ʿASHARA MUBĀRAKA

ʿASHARA

MUBĀRAKA

A Journey Towards Humanity

INTRODUCTION

In narratives of the tragic events that befell the Prophet Mohammed’s SAW grandson Imam Husain AS, we are told that his journey towards the Hereafter began where his journey in this world came to an end: the land of Karbala. For Imam Husain AS, his kin and companions, the journey to Karbala through the scorching deserts of Iraq was a journey that eventually ended in their martyrdom. It was a journey to a battle where they took their last stand against the forces of indecency, immorality and inhumanity. A journey towards immortality in which they attained the loftiest of ranks in Heaven and the highest of places in the history of mankind.
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'O Husain SA in the Arabic script. This phrase is often repeated by the faithful, especially during the days of 'Ashara Mubaraka.

The journey to Karbala and the events that unfolded on its desert sands have not been forgotten. Over 1400 years later, millions of Muslims remember the path taken by Imam Husain at the start of the new Islamic year and embark upon a journey of their own: one of commemoration, remembrance and grief. ʿAshara Mubāraka, or the Blessed Ten, is a period of ten days at the start of the new year that is dedicated to remembering and recalling the tragedy of Karbala and the plight of Imam Husain AS, his family and companions and their stand for Islam, justice, truth and ultimately, for humanity.

The remembrance and commemoration of Imam Husain’s AS journey is a journey in itself: one that, as His Holiness Dr Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS explains, illuminates the very essence of what it means to be human.

A BRIEF HISTORY

Husain Imam left the sacred precincts of the Holy Ka’ba in order to answer the pleas for help sent by the people of Iraq. Alarmed by the Umayyad ruler Yazid and the path of indecency, cruelty and injustice he had embarked upon, the people of Kufa and nearby cities pledged their loyalty to Imam Husain, the last remaining member of the Prophet Mohammed’s immediate family. They beseeched him, demanded even, that he journey to Kufa and uphold the cause of Islam, truth and justice. Husain Imam answered their call and with his family — including women and young children — and a contingent of faithful companions set out for Iraq. This was Husain Imam’s final earthly journey, a path that many Muslims believe he was destined to take for the sake of Islam and one foretold by his grandfather the Prophet Mohammed.
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Picture: The holy sepulchre of Imam Husain AS in Karbala. The 51st dāʿī, Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA dedicated the silver and gold sepulchre seen here in 1355/1937. With the installment of a new shrine in 1424/2013, the sepulchre dedicated by the 51st dāʿī has now been relocated to the Holy Shrine’s museum and parts have been reinstalled at a newly constructed lower level.

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THE BLESSED TEN

Muslims across the world commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Husain AS during ʿAshara Mubāraka with the belief that doing so is a source of blessings and a means to spiritual purification. This is why the ten days are considered mubāraka, or ‘blessed’. Like millions of Muslims across the world, the Dawoodi Bohra community under the guidance and leadership of the 53rd al-dāʿī al-muṭlaq, His Holiness Dr Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS, dedicates these days to the remembrance and lamentation of Imam Husain AS and seeks blessings from this deeply spiritual event.

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SYEDNA'S

SERMONS

"The principles of Maulana al-Imam al-Husain’s AS shahādat (martyrdom) are founded upon truth and loyalty. Its fundamentals are based upon mutual compassion and sincerity, whilst its lofty tents are raised upon trust in Allah Taʿālā with complete conviction and unwavering fortitude in the face of the oppressor’s oppression."

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The largest gathering within the Dawoodi Bohra community takes place at the venue where His Holiness Dr Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS, the head of the Dawoodi Bohra community, leads the commemoration. The ʿAshara Mubāraka majālis led by His Holiness TUS himself are conducted at a scale like no other and offer a truly unique experience for the tens, and sometimes, hundreds of thousands who attend. His Holiness TUS conducts a series of ten sermons in which he recalls the hardships and tribulations faced by Imam Husain AS and describes the courage and fortitude shown by him, his family and companions.

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Picture: The late His Holiness Dr Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA delivering a sermon during ʿAshara Mubāraka in Mombasa in 1430/2008.

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Picture Caption: A view of the congregation listening to Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin’s TUS sermons in the Hakimi Masjid complex, Dar es Salaam.

Continuing the time-honoured tradition of his forefathers, His Holiness TUS chooses a different city as the venue for where he leads ʿAshara Mubāraka each year. Among the numerous advantages of such a practice, one major benefit is the transformation of the selected location into a cultural hub for the Dawoodi Bohra community. The presence of Syedna TUS, the influx of thousands of visitors and the coordination and cooperation with local, state and national governmental bodies cements the local community’s standing. Since the event is replete with spiritual, economic, cultural and social impact, cities vie for the honour of hosting it.

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Prophet Mohammed Hadith on Imam Husain

The Prophet Mohammed SAW states:
He who sheds tears upon [the tragedy of] my son Husain, or causes another to shed tears, or if unable to cry, reveals his grief through his facial expressions, is guaranteed jannat (heaven).

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PAST

VENUES

"Those Husain fought against in Karbala did not merely come to desecrate and destroy the religions of past prophets, or the religion of Islam, but to desecrate humanity itself, which is the essence of all religions."

