October 25th, 2015
Image Source: dailymail
What is The Day of Ashura?
The day bears huge significance among Muslims across the world and more particularly in case of Shia Muslims. Shia Muslims commemorate this day as the day of mourning for the martyrdom of Husayn Ibn Ali, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad at the Battle of Karbala.
Demographics of Shia Muslims
Shia Islam is the second largest denomination of Islam constituting about 10-13% of total Muslim population. The concentration Shia Muslims is higher in few countries like Iran, Iraq, Pakistan & India. In India, Shia Muslims constitute about 2-3% of total population and 25-30% of Indian Muslim population.
Self – Flagellation as a Way of Mourning
The images of people self – flagellating with blades and knives has earned the curiosity of many and some including Muslims have questioned the basis of mourning by self-flagellation. The questions bear significance in the light of images of some children self-flagellating to bleed making rounds on the internet. In many ways, mourning by self-flagellation lacks basis and historical evidence. Why so? We will look into few of the important reasons
1.) Fatwa by the supreme leader of Iran – The Shia majority Iran and many Shiite clerics have denounced self-flagellation as un-Islamic and have issued a fatwa banning self-flagellation. The fatwa has led to many Muslims denouncing self-flagellation and have instead organized blood donation camps. Some have ignored the fatwa.
2.) Its more Asian now – Mourning for Husayn Ibn Ali is believed to have started immediately after the Battle of Karbala however mourning of self – flagellation is widely believed to have started around 15th century. With many Shiite clerics denouncing the act of self-flagellation, the act of self-flagellation is more of an Asian phenomenon now more particularly India & Bangladesh.
3.) Has no Sanctions in the Quran –“Do not cast yourselves, with your own hands, into destruction” – Quran 2-195. The following verse from the Quran is widely cited among scholars as a basis to denounce the act of self-flagellation and rightly so.
Its Time India Takes a Call
The images of children involving in the act of self-flagellation must be condemned and such acts should be banned under the various provisions of the law which safeguards a child’s safety and health. TLI requests Shia Clerics in India should come out, speak, debate and voice out their opinions on the act of self-flagellation and the validity of the same. Given the various instances of fatwa being issued against the act of self-flagellation in Shia majority countries, it is high time Indian government in consultation with the Shia intelligentsia take a call and ban the act.