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Ashura is an Islamic holy day observed on the 10th of the Islamic month of Muharram. Shi'ite Muslims regard it as a major commemoration marking the martydom of the Prophet's grandson, Hussein..

In some cases self-flagellations were a well-stylized dance. Young men were eagerly stepping in a circle to the tune of pleasant, if repetitive, music, gently waving slight whips, with which they symbolically touched their well-covered backsides. They did not even work up a sweat, much less draw blood.

Blood was spilt as Shia Muslims marked the Day of Ashura, commemorating the death of the Prophet Mohammeds grandson, Imam Hussein, with mass self-flagellation ceremonies. Thousands of men took to the streets of Iraq, Afghanistan, India, Lebanon and other countries on Saturday, cutting themselves with swords, knives and sharp chains. The self-flagellations are intended to emulate the suffering of Hussein, who lost his life fighting the Umayyad Caliphate in 680 AD in Karbala, near Baghdad in Iraq.

According to most of the major Shia Marja's (Grand Ayatollahs) any serious flagellation is Haram (i.e not permissible), even in mourning. Other say that any Shia who claims that self-flagellation is not Mustahabb (highly recommended) is either lying or ignorant of his religion. All of the Shia Maraje (high scholars) are agreed that beating oneself is not only allowed in Shiism, but rather it is encouraged.

Al-Imam al-Sheikh Abdul Kareem al-Haery, the Founder of the current Hawzah in the holy city of Qum, said: The hitting of swords on the heads causing bleeding is allowed provided there is no harm to the person doing this. Furthermore no one has the right to prohibit this (hitting the head with sword). In fact all kinds of TAZIAH mourning for SEYYED AL-SHUHADA Imam Hussain may our souls be sacrificed for him, are MUSTAHAB (highly recommended) desirable deeds.

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Page last modified: 15-12-2015 20:12:05 ZULU