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Since His Holiness Dr Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS ascended to the leadership mantle of the community after the passing of his respected father, His Holiness Dr Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA in 2014, he has conducted five ʿAshara Mubārakas in three continents. His inaugural ʿAshara Mubāraka as head of the community took place in Surat, his city of birth, in 2014 where over 100,000 individuals attended. The following year, His Holiness TUS was invited to Houston, USA, where he delivered sermons to an audience of over 25,000: the largest community event to have ever taken place in the West. The Mayor of Houston and several local politicians and leaders visited His Holiness TUS at the masjid complex during the event as a recognition of ʿAshara Mubāraka’s impact on the city and in solidarity with the messages of peace, patriotism and love for all that were at the heart of His Holiness’ TUS sermons.

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In 2016, Syedna TUS selected Dar es Salaam, the capital of Tanzania, as the venue for the ʿAshara Mubāraka gathering. In this historic event, over 30,000 Dawoodi Bohras attended the event making it the largest ever international gathering to have taken place in Tanzania. The influx of visitors to the city and their subsequent contributions to the tourism sector of the country proved a boon for both the local and national economies. The President of Tanzania, His Excellency John Magufuli, called on His Holiness TUS at the ʿAshara venue and addressed the gathering of thousands of people.

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The following year, in 2017, His Holiness TUS decided to conduct the sermons in Karachi, Pakistan. Despite security concerns, 60,000 people gathered in the heart of the city’s business district where the community’s central masjid is located for the period of ten days. His Holiness’ TUS sermons had drawn an international crowd in numbers Karachi had not seen in many years. Government leaders such as the Chief Minister of Sindh, Syed Murad Ali Shah, thanked His Holiness TUS for his continued faith in Pakistan, its government and its people, and cited the successful completion of ʿAshara Mubāraka as an example of the peace and stability that has returned to the city.

ʿAshara Mubāraka in 2018 in Indore was also ground-breaking in many ways. It saw the largest congregation of Dawoodi Bohras for the event to date, totalling nearly 210,000 people. On the 4th of Muharram, Syedna TUS welcomed the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi to the ʿAshara Mubāraka assembly in which both he and the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan, participated in the majlis and addressed the gathering.

The Prime Minister spoke of Imam Husain’s TUS martyrdom and the lessons his sacrifice offers to mankind today. He and the Chief Minister acknowledged the contributions to the nation by Syedna TUS and his forefathers, as well as the many initiatives for social welfare, economic growth, environmental conservation and education they have undertaken.

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This year His Holiness TUS chose Colombo, Sri Lanka as the venue for the ʿAshara Mubāraka sermons. Despite security concerns in the wake of terrorist attacks earlier in the year, more than 27,000 people gathered in Colombo to partake in the sermons with His Holiness TUS. The standards of Husain AS fluttered high atop community edifices in the city communicating to the world the messages inherent in the martyrdom of Imam Husain AS - those of peace, love and humanity - and demonstrating their power in healing wounds and bringing people together. The large influx of community members went a long way in rejuvenating Sri Lanka’s ailing economy which had experienced considerable decline in the aftermath of the attacks and restored confidence in the country as a safe destination for visitors. Colombo has been host to ʿAshara Mubāraka six times in the past during the tenure of the 51st and 52nd dāʿis, with the last one being conducted by the late His Holiness Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA in 2008.
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ALL

ENCOMPASSING

"An everlasting example of benevolence in the face of injustice, is the benevolence shown upon mankind on the battlefield of Karbala. For the sake of Haqq (what is true and right), Imam Husain AS sacrificed the lives of his beloved family and companions upon the scorching sands of the desert, their throats parched. In the end, he, too, covered with wounds and having shed countless droplets of his blessed blood, gave his life, and in doing so saved all humanity from falling into disgrace and dishonour."

Syedna Mufaddal SaifuddinTUS

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The majālis of ʿAshara Mubāraka extend beyond the masjid where the sermons take place. Our faith encompasses all aspects of life and similarly, ʿAshara Mubāraka, arguably the truest manifestation of the Dawoodi Bohra faith, provides numerous opportunities for growth in our personal and social lives. It is where the values and guidance disseminated in the sermons are first put into practice. Throughout the ten day period, a host of community organizations take advantage of the enormous attendance and learning-conducive environment to educate, create awareness and provide various services to the attendees and the city.

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MEDICAL SERVICES

Medical camps staffed by volunteer doctors and medical professionals from around the world offer consultations, testing and non-prescription medicine free of charge. The camps are situated in different location and also offer emergency medical aid to community and non-community members. Individuals can walk-in or take appointments with highly qualified specialists where they are offered free tests and diagnosis. Often, the camps help attendees uncover existing but hidden ailments or provide a more effective treatment for known conditions. The medical camps also conduct sessions on healthy eating and living.

