RNA – Black-clad mourners have taken to the streets across Iran to take part in the ceremonies of Tasu’a, the ninth day of the lunar month of Muharram.
During the ceremonies, eulogies are recited and sermons delivered in honor of one of the sacred figures of Shi’a Islam and his 72 companions.
Imam Husayn, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, and his companions were martyred in the Battle of Karbala, in southern Iraq, in 680 AD after fighting courageously for justice against the much larger army of the Umayyad caliph, Yazid I, which some historians estimate to have been some 100,000-strong.
Tasu’a, known as the Day of Loyalty and Resistance, is devoted to Abbas ibn Ali, the half-brother of Imam Husayn, because of his sacrifices in the Battle of Karbala.
Mourning processions are also underway in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Republic of Azerbaijan, Turkey, Kuwait as well as Lebanon. Similar ceremonies will be staged in Europe, United States and Africa later in the day.
Traditionally in Iran, people distribute nazri (food offerings) among their neighbors, family and the needy during Muharram. Free food is also offered to people who participate in mourning ceremonies.
Muharram ceremonies represent the never-ending and unswerving stance of truth against mendacity and the humanity’s struggle against tyranny, the cause for which Imam Husayn sacrificed his life.
Imam Husayn and his companions were martyred on Ashura, the 10th day of Muharram, which falls on October 12 this year.
Azeri Shi’as observe Tasu’a amid crackdown
Meanwhile, hundreds of people have staged a rally in Azerbaijan to commemorate Tasu’a despite the Baku government’s crackdown on Shi’a rituals during the first month of the Islamic lunar calendar, Muharram.
On Tuesday, people marched along streets in the coastal city of Lankaran to commemorate the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Husayn.
The rally came as authorities have ordered Shi’a mourning processions to be solely held in mosques and mourning halls, banning congregations in open areas and threatening punitive measures against those defying the rules.
The officials have called upon members of the Shi’a community not to drape walls with black cloths. Shi’a Muslims have also been banned from installing banners and flags.
Sana’a carnage in focus
In a speech on the eve of Tasu’a, Secretary of Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah called on Shi’a mourners to voice solidarity with the oppressed Yemeni nation during Muharram rituals.
The Muslim country has been under relentless Saudi raids for more than a year. Some 10,000 people have so far fallen victim to the attacks.
Sayyid Nasrallah further condemned the Saudi airstrike that left over 140 Yemeni civilians dead during a funeral in Sana’a last week, saying the massacre shocked the entire world.
During this year’s Muharram ceremonies, Sayyid Nasrallah said, Shi’a mourners should carry Yemeni flags alongside mourning flags and chant slogans in support of the Yemeni nation’s resistance in the face of Saudi atrocities.