Tenth of Ashura

September 2019


In the Iraqi city of Karbala, hundreds of thousands of Shi'a Muslims mark the holy and mournful day of Ashura in commemoration of Imam Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, and his companions, who were martyred in the Battle of Karbala in 680 AD.


Ashura is on the tenth day of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar, and is mourned globally by Shia's and Sunnis alike. Traditionally, Muslims travel to Imam Hussain's Shrine in Karbala to connect with Hussain's suffering, martyrdom, and message of peace and tolerance.


Imam Hussain is remembered as a universal messenger of peace and a man who stood up and fought against oppression.


This series is dedicated to Muhammad Shiaa.

group of male Pakistani Shi’a Muslim pilgrims at night with smoke in the land between the two shrines at Imam Hussain Abbas holy shrine during Ashura Muharram in Karbala Iraq by photojournalist photographer Emily Garthwaite
info

Pakistani pilgrims stand in the land between the two shrines of Imam Hussain and Abbas, the sons of Imam Ali in the holy city of Karbala, Iraq. This was the evening of the ninth of Muharram as the city awaits Ashura. Hundreds of thousands of Shi’a Muslims mark the holy and mournful day of Ashura in commemoration of the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad.

×

Pakistani pilgrims stand in the land between the two shrines of Imam Hussain and Abbas, the sons of Imam Ali in the holy city of Karbala, Iraq. This was the evening of the ninth of Muharram as the city awaits Ashura. Hundreds of thousands of Shi’a Muslims mark the holy and mournful day of Ashura in commemoration of the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad.

×
Shi’a Muslim male pilgrims in white with knives at night at night in the land between Imam Hussain Abbas holy shrine during Ashura Muharram in Karbala Iraq by photojournalist photographer Emily Garthwaite
info

Between the Holy shrines of Imam Hussain and his brother, Abbas, mourning pilgrims carry knives while raising alam, one of the most important objects used at mourning rituals. Alam is a flag banner that symbolises truth and bravery.

×

Between the Holy shrines of Imam Hussain and his brother, Abbas, mourning pilgrims carry knives while raising alam, one of the most important objects used at mourning rituals. Alam is a flag banner that symbolises truth and bravery.

×
mourning Shi’a Muslim women pilgrims in black abaya and chador at Imam Hussain Abbas holy shrine during Ashura Muharram in Karbala Iraq by photojournalist photographer Emily Garthwaite
info

Women publicly mourn and weep to reflect their condolences to Imam Hussain's mother and his family. Imam Hussain, and his companions, were martyred in the battle of Karbala in 680 AD. 

×

Women publicly mourn and weep to reflect their condolences to Imam Hussain's mother and his family. Imam Hussain, and his companions, were martyred in the battle of Karbala in 680 AD. 

×
mourning Shi’a Muslim mother and daughter pilgrim in black abaya and chador at Imam Hussain Abbas holy shrine during Ashura Muharram in Karbala Iraq by photojournalist photographer Emily Garthwaite
info

A mother fans her daughter from the midday heat under the canopy between the two shrines of Imam Hussain and Abbas, the sons of Imam Ali in the holy city of Karbala, Iraq.

×

A mother fans her daughter from the midday heat under the canopy between the two shrines of Imam Hussain and Abbas, the sons of Imam Ali in the holy city of Karbala, Iraq.

×
mourning Shi’a Muslim pilgrim boys with swords and flag at Imam Hussain Abbas holy shrine during Ashura Muharram in Karbala Iraq by photojournalist photographer Emily Garthwaite
info

Pilgrims sharpen swords before Ashura in Karbala. The practice of Tatbir includes striking oneself with a form of a talwar "sword" on the head, causing blood to flow in remembrance of Imam Hussain's martyrdom. Up to 100,000 men and women perform tatbir in Karbala on the day of Ashura.

×

Pilgrims sharpen swords before Ashura in Karbala. The practice of Tatbir includes striking oneself with a form of a talwar "sword" on the head, causing blood to flow in remembrance of Imam Hussain's martyrdom. Up to 100,000 men and women perform tatbir in Karbala on the day of Ashura.

×
Shi’a Muslim pilgrim boys in white with blood after tatbir blood letting at Imam Hussain Abbas holy shrine during Ashura Muharram in Karbala Iraq by photojournalist photographer Emily Garthwaite
info

Pilgrims stand together after performing tatbir. The practice of tatbir includes striking oneself with a form of a talwar "sword" on the head, causing blood to flow in remembrance of Imam Hussain's martyrdom. Up to 100,000 men and women perform tatbir in Karbala on the day of Ashura.

