Shi’ite Muslims at the al-Khoei Islamic Center in Queens prepare to flagellate themselves during a procession marking the festival of Ashura.

gal ashura 1 Festival of Ashura

Ashura is a 10-day event marking the death of the Prophet Mohammad’s grandson and revered saint, Iman Hussein, in Iraq 1,300 years ago.

gal ashura 2 Festival of Ashura

Although condemned by many Muslims, the practice of self-flagellation among the Shi’ite during the Ashura is meant to express the pain Muslims felt on the day of Iman’s death.

gal ashura 3 Festival of Ashura

The practice of self-flagellation is commonly done with long chains tipped with sharp blades, which are used on a person’s back….

gal ashura 4 Festival of Ashura

… but some will also strike themselves in the head.

gal ashura 5 Festival of Ashura
Although self-flagellation is a painful and bloody act, Shi’ites believe it to be a statement against violence.
gal ashura 6 Festival of Ashura
The event, which takes place around the world, is painful both physically and emotionally to those who take part in it.
gal ashura 7 Festival of Ashura