Iraqi Shia minorities living in the Nineveh Plains are finally commemorating the return of Muharram. Celebrations such as Muharram that did not conform to ISIS rule were banned for around 4 years in the province of Nineveh.
The Shi’a community in Nineveh is commemorating the arrival of the month of Muharram after the commemoration was interrupted for four years due to ISIS control. During ISIS’ rule, the Shi’a minorities living in the Nineveh Plains were not allowed to practice their religious rituals, as ISIS believed the Shi’a to be infidels. As a result, many of the Shi’a were displaced from their [B(1] homes in Nineveh, only to return after the province was liberated from ISIS in August 2017. The returnees found their religious landmarks, mosques, and centres destroyed by ISIS militants. Since their return, the groups began rebuilding their centres to be able to uphold their religious duties.
“The people of Nineveh Province and the school of Ahl al-Bayt are holding these memorials in the month of Muharram after they returned to their areas and their homes,” said Shiekh Hassan al-Shabaki, the commander of the Rasoul al-A’adham Units in the Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU). “Through the commemorations of Imam Hussein, they want to send a clear message to those who were betting that the province would remain in the hands of ISIS, we are back, and we can face all the challenges.”
During the month of Muharram, Shi’a Muslims commemorate the Battle of Karbala which took place in 680 AD and saw the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, Hussein, killed along with 72 of his companions and family members.
Members of the Shi’a community came together in the Rasoul al-A’adham Mosque in Mosul to commemorate the arrival of Muharram each in their language. “Today we set up remembrances to share the calamity of Fatima al-Zahra using our Shabak language, even our Turkmen brothers are participating using their Turkmen language,” said Abu Muhammed, an organiser at the mosque.
During the reconstruction phase, Nineveh Province needs special attention, as it is home to many of Iraq’s minority communities who faced hardships and displacement during ISIS rule. The various groups within the Nineveh Plains all need to be protected regardless of faith or nationality, as each group deserves to practice their religious and cultural rites and rituals freely and without persecution.