Saturday, 10 January 2009

WSJ's Photo Journal: Ashura

Photo © Morteza Nikoubazl/Reuters-All Rights Reserved

The Wall Street Journal's Photo Journal is replete with gorgeous large format photographs, and are chosen to follow world events. I particularly liked the photograph of these men covering themselves in mud for the Ashura religious festival a few days ago in Khorramabad, Iran. I have no idea what that particular ritual signifies.

Ashura is commemorated by the Shi‘a branch of Islam as a day of mourning for the death of Hussein, the grandson of the prophet Muhammad at the Battle of Karbala. However, Sunni Muslims believe that Moses fasted on that day to express gratitude to God for liberation of Israelites from Egypt. According to Sunni Muslim tradition, Muhammad fasted on this day and asked other people to fast.

The caption under this photograph on the WSJ's Photo Journal that all Muslims mourn the slaying of Hussein is an exaggerated statement.