Observed on the ninth day of Muharram and the day before Ashura, Tasu’a is a day that commemorates the bravery of Abbas ibn Ali during the Battle of Karbala. This battle was a military campaign in Karbala between Muhammad’s grandson Husayn and the larger military forces of Yazid I.
This battle is widely seen as the one that separated Sunni and Shi’a Islam. It is a day when Muslims go to Takiehs and mosques or attend mourning ceremonies. Since it’s a public holiday, it is also a general day off for the population of Iran, and schools and most businesses are closed on this day.
The Battle Of Karbala
This battle was a military engagement that began on 10 Muharram, 61 A.H., or October 10th, 680, on the Gregorian calendar. It was a war between a small group of relatives and supporters of Muhammad’s grandson, Husayn ibn Ali, and the much larger forces of Yazid I, the Umayyad caliph.
Yazid’s governor, Ibn Ziyad, sent a large force against Husayn. These forces promptly surrounded his camp and then opened negotiations with him. The leader of this force agreed to Husayn’s proposal to lift the siege long enough for him and his family to leave Iraq. However, this proposal was eventually vetoed by Shimr ibn Dhil-Jawshan, another Umayyad grandee, and Umar Ibn Sa’ad was given a grim order: destroy Husayn’s rebellion or be put to death himself.
On the seventh day of Muharram, Ibn Sa’ad cut off Husayn’s camp from the Euphrates River. On the ninth day, Husayn’s camp began to exhaust its water stores and only had two options left: surrender or die from thirst. Husayn would end up fighting to the death.
Tasu’a, also known as Tasu’a, is a holiday that is observed with a number of different rituals. People often attend mourning ceremonies or head to the mosques on this day. They also recite Ahadith and other poems in honor of Abbas ibn Ali. During these rituals, some people practice self-flagellation and chanting.
There are also many processions on this day, with thousands of people often clogging the streets. Another tradition observed on this day is to feed the poor and hungry and to ask Allah to grant them a blessing or a wish.