Black-clad mourners have taken to the streets across Iran to take part in the ceremonies of Tasu’a, the ninth day of the lunar month of Muharram.
During the ceremonies, eulogies are recited and sermons delivered in honor of one of the sacred figures of Shia Islam and his 72 companions.
Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), and his companions were martyred in the Battle of Karbala, in southern Iraq, in 680 AD after fighting courageously for justice against the much larger army of the Umayyad caliph, Yazid I, which some historians estimate to have been some 100,000-strong.
Tasu’a, known as the Day of Loyalty and Resistance, is devoted to Abbas ibn Ali, the half-brother of Imam Hussein, because of his sacrifices in the Battle of Karbala.
Large numbers of Iranians have joined Shia Muslims of different nationalities in rituals in the Iraqi cities of Najaf and Karbala. The latter is home to Imam Hussein’s shrine.
Mourning processions are also underway in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Republic of Azerbaijan, Turkey, Kuwait as well as Lebanon. Similar ceremonies will be staged in Europe, America and Africa later in the day.
Traditionally in Iran, people distribute Nazri (food offerings) among their neighbors, family and the needy during Muharram. Free food is also offered to people who participate in mourning ceremonies.
Muharram ceremonies represent the never-ending and unswerving stance of truth against mendacity and the humanity’s struggle against tyranny, the cause for which Imam Hussein sacrificed his life.
Imam Hussein and his companions were martyred on Ashura, the 10th day of Muharram, which falls on October 12 this year.
Azeri Shias observe Tasu’a amid crackdown
Meanwhile, hundreds of people have staged a rally in Azerbaijan to commemorate Tasu’a despite the Baku government’s crackdown on Shia rituals during the first month of the Islamic lunar calendar, Muharram.
On Tuesday, people marched along streets in the coastal city of Lankaran to commemorate the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein.
The rally came as authorities have ordered Shia mourning processions to be solely held in mosques and mourning halls, banning congregations in open areas and threatening punitive measures against those defying the rules.
The officials have called upon members of the Shia community not to drape walls with black cloths. Shia Muslims have also been banned from installing banners and flags.
Sana’a carnage in focus
In a speech on the eve of Tasu’a, Secretary of Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah called on Shia mourners to voice solidarity with the oppressed Yemeni nation during Muharram rituals.
The Muslim country has been under relentless Saudi raids for more than a year. Some 10,000 people have so far fallen victim to the attacks.
Nasrallah further condemned the Saudi airstrike that left over 140 Yemeni civilians dead during a funeral in Sana’a last week, saying the massacre shocked the entire world.
During this year’s Muharram ceremonies, Nasarallah said, Shia mourners should carry Yemeni flags alongside mourning flags and chant slogans in support of the Yemeni nation’s resistance in the face of Saudi atrocities