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[Blog] Commemorating Moharram by the Shias (Shiites)

As every year, this year also the Khoja Shia Ithna Ashary Jamat of Port Louis programmed the commemoration of the martyrdom of Imam Husain (A.S), the grandson of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W) and his followers during the 12 days of Moharram at the centre situated at 58 Sir Edgar Laurent Street. The programmes started as from Thursday 30 July 2022 and went on till Thursday 11 August 2022. Speeches were delivered every night by a guest speaker in the person of Maulana Syed Shabihul Abbas Rizvi from India. Programmes were also organized for the ladies by Mulyani De Neelam Vakil from India.

On Ashura night (Monday 08 August 2022/ 10 Moharram 1444), a Juloos (Procession) left the centre at 9.00 p.m for the usual pacific march around the “Jardin de la Plaine Verte” till 10.30 p.m. During that march, eulogies were recited and speeches were given in commemoration of the martyrdom of Imam Husain (A.S) and his companions. For the Shia Muslims this is an event which is observed every year in a pacific and simple way as we commemorate the death of our near and dear ones. There is no festival or tantrums around this exceptional event. It is a very sad moment which is observed in full respect.

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HISTORY OF TAZIA-E-IMAM HUSAIN (A.S)

Originally the word “tazia” is a derivative of an Arabic word “taziat” meaning “condolence”. It also relates to Taziat which means consoling the relatives who have suffered from a tragedy. In the very beginning, the event of Karbala proved a turning point in the history of Islam. As time passed, the annual practices of commemorations of Karbala changed into rituals. Fourteen centuries later, one may wonder how the events of Karbala transformed into the Moharram rituals practised today. Earlier, the followers of Imam Husain (A.S) were not allowed to commemorate the tragedy of Karbala at public places; it was much later, when they received the patronage from rulers that the public form of commemorations were allowed. During this time span (61 A.H/680 AD – 352 A.H/963 A.D) when Shias (Shiites) were restricted to observing the Moharram rituals indoors in Baghdad, the fifth Shiite Imam, Imam Mohammad baqir A.S (676-732 A.D) and his son Imam Jafare Sadiq A.S (702-765 A.D) projected the commemorations as sacred, and preached that the only source of salvation on the day of resurrection was participation in Moharram rituals. 

The practice and rituals commemorating the tragedy of karbala spread with the expansion of Islam. Because of diversity of cultures in Muslim Countries, the traditions of Azadari also vary from country to country and culture to culture. As the people of the sub continent adopted Islam and started to commemorate the event of Karbala, they established their own traditions of azadari according to their diverse cultures. 

In Mauritius, the taziadari started in late fifties well before the foundation of the Khoja Shia Ithna Ashary Jamat in 1960. Late Hajee Kassamally Esmael, the Founder of the Mauritius Jamat used his residence at 67 Sir Virgil Naz Street (Touraine Street) in Port Louis for the commemoration of Moharram and other religious activities of the community. The first tazia (Replicate of the Shrine of Imam Husain A.S) was designed and made by Late Al Haj Barkatali Gulam Husein Rajani and Al Haj Yusuf Ali Gulam Husain Sheriff and the first procession (juloos) was taken out on the night of Ashura between the residence of Late Hajee Kassamally Esmael at Sir Virgil Naz Street and the residence of Late Hasan Ali Pirbhai at 81, Magon Street, Port Louis.

Since then every year for the past 62 years the Shias (Shiites) of Mauritius have been commemorating the martyrdom of Imam Husain A.S and his companions. 

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PREPARED BY SHABBIR HUSEIN RAJANI, PRESIDENT OF THE KHOJA SHIA ITHNA ASHARY JAMAT OF MAURITIUS

 

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