The first day of Muharram, a sacred month for all Muslims, marks the beginning of Islamic New year. Ashura, or the tenth day of Muharram, is a period of mourning when the Shia Muslim community commemorates the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, the son of Hazrat Ali and the grandson of Prophet Muhammad.
Shia Muslims make up 15-20% of Pakistan's population; the rest of the population is Sunni. Sectarian violence against Shias and Shia Hazara communities are common. Despite this, each year people come out in their numbers to observe Muharram, amidst tight security.
This year, over 70,000 police officers were deployed in various parts of Pakistan, and mobile phone services were partially blocked.
Peaceful completion of Ashura in Pakistan. No untoward incident reported across the country. Good job law enforcement agencies. Mashallah
— Inamullah Khattak (@Khan_Inam1) September 11, 2019
The history of Muharram
Ashura marks the day 14 centuries ago when the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, Imam Hussain, and his young son were killed by the second Umayyad caliph Yazid I in the Battle of Karbala. The Mourning of Muharram is a set of rites observed mainly by Shia Muslims, and Ashura is a major holiday in several countries in the Muslim world.
The month of Muharram is extremely holy for all Muslims, and particularly mournful one for Shia Muslims, who, in commemorating the death of Imam Hussein and his family, refrain from partcipating in joyous events. Rituals include the wearing of black clothing, observing abstinence, fasting, public self-flagellation with chains, cutting the skin with knives and sharp objects, and holding mournful public processions.
This day of Ashura not only reminds us of the sacrifices of Imam Hussain RA but is a lesson to fight and never give up for a just cause. This day is a remembrance of sacrificing everything for righteousness and truth in the face of extremism adversity #Ashura pic.twitter.com/WQkH89RCqf
— Women's Parliamentary Caucus Pakistan (@wpc_pak) September 10, 2019
The photos in this post showcase the people, places and rituals of Muharram as captured by the author in Faisalabad, Pakistan.