×

Pilgrims stand together after performing tatbir. The practice of tatbir includes striking oneself with a form of a talwar "sword" on the head, causing blood to flow in remembrance of Imam Hussain's martyrdom. Up to 100,000 men and women perform tatbir in Karbala on the day of Ashura.

×
white dress shirts at Imam Hussain Abbas holy shrine during Ashura Muharram in Karbala Iraq by photojournalist photographer Emily Garthwaite
info

White dress shirts used during tatbir on sale in Karbala

×

White dress shirts used during tatbir on sale in Karbala

×
blood donation vials at Imam Hussain Abbas holy shrine during Ashura Muharram in Karbala Iraq by photojournalist photographer Emily Garthwaite
info

Vials of blood from pilgrim blood donors. Increasingly, blood donation is being encouraged over the practice of tatbir. 

×

Vials of blood from pilgrim blood donors. Increasingly, blood donation is being encouraged over the practice of tatbir. 

×
women Shi’a Muslim doctors nurses pilgrims inside tent at Imam Hussain Abbas holy shrine during Ashura Muharram in Karbala Iraq by photojournalist photographer Emily Garthwaite
info

Women medics stand beside a flag of Imam Hussain inside a medical tent. Thousands of medics serve pilgrims in need of medical attention, particularly those who participate in tatbir, the religious ritual of self flagellation.

×

Women medics stand beside a flag of Imam Hussain inside a medical tent. Thousands of medics serve pilgrims in need of medical attention, particularly those who participate in tatbir, the religious ritual of self flagellation.

×
Shi’a Muslim pilgrims pray on red carpet inside Imam Hussain Abbas holy shrine during Ashura Muharram in Karbala Iraq by photojournalist photographer Emily Garthwaite
info

Men pray for Imam Hussain, and those martyred during the Battle of Karbala, inside Imam Hussain Shrine on the night of Ashura.

×

Men pray for Imam Hussain, and those martyred during the Battle of Karbala, inside Imam Hussain Shrine on the night of Ashura.

×
mourning Shi’a Muslim pilgrims in black abaya and chador at Imam Hussain Abbas holy shrine during Ashura Muharram in Karbala Iraq by photojournalist photographer Emily Garthwaite
info

Mourners look out over the holy city of Karbala

×

Mourners look out over the holy city of Karbala

×
Imam Hussain Abbas holy shrine during Ashura Muharram in Karbala Iraq by photojournalist photographer Emily Garthwaite
info

Imam Hussain shrine the night before Ashura. The shrine is lit red, the colour of martyrdom.

×

Imam Hussain shrine the night before Ashura. The shrine is lit red, the colour of martyrdom.

×
mourning men in Shi'a Muslim family with dead body relative at Imam Hussain Abbas holy shrine during Ashura Muharram in Karbala Iraq by photojournalist photographer Emily Garthwaite
info

Family members hold a blessing ceremony for their deceased relative during Ashura at the Holy Shrine of Imam Hussain in Karbala.

×

Family members hold a blessing ceremony for their deceased relative during Ashura at the Holy Shrine of Imam Hussain in Karbala.

×
colourful lanterns at night at Imam Hussain Abbas holy shrine during Ashura Muharram in Karbala Iraq by photojournalist photographer Emily Garthwaite
info

Lanterns are lit between the first and ninth of Muharram, before Ashura. They symbolise the Ahlulbayt [a phrase denoting The Prophet Muhammad and his closest family] coming to Karbala.  

×

Lanterns are lit between the first and ninth of Muharram, before Ashura. They symbolise the Ahlulbayt [a phrase denoting The Prophet Muhammad and his closest family] coming to Karbala.  

×
Martyrs in wadi us salaam in Imam Ali holy shrine city Najaf Iraq by photojournalist photographer Emily Garthwaite
info

Martyrs in Wadi-us-Salaam, Najaf 

×

Martyrs in Wadi-us-Salaam, Najaf 

×
mourning Shi'a Muslim women pilgrims at al askari shrine Samarra Iraq during Ashura Muharram in Karbala Iraq by photojournalist photographer Emily Garthwaite
info

Mourning female pilgrims inside Al-Askari Shrine

×

Mourning female pilgrims inside Al-Askari Shrine

×
male hospital patient stampede near Imam Hussain Abbas holy shrine during Ashura Muharram in Karbala Iraq by photojournalist photographer Emily Garthwaite
info

A survivor from a stampede that killed 31 people and injured over 100 during Ashura processions lies in a hospital bed on the outskirts of Karbala.

