Caferis mournfully observe day of Ashoura in Istanbul
Shiite Muslims have observed the holy day of Ashoura (Aşure) that they typically mark with mournful gatherings in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic.
Turkey’s Caferi community of Shiite Muslims held a parade and commemoration event in Istanbul’s Halkalı neighborhood, where the community has a big presence, to mark the suffering of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Imam Hussein, a revered figure in Shiite Islam.
A large crowd dressed in black and wearing headbands gathered at a culture center for speeches by community leaders and marched on the streets amid mourning chants as they beat their chests and flogged themselves with chains.
Some burst out crying, while some mourners carried symbolic coffins.
Speaking at the event, the leader of the Caferis, Selahattin Özgündüz, gave a message of unity and solidarity.
“This nation adorned all its places of worship with the names of [Prophet] Muhammad, [Caliph] Ali, Hassan and Hussein [Prophet Muhammad’s grandsons], and the most used name was Ahl al-Bayt’s [family of the prophet] names and nicknames,” Özgündüz said.
“These names and this love have become the insurance of the fertility, unity and solidarity of this nation and this country,” he added.
In the eastern provinces of Kars and Iğdır provinces, where large collective events are held under normal conditions, the day of Ashoura was commemorated with prayers in places of worship.
Ashoura commemorates the seventh-century killing of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, in the Battle of Karbala in present-day Iraq with the army of the then caliph, Yazid, to whom Hussein had refused to pledge allegiance.
For Sunni Muslims, the day of Ashoura is observed as a day of charity instead.
Nonprofit organizations and municipalities served Ashoura dessert, a mixture of morsels of grain and dried fruits in a sweet pudding garnished with pomegranate, to thousands of people across Turkey on the occasion.