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The Islamic Calendar
Muslim Holidays
• Islam

Ashura is one of the major holidays of Islam. It is usually celebrated on the 10th day of Muharram, the first month in the Islamic Calendar. In fact, the word ashura means "ten." (In 2011, it takes place on December 5 in the Western Calendar.)

Ashura is a time of fasting and of inner thoughts. The prophet Muhammad promised the Jews of Medina who fasted on this day in remembrance of deliverance from Egypt's Pharaoh that he would fast two days to honor this event. He died before he could fulfill his promise, however. To this day, Muslims keep the remembrance of Ashura by fasting and meditation. The main fast on Ashura is usually preceded or followed by another day of fasting, to honor the wishes of Muhammad.

Ashura is also a source of joy. Muslims also believe that it was the day on which Noah's ark ran aground and that the prophet Abraham was born. It is also, Muslims believe, the day that the Kaaba, the most sacred building in the most sacred mosque, was built. Other events that tradition holds happened on this day include the protection of other prophets in danger by Allah and the creation of the world itself.

As with other holidays, Muslims on Ashura give to others, especially to the poor.

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