Ashura Day 2020

In the year 2020, Ashura falls on 28, 29, and 30 August. There can be differences in the dates as the appearance of the crescent moon is used to determine the beginning of the Islamic month. This can vary from region to region.

Ashura Date 2020

Festival Name Date States
Ashura 28 to 30 August 2020 (Fridat to Sunday) Many States

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Ashura is a very important day in the Islamic calendar. It marks the remembrance of Muharram. The meaning of the word ‘ashura’ in Arabic is ‘the 10th day’. This is not a festive occasion but a respectful and mournful remembrance of the grandson of the Islamic Prophet Muhammed (PBUH), who was Husayn ibn Ali. He was martyred at the Battle of Karbala in the year AD 680. Both Sunni Muslims and Shi’a Muslims observe this day with great reverence as a holy day on the 10th day of the first month in the Islamic calendar, which is Muharram.

Ashura is an annual commemoration in remembrance of the death of Husayn ibn Ali and his family with mourning beginning in the aftermath of the martyrdom itself. The earliest mourning rituals were recorded to have started in the year 963 CE. It is a national holiday in many countries around the world, most notably in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Lebanon, India, and Pakistan.

For Sunni Muslims, there is another special significance for Ashura. It marks the day that God saved Moses and the Israelites from the Pharoah of Egypt by parting the Red Sea, thereby giving them a clear route to escape while drowning the army of the Pharoah that was in pursuit of them. For Sunni Muslims, another significance of Ashura is that it marks the day that Noah left the Ark after the floods that consumed the earth receded all around it with God promising that there would be no more floods of such a magnitude in future.

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Observance of Ashura among Shi’a Muslims

Shia Muslims observe Ashura by making a pilgrimage on that day to the tomb of Husayn ibn Ali, which is in a shrine in Iraq, in the city of Karbala. Mourning attire is worn. They listen to recollections and sermons of how he and his family were martyred. All worldly celebrations are shunned on this day. Events are held in special halls. The battle of Karbala is seen to symbolise the battle between good and evil.

Observance of Ashura among Sunni Muslims

For Sunni Muslims, observing Ashura, which the Ramadan fast supersedes, is not obligatory. This was a day on which customary fasting was already being observed by the Sunni Muslim community in Mecca. Since fasting on during the Ramadan month became obligatory, fasting on Ashura became non-compulsory.

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Observance of Ashura among the Jews

The tenth day of this month is thought to be the 10th day of the month of Tishri in the Jewish calendar, which is designated in the Torah already as a holy day to be observed with a fast in commemoration of God rescuing the fleeing Israelis from the Pharoah’s Egyptian army by parting the Red Sea so that only the Jews escaped with the Egyptians drowning as the waters of the sea started to close behind them. Ashura became distinct from Yom Kippur which is its predecessor and a Jewish holy day observed on the same day.

General Observances of Ashura

In some countries, plays are performed that reenact the battle of Karbala. In Iraq and Lebanon, the Sheikh in mosques will recite the stories of the battle so that people will remember the sacrifices that were done by Husayn ibn Ali and his family and remember it in mourning. Processions are also carried out in some places with people beating their chests in grief. In some places, chants of ‘Ya Husayn’ are called out mournfully in response to the rhythmic beating of drums. Mourners of all genders, ages, and backgrounds congregate at mosques to listen to the stories and sermons and remember Husayn ibn Ali.

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