Muharram

01. Afghan Shi'ite Muslim men flagellate themselves during a Muharram procession in Kabul December 12, 2010. Ashura, which falls on the 10th day of the Islamic month of Muharram, commemorates the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammad, who was killed in the 7th century battle of Kerbala. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar. It is one of the four sacred months of the year in which fighting is prohibited. Since the Islamic calendar is lunar, Muharram moves from year to year when compared with the Gregorian calendar. Muharram is so called because it is unlawful to fight during this month, the word is derived from the word haram, meaning “forbidden”. It is held to be the most sacred of all the months, excluding Ramadan. Some Muslims fast during these days. The tenth day of Muharram is called Yaumu-l ‘Ashurah, which is known by Shia Muslims as ‘the day of grief’. On this day the death of Imam Huessein, grandson of Prophet Mohammad, is mourned. He was killed in the 7th century battle of Kerbala. Warning: some images contain graphic scenes.
UPDATE: extra images added 17 Dec. 2010

Muharram

02. A man carves an aluminium sheet with religious scripture ahead of the Shi'ite Ashura festival in Lahore's old city November 23, 2010. Ashura, which falls on the 10th day of the Islamic month of Muharram, commemorates the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammad, who was killed in the 7th century battle of Kerbala. REUTERS/Mohsin Raza

Muharram

03. An Afghan Shi'ite Muslim man weeps as he prays during a Muharram procession to mark Ashura in Kabul December 12, 2010. Ashura, which falls on the 10th day of the Islamic month of Muharram, commemorates the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammad, who was killed in the 7th century battle of Kerbala. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

Muharram

04. Afghan Shi'ite Muslim men beat themselves with their hands during a Muharram procession to mark Ashura in Kabul December 12, 2010. Ashura, which falls on the 10th day of the Islamic month of Muharram, commemorates the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammad, who was killed in the 7th century battle of Kerbala. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

Muharram

05. Afghan Shi'ite Muslim men pray during a Muharram procession to mark Ashura in Kabul December 12, 2010. Ashura, which falls on the 10th day of the Islamic month of Muharram, commemorates the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammad, who was killed in the 7th century battle of Kerbala. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

Muharram

06. Afghan Shi'ite Muslim men weep as they pray during a Muharram procession to mark Ashura in Kabul December 12, 2010. Ashura, which falls on the 10th day of the Islamic month of Muharram, commemorates the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammad, who was killed in the 7th century battle of Kerbala. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

Muharram

07. Afghan Shi'ite Muslim men flagellate during a Muharram procession to mark Ashura in Kabul December 12, 2010. Ashura, which falls on the 10th day of the Islamic month of Muharram, commemorates the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammad, who was killed in the 7th century battle of Kerbala. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

Muharram

08. An Afghan Shi'ite Muslim man flagellates himself during a Muharram procession to mark Ashura in Kabul December 12, 2010. Ashura, which falls on the 10th day of the Islamic month of Muharram, commemorates the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammad, who was killed in the 7th century battle of Kerbala. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

Muharram

09. An Afghan Shi'ite Muslim man bleeds after flagellating himself during a Muharram procession to mark Ashura in Kabul December 12, 2010. Ashura, which falls on the 10th day of the Islamic month of Muharram, commemorates the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammad, who was killed in the 7th century battle of Kerbala. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

Muharram

10. A photograph taken from behind a curtain shows an Afghan Shi'ite Muslim woman clad in burqa stand at the entrance of Chendawol mosque during a Muharram procession to mark Ashura in Kabul December 13, 2010. Ashura, which falls on the 10th day of the Islamic month of Muharram, commemorates the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammad, who was killed in the 7th century battle of Kerbala. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

Muharram

11. Afghan Shi'ite Muslim men flagellate themselves during a Muharram procession in Kabul December 13, 2010. Ashura, which falls on the 10th day of the Islamic month of Muharram, commemorates the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammad, who was killed in the 7th century battle of Kerbala. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

Muharram

12. An Afghan Shi'ite Muslim man prays during a Muharram procession to mark Ashura in Kabul December 13, 2010. Ashura, which falls on the 10th day of the Islamic month of Muharram, commemorates the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammad, who was killed in the 7th century battle of Kerbala. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

