What is the best way to commemorate Ashura?


Similar to public talk about the differences between Maraaje’ with regards to determining the beginning and end of the month of Ramadan, and this issue taking up alot of ‘air time’ every year in Shia communities, it seems that the question of how Ashura and Imam Husayn’s martyrdom should be commemorated has a similar position in our communities for the month of Muharram.

How best do you think we should commemorate Ashura every year? What are the guidelines and what are your recommendations, especially for Muslims in the West?


Indeed in the Messenger of Allah you have a good example to follow…” (The Holy Quran 33:21)

The best way to commemorate and revive Ashura is to follow the tradition of Ahlul-Bayt (a.s) in the following ways:

  1. Intellectual campaign: Learn, practice and promote the mission of Imam Husayn (a.s). By the Grace of God, the final will of the Imam and most of his lectures prior to his martyrdom are available. We must read and reflect upon them. Ashura is a unique occasion in our calendar whence our Islamic centres attract the most audiences. The speakers should therefore utilize this opportunity to educate the community of true Islam and address issues relevant to their day to day life. Speaking about Ashura as a mere historic event and keeping it in the past violates the living mission of Imam Husayn (a.s). The late Imam Khomeini (r.a.) said during the advent of the Islamic revolution in Iran: “All what we have achieved is due to Imam Husayn (a.s).”
  1. Emotional campaign: By reciting the true tragedy of Ashura or making movies on how the noble family of the Prophet (s) and their loyal companions were brutally massacred. We should weep and wail for them and make others cry as well. Mourning and weeping for the martyrs of Karbala is an indisputable practice of our holy Imams (a.s). They would even often employ people to mourn for Imam Husayn (a.s) during the Hajj ceremony in Mina.

In my humble opinion the safest and the most accurate method of lamentation for Imam Husain (a.s) is reciting elegies about Imam Husain (a.s), to weep, and make others break down in tears (over their calamities). This is the definite practice of Ahlul-Bayt (a.s) and their main recommendation. In my observation, any deviation or innovation is a challenge that requires justification. However, for further traditional methods of lamentation one must refer to his/her Marja’ with consideration of its repercussion on the community at large.

And God knows best.

Answered by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei

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