Why Ashura is a ‘Holy-Day’ for all of us and not just you

Published: December 6, 2011

Mourning the suffering of Hussain and 72 other companions should be common to all Muslims, not just Shias. PHOTO: APP / FILE

I was tempted to write this article when I read another one on The Express Tribune titled ‘Muharram is your holiday, not mine’. In this blog, the writer complains about how she feels discriminated against and threatened by the Sunni sect, especially during Muharram and the day of Ashura.

While my intention is not to preach my version of Islam or contradict any sect’s belief, I feel that both Shias and Sunnis fight over the wrong reasons, with each sect going to the extremes to defend its own beliefs and judge the others’ doings.

For me, following the Quran and Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) Sunnah is enough. I will do what my beloved prophet instructed us Muslims to do. There is no denying the fact that Muharram, in Islamic history, has always been a holy month. Its sacredness comes from its derivation from the word ‘haraam’ (forbidden), as the practice of avoiding wars and fights during this month was widespread amongst the Arabs, long before Islam was born.

As far as the day of Ashura goes, popular hadiths have quoted that this day was significant in history primarily for being the day when the Prophet Moses  and his companions were forever rid of the Pharaoh’s vice, when he was drowned in the waters of Red Sea. The Jews always fasted on this day, but our beloved prophet instructed Muslims to observe a two-day fast to include either the day before or the day after Ashura in order to mark our difference with the Jews. Later in history, a second event marked this day’s importance because our beloved prophet’s grandson, Husain was martyred in Karbala.

Our prophet told us to fast and pray during Muharram; that’s reason enough for me. However, since it is not obligatory, if I don’t, it does not make me a lesser Muslim than anyone else.  Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) forbade me to mourn a death for more than three days, but he didn’t stop me from remembering and praying for someone I love. Moreover, he did not ban weddings in Muharram but if I choose to refrain from doing so out of respect and grief for a lost one, it doesn’t make me an infidel. If I do in fact, indulge in merrymaking that too is my personal choice.

I may have my opinions but I’m not an aalim (scholar) when it comes to matters of religion. Thus, in my ‘opinion’, if something is not highlighted in the Quran and Sunnah, it does not have to be a matter of life and death for anyone. I am answerable for my own deeds. If I go about celebrating my wedding in Muharram, if I say no to wedding invitations because of my beliefs, if I visit lectures on Ashura where Husain is remembered and prayed for, if I fast as my prophet asked me to –  I am answerable for my own deeds to Allah and He will decide if I am a better Muslim than the rest.

The problem with our society is every sect is so staunch in their beliefs that they forget their commonalities in the fire of hatred and intolerance.

The bottom line is that Muharram and the day of Ashura should be important for all Muslims, whether they are Shia or Sunni.

Mahjabeen Khan

Mahjabeen Khan

A MCS graduate from Szabist who has a project management and quality assurance background.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Fahad Raza

    Very Well articulatedRecommend

  • Amna

    Thanks for thisRecommend

  • Zahra

    Dear Author,

    Please be careful in citing hadith regarding the celebratory fast the Prophet (pbuh) instructed the Muslims in Medina to partake in. There are serious issues regarding the validity of these hadith, which you can research easily if you care to do so. In addition, just like you say you have the right to get married etc during Muharram, Shias have every right in the world to mourn the way they want to. Why are they are targeted and persecuted for commemorating Ashura and the sacrifices of Imam Hussain? What harm are they doing to the other sects? Please shed some light on these questions.

    Thank you. Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli

    Very well written sister god bless you and the most importend thing is we wanna fight for
    reliegen but dont wanna fallow. and thats what happening in this and many other cases.
    Ashura or story of Husain (R,A) is tregedy of early islam and can not be forgotten but making
    that day to mourn present is just a unthinkable and seems cult to me.Recommend

  • faraz

    Well belief is not based on logic. You can’t prove or disapprove a belief. I wonder why a person would burn in hell for not believing somethingRecommend

  • M Baloch

    You mean as it is not written in Quran that one shouldn’t attend a marriage or celebrate his own on his/her on the death day of his mother, then it should not be a matter of life and death? And one should go for that? I don’t know about other cities but in my village we stop all celebrations when an incident happens or don’t celebrate it openly, it is mnimum gesture of human feeling and making them feel they are not alone…!
    Imam Hussain saved humanity by sacrificing his family, life and friends, shouldn’t be a minimum gesture of humanity to respect his sacrifice and pay homage to the great sacrifice?
    Labors day can be commemorated and officially holiday is announced, processions across the world but not Muharram as it is not written in Quran…!
    Someone has rightly said, those who don’t remember their heroes failed to produce them and unfortunately this is the case of Muslim Ummah that all tyrants, kings and dictators are ruling us since centuries and “of course this is not a matter of life and death as it is not written n Quran”…Recommend

  • Mahjabeen

    Disclaimer: I did not intend this article to support any rituals which are given a religious status, without endorsement by the Quran and Sunnah. Hence if the proofreading by ET has resulted in such, I take no responsibility. Recommend

  • Zubair Ali

    JazakAllah sister. I was almost put off by this site and the various (recent) nonsense blogs about naked women on front pages.
    Your piece is beautiful and to the point. May Allah swt guide us all and teach us how to love and respect each other better. We are all one and answer to the same creator.Recommend

  • Talha

    Excellent piece! Especially considering it’s on ET.Recommend

  • Quratulain Syeda

    It is important to sunnis for different reasons and different reasons of its importance for shias. So lady get your facts straight before you start preaching.Recommend

  • murtaza

    minorities are not facing any social pressures in Pakistan …right ?Can you say that ? christians and ahmadies and shias ???right ?thats what you are writing about ?