Muharram

13. Afghan Shi'ite Muslim men attend a Muharram procession to mark Ashura in Kabul December 13, 2010. Ashura, which falls on the 10th day of the Islamic month of Muharram, commemorates the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammad, who was killed in the 7th century battle of Kerbala. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

Muharram

14. A man adjusts a religious motif for sale as he poses for local cameramen at his makeshift stall ahead of the Shi'ite Muslims festival of Ashura in Karachi December 13, 2010. Ashura, which falls on the 10th day of the Islamic month of Muharram, commemorates the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammad, who was killed in the 7th century battle of Kerbala. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

Muharram

15. A Kashmiri Shi'ite Muslim man flagellates himself with knives tied to a chain during Muharram procession in Srinagar December 14, 2010. Muslims all over the world mourn the slaying of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammad, during the first ten days of the Islamic month of Muharram. Imam Hussein was killed by his political rivals along with 72 companions in the 7th century battle of Kerbala. REUTERS/Fayaz Kabli

Muharram

16. A young Kashmiri Shi'ite Muslim boy flagellates himself with a knife during Muharram procession in Srinagar December 14, 2010. Muslims all over the world mourn the slaying of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammad, during the first ten days of the Islamic month of Muharram. Imam Hussein was killed by his political rivals along with 72 companions in the 7th century battle of Kerbala. REUTERS/Fayaz Kabli

Muharram

17. Volunteers and fellow mourners carry a Kashmiri Shi'ite man after he fainted while flagellating himself with a knife during Muharram procession in Srinagar December 14, 2010. Muslims all over the world mourn the slaying of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammad, during the first ten days of the Islamic month of Muharram. Imam Hussein was killed by his political rivals along with 72 companions in the 7th century battle of Kerbala. REUTERS/Fayaz Kabli

Muharram

18. Women beat their chests as they watch a Muharram procession in Srinagar December 14, 2010. Muslims all over the world mourn the slaying of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammad, during the first ten days of the Islamic month of Muharram. Imam Hussein was killed by his political rivals along with 72 companions in the 7th century battle of Kerbala. REUTERS/Fayaz Kabli (INDIAN-ADMINISTERD KASHMIR - Tags: RELIGION)

Muharram

19. A volunteer (L) cleans blood from the face of a Kashmiri Shi'ite boy during Muharram procession in Srinagar December 14, 2010. Muslims all over the world mourn the slaying of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammad, during the first ten days of the Islamic month of Muharram. Imam Hussein was killed by his political rivals along with 72 companions in the 7th century battle of Kerbala. REUTERS/Fayaz Kabli

Muharram

20. Kashmiri Shi'ite men stand amid blood during Muharram procession in Srinagar December 14, 2010. Muslims all over the world mourn the slaying of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammad, during the first ten days of the Islamic month of Muharram. Imam Hussein was killed by his political rivals along with 72 companions in the 7th century battle of Kerbala. REUTERS/Fayaz Kabli

Muharram

21. A Shi'ite Muslim flagellates himself with a knife during Muharram procession in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad December 14, 2010. Muslims all over the world mourn the slaying of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammad, during the first ten days of the Islamic month of Muharram. Imam Hussein was killed by his political rivals along with 72 companions in the 7th century battle of Kerbala. REUTERS/Amit Dave

Muharram

22. Shi'ite Muslims beat their chests during a Muharram procession in the southern Indian city of Chennai December 14, 2010. Muslims all over the world mourn the slaying of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammad, during the first ten days of the Islamic month of Muharram. Imam Hussein was killed by his political rivals along with 72 companions in the 7th century battle of Kerbala. REUTERS/Babu

Muharram

23. A Kashmiri Shi'ite Muslim mourner performs firewalking over hot coals during Muharram in the lead up to Ashura in Khanda, west of Srinagar, December 14, 2010. Muslims all over the world mourn the slaying of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammad, during the first ten days of the Islamic month of Muharram. Imam Hussein was killed by his political rivals along with 72 companions in Iraq some 1,300 years ago. REUTERS/Danish Ismail

