Ashura is a religious observance for Muslims all over the world.
Ashura literally means tenth, and it is celebrated on the 10th day of Muharram, first month on the Islamic calendar. It is celebrated by both Sunnis and Shi’a Muslims, for different reasons.
History of Ashura
The 3 days of the Ashura festival started long ago when the prophet Muhammad with his followers found the Medina community of Jews fasting for the Yom Kippur, or Day of Atonement. When Muhammad asked the Jews why they were fasting, they answered that they were fasting to remember the day when Moses was saved from the Egyptians by God.
And so thought Muhammad that they, as Muslims should also do the same, as Moses is a prophet for the Islamic faith. So it was declared that they should fast in the tenth day of the month of Muharram. As the Islamic faith grew, Muslims and Jews did not get along, and Muhammad decided to make Ramadan the fasting month for Muslims. Ashura was left as fasting voluntary observance. Still, Muslims followed the fasting on this day. After the death of Muhammad, a big schism happened in the Muslim community to whom should succeed Muhammad, and it originated the split between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims.
For the Shi’a Muslims this day of Ashura earned a new meaning after the death of Husaynibn Ali, the grandson of Muhammad and the third Shia Imam. Ashura for Shi’a Muslims is the mourning for the martyrdom of Husaynibn Ali in the battle of Karbala in 680. they believe that the battle of Karbala was a battle between good and evil, and that the stand of Husaynibn Ali, even if he died, allowed the Islamic faith to continue living. This also originates two differences in the celebration of Ashura, for Sunnis it is a time for joy since it celebrates the victory of Allah through Moses against the Egyptians, but for Shi’a Muslims it is a day of sorrow.