[ ash-oo-rah ]
/ ˈæʃ ʊ rɑ /
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the tenth of the month of Muharram, an important fast day for Sunni Muslims.
(among Shiʿite Muslims) the anniversary of the martyrdom of Hussein.
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Origin of ʿAshuraʾ

From the Arabic word ʿĀshūrāʾ
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is Ashura?

Ashura is a Muslim holy day during the Islamic calendar month of Muharram. It is an important day for both Sunni and Shiʿite Muslims, who observe it in different ways.

Shi’ite Muslims observe Ashura as the commemoration of the death of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Hussein Ibn Ali, in 680 c.e., during the Battle of Karbala. Shi’ite Muslims consider Hussein Ibn Ali a martyr and many perform mourning rituals during this time.

Sunni Muslims celebrate Ashura as a commemoration of the day that Noah left the ark and the day that Allah parted the Red Sea for Musa (Moses) and the Israelites as they were fleeing Egypt. For Sunni Muslims, Ashura is part of the period of peace and reflection observed during Muharram, and many fast on this day.

The month of Muharram is one of the months of the Islamic calendar that Muslims consider sacred, and it is common for all Muslims to fast at different times of the month and to spend more time at their mosques.

Ashura is sometimes also known as Yawm Ashura.

When is Ashura?

Ashura takes place every year on the tenth day of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar. Because the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, the date on which Ashura is observed varies from year to year.

In 2023, Ashura will begin on the evening of July 27 and end on the evening of July 28. In 2024, Ashura will begin on July 16 and end on July 17.

More information and context on Ashura

The name Ashura comes from an Arabic word meaning “ten.”

Like many other things about the ways Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims practice their faith, the month of Muharram and the day of Ashura are observed differently by each sect. In fact, the emergence of the two different sects is traced in part to the event that Shi’ite Muslims commemorate on Ashura—the killing of Hussein Ibn Ali during fighting between different factions.

What are some terms that often get used in discussing Ashura?

How is Ashura discussed in real life?

Ashura is observed differently by Muslims. For some, it is a time of mourning, while for others it is a time of reflection.

Try using Ashura!

True or False?

Because the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, the date on which Ashura falls changes each year.

How to use ʿAshuraʾ in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for ʿAshuraʾ

/ (ˈæʃʊˌrɑː) /

Islam a Shiah festival observed on the tenth day of Muharram in the Islamic calendar to commemorate the death of the martyr Imam Hussein bin Ali at the Battle of Karbala in 61 ah (680 ad)

Word Origin for Ashura

C21: from Arabic 'Ashūrā
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012