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COUNSELLING

At its core, the ʿAshara sermons are about growth in knowledge, understanding and wisdom. This environment is ideal for discussions regarding education. Organisations affiliated to the community’s premier educational institute, Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah, offer student counselling sessions conducted by professionals from various fields. The conversations help young students and professionals identify career paths and study options in line with His Holiness’ TUS counsel and guidance. Apart from individual counselling, discussion groups are held where participants, collectively and individually, reflect upon core concepts from Syedna’s TUS sermons. During ʿAshara Mubāraka, as in life, learning is continuous.

CLEANLINESS & HYGIENE

Purity is a fundamental tenet of Islam originating in the soul and extending outwards to every aspect of an individual’s life: purity of thought, word and deed. Inspired by this spirit and understanding of purity, the naẓāfat, or cleanliness committee, helps local sanitation departments in keeping the ʿAshara venue clear of litter. The committee also tries to educate attendees about green practices and the small lifestyle changes that make the environment better for all.
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IN THE NAME OF HUSAIN

The aspect of ʿAshara that requires the most logistics and is, perhaps, most emblematic of the event is the Mawāʾid. Mawāʾid is an Arabic word meaning platters filled with food, and thus it is used as the name for the large dining areas where thousands of guests partake in communal meals. Hosting another for a meal is a tradition deeply rooted in the Islamic faith and observed by the Bohra community with great fervour. Attendees voluntarily fund the millions of individual meals provided during the event and make the most of this opportunity, according to their individual capacities, to be hosts to their fellow community members in the name of Imam Husain AS. Despite the vast amounts of resources required and almost impossible logistics, breakfast, lunch and dinner is served in a couple of hours to thousands of people, on a daily basis. Perhaps the greatest exemplar of feeding others in the love of Imam Husain AS is His Holiness TUS.

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CONCLUSION

For the hosts of the event and their sleepless nights, for the volunteers who sacrifice their time and resources and for the guests who arrive in their thousands in the love of Husain Imam AS, attending ʿAshara Mubāraka with His Holiness TUS is a journey like no other. For each participant, it is a journey of transformation and reinvigoration. Whether it is the knowledge we gain during the sermons, the realization that dawns upon us in a discussion group after a communal meal, or the satisfaction we experience in feeding another or lending them a helping hand, each moment of ʿAshara Mubāraka brings us closer to an ideal version of ourselves. And as the days pass and we grow closer to the culmination that lies in the day of ʿĀshūrāʾ, the milestones of thought, mourning and service to one another that we cross each day remind us of who we are and enlighten us with the possibilities of who we can become. ʿAshara Mubāraka is a journey towards the depths of human meaning and the heights of human possibility. We are constantly and continuously reminded of Imam Husain’s TUS loyalty, his sacrifice, his steadfast ability to stand up to tyranny and most importantly, the love he bore for us in his heart, and we are forever changed.

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WHY I ATTEND

I look forward to ʿAshara Mubāraka each year with great anticipation. In addition to experiencing His Holiness’ TUS sermons first hand, the event acts as a yearly reunion for our family which is spread throughout the world and seldom meets. Although we come together in the love of Husain AS, our love for each other grows and the bonds of our family are strengthened.

- Ummesalama, New Jersey

At a deeply personal level, Imam Husain’s AS sacrifice was for me, for my today and eternal tomorrow. Attending ʿAshara and listening to Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin’s TUS sermons puts this into focus, draws me away from the hurly burly of everyday life into contemplation of what is really important, reminds me of my values and helps me set my priorities. I go back to my everyday life from each ʿAshara with a greater understanding of who I am, where I want to go, how I will get there and who will be by my side. I have a blueprint that helps me navigate the challenges of the year ahead.

- Duriya, Singapore

نتبرك بالحلضور في معية فخامة السلطان مولانا المنان ط ع كي نستفيد من مواعظة الجزيلة وتطمىن نفوسنا باقتناء أدعيته المباركة مما نلقيه في هذا الوضع الراهن بين الحروب الطاحنة وذلك حقا سبب الأمن لنا خاصة ولأهل اليمن عامة

Surrounded by war and distress in Yemen, I attend ʿAshara with Syedna TUS so that I may benefit from his sermons and find peace in his prayers for our well-being.

- Abdulqadir, Sana’a

There is no clearer expression of one's humanity than in the experience of grieving the martyrdom of Imam Husain AS with his dāʿī Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS. ʿAshara is a time when an individual can understand himself in the context of creation and see and live the purpose for which he is created. There is nothing more humbling; there is nothing more meaningful.

- Ibrahim, Boston

Je vais faire ʿAshara Mubāraka avec Maula TUS car durant ces 10 jours Maula me donne la chance de méditer et de me purifier grâce au sacrifice de Imam Husain AS mais aussi d’apprendre d’avantage sur ma raison d’être. En ces dix jours, nous vivre une vie entière.

I attend ʿAshara Mubāraka with Maula TUS because during these 10 days Maula gives me the chance to meditate and purify myself through the [remembrance of the] sacrifice of Imam Husain AS but also to learn more about my purpose. In these ten days, we live an entire life.
- Sherebanu, Paris

અશરા મુબારકા મૌલા સાથે કરવુ એ મારા સૂખી જીવનની ચાવી છે

Being with Syedna during ʿAshara, is the key to happiness in my life.

- Abdulhusain, Kapadvanj (India)