    Or you are a minority yourself ,and you are discriminated ? right ?

    or you are just responding to some article that touched to ”””’religiously””’ and you are making sure that other beliefs are wrong ,or are feeling wrong …right ?Recommend

  • Rehan

    very well written and Allah gives you reward….Recommend

  • Fouad Shahid

    In your article you write,”Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) forbade me to mourn a death for more than three days, but he didn’t stop me from remembering and praying for someone I love”,this I agree with but do you think to torture yourself for an event that happened long before you were born is right? as underneath the photograph you write, “mourning the suffering of Hussain and 72 other companions should be common to all Muslims, not just Shias”…Recommend

  • Syed Shabbar Raza

    Shia and Sunni are two fact of Islam since forever. So, why don’t we just follow our believes and allow other to follow their own.
    Remember, when enemy strike us it never distinguish that whether we are sunni or shia.
    Unity is strength !Recommend

  • Hira

    I wish every Muslim, whether sunni or shia, would think like that. Whether we think each other right or wrong, the least we can do is have some tolerance and let Allah decide what is right and what is not. And may He show us the right path and the righteous path.Recommend

  • http://www.ktc.com.pk Saj Ratra

    fully agreed wid u…nice article…Recommend

  • neutrino

    I utterly second mahjabeen on her thoughts. We may have weddings in this month, Fasting for a couple of days consecutively has also been deemed as a holy gesture to this Holy month of Muharram. There is nothing such as “taboo” in our religion.

    Moreover, I would like the mournings by Shi’ite to be done in a confined manner. They may not have to go public on streets and roads to block out the entire area. There is also a question of 2 holiday’s on muharram; i’ve not come across any other “sunni-majority” country that gives 2 holiday’s other then, of course, Pakistan. Recommend

  • Ali

    Mahjabeen, you have written in your last paragraph

    The bottom line is that Muharram and the day of Ashura should be important for all Muslims, whether they are Shia or Sunni.

    I’m sorry to say but I don’t see Sunnis doing enough to remember(let alone mourn) the Great Tragedy of Karbala.

    It is us Shia Muslims Alhamdulillah that make it happen everytime in its true essence and we shall continue to do so INSHALLAH, AameenRecommend

  • Fahad Raza

    @faraz:
    Don’t bother then. Recommend

  • Muhammad Akiff

    MASHA ALLAH sister very well written. Exactly first of all we should care about Quran and Sunnah every thing comes after that and every one is accountable for his/her own deeds. Recommend

  • Gullible Nomore

    Dear Author:
    You wrote “I feel that both Shias and Sunnis fight over the wrong reasons,”
    So what are the right reasons to fight with each other?Recommend

  • Rational

    I don’t think there’s any reason to make a holiday out of it. All of this is outside religion, why not remember the great battles fought by the Prophet(p.b.u.h) in that case? why just this particular event? I am sorry but this is not related to Islam as a religion it is part of the history that has been written after the revelation of the religion itself. We as Muslims have found more days in the calendar to show our hypocrisy, Muharram and Ramadan come around and everyone reverts to this temporary piousness the objective of the religion is not to make us good individuals temporarily but for us to follow the same acts for life.

    Having said this, yes I do understand the historical importance of the day but lets limit it to that. This aspect of grieving and this ‘connection’ that people seem to establish, why is it limited to just these calendar days? If the bond is that strong then in that case why do we not try to emulate their actions in the highest possible manner, by doing them ourselves by following in their footsteps and striving to be like that everyday! We are not going to be accountable for our actions just in these two holy months, we are accountable for our entire lives. Here is the part that most of us here will not be able to swallow, there is no connection left anymore. It has become an act of habit, not an act of true reflection. I don’ expect a positive response to my comment at all because most people will not even understand the issue I’m trying to highlight. Moharram mein music bhi nahin sunay gein aur doh maheenay club pohnchay hogein larkian dhoondnay, this is the bitter truth, the sooner we come out of denial the better of we are.Recommend

  • Muslim (Alhumdulillah)

    Well written article.

    @ Zahra, I have been living all my life in Pakistan and I do not see any place where Shia’s are forcefully prohibited from their ceremonies of the Ashura. Prophet Mohammad (SW) said that there is no mourning after three days. If Sunni’s want to stick to this, Shia’s should not have any problem with that.

    @ Mr. Balouch. Sure remembering heroes is great. No one is preventing anyone to remember the heros. If I am a Sunni, I rememeber Hussain (RA) my way. If I am Shia’s I remember him (RA) my way. Regarding having marriages, getting married is not a sign of disrespecting a mourning for certain loss. What is disrespecting is that we mourn every year in Muharram about the loss of Hussain (RA) and we celebrate 12th of Rabbi-ul-Awwal then the rest of the year we keep doing all those sins that we have been prohibited by the Prophet (SW) knowing that all the companions (including Hussain and Ali (RA)) would never do such a thing as well. This is what we call disrespecting!

    @ Mahjabeen (The Writer) – Thank you for writing this.Recommend

  • arsalan

    a very nicely constructed article indeed, exactly my thoughts on the month of Muharram and Ashura. very nicely explained author.Recommend

  • Mahjabeen

    @Zahra

    Please feel free to point out the research about this celebratory fast on Ashura. As far as my knowledge goes, the hadith is authentic [Reported by al-Bukhari, 1865] but I am more than willing to investigate if you can guide me to the research otherwise.

