Muslims in Australia commemorate Ashura

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The annual commemoration of Ashura is giving Muslims in Australia the chance to answer questions about their religion.

Australian Muslims have taken the Shia commemoration of Ashura to talk to the general public about their faith and dispel any negative misconceptions.

“It is a way for us to be part of the public, so when we go out with our message, we say ‘here we are, this is who we are’, said Basim Al Ansari, one of the event organisers, told SBS.

One of the organisers, Basim Al Ansari speaks to SBS
One of the Sydney event organisers, Basim Al Ansari, speaks to SBS
SBS

“If we don’t hold these events, we are not responding to a lot of requests from the Australian public that says ‘good Muslims have to speak up’. If we don’t speak up, we have the loud mouths that unfortunately are a very small minority hijacking the image of Islam.”

“We have three dozen young people, from our own community, who are talking to the public [answering] any questions, any information they seek.

“We want to make it face-to-face, one-on-one, instead of just saying our message and just leaving,” Mr Al Ansari said.

Why is Ashura important for Muslim Australians?

And it is a responsibility that has resonated strongly with young Shia Muslims, like Saja Alassadi, who attended the Sydney march.

“It is our duty, and the message on our shoulders is to spread the message of love,” she told SBS.

“To show the world that we still hold the values of the selfless man that died for the message of love, humanity and faith,” Ms Alassadi said.

Young Shia Muslim Saja Alassadi attended the march in Sydney
Young Shia Muslim Saja Alassadi attended the march in Sydney
SBS

Marches from Sydney’s Town Hall to Central station, and Melbourne’s Carlton Gardens to Flagstaff Garden drew big crowds, with many Muslims of different backgrounds participating.

“Not just to hold our beliefs for ourselves, but the share it with other Australians and to come together from all backgrounds make us connected,” Afghani, Hossain Karimi told SBS.

It's one of the characteristics that organisers take into account.

"We have an Australian message, social justice, peace,.. and multiculturalism, and tolerance and inclusiveness," Mr Al Ansari said.

"We have [also] created a fabric where everyone is one. We come together as one, so we don’t people congregating in their own little circle. We try to be inclusive as much as possible."

Myanmar Shia Muslims flagellate themselves as they take part Ashura Day procession in Yangon, Myanmar,
Myanmar Shia Muslims flagellate themselves as they take part Ashura Day procession in Yangon, Myanmar,
AAP

Around the World, millions of Shia Muslims have marked the festival with public rituals, sometimes involving bloody self-flagellation or cutting to signify a link with the sufferings of Hussain, whose death symbolises a wider struggle against oppression and tyranny.

"It is not just a ritual, but also an occasion to confess the mistakes we have made in the past," said Humayan Kabir, a Shia Muslim in the old part of Dhaka.

-- with Reuters

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