Muslims have been slashing the foreheads of infants and children this week as part of an annual Islamic ritual that seeks to commemorate the death of the grandson of Mohammed.
Online photos that capture images of terrified children and babies provide a glimpse into Muslim traditions surrounding the Day of Ashura, which marks the death of Husyn ibn Ali approximately 1,300 years ago. He was the son of Fatimah, Mohammed’s daughter, and was beheaded during the Battle of Karbala in 680 A.D.
To remember his death, many Shi’a Muslims observe the Day of Ashura each year, generally in October or November. In countries such as Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Pakistan, the observance is considered a national holiday, which to some also is a time when Muslims seeks to shed blood as a means to obtain forgiveness for sins.
In addition to cutting a gash in the forehead of children and babies, some children and adults voluntarily slash their bodies with knives or flagellate themselves with whips in order to reinact the death of Ali. One saying claims, “A single tear shed for Husayn washes away a hundred sins.” Participants are seen in some cities walking the streets with blood staining their clothing and dripping from their head, chest and back.
Written by Heather Clark
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