RSS feed for Shi'a Pundit

Shi'a Pundit

Devoted to the viewpoint of Islam of Muhammad SAW and Amir ul-Mumineen, Ali ibn Abi Talib SA, in the Shi'a Fatimi Ismaili Dawoodi Bohra tradition.

February 28, 2008

Ashura in Beirut.

TIME Magazin'e Middle East blog looks at the practice of Ashura by Iraqi refugees in Lebanon - a practice that is necessarily underground:

So last month, an Iraqi Shia community center -- a Husseiniya -- in the suburbs held its own underground Ashura ceremony, in the basement late at night. The PG-rated portion of the evening -- during which scores of boys beat themselves with chains and slapped their chests pink -- ended around midnight. Once they left, a rump faction of the older men shut the doors -- like a British pub lockdown after-hours -- and waited until a few hours before dawn.

Then, after wolfing down tea and Turkish Delight, they passed out long knives, and donned tunics made from white bed sheets, all the better to show bloodstains. Cutting their scalps with straight razors, and hitting their heads to make the blood rush, they shouted "Haidar!" which means lion, and is one of the nicknames of Ali, the father of Hussein the martyr of Karbala. The Haidar ceremony continued for perhaps an hour, until the celebrants collapsed from exhaustion and emotion, many of them breaking into tears.

There are pics, which are not for the faint of heart.

It should be noted that this is an extreme form of observance - as the lockdown and secrecy indicate, it is frowned upon by the mainstream. My own community practices matam, a ritual beating of the breast to the chant of Ya Husain, with no implements of any kind. The only time blood ever appears on our white saya kurta is if our skin on our palms and fingers splits due to dehydration, but this is not deliberate (and there is usually a box of bandaids nearby.

I find the practice above to be disturbing indeed - but it's their choice of how they choose to observe. What I completely condemn without reservation, and for which there is no excuse whatsoever, is the practice of encouraging children to engage in bloody observance of any kind. What would Imam Husain AS think of a father who injures his child, even if they are so ignorant as to believe it is for spiritual reward? There is no excuse. None.

Labels: ,

permalink | posted by Shi'a Pundit


Nahj-ul Balagha

About Shi'a Pundit

Shi'a Pundit was launched in 2002 during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. The blog focuses on issues pertaining to Shi'a Islam in the west and in the Islamic world. The author is a member of the Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community. Bohras adhere to the Shi'a Fatimi tradition of Islam, headed by the 52nd Dai al-Mutlaq, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin (TUS).

traffic stats -

html hit counter