Shiite Muslims take part each year in a ceremony that marks the Muslim festival of Ashura, which mourns the death of the Prophet Mohammed’s grandson, Husayn ibn Ali.
The day is remarkable in the public displays of mourning that often results in bloody worshipers — to include children.
Ashura falls on the tenth day of the first month of the Islamic calendar and the day is a national holiday in Muslim countries such as Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain, and Pakistan, according to The Sun.
It’s a day that often involves public expressions of mourning and Muslims will mark the occasion with the practice of Tatbir, where blood is drawn in remembrance of the innocent blood of Husayn, the British paper reported.
Blood drawn by a sword or scourge … or a really big knife. And children aren’t always exempt from the ritual.
More on the holiday from The Sun:
They mark Husayn’s death at the Battle of Karbala, fought between Husayn and Yazid I on October 10 680AD to determine who should succeed the prophet as the leader of Islam.
Yazid is considered a tyrant by some Muslims, and Husayn’s death is considered by the Shia community to be a symbol of humanity’s struggle against injustice, tyranny, and oppression.
The belief is that Tatbir cleanses worshipers of their sins, with Shiite Muslims saying “a single tear shed for Husayn washes away a hundred sins.”
“The ritual, which is sometimes carried out on children, is controversial within the Muslim world,” The Sun noted. “With some research suggesting it can cause lasting psychological damage.”
Below is a video of self-flagellation taking place in a town in Syra.
*Caution: Graphic Content
Worshippers self-flagellate during #Ashura commemorations in Sayyidah Zaynab #Syria pic.twitter.com/2mBG36LeUE
— Ruptly (@Ruptly) September 10, 2019
Some clerics consider it to be self harm, which is forbidden in Islam.
One alternative is to reportedly have worshipers donate blood with organizations like the Red Cross.
People think that them doing Tatbir and Zanjeer is going to make Imam Hussain happy. Like he wants you to do self harm. The blood that your body is losing can save a life, why don’t you donate blood in the name of Imam Hussain instead of harming yourself.
— Moe Safa (@moesafa) September 11, 2019
One social media user took great exception to children being included.
“If consenting adults want to hack themselves up for Ashura, fair enough. I support bodily autonomy,” the tweet said. “But it’s utterly monstrous to slice children open as part of the ‘festivities.'”
If consenting adults want to hack themselves up for Ashura, fair enough. I support bodily autonomy. But it’s utterly monstrous to slice children open as part of the “festivities”. Being #AwesomeWithoutAllah > Mortal Kombating your kids.https://t.co/XCtA04dcXQ
— Ibrahim S. Amin (@Ibrahim_S_Amin) September 11, 2019
Here are a sampling of other posts on the holiday from Twitter:
Day of Ashura
Millions of Shi’ite Muslims performed mourning rituals to mark Ashura, the holiest festival in their calendar commemorating the death of Prophet Mohammad’s grandson. pic.twitter.com/5fD99DTNG0
— RobertRobi (@Robertdreco) September 11, 2019
#Shia worshipers gather to mark #Ashura in #SaudiArabia pic.twitter.com/VUKsSrwY6T
— NewsAnew24 (@NewsAnew24) September 11, 2019
A young boy beats his chest and back as elders do during a procession on the tenth day of Muharram, which marks the day of #Ashura, in #Kirkuk on September 10, 2019.
? Mohammed Shwani pic.twitter.com/e6LXuU4ijp
— Rudaw English (@RudawEnglish) September 11, 2019
In a related matter, there were reports of a stampede of Iraqi worshipers celebrating Ashura that resulted in 31 deaths on Tuesday:
31 people died & more that 100 wounded in a stampede in the #Iraqi city of #Karbala , south of #Baghdad as thousands of worshipers jammed the streets to attend festivals marking #Ashura on Tuesday. #Police officials are #investigating the circumstances that led to the #stampede
— Mohammed Tawfeeq (@mtawfeeqCNN) September 10, 2019
At least 31 people died and another 100 were wounded today during the Shi’ite Muslim religious rituals of Ashura in Iraq’s southern holy city of Kerbala. Shi’ite pilgrims gather during the religious festival of Ashura in the holy city of Kerbala, Iraq September 10, 2019. pic.twitter.com/7tX2PVDxlU
— Ali Ahmad Mabrur (@Mabrur00) September 11, 2019
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