Ashura in Algeria
The word Ashura means tenth in Arabic while literally translated it means the ‘tenth day’. Ashura is not observed as a festival or a day to celebrate with joyfulness and delight. It is a rather dark religious event which is witnessed by Muslim communities all over the world including the Muslims of Algeria. It is known, these days, for the grief of the martyr of Hazrat Imam Hussain. The grandson of the Holy Prophet Muhammad at the battle of Karbala in the year 61 AH. It is an event which is attended annually by every Muslim all over the world without any hesitation. It is observed by both Sunni Muslims and Shi’a Muslims, even though there are some negligible differences between their ceremonies, their basic beliefs, faith and concepts remain same. Hazrat Imam Hussain was born in Madina. He was named by the Holy prophet himself. The holy prophet loved his grandsons Hazrat Imam Hussain and his elder brother Hazrat Imam Hasan too much.
The tenth of Muharram is the day Ashura is observed. It is a day of remembrance in the memory of martyr Hazrat Imam Hussain and the mourning, sorrow and grief of his passing in the battle of Karbala 680 A.D. During the battle of Karbala Hazrat Imam Hussain and seventy-two of his family members were killed. Zainab, Hazrat Imam Hussain’s sister walked onto the battleground and shed tears right next to the body of Hazrat Imam Hussain and spoke some heartfelt, genuine and wholehearted words that the crowd who were the companions of Hazrat Imam Hussain made public. Even his enemies were weeping from her words. She made sure that every last figure in Demasque and Kufa heard her sadness.
How Ashura is Observed
From that day 10th Muharram is declared a holiday allowing everyone to attend. During Ashura a crowd of mourning people would gather outside a predetermined and scheduled Masjid and the roads and streets around that Masjid are obviously a sea of Muslim followers therefore closed to traffic. Some of the ceremonies around also observe the flagellation of male followers, which is mostly done by Shi’a Muslims not by the Sunni. The religious women would beat their chest as a mournful drum while listening to poetic readings and reciting them and throughout the day the name of Hussain is honored through chanting and humming. The male religious followers would whip themselves or cut their backs letting their flesh bleed just to experience and understand the pain and ache Hussain suffered.
There are, however many different religious and historical events and occasions related to this day. There are still some groups who just don’t agree with the day of Ashura. But it falls on the groups themselves to decide how they interpret history, roots and the ancestries of Ashura. The tourists who would take a tour of Algeria during Muharram would have a different and exclusive opportunity to witness and observe the seriousness and the wretchedness of this month of Muharram.