    My article is not meant to address why are shias targeted. Its a whole web of violence and hatred in Pakistan. You target them, they target you. Public rallies are always at a risk of sectarian, racial or otherwise plain terrorism. Religious congregations are an easy target for people who want unrest and animosity among sects. My point is that ashura is a day for remembrance for ALL Muslims and we do not need to be violent in doing so. I have as much respect for Husain RA and as much grief for what happened at Karbala as you do.And whenever I fast on Ashura, its not celebratory. If I was celebrating religiously, it would be on Eid. Recommend

  • mariam lari

    Respect to all believers and the sects the observe their belief in, I just wanted to add and ask that why is that the mourning period such as hitting oneself from knifes etc proves the point of mourning? The pain which Imam Hussain (R.A) and his companions went through is impossible to feel and measure, how can one feel the pain by hitting himself from knives, doest the pain and grief be felt inside one’s heart? It has only become a matter of showing their grief to the world. There is a systematic pattern and a particular way in which all the mourners are mourning as if the matam is choreographed in a certain way. I am not a sunni neither I am a shia, I am muslim who knows there was a sad day in the history of Islam in which the grandchild of our beloved Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) was brutally martyred, the belief is the same, the views are the same but why is it that people who do matam label themselves as being the only true lovers of the martyrs of karbala, cuz I heard from the top scholars that hurting urself is not accepted by Allah (swt) since we are His Almighty’s amanat (belonging) we are not suppose to play with it, what are we trying to prove by bleeding ourselves? I love and respect all of the martyrs equally and every muslim should do the same, I don’t think and do not regard shia sect as the only sect who has unlimited love for Imam Hussain (R.A) and his followers.

    P.S. Here I am just putting forward my point of view, I have no intention to insult anyone’s belief.Recommend

  • Ali J

    Agreed! well written sister…Recommend

  • Muslim

    IRONIC how we forgot the significance of the supreme sacrifice while non- muslims embraced it.
    .

    ~Mahatma Gandhi~
    “I learnd from Hussein how to achieve victory while being oppressed.”

    ~Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru~
    “Imam Hussain’s sacrifice is for all groups and communities, an example of the path of rightousness.”

    ~Edward Gibbon~
    “In a distant age and climate, the tragic scene of the death of Hosein will awaken the
    sympathy of the coldest reader.”

    ~Dr. Rajendra Prasad~
    “The sacrifice of Imam Hussain is not limited to one country, or nation, but it is the hereditary state of the brotherhood of all mankind.”

    ~Mrs. Sarojini Naidu~
    “I congratulate Muslims that from among them, Hussain, a great human being was born, who is reverted and honored totally by all communities

    .~Molana Mohammad Ali Johar~
    “Qatl-e-Hussain asl main marg-e-Yazid hai, Islam zindaa hota hai har Karbala ke baad”
    .
    There are many more from Charles Dickens to Thomas Carlyle, all have paid tribute to HUSSAIN!Recommend

  • Abbas Raza

    Hi
    Dear team ET what’s going on, do u want a sectarian tit for tat blog war now. The writer of this blog and the other one “Ashura is holiday for u not for me” both have come up with ill informed hearsay information. Even if they have valid hadiths to prove their points what difference will it make? what difference has it made during the past 1400 years or so?

    I am a Shia my self n I wont change the way I think or see things n same goes 4 my Sunni brothers n sisters no matter how authentic hadiths or for that matter verses of Quran are presented to prove our different point of views.It will make no difference to 95% of us.

    Although i can prove 2Mehjabeen Khan” wrong with hadiths and Quran, every single point of her but why should I? or for that matter why should anyone be bothered by what she thinks. So just leave it at that I will be going to IMAMBARGAH in a bit and I have many reasons for that and if Mehjabeen or any one would like to get married or do anything else they feel like on 10th of Muharram they r free 2 do so.

    Too much religion, too many books by Mullahs will make us confused and intolerant. BTW the way girls are getting pseudo religious now a days Pakistan should get ready for more violence in the name of ISLAM in coming years.
    K.I.S.SRecommend

  • Salim Khan

    Hello Everyone,

    I am a bit confused and want an answer from anyone who thinks can answer it.

    In Muslim Shahadat is one of the best things and even there are Hadiths that Muhammed(PBUH) evene made Dua that he needs Shahadat in way of Allah. So if Hazarat Hussain(R.A) got Shahadat which is one of the blessed thing from Allah. why we Mourn???Recommend

  • Tanzeel

    and yes Happy New Islamic Year to all of you.Recommend

  • just a reader

    I don’t understand what are you all fighting for. What happen in past? What is happening today? OR What will happen tomorrow? One thing which we all are still not understanding is “Religion is a personal belief respect my belief so i can respect yours”. We all are victim of ignorance to Islam. Islam is one religion there is no Sunni, Shia, Wahabi or any other sect in Islam. I challenge all of you who are involved in these arguments is “Your Islam is not different than mine”. It is just one religion. It is just interpenetration of different human beings how they define it and preach it. I can only Request and beg please read about our religion unbiased and open minded. You will get answers to many questions and disputes. Recommend

  • Fatima

    Highly immature blog ! kindly RESEARCH your hadith and ensure that what you are posting is genuine.Kindly give reference to who the narrator of the said hadith is.Recommend

  • Qadiani Scholar

    ET should gracefully pull both the shia sunni blogs from here to avoid heated sectarian debate. Recommend

  • Zain Najam

    Dear Author.

    Beginning with, first of all, why do we discuss religion so openly when none of us is well informed. You should go thorough your own piece of writing – there is no such clear evidence in the form of sayings or Quranic references of what you have said.
    Secondly, you wrote,
    ‘our prophet told us to fast and pray during Muharram; that’s reason enough for me.’
    Okay. for a minute lets suppose that this phrase is correct, right? So how does this help yo
    u to remember the incident of Karbala or the brutal martyrdom of the family of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w). ( also , you haven’t provided any evidence )
    Now, many sunni Muslims fast during this day, because Hazrat Musa and his people obtained a victory over the Egyptian Pharaoh on the 10th day of Muharram. On the other hand, Shia’s do not fast on this day, they abstain from taking food ( faka – the word in urdu)
    Here are a few sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) which inform us about the need to mourn over the death of his beloved grandson – Hazrat Imam Hussain (a.s),

    And now on the point of marriage, well, that is obviously your opinion but, for a second, think…
    Whenever there is some death or casualty in our families, it is very hard for us to forget that person. We cry, we mourn, yet we do not celebrate any events in the days which follow. Right?
    In this month – Muharram-ul-Haram, the whole family of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) was martyred ( His grandsons, their sons and daughters, Hazrat Fatima’s (s.a) family was brutally killed ) for the cause of Islam. I being a Muslim (shia or sunni) would never ever think about celebrating any such event especially in this month or the month which follows (Safar).
    .
    Lastly, I would only say that this division of sects in our religion has caused a lot of problems. and such panel discussions are of no use as not only do they cause fights but also they are impractical.
    I do not want to indulge into any fight.
    No hard feelings.