Muharram

24. A Kashmiri Shi'ite Muslim mourner prepares hot coals for firewalking during Muharram in the lead up to Ashura in Khanda, west of Srinagar, December 14, 2010. Muslims all over the world mourn the slaying of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammad, during the first ten days of the Islamic month of Muharram. Imam Hussein was killed by his political rivals along with 72 companions in Iraq some 1,300 years ago. REUTERS/Danish Ismail

Muharram

25. A Kashmiri Shi'ite Muslim mourner lights candles during Muharram in the lead up to Ashura in Khanda, west of Srinagar, December 14, 2010. Muslims all over the world mourn the slaying of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammad, during the first ten days of the Islamic month of Muharram. Imam Hussein was killed by his political rivals along with 72 companions in Iraq some 1,300 years ago. REUTERS/Danish Ismail

Muharram

26. Kashmiri Shi'ite Muslim mourners attend a ceremony during Muharram in the lead up to Ashura in Khanda, west of Srinagar, December 14, 2010. Muslims all over the world mourn the slaying of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammad, during the first ten days of the Islamic month of Muharram. Imam Hussein was killed by his political rivals along with 72 companions in Iraq some 1,300 years ago. REUTERS/Danish Ismail

Muharram

27. Indian Shi'ite Muslim men beat themselves with their hands during a Muharram procession to mark Ashura in Kerbala, about 80 km (50 miles) southwest of Baghdad, December 14, 2010. Shi'ite Muslims are preparing for Ashura, the most important day in the Shi'ite calendar, which commemorates the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Mohammad, in the 7th century battle of Kerbala. REUTERS/Mushtaq Muhammad

Muharram

28. A Shi'ite Muslim boy walks on burning coal during commemorations of the Ashura festival in Lahore December 15, 2010. Ashura falls on the 10th day of Muharram in the Islamic calendar and commemorates the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammad, who was killed in 680 A.D. during the battle of Kerbala. REUTERS/Mohsin Raza (PAKISTAN - Tags: RELIGION SOCIETY)

Muharram

29. A Kashmiri Shi'ite Muslim flagellates himself with a knife during Muharram procession in Srinagar December 15, 2010. Authorities on Wednesday imposed a curfew in parts of Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian-administered Kashmir to thwart planned Muharram processions, local media reported. Muslims all over the world mourn the slaying of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammad, during the first ten days of the Islamic month of Muharram. Imam Hussein was killed by his political rivals along with 72 companions in the 7th century battle of Kerbala. REUTERS/Danish Ismail

Muharram

30. An Afghan Shi'ite Muslim boy holds a flag during a Muharram procession to mark Ashura in Kabul December 16, 2010. Shi'ite mourners beat themselves during Ashura with steel-tipped flails or slash their bodies with knives to mark the death anniversary of Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Mohammad, who was killed during a battle in A.D. 680 in Kerbala, a city in modern-day Iraq. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

Muharram

31. An Afghan Shi'ite Muslim man prepares his chains to flagellate during a Muharram procession to mark Ashura in Kabul December 16, 2010.Shi'ite mourners beat themselves during Ashura with steel-tipped flails or slash their bodies with knives to mark the death anniversary of Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Mohammad, who was killed during a battle in A.D. 680 in Kerbala, a city in modern-day Iraq. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

Muharram

32. A Kashmiri Shi'ite Muslim flagellates himself with a knife during a Muharram procession in Srinagar December 16, 2010. Muslims all over the world mourn the slaying of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammad, during the first 10 days of the Islamic month of Muharram and Ashura is the 10th and concluding day of mourning. Imam Hussein was killed by his political rivals along with 72 companions in the 7th century battle of Kerbala. REUTERS/Danish Ismail

Muharram

33. A pilgrim flagellates himself with iron chains during a Muharram procession to mark Ashura in Kerbala, about 80 km (50 miles) southwest of Baghdad, December 16, 2010. Shi'ite Muslims all over the world mourn the slaying of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammad, during the first ten days of the Islamic month of Muharram. Imam Hussein was killed by his political rivals along with 72 companions in Iraq some 1,300 years ago. REUTERS/Mushtaq Muhammad

