The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(in Russian, Shakhsei-vakhsei), a day of mourning observed by Shiite Muslims in memory of the death of the “great martyr” Imam Husein, a son of Caliph Ali. Husein perished in a battle at Karbala on the tenth day of the month of Muharram in A.D. 680, the 61st year of the Hegira; he had been ambushed by soldiers of the Umayyad caliph Yazid I (ruled 680–683).

The religious ceremonies associated with Ashurah are accompanied by fasting and songs of prayer. Self-flagellation is encouraged, and the participants in the processions whip themselves, crying, “Shah Husein, ah, Husein!” (Russians in Persia heard the phrase as “Shakhsei-vakhsei!”) In addition, they inflict saber and dagger wounds on themselves in accordance with the traditional belief that Husein was stabbed 33 times and slashed 34 times. A passion play (taziyat) is also performed; the play depicts scenes from the lives of Husein and Caliph Ali, with emphasis on the murder of Husein.

The Shiites have officially observed the day in memory of Husein since the 16th century.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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THE Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs has urged Muslims to fast the days of Tasua, the 9th of Muharram and Ashurah, the 10th day of Muharram, in pursuance of the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Teaching the young to worship Allah It was the practice of the people of Madinah that during the fast of Ashurah (which is now a recommended fast of one day) to get their children to fast with them.
Thus disguised, they arrived at the tomb of Imam Shafi'i, where Goldziher "gave proof of true belief', that is pronounced shahadah, and from there the two went to the mosque and attended the Friday prayer-the Friday preceding the 'Ashurah, the tenth of Mulharram (February 27, 1874).
On the tenth day of Muharram the festival of Ashurah is held.