Published On: Mon, Sep 9th, 2019

Ashura 2019: Why do we fast on Ashura?

Ashura is a holy festival in Islam which marks the tenth day of Muharram – the first month of the Islamic calendar. Muslims all over the globe will be commemorating this holy day, in places such as Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Pakistan. Muslims choose to celebrate this day in different ways – and has a full guide below.

When is Ashura?

This year, Ashura will begin this evening, and end in the evening of Tuesday, September 10.

Ashura is marked on the tenth day of Muharram, which runs from September 1 to 28 this year.

The Islamic calendar, known as the Hijri calendar, is a lunar calendar.

For this reason, it is ten to 12 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar, and Ashura can fall on different days depending on astronomical sightings.

Is it customary to fast during Ashura?

Although fasting during the month of Ramadan is considered obligatory by many Muslims, fasting is not compulsory during Ashura.

However, Sunni Muslims may choose to fast during the 24-hour period.

For many Muslims, Ashura marks the day Moses was saved from Pharoah and the Egyptians, when God parted the Red Sea.

Sunni Muslims may fast during Ashura to follow the traditions of Judaism, as many Jewish people followed a day of fasting around this time of year.

It is believed the Prophet Muhammad followed this tradition, and encouraged followers to fast at this time too.

What are the other ways to commemorate Ashura?

For Shia Muslims, Ashura is a sacred day of remembrance for the death of Prophet Muhamad’s grandson, Husayn ibn Ali.

Husayn was killed at the Battle of Karbala in 680 AD, and is considered a martyr to Shia Muslims.

To emulate the suffering experienced by Husayn, Shia Muslims may choose to engage in rituals of self-flagellation.

However, some Shia Muslim leaders discourage these rituals, and may instead encourage Muslims to donate blood.

Passion plays known as Ta’zieh are often performed on this day in countries such as Iran and Iraq, which reenact the Battle of Karbala.

Some Muslims will gather on Ashura and visit a mosque, where they will worship and say prayers of thanks.

Muslims may also make a pilgrimage to Karbala, where the tomb of Husayn ibn Ali lies.

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