< HOME  Saturday, December 26, 2009

Muslim Visitors Pour into Iraqi Shrine City for Ashura Commemoration

26/12/2009 Hundreds of thousands of Muslim visitors descended on Iraq's holy shrine city of Karbala on Saturday for the climax of Ashura commemorations.

Security forces have beefed up their presence in the central city and authorities are also checking on the 60,000-odd foreign worshippers expected to attend the ceremonies to ensure they do not have swine flu.

Black flags, representing the sadness of Muslims during Ashura, were seen all over the city, 110 kilometers south of Baghdad, along with pictures of Imam Hussein and Imam Abbas (peace be upon them), who are both buried there.

"I came to show my belief in Imam Hussein - this event has nothing to do with personal motivations or politics," said 40-year-old Mohammed Abdul Hussein, who travelled from neighboring Babil province.

Karbala police Chief General Ali Jassim Mohammed said that around 25,000 policemen and soldiers had been deployed to secure the commemoration ceremonies, which climax on Saturday and Sunday and mark the death of Imam Hussein (pbuh) in 680 AD.

Security perimeters have also been formed throughout the city, while helicopters are providing extra surveillance and bomb-sniffing dogs are being used at checkpoints.

To counter women suicide attackers who have struck Karbala before, security forces have deployed 600 female personnel on three roads into the city. Cameras are also monitoring visitors' movements across Karbala.

During Ashura in March 2004, near-simultaneous bombings at a Muslim Shiite mosque in Baghdad and in Karbala killed more than 170 people.

Since Tuesday, 25 people have been killed and more than 120 wounded in violence targeting Ashura, including attacks on worshippers in Karbala and the predominantly Muslim Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City in Baghdad.

In Sadr City on Friday, a roadside bomb killed six people, most of them children, and wounded 26 others when it struck a procession marking Ashura. And a day earlier in Karbala, a bomb killed one person and wounded 12.

Security chiefs have also vowed to prevent any political exploitation of the festival as Iraq prepares to go to the polls for parliamentary elections on March 7.

It was estimated that 1.5 million visitors will visit Karbala on Saturday and Sunday. Ashura, which means tenth in Arabic, falls on the 10th day of the Hijri month of Muharram.

Tradition holds that Imam Hussein (pbuh), a grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, was decapitated and his body mutilated by the armies of the caliph Yazid (son of Moawiya). According to Muslims, whether Sunnis or Shiites, Yazid was a corrupt and incompetent person who practiced all sorts of wrongdoings contrary to the teachings of Islam and that is why Imam Hussein (pbuh) confronted him and sacrificed himself and his family and friends to revive the noble teachings of Islam and the genuine practice of his grandfather Prophet Mohammed.

Imam Hussein’s martyrdom and his uprising against the corruption and tyranny have provided food for thought and devotion for many generations up till our day.


Millions of Muslims commemorate Tasu'a

Mourners throughout the world gather today to commemorate the anniversary of the martyrdom of Prophet Muhammad's grandson, Imam Hussein (PBUH).

Millions of Muslims around the world mark Tasu'a, the day before the martyrdom of the third Shia Imam.

On the ninth of Muharram, known as Tasua, mourners beat their chests and scourge their backs in their grieve over the suffering and martyrdom of Imam Hussein (PBUH), along with 72 of his loyal companions in a place still called Karbala, in Iraq, in 680 CE.

Poems are recited, litanies chanted, and addresses once again break the hearts of those hearing them as the tragic massacre of Imam Hussein (PBUH), and his deceased companions is called to mind.

Imam Hussein (PBUH), his family and his companions offer a sublime example of human resistance against oppression and injustice, and not exclusively for the Muslim nations, but for all of mankind.

Today, with a mixture of wonder, sorrow, and admiration, the mourners listen to the tales of resolute courage, generous self-sacrifice and the infinite patience of Imam Hossein as he faced severe hardship for the attainment of a sacred goal.

Imam Hussein (PBUH) not only saved Islam from deviation, distortion and corruption by the forces of apostasy and oppression, but he also revived the institution of martyrdom. In a world of cowardly men, who loved life in this physical world, Imam Hossein achieved martyrdom because of his devotion to eternal truth.


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