Muḥarram is the first month of the Islamic calendar. It is one of the four sacred months of the year when warfare is forbidden. It is held to be the second holiest month after Ramadan.
The tenth day of Muharram is known as Ashura. Better known as part of the Mourning of Muharram, Shi’i Muslims mourn the tragedy of Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī’s family, and Sunni Muslims practice fasting on Ashura.
Muslims mourn the martyrdom of Ḥusayn and his family, honoring the martyrs by prayer and abstinence from joyous events. Shiʿi Muslims eat as little as possible on the Ashura; however, this is not seen as fasting. Alevis fast twelve days, each day for one of the Twelve Imams of Shiʿa Islam, to commemorate and mourn the Imams, as if a very close relative has passed away. Some (excluding children, elderly or sick) don’t eat or drink until zawal (afternoon) as a part of their mourning for Husayn. In addition there is an important ziyarat book, the Ziyarat Ashura about Ḥusayn. In Shiʿism, it is popular to read this ziyarat on this date.