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  Updated: February 10, 2006

Ya Hussein (p) … Ashura observed with solemnity

By: Ismail Zabeeh/ Raza Ali

HOLY CITY OF KARBALA, Iraq: Ashura - the darkest day of universal history – which marks the gruesome tragedy of Karbala in which the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (p) Hussein bin Ali (p) along with his 72 devoting companions was slaughtered unjustly some 1,400 years ago, was observed across the globe on Thursday February 9 with main commemoration held in the holy city of Karbala – place of tragedy – where an estimated four million mourners massed. The holy Karbala was shrouded in black.

The millions of mourners marched and beat themselves in blood-soaked processions through the holy city amid tight security.

A fierce sand storm swept the country on Ashura, the 10th day of Muharram in the Islamic lunar calendar.

About 30,000 men wearing white shrouds and waving swords above their heads began marching from 2 a.m. between the gold-domed Imam Hussein (p) shrine and his brother, Abbas, about a kilometer away.

Following dawn prayers, thousands of people, including children aged as young as eight, dressed in black as a sign of mourning and marched between the two shrines to the beat of deep bass drums.

Some slapped chains across their backs until their clothes were soaked with blood, while others beat their heads with the flat side of swords and knives until blood ran freely to signify their grief on the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (p).

"Although it is a sad day, I am very happy because I took part in these head-beating processions," said 10-year-old school boy Haider Abbas Salim, whose face was covered in blood. "Imam Hussein's martyrdom teaches us manhood and that we shouldn't fear anything."

Pools of fresh blood covered the road through Karbala on which mourners paid homage to Imam Hussein (p). The scene was repeated in other locations across the country, including in Kazimiyah.

Some pilgrims walked for days to Karbala, 110 km (68 miles) southwest of Baghdad.
"I walked for two days from Najaf to attend Ashura in Karbala," said Jawad Kathum, 45.

Pilgrims from other countries, including India, traveled to Karbala to attend the ceremony.

Many Iraqis cooked throughout the night and pilgrims attending the ceremonies are given meals of rice and thick soup laden with meat and chick peas.

Under Saddam, mourners were restricted from performing Ashura-related rituals, such as processions of men beating themselves with their hands, chains and the flat edges of swords in shows of grief.

More than 8,000 security forces and extra militiamen were deployed in Karbala preventing vehicles from entering the city. The United States has been using unmanned and unarmed drones to provide an aerial view of processions. Karbala was sealed off to vehicles and checkpoints were set up to body-search pilgrims arriving from other cities.

Large numbers of police were positioned around Karbala's water treatment plants.
"We are securing these facilities from being poisoned by terrorists," said policeman Ali Ameen.

In Saudi eastern city of Al-Qatif, several thousand Saudi mourners took to the streets to mourn the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (p).

Participants said the mourning ceremonies were the biggest in the kingdom where Shias are slowly testing government pledges to let them practice their religious rites more freely.

Within the confines of towns and villages in the Eastern Province, youths dressed in black beat their heads and chests to echo the suffering of Imam Hussein (p) and mark Ashura.

''O Hussein, you have been wronged!'' said banners, referring to the killing of Imam Hussein (p) 1,400 years ago in Karbala.

Imam Hussein (p) kissed martyrdom to defend Islam and Shari’ah and save high human values writing the best example of presenting sacrifice in love for Allah.

In India, Hindus also take part in Moharram mourning with devotion. As many as 100 Tazias are prepared and taken out in processions by Hindus in Bhopal city. Besides, hundreds of them also have a Darshan of Tazias.

In Syria, tens of thousands of mourners took to the streets of Sayyida Zeinab (p) shrine, south of Damascus, in the early hours of Thursday and cut the tops of their heads to show grief over the tragedy of Karbala.

Here is a photographic report of Ashura from some countries:

Photographic report of Ashura from different countries









Saudia Arabia






Held Kashmir


Azad Kashmir









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