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Muharram: who are Husseini Brahmins?

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The Muharram marks the New Year in the Islamic calendar. It is considered a significant month by the Muslims; in fact, it is the second most holy month for Muslims after Ramadan. The month of Muharram doesn’t bring the joy of festive mood to the people like what happens during Ramadan. Instead, it’s a mourning month for the people. During this month in 680 AD, Imam Hussein Ali, the grandson of Prophet Mohammed, was martyred by the rebel forces.

History of Muharram:

The history of Muharram is tragic. Muharram is a month of remembrance and modern Shia meditation. In 680 AD, Imam Hussein Ali, the grandson of Prophet Mohammed, was captured by the Yazid’s forces, he was imprisoned in Damascus (today in Syria). He was deprived of water for three consecutive days. On the tenth day of his capture, he was killed by the forces of Yazid’s, and this came to know as the battle of Karbala.

The brutal soldiers killed Hussein along with his six-year-old son and took away all the women as captives. The tenth day is known as Ashura. It is the most important day in the month of Muharram. Shia Muslims spend the day in mourning, while Sunni Muslims fast on this day, commemorating the rescue of the people of Israel by Musa (Moses) from Pharaoh. Sunni Muslims also mourn for the martyrs of Karbala.

Do you know about Husseini Brahmins?

Yes, as the name sound itself- the Husseini Brahmins are considered to be half Hindu and half Muslim. There is saying in them- “Wah Dutt Sultan, Hindu ka dharm Musalman ka iman, Adha Hindu Adha Musalman.”

The story goes back to the time of the battle of Karbala, and it is believed that the ancestor named Rahab traveled from Punjab to Iraq and met Hussein over there, and friendship grew between them. In the battled, Rahab stood by the side of Hussein and fought with him. His sons also participated in the battle, and many were killed. Seeing the sacrifice of Rahab’s, Imam gave him the title of King and asked him to return. When Rahab returned to India, they were known as Husseini Brahmins.

Another legend says that one of the wives of Hussein (Sahhr Banu) was the sister of one of the wives of Indian ruler Chandragupta. During the battle, Hussein wrote a letter to Chandragupt seeking his help. On hearing from Imam, Chandragupt immediately dispatched his army. But by the time the army arrived, Hussein was killed. Along with one of the disciples of Hussein, the military took revenge on the Yazid’s soldiers. After that, many returns to India while others stayed back. Those who stayed back didn’t convert to Islam but were a follower or Hussein and thus got the name of Husseini Brahmins.

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What happens during Muharram?

Well, the Muslim community both Shia and Sunni keep fast during these days, but as for the Shia community, they celebrate it differently. They keep fast for the ten days and refrain from attending any joyous celebration. On the tenth day of the month also known as Ashura, the Shia Muslims perform self-flagellation with the help of knives or chains attached with blades while chanting “Ya Hussein” loudly. Women mostly beat their chests by their hands. There are also few who refrain from violence and do not involve in self beating instead they just keep chanting “Ya Hussein’. Shia Muslims also take out a Ta’ziya procession on Ashura. Whereas on the other hand, Sunni Muslims practice it peacefully, there is no violent mourning, all they do is normal fasting which means from sunrise to sunset. On the last day, they make food to distribute among neighbors and poor. They also hold a gathering to remember the sacrifice of their ancestors. Some people keep fast for Hussein whereas some people keep fast for all the martyrs of the battle of Karbala. This painful observance is an expression of their grief on the death of their leader Hussain, also considered to be the representative of Allah.      

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