Hezbollah calls for substitution of self-mutilation with blood donation on Ashura
The resistance movement has called local NGOs and hospitals to encourage Muharram mourners to donate their blood instead of performing self-mutilation as a gesture of commemorating the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein (AS) and his companions in the Battle of Karbala, Taqrib News Agency (TNA) has quoted Middle East Eye as reporting.
For the believers, this is a very emotional moment with some cry while others reenact the martyrdom by hitting themselves on the head with swords until they bleed.
This tradition, according to 26-year-old Ali Awad, is the way of some mourners trying to feel the pain of Shia Imam while the gesture is widely disapproved by the Shia community and many hostile media projecting that as an instant of violence in Islam.
With no central blood bank, hospitals in Lebanon have to rely on donations. Ashura sees more blood donated than at any other time of year.
In 1994, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Seyyed Ali Khamenei issued a decree against self-mutilation, describing the practice as “against religion” though it continues in some parts of Iraq, Bahrain and Turkey.
In Lebanon as well, Hezbollah leader Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah has spoken against the tradition on several ocasions.
For Ashura, Hezbollah encourages its supporters to give their blood for a good cause rather than spill it.
“I want to change the image people have about my religion” said Ghadir Hamadi, a 20-year-old journalism student waiting in line and added,” The media always shows pictures of mutilated faces on Ashura but there is another side to it,” said “I really hope I can give, for me it is important to do something useful on this day.”
Mahmoud Zeineddine, a 29-year-old man from the neighbourhood who is giving blood for the fifth year, said: “Hussein gave his blood for us, this is something we must respect.
“Our role is also to make our blood useful, not throw it in the street for it to go to waste.”
Ashura is by far and away the day that most blood is donated across the country.
In Lebanon, there is no central blood bank. Patients have to rely on their relatives to find the blood they need from private donors or, in some cases, from the black market.
Donner Sand Compter and Who is Hussein are two NGOs that organise the blood drive in Beirut’s southern suburb of Haret Hreik, this year beating their record and receiving 300 units in just a few hours.
On Sunday, thousands of Lebanese from all ages gathered in processions to commemorate the martyrdom of the third Ahlul Bait Imam and Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) grandson, and the Battle of Karbala.