    Ya ALLAH.
    Ya Rasul (a.s)
    Ya Ali (a.s)
    Ya Hussain (a.s)
    Maula Panjtan Pak (a.s) hamari madad kar.

    .Recommend

  • Murshid Saien

    @ M Baloch, Very well said..!Recommend

  • sana

    Had you not written this blog I was thinking of writing it myself. Very well done.Recommend

  • http://djdurrani.blogspot.com Saad Durrani

    Treading on dangerous lines, yet very sensible.Recommend

  • Zahra

    @Mahjabeen:
    Could you provide a reference for: “Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) forbade me to mourn a death for more than three days.” I have never heard this. How could that be when the Prophet cried for Imam Hussain when he was born because he knew the tragedy that would come to the light of his eyes, his Hussain, who he loved with all his heart? “Hussaino minni wa ana minal Hussain.” Recommend

  • Maria Tahir

    well written article good job girl :)Recommend

  • Zahra

    In keeping with your premise that Ashura is a day for all of us, do not forget the message of Hussain. His sacrifice was for HUMANITY, not only for shias and not only for muslims. We remember him for rising against the oppressor and supporting the oppressed. Before you are so quick to not include yourself in those who commemorate and remember him, do not forget this: If Karbala had not happened and Islam had been left in the hands of rulers like Yazid…our beautiful religion would not have survived to be what it is today. If you cannot be thankful, please be respectful for the sacrifice of Hussain, the stand of Zainab that protected the hijab for all women, and all that aale Muhammad has done for us. Recommend

  • Johnny

    If a person or a group of people want to celebrate a historical event, they have all the right to do so as long as it is done peacefully and without any intimidation towards others and/or without disrupting the everyday flow of life for everyone.

    Most of Islam that is followed by people is based on cultural rituals of an age old era that has no divine connection whatsoever. Islam today is largely based on hadith books, and an effort is usually made to connect these events of man made origin to the Quran. There is no connection however between the two. Hadith scripture, as a whole, is doubtful and there are a lot of contradictions in it but since Pakistanis are more emotional than rational a people, they fail to see this difference.

    In my opinion, too much focus on religious rituals is bad for a society. We should celebrate life instead of death of people who only God knows died how.Recommend

  • http://www.insaf.pk Antebellum

    good read. spot on sister.Recommend

  • N. Z.

    Dear Sr. Mahjabeen,

    Assalaamulaykum.

    I appreciate you expressing your viewpoint and explaining why you see things in a certain way. However, your views or beliefs belong to the majority in a country that is ruled by the majority. Therefore, the “hands off” attitude is very easy to do – you don’t haveto face discrimination or risk getting killed like a minority does.

    You are lucky.

    You are part of the majority. The majority lacks empathy and so does your article. Symbolic violence leads to actual violence.

    We, the Shia, are not so lucky. We express our viewpoints and they are discounted.

    We express our mourning and grief for one of the MOST people that ever lived – and we are stereotyped, labeled and dehumanized.

    We are different than the mainstream Sunnis, we are blamed for creating “fitna” and cursed at.

    Good for you for expressing your views. I respect them, however bland and unsympathetic they may be. Try walking a mile in my shoes and then you maybe your ideas, feelings and beliefs may change.

    Walikum asalaam.Recommend

  • Sid

    “For me, following the Quran and Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) Sunnah is enough”. Totally agree with you , if you are refering to the famous hadith , but when the sahaba’s further inquired with the Prophet(PBUH). what is sunnah, the reply is Itrat Ahl-e-Bait(lifehood of Ahl-e-Bait)(in continuation with the hadith) . So if u r following that Sunnah, then go and study the life of Ahl-e-Bait, you will find that many things you wish to do in muharram didnt go as per sunnah. Thats why that particular hadith is never completely quoted, just to misguide the common public.Recommend

  • Insan

    @Zahra…
    i believe, if something isn’t proved by Quran and Sunnah.. it cannot be imposed to every person. Processions/mournings/rally’s/matam are all their personal act and we cannot impose it on everyone. Tell me what sin has been done by the shopkeepers in Sadar, Karachi who’s shops have been sealed by the govt. Do you really think our religion/sects allow us to stop any one like this by imposing them our ritual and that too isn’t proven by Quran/Hadith.

    @Mbaloch..
    Remembering about Heroes isn’t about mourning and processions… its about following their good deeds.

    @Author…
    very nicely written article. JazakAllahRecommend

  • Taimoor

    A very biased approach to the topic.
    Muharram only and only dates back to the sacrifice of Hussein, whom even non Muslims have revered. The sad thing is that he was killed by people who claimed to be Muslim and followers of Prophets Sunnah.

