10 Muharram is observed to commemorate the martyrdom of Hussain ibn Ali (Hazrat Imam Hussain), the grandson of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, who died in the battle of Karbala on the tenth day of Muharram in 61 AH(680 AD).
History Of Muharram
The history of Muharram dates back to the pre-historic times, the era of warring tribes, in the Arabian peninsula. Owing to lack of good leadership, fighting for minor issues was prevalent. However, four months, out of which Muharram was one, was considered a non-fighting period.
With the advent of Islam, the rule was still followed, however with minor alterations that the practice can be relaxed in face of threat to the sovereignty from other empires.
This relaxation in the observance triggered the enemity between the tribes and the Muslims. The inhabitants on the banks of rivers Euphrates and Tigris were traditional rivals. During the time of Prophet Mohammaed the issue lay dormant. However, when Hazrat Ali was the Caliph(Muslim civil and religious leader considered to be Allah's representative on earth), the problem surfaced again.
Hazrat Imam Hussain, the descendant of Hazrat Ali. It is said that he peacefully lived in Medina, until he was forced to leave by Yazid's governor according to Yazid's instructions (the ruler of Kufa), demanding allegiance to the tyrant Yazid or get beheaded. When Hussain refused to sccumb to the tyranous ruler's demand, he was beheaded.
This event happened to have occurred on 'Ashura' or the 10 Muharram. Hence for Hussain's adherence to righteousness, he is honoured and revered by all Muslims irrespective of whether they are Shia or Sunnis.
Thus 10 Muharram is observed as a day of mourning by the Muslims especially the Shias in commemoration of the death of Hussain.
10 Muharram Observance
The history of Muharram is remembered on the day of observance of the mourning. The Shias appropriated the event with religious significance. The observance commences on the first day of Muharram and ends on the tenth day of. People wear black as a mark of mourning. They keep any form of entertainment at bay.
On the first nine days of Muharram, 'Majalis' or assemblies are held, were orators of the Shia community depict the sorrowful incident of the martyrdom of Hussain. Muslims parade the streets, wearing black, holding banners of the mausoleum of Hazrat Imam Hussain. They also observe fasts.
Some Shais observe mourning by beating themselves with chains and hurting their bodies with sharp objects as a mark of grief, though not accepted by Shia leaders who consider such acts as 'Harem' or forbidden. People cry out 'Ya Hussain'. A white horse is walked in the procession, commemorating the horse without its master Hussain, after his martyrdom.
So let us understand the significance of observing this Islamic holiday, knowing the history of Muharram.