Ashura marked with religious fervour and solemnity

ISLAMABAD/KARACHI/LAHORE: Muslims belonging to the Shi’ite faith chanted, paraded and beat their chests across the country on Tuesday as they marked Ashura, one of the most important dates on the religious calendar, commemorating the 7th-century martyrdom of Hussain ibn Ali (RA).

The symbols of Shi’ite piety and penitence blanketed major cities in Iraq, where Hussain (RA) was martyred at the Battle of Karbala, south of Baghdad, in 680 A.D.

Shi’ites see Hussain (RA) and his descendants as the rightful heirs to the prophet. His martyrdom at the hands of a rival faction embodies the rift between the Sunni and Shi’ite sects of Islam and continues to shape the identity of the minority branch of Islam today.

Mourning processions were taken out in all major cities and towns. Hundreds of religious gatherings, called Majalis, and processions were also held across the country.

The Ministry of Interior warned militants could target the Ashura commemorations. Under stepped-up security measures, mass rallies continued for a second day in Islamabad and major cities across Pakistan, where participants rhythmically beat their bodies with knife-edged chains.

Men staggered through the streets, blood dripping down their backs.

“Imam Hussain (RA) taught us to fight against oppression,” said Syed Muhammad Haider Naqvi, a Shi’ite scholar at a procession in Karachi. “He taught us not to let anyone usurp others’ rights.”

Clerics highlighted the bright and candid teachings of Hussain (RA) and various aspects of the tragedy.

Medical camps and stalls were also provided drinking water and food items to the participants.

Strict security measures were ensured by the local management of different cities and some road closures were also in place to avoid any untoward incidents. Law enforcers, including police and Rangers, had been deployed along the procession routes.

Mobile phone services were partially suspended as a security measure in different cities.

‘SYMBOL OF COURAGE’

The mourning processions were taken out in all the cities and towns of the country. The mourners paid glowing tribute to sacrifices offered by Hussain (RA) and his companions for the supremacy of Islam.

President Dr Arif Alvi, in his message, said the supreme sacrifice was a beacon of light for the Muslims and it carried the message that against the apparatus of oppression and tyranny one should be the flag-bearer of truth and righteousness.

He was of the view that in Islamic history, Muharram was a month of respect, dignity and blessings. Hussain (RA), his family and loyal companions set a great example of bravery, courage and sacrifice, and gave a new life to Islam with their blood, he observed.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said Islam was alive because of the sacrifices rendered by Hussain (RA) and his companions and these sacrifices give courage and hope to the faithful in the face of difficulties and challenges.

He said this day reminded us of the unparalleled struggle between good and evil, when a group led by Hussain (RA) refused to show allegiance to evil and stood before a seemingly powerful faction.

Hussain (RA) became a symbol of courage, determination and bravery, he remarked.

PROCESSIONS

In Islamabad, the main procession emerged from Imam Bargah Qasr Zainibia in G-6/4 and culminated at Imam Bargah Asna Ashri in G-6.

In Rawalpindi, the main Alam and Zuljinah procession was taken out from Imam Bargah Colonel Maqbool Hussain which culminated at Imam Bargah Qadeemi while passing through the designated routes. Over 2,500 security personnel were deployed to guard the main procession while 3,500 cops also provided security cover to other processions and majalis of the district.

Besides, different processions emerged from various parts of the city and merged into the main procession.

Main points of Rawalpindi from where processions were taken out include Imam Bargah Teli Mohalla, Imam Bargah Hifazat Ali Shah Bohar Bazar, Imam Bargah Darbar Sakhi Shah Chann Chiragh and Yadgar-e-Hussain Satellite Town.

Elaborate security arrangements have been made to avoid any untoward incidents during the processions. Over 6,000 security officials have been deployed to ensure security.

In Lahore, the main mourning procession was taken out from Nisar Haveli in Mochi Gate, which after passing through its traditional route culminated at Karbala Gamay Shah in the evening, where Shaam-e-Ghareeban was held.

Overall 170 processions and 130 majalis were arranged in the Multan district. The main procession was taken out from Imam Bargah Heera Haidri in the morning which culminated at Ghanta Ghar in the evening after passing through its traditional route.

In Peshawar, the main Alam, Tazia and Zuljinah procession was taken out from Imam Bargah Agha Syed Ali Shah Qissa Khwani Bazaar. Eleven other processions were also taken out from different Imam Bargahs which joined the main procession.

Similar processions of Tazia, Alam and Zuljinah were also taken out in Kohat, Khyber, Bannu, Hangu, Lakki Marwat, Kurram and Dera Ismail Khan districts.

In Quetta, the main mourning procession of Alam, Tazia and Zuljanah was taken out from Nichari Imam Bargah at Alamdar Road this morning, which culminated at the same place in the evening after passing through its traditional routes.

In Gilgit, the procession was brought out from Markazi Imamia Masjid this morning which culminated at the same place in the evening.

In Muzaffarabad, the main Tazia, Alam and Zuljinnah procession was taken out from Markazi Imam Bargah Pir EIam Shah Bukhari.

— With AP

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