Muslims mark Ashura amid strict coronavirus restrictions

Millions of Muslims, wearing gloves and face masks, have marked the martyrdom anniversary of the third Shia Imam on Ashura, one of the largest Muslim gatherings since the COVID-19 pandemic started.

Ashura is the culmination of a 10-day annual mourning period in the lunar calendar month of Muharram for Imam Hussein (AS), a grandson of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him).

The third Shia Imam and his 72 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.

On the eve of Ashura, known as Tasu’a, the faithful remember Abbas ibn Ali, Imam Hussein’s half-brother, who was martyred shortly before the Imam as he tried to bring water to women and children in Imam’s camp, who had no water to drink for days due to a siege by the enemy forces.

The Muharram ceremonies symbolize the eternal and unwavering stance of truth against falsehood and humanity’s struggle against injustice, tyranny and oppression, the cause for which Imam Hussein was martyred.

Each year on Ashura, Shia Muslims, dressed in black, march in mass mourning processions and listen to elegies, with benefactors distributing votive food.

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