TODAY IN ISLAMIC HISTORY
The 10th day of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar, known as ‘Ashura, is observed by Muslims around the world for its various associations. Most notably known for the Battle of Karbala in 61 A.H. / 680 C.E., in which Husayn, grandson of the prophet Muhammad, was killed. The observance of ‘Ashura also traces back to the earliest days of Islam when the prophet Muhammad is reported to have commanded his followers to fast on that day in honor of the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and in order to seek atonement for their sins. It is also said to be associated with the stories of other prophets.
The martyrdom of Husayn at the Battle of Karbala has inspired centuries of art, literature, and poetry in the Muslim world. The above poster was created by Sayyid ‘Arab (Husayn Zaydi Latifi) in 1940 in Tehran and is held in the Harvard Fine Arts Library Special Collections. It belongs the tradition of “pardah khwani” or “ta'ziyyah khwani,” in which detailed accounts of ‘Ashura were painted on large screens to be used by storytellers when narrating the Battle of Karbala.
 Aghaie, Kamran S., “ʿĀshūrāʾ (Shīʿism)”, in: Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE, Edited by: Kate Fleet, Gudrun Krämer, Denis Matringe, John Nawas, Everett Rowson. Consulted online on 27 August 2020 http://dx.doi.org.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/10.1163/1573-3912_ei3_COM_23855 and Reid, Megan H., “ʿĀshūrāʾ (Sunnism)”, in: Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE, Edited by: Kate Fleet, Gudrun Krämer, Denis Matringe, John Nawas, Everett Rowson. Consulted online on 27 August 2020 <http://dx.doi.org.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/10.1163/1573-3912_ei3_COM_23...