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The 'Ashoor Khanas are generally related to the period of 'Azadari. Intense religious activity in the 'Ashoor Khanas begin during the period of'Azadari which starts from the first of Muharram and ends on the eighth Rabi-ul-Aval. This period lasts for two months and eight days comprising of the first ten days of the first month of the Hijra calendar Muhrram. It is during this time the Muslims, particularly the Shi' as mourn the tragedy of Karbala and install 'Alams in 'Ashoor Khanas. It is the 'Azadari that distinguishes the Shi 'as from other Muslim Sects.

The mourning of this tragedy has become the most sacred event in the history of the Shias. They identify themselves with the tragedy and the event. As soon as the moon of Muhrram is sighted, black costumes are worn and all festivities are abandoned. 'Alams are installed in the Ashoor Khanas. Majalis (religious congregations) are conducted and amidst tears, the tragedy of Karbala is recited. The Shi'as firmly believe that the Majalis are attended by Bibi Fatima, the daughter of the prophet, in the company of angels. Quoting Imam Jaffar-e-Sadiq, the Sixth Imam they firmly believe that their tears will pave the way to Heaven..

The 'Ashoor Khana which is also called Imam Bada. Bargah, Alava and Darga is a building which houses the conventional copies of standards carried by Imam Hussain called 'Alams or certain relics of a Masoom.
Ashoor Khanas are meant to mourn the tragedy of Karbala. It was : the battle fought between Yazid Ibn Mu'awiyah and Hussain Ibn Ali on of the Hijra year 61/October10, 680 A.D. M'awiyah,

Who died on April 18,680 A.D. had nominated his son Yazid, an unworthy person as his successor and had forced the people to accept him as Khalifa. Yazid who claimed to be the Khalifa of the Muslims, was openly acting contrary to the Quran and Sunnah, Imam Hussain, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad refused to submit to his authority and accept him as the successor of the Prophet. Yazid insisted upon Bay 'at -total submission-after coming to the throne. He wrote to his Governor Valeed at Madina to force Imam Hussain to comply with the By'at Imam Hussain left Madina in 60H/679 A.D. alongwith his family and friends to go to Kujfa from where he had received a number of letters inviting him. Imam Hussain reached Mecca on his way to Kuffa and sent his brother Muslim ibn Aqeel in advance as his representative. Muslim was well received at first and a large number of people assured him of their allegiance to Imam Hussain. Finding the conditions suitable he wrote to Imam Hussain to come to Kuffa. But soon the tide changed. The governor of Kuffa sent an army against Muslim and he was killed during the battle. The Kuffies now turned against Imam Hussain.

Imam Hussain left Mecca and reached Karbala, West of the Euphrates, about sixty two miles South West of Baghdad on the rim of the desert on second Muhrram 61/680. Along with his family and companions. He was followed by a detachment of Yazid's army under the command of Hurr Ibn Zyad Rihaee all along the way. From third Muhrram onwards the troops of Yazid's army started coming to Karbala to fight against Imam Hussain. From seventh Muhrram water was denied to Imam Hussain, his family and friends. The battle began on the morning of tenth Muhrram when all the efforts of Imam Hussain failed for a peaceful settlement. Omer Ibn Sa'ad the commander-in-chief of Yazid's army insisted upon Bay' at which Imam Hussain refused. The battle ended in the evening when Imam Hussain fell fighting gallantly.

The 'Alam was given to Hazart 'Abbas, a brother of Imam Hussain during this battle, Hazrat Abbas fell fighting near the Euphrates and Imam Hussain brought the 'Alam back to his tent. This 'Alam was looted along with the other articles and sent to Yazid. When the family of Imam Hussain returned to Madina after a year, the same 'Alam was handed over to Basheer Ibn Nooman to take it in to the city and convey the message of the death of Imam Hussain.
It was hereafter that the 'Alam became a conventional sign of the Martyrs of Karbala.


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