January 19 2008

In early Islamic history the Shia were a political faction (the Alids or party of Ali) that supported Ali, son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad and the fourth Caliph, and his successors.

For Shia Muslims Ashura, “tenth”, on the tenth day of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic lunar calendar, commemorates the martyrdom of Ali’s son Hussein, a grandson of Muhammad, near Karbala in Iraq, in AD 680.

Muhammad himself had not left any sons and had not designated any successor. His cousin and son-in-law Ali claimed that he was the lawful successor because he and his wife, Muhammad’s daughter Fatimah [by Muhammad’s first, and during her lifetime only, wife Khadijah], were Muhammad’s next of kin. If Ali had succeeded in making his claim good, the Islamic Caliphate would have become the perquisite of Muhammad’s family, as the headship of the Jewish Christian community became a family affair when, after Jesus’s death, it was taken over by Jesus’s brother James, not by Jesus’s senior apostle Peter. However, the management of the Arab Muslim state was taken over, after Muhammad’s death [in 632], by an informal steering committee; in electing Muhammad’s political successors, this committee disappointed Ali three times by passing him over; when, at the third vacancy [in 656], Ali did obtain the appointment, he proved to be politically incompetent; and, after the assassination of Ali in 661, Muhammad’s political heritage was captured by Mu’awiyah I [ruled 661-680], the son of one of Muhammad’s most bitter and implacable Qurayshite opponents.

This is the origin of the Shia-Sunni division.

Mu’awiyah I’s mother was Hind, who, like Muhammad’s first wife (previously his employer), Khadijah, was a Meccan businesswoman. Hind and her son Mu’awiyah were not Muhammad’s kinsfolk, unless all Qurayshites were to be reckoned as being akin to each other. Mu’awiyah I was the most able Qurayshite of his generation. Ali was no match for him politically and Ali [in 661] and his son Hussein, Muhammad’s grandson [in 680], met with tragic deaths by violence.

Mu’awiyah I was succeeded as Caliph [680] by his son Yazid, but Ali’s son Hussein refused to accept his legitimacy, and the two fought. Hussein and his followers were massacred in battle near Karbala. Hussein was a victim of Yazid, not of Mu’awiyah.

Mu’awiyah founded a dynasty which reigned from 661 to 750 at Damascus and from 756 to 1031 in Spain. But this [Sunni] Umayyad dynasty never succeeded in winning uncontested recognition of its legitimacy.

Thus, in the political structure of the Islamic state, a breach opened immediately after Muhammad’s death, and this breach was never closed.

The replacement of the Damascus-based Umayyad Caliphate in most of its territories in 750 by the Baghdad-based Abbasid Caliphate was the replacement of an ascendancy of Arab Muslim conquerors by a broader ascendancy of Muslims of any nationality, but it was not a Shia revolution.

The greatest enthusiasts for the anti-Umayyad revolution of 747-50 were devotees of Ali and of his heirs, but […] the Alids were frustrated, as Ali himself had been during his short and unhappy tenure of the Caliphate (656-61). Abu’l-Abbas “the Butcher”, who, at Kufah in 749, succeeded in securing acceptance as Caliph in place of the last Syrian Umayyad Caliph Marwan II, was, unlike the Umayyads, a member of the family of Ali and of Ali’s cousin the Prophet Muhammad, but Abu’l-Abbas was not a descendant of Ali himself and of his wife, Fatimah; he was a descendant of Ali’s and Muhammad’s [paternal] uncle Abbas […].

Ali’s and Hussein’s deaths have given Shiite Muslims a sense of having been betrayed.

In some Shia Islam, Ashura is made up of mourning rituals and passion plays re-enacting the martyrdom of Hussein. Men and women parade through the streets, slapping their chests and chanting. A few Shia men emulate Hussein’s suffering by flagellating themselves with chains or cutting their foreheads.

The Shia today make up about 15% of the world’s Muslim population. They are a majority of the Muslim populations of Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq and Lebanon. The only Arab country in which they are dominant politically is Iraq, since 2003. The largest Shia minorities, relative to the total Muslim population, are in Kuwait and Yemen.

