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According to tradition, Ashura is commemorated via common rituals and ceremonies
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Mourning ceremony (Majlis/ assembly)

"Hussain would be killed by the worst people (ummah) and those who distance themselves from his children (Hussain) will distance themselves from me. Yazid! May God not be pleased with Yazid" and his shed tears.

"Hussain was mourned over to my knowledge and I was given his land (Karbala land) and I was informed about his killer".

- Prophet Muhammad,Majma' al-Zawa'id 9, 304

All over the globe mourning ceremonies are held in several continents and larger and smaller gatherings are formed in several countries to commemorate the Karbala tragedy. This is done according to different local traditions and languages, however one or more of the following activities are typically part of the programs:

- Quran recitation.

- Recitation of Ziyara (peace greeting).

- Majlis (presentation) by a theologian, scholar or orator.

- Latmiya (recitation) of rhythmic mourning poetry.

- Tashabih (visualization/theatre) with role play.

- Sufra (food invitation) for distribution of traditional Ashura meals and communal eating.

- Blood donation and voluntary efforts.

In several European cities, where the Shia Muslim community is multi-ethnic, the programs may be narrated in different languages. The Imam Ali Mosque and the Imam Sadiq Center are some of the examples of mosques and haunts that, among other things, plan the holding of the mourning ceremony according to the language and ethnicity of the members, thus meeting different needs.

Koran recitation

"I have left you two precious things; the Holy Book of God [the Qur'an] and my household [Ahlul Bait]...
for they will not be separated until they meet me at the well (paradise)"

- Prophet Muhammad,Fadail al-Sahaba 15.

Imam Hussain's position was based on the maintenance and implementation of the word of God (the Holy Qur'an) and the lifestyle of the Prophet Muhammad (sunnah). 

The Qur'an is the revelation of Allah and the silent word of God to mankind. This revelation was completed with the Prophet's interpretation of these silent words into living and telling actions and was continued and maintained by the Prophet's descendants; The imams.

The recitation of the Qur'an is part of the Muslims' joyous events as well as their mourning ceremonies. Here, Ashura is one of these ceremonies where the Holy Qur'an is recited precisely to follow in the footsteps of Imam Hussain and his best father (peace be upon them both) and not least to remind the Muslims of the role of the Imams, cf. the Prophet's account in that hold fast to the Holy Qur'an and the household of the Prophet.

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The greeting of peace (Ziyara/ زيارة)

"Whoever visits Al-Hussain bin Ali (peace be upon him) on the day of Ashura, and stays with him weeping, meets God (the Almighty and Majestic) on that day, gets the reward of two thousand Hajjs, two thousand Umrahs and two thousand battles. The reward of every battle, ​​reward and Hajj is like a pilgrimage. God's prayers and peace be upon him and his family.

- Imam al-Baqir,Misbah al-Mutahajid 772.

A peace greeting on Imam Hussain and the Karbala martyrs is a short recitation that was handed down to the Ashura mourners by Imam Mohammad al-Baqir pbuh, where he emphasized the accounts through Alqama ibn Muhammad al-Hadrami how rewarding the Ashura peace greeting is. 

During each Ashura night of the 10 nights of Muharram, this greeting of peace is recited, which among other things renews the mourners' oath to the Imam's values and principles. In this pursuit, the focus is on loyalty and distancing oneself from the enemies of God and the Prophet.


Practically, this is done by marking the approximation in  Muharram nights by covering rooms with black and red cloth. This is done, among other things, in mosques and religious places of worship in order to emphasize the arrival of the period of mourning, which the Imams have encouraged us to during the same period of the year.​

Pulpit (Minbar/ منبر)

"O Ibn Shabib, if you weep for anything, let it be over Hussain son of Ali, for he was murdered as a ram is slaughtered along with eighteen of his household members. No one has replicated this on the same ground. For his mother wept in the seven heavens and on earth, and four thousand angels were sent down to support him waiting at his grave until the rising of the Qaim (Imam Mahdi), where their slogan is: Justice for Hussain!"

- Imam al-Ridha,Jawahir al-Bihar 98 (Mazar)

All subsequent Imams after Imam al-Sajjad, including the latter, maintained the memory of the Karbala tragedy on a regular basis. They did this at various events and on several occasions precisely to remind the people of the tragedy, but most of all, so that they could learn from the past and avoid similar circumstances in the future.

The pulpit was used by Mrs. Zainab and Imam al-Sajjad and remains the mouthpiece of the masses of caring loving loyal Muslims as well as non-Muslims.

A Koranic verse is typically presented by the speaker with interpretation. Subtopics that are relevant to the participants' everyday life are then derived. Historical facts, religious info, existence and science are included.

These speeches are generally held in a traditional form called Majlis in Arabic ("sit-in" or "sit-down" if you like). The speech ends with a brief rendering of a sad descriptive scene from the Karbala tragedy, where weeping culminates in sorrow. This tradition helps to lighten one's heart and seek solace in Hussain and Zainab's greater tragedy via the connection to Ashura and an attachment to the individual's wounds.

