to fast.
This is because the Prophet Muhammad was said to have fasted on the day of Ashura.
However, during the month of Ramadan, fasting is seen by many as obligatory.
During Ashura, some Shia Muslims flog themselves in parades to express their grief for Husayn’s suffering.
When is Ashura 2019?
Ashura falls on the tenth day of Muharram (the first month of the Islamic year) in the Muslim calendar – otherwise known as TODAY.
This year’s celebrations begin on the evening of Monday, September 9 and end on the evening of Tuesday, September 10.
Islamic religious dates are tabular: They begin at sunset on the first evening and end at sunset the second evening.
The date changes each year as the calendar used by Muslims – the Hijri calendar – is ten to 12 days shorter that the Gregorian.
It is a lunar calendar with 12 months in a year of 354 or 355 days.
The Prophet Muhammad thought that this tradition was worth following so he fasted and encouraged his followers to do the same[/caption]
Read about religious festivals
What is the Ziyarat Ashura prayer?
Ziyarat Ashura is a Shia salutatory prayer to Husayn ibn Ali and the martyrs of the Battle of Karbala.
The prayer is part of the liturgy used in pilgrimages to the shrine of Husayn in Karbala.
Muhammad al-Baqir, the fifth Shia Imam, recommended reciting Ziyarat Ashura on Ashura while facing Karbala, as a symbolic visit to the shrine.
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