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  • 12/1/2011

Muharram in Africa: Western and Eastern Africa

imam hossein

Western Africa


Most of the Morocco's population are Muslims. Most of  this population are Maliki Sunnis, who are interested in Imam Hussein (A.S). On the basis of "Ayyoubi" and "Umayyad" thought,  there was a tradition in Morocco  that some of the country's  Shiites  celebrated  Ashura because of a  false narration which indicates the Noah’s Ark beached by God on the day of Ashura and the Adam repentance was accepted on this day. But when Ayatollah Sayyid Kazim Qazvini became aware of this belief, he traveled to Morrocco and after 14 months research on this issue, changed the false tradition.


Republic of Sierra Leone

Republic of Sierra Leone’s muslims were not aware of Ashura and Muharram until when Islamic Republic of Iran embassy established in that country. But by the Embassy efforts toward the holding seminars and publishing articles, they were familiar with the culture of mourning. Social structure of Sierra Leone is tribal and the indigenous traditions mixed with superstitions and legendary beliefs are very common in this country.



95 percent of Senegal's population are Muslims that consist of Shiites.  The oldest Islamic sect is called “Tijanieh”‌. This sect has the most followers among the others. Tijanieh and Qaderieh know them attributed to the Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) HouseHold. A remarkable percent of the Senegal population is related to Lebanese. Lebanese people are Arab. Arab language is difficult for Sengalese people. So, they prefer to mourn in thei own language called “Wolof”‌.


Eastern Africa


Tanzania embraced Islam in the year 72 AH. Just why Shiism in the country has a long history. Tanzania has established 14 houses of mourning in the name of 14 infallibles and the most famous one is called “al-Maatam”‌ (deep grief). Tanzanian Shiites are very interested in Muharram vow feeding (giving Nazri) and they make vows to the fortieth day of Muharram.



In the first few days of Muharram, Shiites  come to the streets dressed in black, and with a mourning march in coordination with the police. Then they reside somewhere and the people are told about Ashura in English and Swahili. But the mourning is done with the Swahili language. The report is published in the newspapers for the public.



Programs of the first decade of Muharram begins every night after sunset and Isha prayers. After “Ziaarat-e Ashura”‌ (Ashura Dua), It is the time of Speaking about the lessons of the Islam and analysis of the Imam Hussein’s movement and finally the mourning begins.



In recent years in this country, religion have had the opportunity to be attended. The number of Shiites in the country is very low. Despite the extensive advertising of Wahhabism and Christianism in this country, the growing Shiism is welcomed.


Somalia and Burundi

Shiism was entered Somalia and Burundi due to Iranian Shirazis migration to Somalia in the third century A.H and Hindi and Pakistani businessmen immigration to Burundi after World War I. The muharram mourning is held in the mourning houses in two countries.


Source: Global mourning for Imam Hussein (A.S) by Safieh Rezaei

Translated  into English by: M. R. Sameti
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