Tonight marks the end of Ashura – a major holiday observed by millions of Muslims worldwide. It’s also part of Muharram, the first month in a new year on the Islamic calendar.
When describing the importance of this occasion, Mike Ansari of Heart4Iran says, “Ashura is a major Shia Muslim commemoration of the martyrdom of Hussein ibn Ali, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, that took place at the battle of Karbala in modern-day Iraq in the year 680 AD.”
Believers trying to reach Shia Muslims for Christ should be familiar with Ashura, he adds.
“Hussein’s martyrdom in Karbala was the final event that led to the split of Islam into two main sects of Shias vs. Sunnis.”
What is Ashura and why does it matter?
As described here, Muharram is one of the four sacred months in the Islamic calendar. Shia and Sunni Muslims observe the 9th and 10th days of this month – Ashura – in differing ways, but all agree it’s an important 24-hour period. More about that here.
In countries where Sunni and Shia Muslims live side-by-side, Ashura can lead to friction. “In Iraq, Lebanon, and Afghanistan, there have been multiple incidents targeting the Shiite population during Ashura services,” Ansari says. This 2013 report from Pew Research Center provides a detailed account of Sunni-Shia tensions in countries like Azerbaijan, Iraq, and Lebanon.
Click here to read more.
SOURCE: Mission Network News, Katey Hearth