It is seen as a turning point in the history of Islam.
Ashura the tenth day of the lunar month of Muharram marks the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hossein, the grandson of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and the third Imam of the Household, as well as his 72 companions, who were martyred in the battle of Karbala in the year 680 CE in the fight against the huge army of Yazid, who was known as the tyrant of the time.
Millions of black clad mourners in Iran and many Muslim countries commemorate the event by attending mosques or religious gatherings, while some others take to the streets in line beating their chests and shoulders.
Imam Hossein has said if you are not a believer or if you do not have any religion at least be a free man because you were born free and do not accept any tyranny and oppression whatever the cost. This is a big lesson for humanity.
Ashura ceremonies symbolize eternal and unwavering stance of truth against falsehood and humanity’s struggle against tyranny realized by Imam Hussein (PBUH.)
I believe Imam Hossein is one of the most respected religious figures in Iran. You cannot find any other religious character whose martyrdom would drag millions of mourners to the streets 14 centuries after his death.
To Muslims Imam Hossein is regarded as the symbol of freedom and sacrifice by the Iranians.
Imam Hossein taught us the point that in order to gain victory and reach the truth, nothing and no one should prevent you, even your children and possessions.
Aside from holding mourning ceremonies Iranians have the special tradition of giving away free food, called Nazri, which is vowed if one’s wish and prayers are answered by God.
Ta’zeih or passion play is another way practiced by Iranians to keep alive the memory of the epic of Karbala, which has been recognized by UNESCO as the national Iranian art.