Meaning of 'ASHURA' in English


Muslim holy day observed on the 10th of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic year (Gregorian date variable). 'Ashura' was originally designated in AD 622 by Muhammad, soon after the hegira, as a day of fasting from sunset to sunset, probably patterned on the Jewish Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. When Jewish-Muslim relations became strained, however, Muhammad made Ramadan (q.v.) the Muslim month of fasting, leaving the 'Ashura' fast a voluntary observance, as it has remained among the Sunnites. Among the Shi'ites, 'Ashura' is a major festival, the tazia (ta'ziyah), commemorating the death of Husayn, son of 'Ali and grandson of Muhammad, on the 10th of Muharram, AH 61 (Oct. 10, 680), in Karbala' (present-day Iraq). It is a period of expressions of grief and of pilgrimage to Karbala'; passion plays are also presented, commemorating the death of Husayn.

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