    Kya Tamasha huwa Islam ki taqdeer ke sath,
    Qatal e Shabbir huwa Nara e Takbeer ke sath.Recommend

  • Syed

    “Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) forbade me to mourn a death for more than three days, but he didn’t stop me from remembering and praying for someone I love.” When did the Prophet tell you that? Was it when he declared the 10th year of Prophethood as the YEAR (more than 3 days) of grief when his wife Khadija (A.S) and Uncle Abu Talib (A.S) passed away? Or did Hazrat Fatima (A.S) tell you not to mourn for more than 3 days when she didn’t smile due to the pain she felt after her father’s (S.A.W) death for 6 months (till she died)? My dear girl you are under the vague impression that the two sects accept each other’s hadith as an authority. Please do your research properly :) Recommend

  • Amar

    There is just one problem, whole city is blocked on day of Ashura.
    Whatever you do, Cry, Lash or Kill yourself, but just do it in comfort of your home, instead of blocking roads and causing deeeeep inconvenience to everyone (That’s where the Shias become headache for everyone and (objecting / becoming joke for others) on this base is fair enough)Recommend

  • fairhope

    We are facing a real social, cultural and religious delimma today.
    Good one Mahjabeen. This makes me think, we need to learn more about our religion ourselves rather than JUST relying on certain people.
    Your article has done a fair job on teaching something that most of us don’t know about. Recommend

  • Zulfiqar

    A very well written and balance article ……Recommend

  • Hussain

    A lot of Hadiths mentioned in it were the ones I recently read in the book given to the Hajj pilgrims in Saudi Arab. The writer would be well advised to dig deeper to validate her arguments instead of relying on the bias/hate-inspired/filled Saudi gifted books. Recommend

  • Dr.Kumail Hussain

    Actually all this talk of fasting and various other “significant events” on the day of ashura is totally false. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to insult anyone or any sect here but you have to no that all these hadiths were falsely made by the Ummayad and Abbasid caliphate dynasties so that they could take away the significance of the great sacrifice of Hazrat Imam Hussain(AS) and distance their family’s hand in this cruel act. After the great tragedy, when Bibi Zainab(SA) explained to the court in Damascus what actually went on in Karbala, alot of supporters of yazid(LA) began to question the actions of yazid and started to rebel. For this very reason yazid set free the women, children and Imam Sajjad(AS) of Karbala not because he felt pity but rather because he was embarrased and felt the power of government slipping away from his hands. However his power greedy family kept the reigns of power which history would call as the ummayads and later the abbaside dynasties. People Islam teaches us to be truthful, honest and just in our lives and its important for all of us muslims( both sunnis and shias) to realise the importance of this great sacrifice of Hazrat Imam Hussain(AS). We have to understand the political conditions of that time and judge for ourselves what is right on this day and what is wrong. May Allah unite us on this day AMEEN.Recommend

  • http://asadpiracha.blogspot.com Asad Ur Rehman

    Very well drafted and a balanced piece to promote religious harmony. Well I really believe that Islam is not an asset of a single sect or Bunch of people but instead for every Muslim. And I was surprised by the piece other day in which writer expressed her concerns regarding the month of Moharram. I guess no other event is given much respect than this. Have you seen any T.V channel in Ramadan Ul Mubarik to stop airing songs or movies but that happens only in Moharram so the other writer’s accusations were baseless.Recommend

  • e-samosa

    What a balanced and calm voice. Thanks for writing this on behalf of many readers who would like to remind the nation to just…calm down!

    This is Pakistan, which was created for the protection of minorities, remember? Whether you believe in One God, many gods or no god, you have equal rights as a citizen to practice your beliefs. There is nothing more unislamic or un-Pakistani, than inequality and injustice towards minorities.Recommend

  • sadiq nagri

    The blog carried a biased tone and didn’t offer refrences to the hadith quoted..Come on muslim brothers and sister, we shias are not commemorating the tragedy of an ordinary person, We are paying homage to the Imam Hussain (A.S), to the house hold of holy prophet (SAWW)..The event of karbala single handedly changed the course of history..It was not a usual event or tragedy which can be forgotten after a certain period. its the day we follow the hadith of Holy prophet (A.S): “Hussain is from me and I am from Hussain”.Unfortunaltely alot of muslims have still not understood the true worth of karbala or else the whole debate would have never ensued…
    “INSAN KO BEDAR TU HOLANAY DO
    HAR QOM PUKARAY GU HUMARAY HAIN HUSSAIN(a.s)”Recommend

  • Salman Hafeez

    Can all the Shia’s please explain this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftUHSHNOpR4

    According to this Aalim, “Pakistan Ghorey ka Sadqa hai”, “Quaid-e-Azam Zuljinah ki wajah sai Paida huwe”, No Comments.Recommend

  • Hamza

    Matters related to faith should not and cannot be proved with logic, rationality or even evidence. Hussain’s death was a tragedy and Shias mourn that in the open and in bazaars because they were persecuted in the past; even uttering the names of Ali and Hussain was punishable. For God sake, read your history before trying to ‘make sense’ out of something which you do not understand on its ‘face value’. We should respect, appreciate and accept what shias do to mourn Hussain. Shais should also learn to respect Sahabas as they also scarified their lives for Islam and Prophet (pbuh). Hating each other is not taking us anywhere. By hating and then discussing these, we preach prejudice amongst our children and then they start fearing and hating anything and everything that is different from their own belief system. And in general, both Sunnis and Shias are doing it. First, we hate, and then some start killing each other in the name of Islam. Then we very easily say that they are fundamentalists, misguided etc. We all are responsible for what Pakistan is today and don’t just blame Zia for today’s religiosity in the country as we all have been spreading prejudice against each other since generations. Zia just facilitated in getting this ‘childhood inculcated prejudice’ militarized. And then we have the balls to say that ‘they’ do not appreciate Islam as a religion of peace. Recommend

  • Lt Col Imtiaz Alam (retd)

    My only complaint is that we all remain Hostages in our own Houses & Cities on the 9th & 10th of Muharram.Freedom of Movement is absolutely restricted.Recommend

  • N. Z.

