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Commemorating the Tragedy of Ashura Is an Islamic Ritual

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The mourning for Abu Abdullah al-Hussain (peace be upon him) on Ashura should not be considered just a Shiite ritual. Rather, when the discussion regarding such rituals of pure Shiite traditions occurs, we must raise awareness and draw the thoughts of all Muslims to the excellent values of mourning for the martyrs and the Master of Martyrs, Imam al-Hussain (peace be upon him).

In truth, the enemy of Imam al-Hussain (peace be upon him) exercised hostility towards the Sunnis more than the Shiites. Yazid killed more Sunnis than Shiites, and Aba Abdullah al-Hussain (peace be upon him) did not fight the battle of Karbala and Ashura as a Shiite epic.

If what we mean by the Shiites are those who believe in the khilafah of Ali bin Abi Talib (peace be upon him) and see him as the immediate successor of the Messenger of God (may God bless him and his family), then such people were very few at that time. Many of them were martyred in the incident of Karbala. So, the question that comes to mind is, why did Yazid attack Medina? Why did he commit one of the worst crimes in the history of Islam in the al-Harra attack?!

Did Yazid kill the Shias or Sunnis in the al-Harra Massacre?

In the battle of al-Harra, Yazid’s troops killed a great number of people in Medina from the Sunni population, that is, those who did not support Imam al-Hussain (peace be upon him). Moreover, Yazid’s men violated the wealth, lives, and honor of the people of Medina for three days, similar to what the takfiris practice today.

For this reason, if we see al-Hussain (peace be upon him) revolting against Yazid, it is because Yazid’s reality is what he expressed in his well-known poetry: “Hashem played with the rulership, so there was no news and no revelation that came down” in addition to the atrocities he committed after that. Which Sunni would accept such words from Yazid and consider him a Muslim in light of this?!

Therefore, it is clear that the issue of Karbala and Ashura was not a Shiite/Sunni matter. Because although Yazid was an enemy of al-Hussain (peace be upon him), he committed more crimes against the Sunnis than the Shiites. And if Yazid’s guards, through intermediaries, had killed al-Hussain (peace be upon him) in Karbala, then his immediate guards in Medina committed greater of acts of brutality.

Ashura as the Centerpiece of Union between Shiites and Sunnis:

The other point is that on Ashura, Imam al-Hussain (peace be upon him) sacrificed himself so that the original and uncontaminated Islam would remain. Meanwhile, among the companions of Imam al-Hussain (peace be upon him) were those who were not Shiite, as well as some of his companions such as “Wahab,” who was not even a Muslim but aided the Imam and became Muslim on that path. Furthermore, some of the companions of Imam al-Hussain (peace be upon him), such as Zuhair or al-Hurr, regardless of their faith in the last hours of their life and at the time of martyrdom, were not Shiites in the sense that we mean today. They did not believe in the immediate khilafah of the Commander of the Faithful (peace be upon him). The conclusion that we can draw from these premises is that the event of Ashura was not a matter exclusive to Shiite issues and was driven by the most shared and pivotal aspect of both Shiite and Sunni schools of thought.

A Well-known Ritual Among Many Sunnis:

It was the hands of the Zionists’ arrogance that came looking for weaknesses in the Islamic nation through which ideological and philosophical currents that kill the mourners of al-Hussain (peace be upon him) came to rise. Otherwise, to this day, mourning for al-Hussain (peace be upon him) is still a customary ritual in many Sunni circles. Thus, reflecting the celebrations of the Sunni people of Kurdistan on the occasion of the birth of the greatest Prophet (may God bless him and his family), then not broadcasting their Hussaini gatherings on the Day of Ashura is not of good taste.

In the circumstances in which we live, we must look at the mourning gatherings of Imam al-Hussain (peace be upon him) and his slogans with very high accuracy. There are almost no words from Imam al-Hussein (peace be upon him) in his movement where he refers to the facts and beliefs of the Shiites. Imam al-Hussain (peace be upon him) repeatedly appealed to the people in Karbala by saying, “Am I not the son of the daughter of your Prophet?” and he did not once say, “Am I not your third Imam?” His eminence did not even once make any references to the event of Ghadeer.

From this, it becomes clear that Ashura was an Islamic epic, not a purely Shiite one. Likewise, today, when we talk about this epic with the righteous and just people of the world, including our Sunni brothers, we will find their acceptance and interaction with it.

Victory for Those Who Did Not Believe in His Imamate and Infallibility

Let’s look at the camp of the enemies of Imam al-Hussain (peace be upon him) in Karbala. Some of these people were fighting in the army of the Commander of the Faithful (peace be upon him) yet ended up fighting against his son. The boundaries between truth and falsehood in Karbala were very special and distinct. The real doctrines, the principal vices, and the virtues were what separated the two fronts.

However, Abu Abdullah al-Hussain (peace be upon him) sought victory for all the people, even those who did not believe in his Imamate and infallibility and did not acknowledge his status and esteem. Some of them answered his call, and some did not. For example, “Ubaidullah bin al-Hurr al-Ju’fi” was one of those who did not respond to the call of Imam al-Hussain (peace be upon him) and regretted it afterward and continued to cry until the end of his life.

Another example of the glory the Imam brought for those who did not believe in him is the books reporting the martyrdom of Imam al-Hussain (peace be upon him), which Sunni scholars wrote. Interestingly, some of these books even contain narrations that we do not accept and consider as forged by those who wanted to be affiliated with Imam al-Hussain (peace be upon him) and attributed to him. This further proves our argument since the atmosphere throughout history has been in a way that people across the sects attempted to be affiliated with the Imam through whatever means possible.


So, what is our duty and assignment today towards the mourning gatherings of Imam al-Hussain (peace be upon him)? We must convey the voice of Imam al-Hussain (peace be upon him) to the ears of all the people of the world. It is not correct to consider the Majalis ceremony a Shiite ceremony only.

The intellectual youth should be encouraged to devote themselves to the mourning ceremonies of Imam al-Hussain and activities which further bring the hearts of the people closer to him.

Wherever we find any of these gatherings and rituals, we must strive to support them and raise their banners, for perhaps its reward is greater than our presence in the gatherings of Shiites who do not differ with you in opinion or belief.

More importantly, weeping for the martyrs is one of the Sunnah and traditions of the Messenger of God (peace and blessings of God be upon him and his family):

Regardless of the historical facts, when we return to the theoretical foundations of mourning, we find it in the Sunnah of the Messenger of God (may God bless him and his family). His eminence wept over the martyrs, just as he wept over Hamza, the first Master of Martyrs. It has been narrated in one of the Sunni sources that:

When the Prophet saw Hamzah’s dead body, he wept, and when he saw what was mutilated, he gasped.

Another narration states:

We did not see the Messenger of God weep more severely than his weeping over Hamzah.

Additionally, it has been stated that”

He placed Hamza towards the qibla and wept till he was about to pass out.”[1] Therefore, as the followers of the teachings and traditions of the Noble Prophet, we are obligated to mourn the martyrdom of his beloved grandson. Not only that, but to commemorate the tragedy of Karbala as the archetype of the battle between truth and falsehood, regardless of our denomination and even religion, and celebrate it as the most cherished and common value among all of humanity.

[1] Dhakha’ir al-‘Iqabah, p. 181.

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