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Written by Safa al-Helli

The month of Muharram has begun. During this month, Shias all over the world commemorate the martyrdom of Hussain Ibn Ali, the 3rd imam who was martyred by the order of the tyrant Yazid. On the 10th of Muharam, the skies witnessed the death of Hussain
as well as the death of his family who were killed in his presence. To remember this tragic event Shia Muslims visit the shrine of Imam Hussain by marching from Najaf to Karbala as well as holding ceremonies to mourn and remember this event. The 10th of Muharam is one of the main events in Shia school of thought as the death of Hussain signifies the sacrifice and protection of Shia Islam. In “normal” context, remembrance ceremonies are held in Shia mosques to commemorate the death of Hussain (a.s).

During such times, the number of
attendees at mosques and/or other ceremonies is unbelievably high and seats get taken very quickly. Due to the circumstances of Covid-19, Iraq has taken steps and consideration for holding events while maintaining protection and initiating safety measures during these
times. As part of maintaining health and safety protocols, free food and drinks are being distributed amongst visitors as well as masks and gloves. However, this year Karbala sees fewer visitors as authorities have inaugurated travel restrictions for visitors, leaving the shrines of Imam Hussain less occupied than usual. Those who are able to visit the shrine are
required to sit 6 feet apart and wear non-medical face masks. However, Ayatollah Sistani has advised that lectures and ceremonies be broadcasted online to lower the spread of COVID-19.

It is evident that Covid-19 has had a major impact on the commemoration of Imam Hussain (a.s) as mosques face lower numbers of attendees. That being said, this doesn’t stop people from commemorating and remembering the tragedy of Karbala. Many ceremonies that are being held in mosques have limited the number of guests and have implemented safety measures such as wearing non-medical face masks and taking temperatures of visitors to
ensure safety. In addition to that, there are lectures and ceremonies being broadcasted live on social media platforms such as Instagram and YouTube, perfectly suited for those who
cannot/choose not to physically attend. In either cases Covid-19 has only impacted the way people remember Imam Hussain but has not stopped people from remembering him. The
tragedy of Hussain will forever be remembered, it is not just a tragedy for Shia Muslims but a tragedy for all humankind. Imam Hussain taught us to stand up for what is right as “those
who are silent are when others are oppressed are guilty of oppression themselves” (Imam Hussain a.s).

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