Posted on August 14, 2023

Hundreds of Shia Muslims Chant and Beat Their Chests as They March Through Streets of Blackburn

Chris Matthews, Daily Mail, August 8, 2023

Hundreds of Shia Muslims chanted and beat their chests as they marched through the streets of Blackburn in an annual event to mark Ashura.

Ashura is an Islamic holy day to commemorate the death of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of Muhammad, who was beheaded at the Battle of Karbala in AD680.

Many of the Shia Muslims in Blackburn were barefoot as they held banners and followed a coffin draped with black cloth.

They paused to beat their chest in unison as they chanted mournful melodies to show their grief.

The Battle of Karbala took place in modern-day central Iraq, around 60 miles southwest of Baghdad.

Ashura occurs on the tenth day of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar.

The procession in Blackburn was organised by volunteers, who spoke to passersby about the meaning and history behind the event.

Many of the men’s chests were noticeably red after they beat them during the procession.

Two horses later joined the march, which barely disrupted traffic and no police officers were reportedly needed.

Around the world, Shia Muslims also mark the day with plays about the battle as well as sermons and prayers.

Others set out on pilgrimages to Husayn’s shrine in Karbala.

Many devout Shia Muslims in the Middle East often flagellate themselves with chains and swords, leaving the streets soaked in blood as part of the holy day.

The ritual bloodletting carried out by men and boys is said to wash away sins and act as a symbol of mourning for Hussein.

Across India, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Afghanistan and other countries with Shia populations, devotees see their pristine white robes turn red as blood pours from their heads after cutting themselves with ceremonial knives.