Tasu’a Date in the current year: July 16, 2024

Tasu’a Tasu’a, also spelled Tassoua, is the day before Ashura, an Islamic holiday commemorating the Battle of Karbala and the martyrdom of Imam Husayn ibn Ali. While Ashura is a public holiday in a number of countries, Iran is the only country that celebrates Tasu’a as a public holiday as well.

Ashura is a day of fasting and mourning observed on the tenth day of the Islamic month of Muharram. It marks the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali, as well as the day when Musa (Moses) and his people were saved from Pharaoh and his army when God commanded Musa to part the Red Sea using his staff.

The day preceding Ashura — the ninth day of Muharram — is named Tasu’ai. Its name derives from the Arabic word for “ninth”. It commemorates several events that are believed to have occurred on this day and are directly related to the death of Imam Husayn in the Battle of Karbala.

The first event is the arrival of Shimr at Karbalai. Shimr, also spelled Shemr or Shamir, was a military commander from Kufa who served the Umayyads. He brought an order from the Umayyad governor Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad to Umar ibn Sa’d to make Husayn submit to Ubayd Allah’s authority or kill him.

The second event is the granting of the guarantee of safe conduct to the children of Umm al-Banin, a wife of Husayn’s father Ali ibn Abi Talib (her eldest son, Abbas ibn Alii, was Husayn’s half-brother and the standard-bearer of his forces), provided that they abandon Husayn and pledge allegiance to the Umayyad ruler. Abbas didn’t accept the offer and stayed by Husayn’s side. Following his refusal, Umar ibn Sa’d began to prepare for the battle with Husayn’s troops.

The final event of the ninth day of Muharram was the siege of Husayni and is companions at Karbala. Umar ibn Sa’ad agreed to wait until the next day until attacking, and Husayn and his men spent the night making defense arrangements and praying.

While Ashura focuses on the martyrdom of Imam Husayn, Tasu’a is primarily dedicated to Abbas ibn Ali because of his loyalty to Husayn and his role in the Battle of Karbala in which he was the flag-bearer for Hysayn’s troops and displayed outstanding bravery, courage and ferocityi. Abbas was killed in the battle and buried at the spot where he fell from his horse. The Al-Abba Shrine was built at his burial place. It is situated in present-day Iraq.

On the day of Tasu’a, Shia Muslims attend mosques or participate in public mourning ceremoniesi. They read poems in honor of Abbas and recite Hadith (accounts of Muhammad’s words and actions). Other mourning traditions of Tasu’a and Ashura include chanting, processions, self-flagellation, and Ta’zieh (religious plays inspired by the Battle of Karbala and the martyrdom of Imam Husayn).

As we’ve already mentioned above, Iran is the only country where Tasu’a is an official holiday, whereas Ashura is a public holiday in a number of countries with a significant Shia population including Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, the Gambia, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Mali, Pakistan, Somalia, Senegal, and parts of India.

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Tasu’a, Tassoua, public holidays, religions observances, holidays in Iran, Islamic holidays, day of mourning