Ashura in Iran

30 images Created 19 Dec 2008

Ashura (literally "the tenth day" of the Islamic month of Moharram) is the most holy feast of the Shi'a Islam.
In this occasion all the Shi'ist in the world remember the martyrdom of The Imam Hussein ibn 'Alì , 2° son of 'Alì ibn Abi Talib (the first Shi'ist Imam) and grandson of the Prophet Mohammad, which took place in the 10 Moharram of 61 of Egira(680 a.C.).
The tradition says that Imam Hussein faced 4000 soldiers of the Ummayyad Army with only 70 men. Hussein, his family, and all his soldiers were massacred in the battle of Kerbala in Iraq, where today there are his Holy Shrine.

In Iran, where Sh'ia is the official religion from the XVI century, the celebrations involve all the aspects of life.
The aware martyrdom of Hussein represents for the Shi'a the duty of fighting against the injustice for the pure Islam also when defeat and death are clearly certain.
For the Sh'ia, who are a minority in the Islam and are often persecuted, the Ashura has always represented a point of identity and a symbol of resistance to oppression.
All the imaginary related to the Ashura, the martyrdom, the Imams, the mourning, are very important in Sh'ia Islam.
In Iran this powerful symbolism was very important during the revolution in 1979, when people faced the bloody repression of the oppressive regime of the Shah Mohammad Reza Palhavi.
Also during the war against Iraq this symbolism has been used by Khomeini for changing a defensive war in a holy one for conquering Najaf and Kerbala (the places of death and of the Holy Shrine of Imam 'Alì and Imam Hussein). The deads were become not simple fallen for their country, but martyrs of faith.
This propaganda was useful to recruit soldiers, often children, for a war that left 1 million of deads only for the Iranian part.
From this tragic context is born the national identity of the Islamic Republic and the Ashura today is like a feast of nation where martyrs of war are remembered with the Imam Hussein.
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