There are four holy cities of Shia Islam in Iraq: Karbala, Kufa, Samarra and Najaf. Baghdad itself is not predominantly Shiite.

For non-Shia Muslims, Ashura commemorates the day Noah left the Ark and the day that Moses was saved from the Egyptians by God.

How Shia Islam is presented by some Sunnis: revealingly biased comparison chart of differences between Sunni and Shia in matters of faith and doctrine.


Ashura, Karbala, 2003

Mankind and Mother Earth, OUP, 1976, posthumous

27 Responses to “Ashura”

  1. mohammed Says:

    i think shias r wrong even if they feel the feeling of hussain it is not going to do them any good


    • ali Says:

      When you don’t know what does shia stands for Don’t say such stupid and nonsense thinks, and kindly don’t waste your time to think about this first give some improvement to ur knowledge and then try to speak out..

      • nasri Says:

        Quran says destruction by any means is wrong, surah al baqarah (2:195) says: make not your own hands contribute to your destruction” what shia do is innovations and misguidance, never on the time of prophet (saw) nor time of caliphates taught about this one, this makes no sense hussien killed and he die and finish, everyone will die, quran says: kullu nafsin zaikatul mawt” every soul will taste death, hussien killed and die because it was his destiny, why they should do this? on what sense they are doing this, who is the greatest the prophet (saw), or hussien? even the prophet died..

  2. jaafar Says:

    shia is the real islam,
    today there are wahabi goverments most of islamic countries
    that are cheating people such as saudi arabia, they use oil money to make beautiful cities, but why they dont help palestinian arabs that are of the same race and also sunni
    i think about two hundred years ago england found a man who was a teacher named Abdul Wahab ibn Teimiah, payed him or
    forced him any way, to cheat people. so Salafi are not muslim
    england made them

  3. […] There are over a million Iraqi refugees in Syria, many of them Shiite. The banner in this street of Shiites in the Old City quotes the Quran (roughly, God protects you and purifies your soul). The black commemorates the martyrdom of Husayn bin Ali. […]

  4. Ashura Says:

    […] Ashura: – 1/19/2008 […]

  5. mohammad Says:

    we don’t do this work in our moaning parties . Imam HUSEIN was a big man and murdered in Karbala near IRAQ . he was a brave man and god love him . these mans are Lowbrow and Ignorant . They are shame of Islam . so shameful

  6. shima Says:

    this photoes belong to a very little numbers of Shi’s that act against the majorities Fatva(order) of grate Islamic scholars(al-olama) that count it as forbiden(Haram).This is a pure propaganda against Shi’a.

    • ali Says:

      Dear Shima there is no fault of you because you don’t have the knowledge for knowing what the fact is? ( SHia) people is the one and only,, and keep your nonsense for your self it may gives u some other needed Don’t dare to talk about the photos .. better to make sure your self then post your comment.

  7. shima Says:

    hello dear freinds

    IF YOU SEARCH IN GOOGLE “ASHURA” WORD YOU WILL SEE PHOTOS OF PEOPLE WITH BLOODY FACES. ofcoure these photos do not tell us truth obout islam.these people are from small group of muslims that do not know real islam.muslims are not allowed to hurt themselves or anybody by enything even by eating harmfull foods because body is a Gift from God.ashura is a day for muslims to think about Human values and Commemoration.

    • humanity Says:

      you are right muslim never hert himself … real muslim always hearts other like terrerist. ok is this islam?

  8. chabok Says:

    this is NOT Ashora

  9. Excuse me for my honesty; this is one of the most biased pieces I’ve read since a while.
    The comparison chart you have linked to is also full of erroneous “facts”.
    The whole writing style depicts its biased source.

    I am not offended by any of this, since the internet is a free and open world for anyone wanting to express him/herself.
    Still, it saddens me that so many incorrect, untrue and plain lazy people exist who believe everything they read or hear, without being able to form a personal opinion from first-hand experiences.