    @Salim Khan:
    We mourn that Muslims killed Imam Hussain (a.s.), the grandson of the Prophet. These Muslims professed the Shahada and “believed” in the Qur’an but killed the man that embodied Islam, the very principle they claimed to believe in. Read up on Muslim history from various sources. You will come to the same conclusion. Recommend

  • Mariam

    High time we Sunnis practice some taqiyya!

    My problem with this article:

    1) It tries too hard to rationalize belief.
    2) When someone starts a sentence with ‘Thus, in my opinion’ you are less inclined to take them seriously.
    3) It’s riddled with hypocricy and confusion. The writer tries to be ‘all live and let live’ but simultaneously takes jabs at Shia belief by implying that their mourning is not in line with Hadith (if you claim not to be scholar then please don’t make assumptions about other sects).
    4) It passes off a contested Hadith as fact (‘Prophet Mohammad told me not to mourn for more than three days’).
    5) It reflects the development of this Muharram counter-narrative, talking about the Moses incident (which is fine if it wasn’t done in a competitive way) and (many others talk about) the commemoration of the shahadat of Umar Farooq (why is that considered to be in a different league than the shahadat of an Imam).Recommend

  • Atif

    Well Written article but religion must not be discussed on forums. Every one has the right to practice his belief. Why we bother about what others do? Live and let live.Recommend

  • Ahmed Hasan

    what ever u want to do , do that , but dont block the entire road its a humble request kindly think on these lines the entire supply chain of commodites have came to a halt due to the closure of markets
    and nice blogRecommend

  • Mohammad Abbas

    @Rational:

    What were the differences of the battles fought by our Holy Prophet (PBUH) and Imam Hussain (AS)?

    For one, Our Prophet(PBUH) was fighting infidels…and by the grace of Allah, he survived each one of them. Whereas our Imam(AS) (urs too whether u like it or not) was forced to take up arms against his own ppl. And they killed him with utmost prejudice and brutality….!

    Keep in mind that the ppl fighting the Imam (AS) also prayed, fasted, believed in One Allah and his prophet. So why the fuss?!

    And we wonder why we cannot progress…we are doomed to fail unless we realize wat has been fed to the muslim ummah as ‘history’…Shame!Recommend

  • Ahsan

    I agree that it is someone’s right to mourn. But is it also their right to block roads??? And this does not happen just for a day or two… I know there are security issues. But isn’t it better to change some things, e.g., doing the majalis and celebrating eid-milad etc in parks or other closed areas which are relatively safer, instead of roaming all over the city? Same applies to political ones too…Recommend

  • Aasim Soomro

    A comprehensive note on the day…….Very well covered from all aspects; history, beliefs, etc.Recommend

  • ThinkRationally

    sister i love you!Recommend

  • Muhammed Usama Aziz

    There is absolutely no problem if some people want to mourn for 10 days instead of normal 3, but the problem starts when they associate this thing with Islam. In Islam mourning is of 3 days and any addition to this is a Bidah. Same goes for other beliefs prevalent in Muharram. We should not incorporate these things in Islam. Is is strictly depends upon individual whether he want to celebrate marriage during Muharram or not.Recommend

  • saladin101

    why no one mourns the deaths of shuhada like umar and usman? Islam is a progressive religion, we are told to look ahead rather than looking back and weeping over someone elses sins. Did the Prophet SAW mourn over the innumerable losses he dealt with (Parents, Grandfathers, companions, etc).

    On the other hand, if majalis are meant to remind people how Hussain RA and the sacrifices of Prophet SAW family were meant to safeguard the interests and right of justice of the coming generations of Muslims, I do not see any harm. Hopefully, these majalis encourage them to value the sacrifices given to help preserve the deen, although it doesn’t require any human assistance as Allah is enough.Recommend

  • DAMDAM

    So what exactly is your point? Is there some mad desire to prove that you are on the right path and those who stray from it are any lesser beings? The blog you tried to write a rebuttal wasnt trying to establish which sect is right in their historical narrative. It was just a woman asking that for her the month holds a different meaning than most of her friends and that they should be more sensitive rather than asking them not to marry or not to enjoy the holidays. True the article could have written in a more appropriate manner but that is not the point here. It is funny enough that you have quote religious stuff to somehow prove that those who differ from you are misguided fools. This is one of the reasons why Pakistan is one of the least tolerant places in the world. How about letting others live they way they want? As for those who think that there should be no processions, well why dont we go ahead and ban every thing that irks any one in Pakistan? Instead of the state providing the right to worship freely some geniuses have to nerve to ask the peaceful mourners to not to take part in their religious obligations. Remember what goes around come around. If you continue to condone extremism then it would come back to haunt you. They wouldnt stop killing until every thing fits into their narrow narrative. Sadly as a nation we are sliding towards that phase.Recommend

  • HINA

    such a brilliant analysis and balanced also..
    @MA ABBAS: if u r not bothered to any thing why did read this article..???Recommend

  • Junaid

    Dear Writer, the question is not whether we mourn it or not. The point is that no one should be allowed to create security problems for the mourners. Its their country also and they have every right to preach and pray. Whatever you write in your defense, you cant deny the presence of LJ and ASWJ groups who are out to kill anyone who disagrees with them. Your article addresses a wrong question and ignores the real issue of freedom and rights.Recommend

  • Junaid

    @ Amar
    The roads wouldn’t have been closed if you were a bit tolerant to them. Your emotions are being reflected from your little piece of writing.Recommend

  • Wowemkay

    There’s enough chaos and trouble interpreting our own book and the added (and generally questionable) ideas from the Hadith so we should really leave the poor Jews alone! No Jewish book or tradition asks them to fast on any day having to do with Moses liberation of the tribe from Big Bad Pharoah Monster. If we want to, we are welcome to but lets first try and bring some semblance of sanity and veracity to our own interpretations.Recommend