Mourning poetry (Latmiya/ لتمية)

Imam al-Ridha: "Revive our cause. May God embrace with His blessing those who revive and remember our cause". 

After the funerals of Imam Hussain and his companions, the historical sources report that the nearby clans and residents, as well as those who had received the news of the Karbala tragedy, offered their condolences to Mrs. Zainab and Imam Hussain's son; Imam al-Sajjad.

This condolence (also called Nadb/ ندب) brought with it the recitation of poems about Imam Hussain and the martyrs. There reproduced their characteristics and commemorated their bravery in the plain of Karbala.

Mourning poetry created an audience and a community. It created an identity that would show a public and open protest against the Imam's revenge and the quest for justice. This was another form of condolence. In addition to the fact that the mourners verbally remembered the tragedy by rehearsing renditions together with physical movements of mourning. Physical gestures of mourning were a common part of showing compassion or expressing grief for the lost or deceased.

The gathering of mourning poetry developed into an artistic use of rhythm and perfection in the description of the sad events of Karbala.

In different countries and nations, culture influences what is involved by local elements to show their grief for Imam Hussain.

This culmination of rhythmic mourning poetry and movement(s) is called "latmiya" in Arabic (لتمية).

Examples of Danish mourning poetry can be seen here.

Visualizations (Tashabih/ تشابيه)

Visualizations and theater play an important role in showing culture and gatherings in the respective countries. Since people are different and some in society can better relate to the Karbala tragedy and its surroundings when there are visualizations associated with Ashura. 

The art in the several plays is shown, among other things, by decorating horses and camels. This was to showcase Imam Hussain and Abbas' horses during the day and Mrs. Zainab's and the caravan's camels with symbolic dome decorations.

The connection between the visualizations and the heroes of Karbala is linked to the characters' characteristics and stories:

- Qasim (Zafat al-Qasim)

-Ali (al-)asghar (infants' white and green attire). 

- Lady Zainab and the women of Karbala (tents of Ashura).

- Imam Hussain (Ashura day's great visualization).

- Shimr ibn Thil-Jawshan (The Imam's killer and beheader).

- The enemy's army and the companions (the Ashura visualization).

On the day of Ashura, the mourners gather at one of the large assembly points. They see the Karbala tragedy​reviewed again with several hundred actors. They live into the given roles to provoke the Ashura environment, while the viewers burst into tears and tears over the condition of the Imam and the caravan.

The children's reaction, depending on age, varies between crying and compassion. In some cases, some take water bottles and want to go to the Imam's camp to give water to the actors.

The acting underlines the role of art and the theatre's important message. The play creates emotional reactions and in this connection the audience is part of the experience. The promotion of Imam Hussain's message takes several forms and art is one of them.

Food invitation

For communal meals and food distributions, you will be able to experience that the person distributing the food is particularly insistent that you accept the food.

The phrase "Zad aba-Abdillah/ زاد ابا عبد الله" is repeated and used often, denoting a certain specialty of this food. The food was prepared with love for sacrifice and for Imam Hussain.

This social joy and gathering around food is a highlight. The food is served after the mourners have mourned together. Large, wide mats are rolled out in all places of stay to hand out Ashura meals and dishes. Therefore, every now and then you will also hear the free-spirited in the respective haunts (also called Hussayniya/ حسينية), mention the word "Sufra". These meeting points help to promote attendance and reunion for many. They help to welcome guests and those who want to learn about Ashura and Imam Hussain.

The reward of eating and distributing food, with God's satisfaction as intention, is emphasized by many prophets and Imams. Thus, many donate what they hold most dear, both poor and rich, to obtain God's blessing and the prayers and comfort of the bereaved.

The social aspect of invitations has resulted in many non-Muslims having an easier time learning about Hussain's universal message and fight for justice. Even these important debates could have started during an Ashura meal and gathering at the local mosque or haunt. 

Blood donation

Grief is a general human phenomenon and the types of expression of grief differ from person to person.

One cannot help but find images of blood and extermination of the latter among a very small minority of the mourners during Ashura. This act, where you beat yourself to death on the head with sharp objects, is called "tatbir/ تطبير". The majority of scholars forbid harming one's own body, although for some the intention is to show compassion and mourn the terrible tragedy of Imam Hussain and Karbala.

This form of compassion and self-harm has in recent decades changed its nature to more concrete and constructive alternatives. Blood donation to, among other things, blood banks, hospitals and relevant clinics is growing like never before. It helps save human lives and benefits millions of souls worldwide.

The grieving young generation is constantly trying to come up with new measures. They try to find a practical and timeless interpretation of Ashura that is not geographically or culturally conditioned. From tragedy and grief, to projects that focus on making our world better by helping and supporting each other.

This understanding has resulted in adseveral humanitarian and non-profit projects that promote Hussain's message without national barriers and across international borders.  

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