×

A survivor from a stampede that killed 31 people and injured over 100 during Ashura processions lies in a hospital bed on the outskirts of Karbala.

×
ayatollah sistani poster in Karbala Iraq by photojournalist photographer Emily Garthwaite
info

A poster of Ayatollah Sistani in Karbala.

×

A poster of Ayatollah Sistani in Karbala.

×
butcher shop in Karbala Iraq by photojournalist photographer Emily Garthwaite
info

A butcher's shop in Karbala on the eve of Ashura.

×

A butcher's shop in Karbala on the eve of Ashura.

×
Crowds by Yazid soldier illustration at Imam Hussain Abbas holy shrine during Ashura Muharram in Karbala Iraq by photojournalist photographer Emily Garthwaite
info

Crowds gather to photograph illustrations of beheaded Yazid soldiers.

×

Crowds gather to photograph illustrations of beheaded Yazid soldiers.

×
Yazid horsemen battle of Karbala with tent on fire near Imam Hussain Abbas holy shrine during Ashura Muharram in Karbala Iraq by photojournalist photographer Emily Garthwaite
info

Pilgrims watch volunteers dressed as Yazid horsemen recreate the 7th Century Battle of Karbala in which the Yazid army set fire to the tents of Imam Hussain’s family and companions. This form of mourning, where the Battle of Karbala is enacted is known as taziya.

×

Pilgrims watch volunteers dressed as Yazid horsemen recreate the 7th Century Battle of Karbala in which the Yazid army set fire to the tents of Imam Hussain’s family and companions. This form of mourning, where the Battle of Karbala is enacted is known as taziya.

×
mourning topless Shi'a Muslim male pilgrims at night near Imam Hussain Abbas holy shrine during Ashura Muharram in Karbala Iraq by photojournalist photographer Emily Garthwaite
info
Men privately mourn and perform ceremonial chest beating [matam] as a display of their devotion to Imam Hussain inside a Hussainiya, used for commemoration ceremonies.

×
Men privately mourn and perform ceremonial chest beating [matam] as a display of their devotion to Imam Hussain inside a Hussainiya, used for commemoration ceremonies.

×
mourning Shi'a Muslim mother daughter pilgrims at night near Imam Hussain Abbas holy shrine during Ashura Muharram in Karbala Iraq by photojournalist photographer Emily Garthwaite
info

Mourning mother and daughter look out at Imam Hussain's holy shrine

×

Mourning mother and daughter look out at Imam Hussain's holy shrine

×
mourning Shi'a Muslim women pilgrims wearing abaya and chador near red light Imam Hussain Abbas holy shrine during Ashura Muharram in Karbala Iraq by photojournalist photographer Emily Garthwaite
info

A group of Iraqi pilgrims gather inside the women’s quarter of Imam Hussain Shrine during Ashura. 

×

A group of Iraqi pilgrims gather inside the women’s quarter of Imam Hussain Shrine during Ashura. 

×
Indian Shi'a Muslim pilgrim family dawoodi bohara  near Imam Hussain Abbas holy shrine during Ashura Muharram in Karbala Iraq by photojournalist photographer Emily Garthwaite
info

An Indian pilgrim family from the Dawoodi Bohara sect of Shi'a Islam inside Imam Hussain Shrine on the night of Ashura.


×

An Indian pilgrim family from the Dawoodi Bohara sect of Shi'a Islam inside Imam Hussain Shrine on the night of Ashura.


×
child in crowd near Imam Hussain Abbas holy shrine during Ashura Muharram in Karbala Iraq by photojournalist photographer Emily Garthwaite
info

A child pushes to the front of the crowd on the eve of Ashura, known as the ninth of Muharram, to watch men 

×

A child pushes to the front of the crowd on the eve of Ashura, known as the ninth of Muharram, to watch men 

×
young mourning Shi'a Muslim girl beside candle at night near Imam Hussain Abbas holy shrine during Ashura Muharram in Karbala Iraq by photojournalist photographer Emily Garthwaite
info

A young Iraqi pilgrim and her mother light candles outside a small shrine in the holy city of Karbala during Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar

×

A young Iraqi pilgrim and her mother light candles outside a small shrine in the holy city of Karbala during Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar

×
Using Format