  • Sajid

    These issues haven’t been solved in 1400 years and ET bloggers expect to solve them by writing two blogs?
    Seriously Et show some responsibility, Ashura is a sensitive day just leave each sect to it. Lets not have a sectarian war on the ET website/Recommend

  • Bushra faiz

    It’s a sorry state…I think it was peace treaty….mahjabeen well done at least you made sense! Nowhere in religion we find ,we should beat ourselves up ! Come out in public processions if someone dies! Even if it’s my father or son n …bibi Fatima did not do that when prophet died , prophet (pb uh) did not do it when his uncle was martyred instead he observed sabr to be an example n later even forgave his murderer ….I love my religion ! I love the prophet n all 4 khalifas n umma hat Ul momineen n Jannah ki sardar fatimah n her sons …they were far ahead in piety n virtue than me…I wish to be with them in Jannah ! All of them! N yes I m. Fasting today because prophet (pbuh) did that ! But sadly today becomes a day when I am waiting for a bad news to come n I pray I don’t have an emergency that I have to be out on the road .Recommend

  • alicia

    @the Author
    I as a sunni find this blog to be very bigotted. I just can’t understand the theme behind your post. You are trying to propogate live and let live but you constantly take jibes at shia belief. You are right that everybody is answerable for their own beliefs and will be questioned by God for their own deeds but you could’ve said that without constantly telling shias why they are wrong to mourn and you are right to not mourn.Recommend

  • masood ahmed

    Shias are trying to defame Islam, as their forefathers from Kuffa, Iraq did. But Islam is the only Deen that has been sent by Allah S.W.T and no one can harm Islam. They mourne over Hazrat Hussain R.A’s shahadat which is forbidden in Islam. Infact they themselves are responsible for Hazrat Hussain R.A’s shahadat. Shaheed never dies, and shahadat is something to be proud of, its not something to be felt pitty for. Hazrat Hussain R.A was a brave soldier of Islam like his father The conqueror of Khyber Fort Hazrat Ali R.A. So we must be proud of his extravagant deeds. And should not feel pitty for them.Recommend

  • user

    @Zahra: mourning period in Islam is for three days only since the time of death, after that life goes on.

    You do remember the person and pray for them, that is natural and part of life. But to go back and relive the moment and severely mourn every single year and disrupt life, and for so many days.. just does not make sense.
    It contradicts with the teachings of the Islamic faith and its practicality.

    If people followed Islam correctly -the way it should be-, they would realize that it is a very easy and practical religion to follow, with most of its beliefs based on logic and common sense. People today have seriously messed up that notion. Recommend

  • Azhar

    A very well written article sister, i dont see a point of such a massive exchange of words in the blog Recommend

  • Khurram Mansoor

    Very Well written article.Recommend

  • Parvez

    For someone not well versed on this subject I thought your line of reasoning was mature and balanced. On reading blogs and comments on religion, what I realise is that the problem arises ‘ in the detail ‘ as every school of thought has his or her understanding of things and neither has the competence or wisdom to accommodate the other. Recommend

  • http://shahidrizvi.wordpress.com Shahid Rizvi

    @Abbas Raza….brother I am totaly agree with you…Recommend

  • M Baloch

    @Muslim (Alhumdulillah):
    Muslim bhai, Alhamdillillah you can make a link between fire and water by saying If water is in the river, why people are dying due to thirst in Thar? If people commemorate Ashura and celebrate 12th Rabi ul Awal, what is their link that they permit to commit sins on other days of the year. Should I ask you If people pray five times a day, why they commit sins on other timings of the day?
    Mourning, remembering and paying homage to our heroes should be in line to their sacrifices and services, of course Einstein can’t be remembered with same intensity of prophet Muhammad PUH. One gave excellent discoveries to humanity other gave exemplary constitution of life and death to humanity, so how can Imam Hussain be commemorated in same way of my died father? And If you people are so bothered about work and holidays, let’s start with other days and ask yourself how much you people crave for working in these days?

    @Author: Sister, it seems that you got temptation to write reply any how otherwise neither you know about Hadiths(try to search about Awais Qarni, Hazrat Hamza in Sunni books), search Quran what it says about Hazrat Yaqoob’s mourning for Hazrat Yousif? Education with biases is like a thief who steals precious things in the light of education..!Recommend

  • Sarah

    Extremely lame article. The word ‘lame’ is under-rated. It’s only a good article if it’s titled ‘Mahjabeen Khan commemorates Ashura her way’ .. it doesn’t speak for all. Not the shias, not the sunnis. Recommend

  • Sukaina

    @Mahjabeen: You state in your article that if something is not highlighted in Quran or Sunnah then it is not life or death. How do you explain Tarawih? There are many scholars that maintain Tarawih is not a Sunnah but is the preponed Tahajjud prayer shifted to post-Isha for the ease of believers. There is no credible evidence that Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) practiced these prayers. In fact, it was the second Caliph who brought this practice into congregation after Isha prayers. So here you have a widespread practice of Tarawih prayers in Ramadan which has no credible basis in Sunnah but everyone is happy to go along with it. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with praying other than wajib salat and so this is a good practice. But please do not try to imply that everything Sunnis do is from Quran or Sunnah.

    Another point: This whole concept of fasting on Ashura being a Sunnah is flawed. First of all, the hadith that you are talking about is relayed in al-Bukhari and is said to have taken place at the time when Prophet Mohammed migrated to Medina but if you bother to read the chain of who narrated this hadith you’ll find that one companion was 4 years old at the time of hijra, another two were not in Medina until 7th year of Hijra, the fourth converted to Islam after 8th year of hijra so there is much question over the authenticity. Secondly, if this fast was from Jewish traditions then definitely if you ask a jewish scholar or priest they would tell you that there is a fast in their history/traditions/practices for when Prophet Moses and his companions were saved from the drowning sea?? But no, there is not. They fast for Yom Kippur, the day of atonement which is completely different.

