Ashura, also known as the Day of Ashura, is a Muslim religious holiday which is celebrated on the tenth day of Muharram in the Islamic calendar – which varies on the Gregorian calendar depending on the date and when the moon is first sighted. While this day is observed by all Muslims, for Shia Muslims it’s an extremely solemn day and a commemoration of the martyrdom at Karbala of Hussein.

History of Ashura

While the history of this holiday is rather complex, it can be broken down in the following way. For most Sunni Muslims, this day is a fast day because it is when Muhammad fasted and Moses fasted when he left Egypt. Shiite Muslims mark the day as a day that is used to mourn the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, Hussein. Many consider Ashura as one of the reasons why the Sunni and the Shiites split in Islam. Shiites consider Hussein to be the true heir of Muhammad’s legacy and Sunnis do not.

Ashura Customs & Traditions

Sunnis and Shias observe this day in very different ways. For Sunnis, it is a day to celebrate the victory God gave Moses. As such, it is often celebrated by Sunnis with a day of fasting. Shias observe it with morning rituals and a re-enactment of the martyrdom of Hussein.