Dozens of Shia Muslims mutilate themselves in Piraeus: the bloody custom of the Asura

Dozens of Shia Muslims injured themselves in Piraeus, Greece. What is this bloody custom of Ashura?

Muslims all over the world have Ashura Day when they remember the salvation of the Prophet Musa (Moses) from the Pharaoh’s troops and the death of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Imam Hussein in the battle of Karbala in 680. At the same time, followers of the two main currents of Islam – Sunni and Shi’ism – mark the date in different ways.

“This is one of the significant days of the holy month of Muharram, when it is desirable to observe two days of fasting, to perform good deeds, to appeal to the Almighty with prayers for forgiveness. When the Prophet Muhammad moved to Medina, on the tenth day of the month of Muharram, he saw that the Jews were observing this day. fasting in gratitude to the Almighty that he saved Moses and the sons of Israel from the army of the Egyptian pharaoh. Muhammad said that Muslims will also fast on this day. Fasting Ashur can serve as a reason for atonement for the sins of the past year, “- says the mufti.

Many Shia Muslims from Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan have celebrated the Ashura national rite in Piraeus this year as well.

Ashura, the anniversary of the death of Imam Hussein, is the most important festival of Shia Muslims celebrated around the world. Where there are Shiites, Imam Hussein is honored annually as a witness on the 10th day of the month of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar.

Ashura has been celebrated in Greece for the past three decades. The ceremony lasts a total of 10 days, just like on the days when Imam Hussein was tortured in the city of Karbala on the territory of modern Iraq, after the defeat of his troops in the battle against Caliph Yazid I.

For nine nights, worshipers gather in local places of worship, where they listen to sermons and the story of the martyr Hussein, and pray (on the eve, prayer lasts all night). On the 10th day, they take to the streets, where they depict the martyrdom of Hussein.

The bloody “show” is like a dance. First, there is a rhythmic slapping of the palms – one against the other. Then some of the participants in the religious action quickly take off their blouses and begin to beat themselves on the back with whips and whips with razors at the ends.

The blows are light at first, but then they get stronger. Elders often intervene and stop anyone who exaggerates the force of the blows. At the end of the ceremony, the participants calm down and stop self-flagellation.

Women cannot take part in Ashura, staying together in a room specially designated for them, inside the place of worship.


For Shiites, this is primarily a day of remembrance of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. Imam Hussein was killed and beheaded in the battle of Karbala on October 10, 680, his relatives and 70 companions were also killed. On Ashura Day, Shiites conduct shocking ceremonies of self-flagellation, a custom that symbolizes Hussein’s suffering before death. On the day of Ashura, Shiites in Karbala hold mass processions in the streets, during which participants strike themselves with chains and daggers, beat themselves in the chest with their fists, depicting scenes of the struggle and death of Imam Hussein and his associates. Sunnism, according to researchers, is adhered to by over 85% of Muslims. Shiism is professed mainly in Iran, Iraq, Bahrain and Azerbaijan, as well as in a number of settlements in Dagestan. The main disagreements between Sunnis and Shiites relate to certain issues of doctrine: for example, the movements adhere to different positions regarding the status of imams and the issue of leadership in the community. Also, both directions interpret the Quran and sacred tradition in their own way. …

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