    I just hope, as a human, that people will realize that they lack the skill to perceive objectively and can restrain themselves from sowing so much impurity.

    • davidderrick Says:

      Thank you. If there are mistakes in the post, you should say what they are. I think you are mainly referring to the comparison chart. I know that is extremely biased and said so. Perhaps I shouldn’t have linked to it, but I thought it was interesting to see how a biased Muslim sees the differences.

  10. sia Says:

    I am a muslim too. I beleive that making worse griefs on ashura dosen’t make any sense. Islam is a religion of peace and humanity. And because of these cruel people who make ashura by cutting themselves and small children, our religion is being a “bad” example for everyone.

    • humanity Says:

      and the peaople woho are killing others without any mercy are they muslim u never take any fatwah for them

  11. I love you ALLAHA.

  12. Servant Says:

    Ashura? Look up “Asherah”. Then look up “Baal-berith”. Then the bloody photograph. You will learn much of Islam.

  13. Ghassan Says:

    I am Shia and i have to say that all of the things u mentioned is not true. And from the Editors note I could see that you are an extremist with a closed mind. about the people who hit they’re heads with swords, most of the Shia consider that haram, because islam forbids people to hurt ourselves, and I feel ashamed as a Shia when I see people doing this. plus Hussein and his prophet (PBUH) would have not Wanted us to hurt ourselves! allah has forbidded it
    And you say that shias think that Quraans authenticity is doubtful ? Where are u getting this stuff from ?? The back of a cereal box? We do not think that. We 100 % believe in the Quraans authenticity! Get your info right Brother.
    Shia take Ali as a god ? What are you sick! Ur obviously here just to Sabotage the way shia look. We consider him as a great Imam, And certainly not god! astagfirullah
    and FYI, We believe that god is one! And when we yell O Ali or O hussein we dont look at it from the way that theyre Gods! And we certainly do NOT sacrifice beasts in names other than god. Again : GET YOUR INFO RIGHT!
    “They claim that knowledge of the unseen belongs solely to their Imams, and it is not for the Prophet to inform us about the unseen.” THAT IS WRONG! WE SAY THAT MOHAMMED (PBUH) IS THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN KNOWS THE UNSEEN AND NOT THE IMAMS!
    you are obviously here to make FITNAH between muslims.
    U said shia should not be considered as islam?
    Actually we consider all muslims shias or sunnis our brother. but I PERSONALLY DO NOT CONSIDER YOU AS A MUSLIM because you are lying to everyone! Dont you know that liars go to jahanam ? and for your information! Al fitnahto ashad min al 8atl! And ur making fitnah using false information between muslims.
    Allah Yihdeek to the correct and right path, of open mindedness and a5la8.

    • davidderrick Says:

      What makes you think those comparisons were written by me? You should read more carefully.

      Thank you anyway for the comment.

    • Saif Says:

      Mr. Ghassan, you said in your comment that Shia’s believed that Mohammad and Hussien especially Allah forbid to hurt people and in oneself..My query is, Do you consider that bloody activity of Shia’s during Ashura is not hurting yourself???? Really glad to hear from you..

  14. Saif Says:

    Hi..just curious and hope to gain some knowledge..Did Hussien teach the Shia’s to make this bloody activities during day of Ashura??? and also do Shia’s believe that Mohammad is the last prophet and the Qura’n was completed after the death of the last messenger???

  15. Zyrah Rizvi Says:

    whatever the shias do , they do it to show their love for Hussain a.s …people are capable of doing anything for someone they love..they can go to any lenhth to prove it and this is just the same.. they are telling Hussain a.s that if they were there in kerbala with him they would have sacrificed themselves and show their devotion and loyalty…the shias do not go on killing the other people so these other people instead of acknowledging their strength , accuse them wrongly… just look what the shias did in Pakistan when there were blasts in Quetta and Karachi..they just protested peacefully to get the public’s attention.. They’re not savage or vicious people as you depict… they are peaceful… we all are peaceful..Try to understand…If you love someone with your life..he’ll become your lifelin and ALI as. and HUSSAIN a.s are our lifelines!!!

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