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Meet 'Ashura': The Islamic Holiday That Calls for Mass Self-Inflicted Violence
Most families have some embarrassing holiday traditions. Maybe an ugly sweater Christmas party. Bad egg nog. Poorly sculpted jack-o'-lanterns for Halloween. Or if you're Muslim, a huge festival where you slice yourself up to gain extra salvation points.
Ashura is an Islamic holiday observed on the 10th of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic year.
For Shi'a Muslims, rituals and observances of Ashura consist primarily of public expressions of mourning and grief. Some Shi'as express mourning by flagellating themselves on the back with chains, beating their head or ritually cutting themselves. This is intended to connect them with Husayn's (son of Imam 'Ali and grandson of Muhammad) suffering and death as an aid to salvation on the day of judgement.
There you have it. A bunch of dudes gathering together to whip themselves in order to gain eternal pleasure. In America, we call this the Folsom Street Fair. And no, this isn't just a "fringe minority" of people who get involved. It's sort of a big deal.
Husayn's martyrdom is widely interpreted by Shia as a symbol of the struggle against injustice, tyranny, and oppression. In London, around 3,000 Shi'a Muslims gather at the Marble Arch on Ashura for a mourning procession and speeches.
On a side note, here's a tip: spare yourself the horror and don't Google image search Ashura. I've included some rather tame images below just so you know I'm not pulling your leg/mutilating your genitals.
72 virgins, here I come!
FUN FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY!
Yes, those are the tamest ones I could find. You're welcome. Moving on. Apparently the holiday is so psycho that even Saddam Hussein himself sought to get rid of it.
The regime of Saddam Hussein saw this as a potential threat and banned Ashura commemorations for many years. [T]he festival became a major political symbol during the Islamic Revolution, as also occurred in Lebanon during that country's civil war.
Also, in case you were wondering: children (even babies) are subjected to this "holiday" as well. Including the whole painful spiritual experience part. We have plenty of names for that. Indoctrination, child abuse, evil. The list goes on. The point is, chances of recovery from that sort of trauma are slim.
This perfectly illustrates why Islam is incompatible with... Well, not suffering. The entire religion is centered on suffering. Lots of it. All the time. Extra for women. Double-secret-extra if you're not even Muslim. #Equality
In case you're wondering; this is just one of the many, many examples that proves not all religions are equal (read Dear Liberals: Yes, Some Religions Are Much Better Than Others). Some are terrible. Mostly Islam. Disagree with me? Refer back to those many examples I mentioned.
Also, watch this video.