Ashura: Shi’a Islam’s Day of Sorrow and Inspiration

From The Huffington Post

A figure stands alone in the desert, cradling his infant son. His followers, his brother, and his sons are now dead, except for his eldest who lies in their ragged tent, deathly ill. He has not had a sip of water in three days, since the tyrant Yazid ordered his family to be starved or slain.

He cries out, holding his son aloft, “Do none of you have children of your own? If you show mercy to my son, and give him but one sip of water, I will guarantee your place in Paradise!” The response is an arrow that pierces the infant’s neck.

Ashura is the story of Imam Hussain AS, who was martyred by the forces of Yazid on the plains of Karbala in what is modern-day Iraq. The word “Ashura” literally means “10th” since it falls on the 10th of Muharram in the Islamic calendar. The story of Imam Hussain AS is one of sacrifice, and inspiration, in order to defy tyranny and preserve the ethos and values of the Islamic faith from corruption. The hedonistic caliph Yazid, ruling from Damascus, sought to force Hussain AS to swear fealty to him, in order to gain legitimacy for his claim of spiritual and political authority.

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