Muharram

34. A Lebanese supporter of the Shi'ite Amal movement gashes his head with a sword during a Muharram procession to mark Ashura in Beirut, December 16, 2010.Shi'ite mourners beat themselves during Ashura with steel-tipped flails or slash their bodies with knives to mark the death anniversary of Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Mohammad, who was killed during a battle in A.D. 680 in Kerbala, a city in modern-day Iraq. REUTERS/Jamal Saidi

Muharram

35. A Lebanese supporter (L) of the Shi'ite Amal movement lightly gashes the forehead of a fellow supporter with a razor during a Muharram procession to mark Ashura in Beirut, December 16, 2010. Shi'ite mourners beat themselves during Ashura with steel-tipped flails or slash their bodies with knives to mark the death anniversary of Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Mohammad, who was killed during a battle in A.D. 680 in Kerbala, a city in modern-day Iraq. REUTERS/Jamal Saidi

Muharram

36. A Lebanese supporter of the Shi'ite Amal movement drinks a bottle of water as he bleeds after tapping his forehead with a razor, during a Muharram procession to mark Ashura in Beirut, December 16, 2010. Shi'ite mourners beat themselves during Ashura with steel-tipped flails or slash their bodies with knives to mark the death anniversary of Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Mohammad, who was killed during a battle in A.D. 680 in Kerbala, a city in modern-day Iraq. REUTERS/ Jamal Saidi

Muharram

37. Lebanese Shi'ite Muslim children chant slogans as they gesture during a Muharram procession organized by Hezbollah to mark Ashura in Beirut's suburbs, December 16, 2010. Shi'ite mourners beat themselves during Ashura with steel-tipped flails or slash their bodies with knives to mark the death anniversary of Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Mohammad, who was killed during a battle in A.D. 680 in Kerbala, a city in modern-day Iraq. REUTERS/ Sharif Karim

Muharram

38. Blood from the gashed forehead of a Lebanese supporter of the Shi'ite Amal movement is seen during a Muharram procession to mark Ashura in Beirut, December 16, 2010. Shi'ite mourners beat themselves during Ashura with steel-tipped flails or slash their bodies with knives to mark the death anniversary of Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Mohammad, who was killed during a battle in A.D. 680 in Kerbala, a city in modern-day Iraq. REUTERS/ Jamal Saidi

Muharram

39. Lebanon's Hezbollah members mourn Imam Hussein during a Muharram procession to mark Ashura in Beirut's suburbs December 16, 2010. Shi'ite mourners beat themselves during Ashura with steel-tipped flails or slash their bodies with knives to mark the death anniversary of Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Mohammad, who was killed during a battle in A.D. 680 in Kerbala, a city in modern-day Iraq. REUTERS/ Sharif Karim

Muharram

40. Shi'ite Muslim men flagellate themselves during a Muharram procession ahead of the Ashura festival in Lahore December 16, 2010. REUTERS/Mohsin Raza

Muharram

41. Shi'ite Muslim men touch a decorated horse during a Muharram procession ahead of the Ashura festival in Lahore December 16, 2010. The horse is symbolically represented in Ashura ceremonies as Imam Hussein's horse Zuljina. The tenth of Muharram, significant to Shi'ite Muslim sect, marks the death of Prophet Muhammad's grandson Imam Hussein. REUTERS/Mohsin Raza

Muharram

42. Shi'ite Muslim men chant slogans before taking part in a Muharram procession ahead of the Ashura festival in Karachi December 16, 2010. REUTERS/Athar Hussain

Muharram

43. Shi'ite Muslim men flagellate themselves during a Muharram procession ahead of the Ashura festival in Dhaka December 17, 2010. Ashura, the most important day in the Shi'ite calendar, commemorates the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Mohammad, in the 7th century battle of Kerbala. REUTERS/Andrew Biraj

Muharram

44. Shi'ite Muslim men flagellate themselves during a Muharram procession ahead of the Ashura festival in Dhaka December 17, 2010. Ashura, the most important day in the Shi'ite calendar, commemorates the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Mohammad, in the 7th century battle of Kerbala. REUTERS/Andrew Biraj

Muharram

45. A Shi'ite Muslim man waits for his turn to flagellate himself during a Muharram procession ahead of the Ashura festival in Dhaka December 17, 2010. Ashura, the most important day in the Shi'ite calendar, commemorates the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Mohammad, in the 7th century battle of Kerbala. REUTERS/Andrew Biraj