An interesting look at Ashura in Bahrain

Ashura in Bahrain – Analyses of an Analytical Event

By Thomas Fibiger

‘Ashura is an annual Shi‘i ritual commemorating the death of
Imam Husayn at the Battle of Karbala in ad 680. In Bahrain, the ritual
runs for two weeks and involves processions with more than 100,000
participants. Bahrain is a small but ethno-sectarian heterogeneous
island state, where a Sunni minority dominates a Shi‘i majority. The
religious ritual of ‘Ashura therefore has deep political connotations,
and a variety of analyses, aspirations, and actions are played out in
the context of the ceremonies. This article discusses ‘Ashura from the
various viewpoints of participants and observers, thereby raising the
question of the relationship between analysis and event. I argue that
the ritual itself includes an interpretation of the relationship between
the Sunni and Shi‘i sects, and that this leads to a variety of reflections
among Bahrainis on what ‘Ashura is and should be
 Read the article