    I could go on, but the point is that such a propaganda message (that fasting on Day of Ashura is from Jewish traditions and Prophet Mohammed’s Sunnah) takes away from the powerful message that Imam Hussain, his family and his companions left behind for us: i.e. to fight against oppression and injustice, even from those who claim to be Muslims, and to protect Islam against those who try to distort it.Recommend

  • S.F

    @Amar
    Whatever you do, Cry, Lash or Kill yourself, but just do it in comfort of your home, instead of blocking roads and causing deeeeep inconvenience to everyone (That’s where the Shias become headache for everyone and (objecting / becoming joke for others) on this base is fair enough)

    The Sunnis have started taking out julooses on 11th and 12 of Rabiul awwal again causing the city to be blocked and becomming a headache for us. We don’t shout when the roads are closed then for your milads, rallies, protests and what nots. Remember the two sects don’t agree on certain dates either.. Recommend

  • Hira Salam

    Well-written Mahjabeen.

    Haters gonna hate. :)Recommend

  • Rizvi

    @Salim Khan:
    The way he was martyred along with his Family and companions was brutal, specially given the circumstances. And just 50 years after the Holy prophet passed away. The whole muslim ummah had forgot who Imam Hussain was, except 72 people. Recommend

  • Ijlal

    When we live in a society, it is not always a valid justification that I can live the way I want. Accepted that Allah will decide about your deeds but sometimes when you see something not suitable from others eyes you should better refrain from it rather than jumping into westernized individualistic thinking. At least you admit the importance of this month and you should better know that this month is signified by sorrow after the Karbala incident has taken place in history. So doing weddings in a mournful month does not look suitable at least living in a society. you might wont care but you should think about your next door neighbors who could be performing mourning. Sorry to say but these very acts offend others to the extent that it widens the gap of brotherhood and cohesion Recommend

  • SA

    @Sukaina:
    Spot on :)Recommend

  • M. Kamran Khan

    Miss Mahjabeen Khan, i read your blog, its very good and balanced blog and a voice of all muslim nation. We people don’t believe on any sect. We are following Quran and Sunnah. Infact you said right in this blog and its great message(in your blog) for this blog “Muharram is your holiday, not mine” which posted by Miss Sidra Rizvi, December 02.In which she tried to make differences between the people having different views about their religion.Recommend

  • Asad

    Great article by Mahajabeen. Thank you indeed for writing this I agree with each and every part of the articles. If ALL muslims followed only the Quran and Sunnah of Prophet (saw) there would be no sects at all.Recommend

  • S.A

    Keh do Gham-e-Hussain manany walon ko,
    Momin kabhi shohada ka matam nahi kertay,
    Hai Ishq apni jaan se ziada Aal-e-Rasool se,
    Yun sar-e-aam hum unka tamasha nahi kertay,
    Rooain woh jo munkir hain Shahadat-e-Hussain k,
    Hum zinda-o-Javaid ka matam nahi kerte…
    ‘Allama Iqbal’
    salute u imam hussain..shame on those who indulge themselve in matam ..running on fire.. beating themselves with chains and even shooting themselves and didnt get time to offer namaz for which our imam hussain and his family brutally sacrificed at karbala..May ALLAH quide us on right path..please ppl agree on common things between us instead of fighting on differences and lets not indulge in these extreme act!!Recommend

  • Mustafa Moiz

    Maybe, but it certainly should not be common for all Muslims to curse the companions of the Prophet (SAW) or to send curses on Yazid.Recommend

  • Syed Zuhayb Shah

    A Post by a really desperate lady who know nothing about the importance of Muharram In Muslim Ummah, the thing is that everyone who get some knowledge starts feeling like a preacher. In your blog you clearly stated that you ain’t a scholor. and hence you are not a scholor you are not worthy to tell whats right & wrong. you are right its between you and your Allah just like all the stuff you do in your daily life. But dont try to impose your opinions. First get on some position to discuss whats right & wrong.Recommend

  • Rational

    @ Mohammad Abbas

    You have completely missed the point. Anything and everything that has happened after, (let me emphasize this) AFTER the life of the Prophet happened without any divine intervention, that is the Muslim belief correct? Therefore like it or not, none of that is any longer a part of OUR (yours as well because we believe in the same religion) belief. My point is that we commit so many more sins, there are so many more things wrong with our ummah across the globe, we are the most backward of all races (broken by religion) and it is all because of how neglectful we are of our true purpose. There are people who die in our hospitals everyday and need blood to be donated, but we won’t donate we will give ours away to celebrate a moment of sorrow and let it be washed away. We have millions dying of hunger and malnutrition and we won’t feed them but we will spend money to organize a juloos. There are ways of remembering things Mr. Abbas, don’t twist my words this time because I never said that I don’t understand the significance of the sacrifice or not accept the grandson of our Prophet but it is all important in a historical context and it should end right there. The way we carry out what we do is completely wrong and don’t come back at me with remarks of anti shia or extremist sunni or wahabi or whatever you want, I struggle each day to be Muslim and that’s all it is for me. We have a million things wrong with ourselves that need our attention first and foremost. Recommend

  • Aamir Fazil

    Wish a majority of Pakistan , may think like this , 90 % of our problems will solve instantly !!Recommend

  • x

    muslims celebrate their martyrs, not mourn them. we remember them but i dont think it is necessary to put on a show and beat yourself up, in fact such activities are disapproved of in islam. we should remember husain (RA), his greatness and his sacrifices and honour and remember him to pass on the message to our children and preserve his memory for future generations by passing on the knowledge to them. mindless hysterics and self violence do not serve any purpose except tarnish the memory of the great husain who showed us courage, fortitude and patience. Recommend

  • Anon

    best hai boi!Recommend