We are in the middle of an important Muslim holiday called Ashura, recognized by Shiite Muslims only. It is not so much a holiday as it is a remembrance of a great battle that took place several years ago when many were killed. Shiites remember the martyrdom of Hussein (the grandson of Muhammed) along with all the members of his family and close friends at the Battle of Karbala.
Shiite Muslims all over the world will set aside ten days for lamentation and mourning. They will pray and weep and fast, seeking God's favor and blessing. They may refrain from music, drinking and eating. It is a time for sorrow and respect, wearing mourning attire, crying, listening to poems about the tragedy and sermons on how Hussein and his family were martyred. Here in America, our Shiite friends may gather on the last day of Ashura and openly display their grief (while watching the national observance on their satellite TV). The men would traditionally cut their body with knives and chains, but while “flagellation” is still permitted in some countries it is outlawed in most, and ceremonial chest beating is more common. Our Muslim friends believe that “a single tear shed for Hussein washes away a thousand sins.”
Blood is a common theme for Shiites. Stories of the first animal that God sacrificed to cover Adam and Eve when they sinned, the acceptable sacrifice of Abel rather than the offering of fruit his brother Cain brought, the almost-sacrifice of Abrahams son and how God provided another way (which we just celebrated), the blood on the doors of the Israelites that saved them from the angel of death, and so many other stories like this are very meaningful to our Shiite friends. Some of these stories are in their Koran, and provide a beautiful bridge to share about Jesus and his blood that brought forgiveness and purchased our salvation.
If you would like to learn more about what Shiites believe and to join us in prayer for these 10 days of Ashura, please go to www.shbride.blogspot.com . You will find more resources and tools on the website, and also view some incredible sights and sounds of Muslims all over the world.
Prayer is the key in reaching our Muslim friends for Christ, and spending time with them translates the love of Jesus in such a practical way that really blesses them. The Scriptures say “mourn with those who mourn” and so you can express your heart of compassion to them during this sad time. Listen to their stories and share some of your own, as well as the Hope that you have. May our Muslim friends be filled with the knowledge of Him!