International (MNN) – Sunni and Shia Muslims observe Ashura for different reasons and in different ways. For some, Ashura is the day Noah exited the Ark and the Israelites escaped Egypt. For the minority Shia branch of Islam, which makes up 10 percent of Muslims worldwide, Ashura mourns the martyrdom of Mohammed’s grandson Husayn ibn Ali, the third Shia Imam.
Since Shia Muslims observe Ashura as a day of mourning, their traditions include processions, mourning, and reenactments of the martyrdom. Sometimes, men use self-flagellation to recognize the suffering of Husayn ibn Ali.
Praying during Ashura
“It’s one of the key dates on the Shia Muslim calendar and I would love for us to pray for Shia Muslims today, especially as they remember and commemorate the day of Ashura,” says Jane* from Cry Out Now Ministries.
This time of mourning and focus on sacrifice can be a common thread between Shia Muslims and Christians, Jane says.
“The sacrifice of Jesus is something that they can understand. Because they do understand sacrifice and for us to pray that they will go beyond their own pain, but see his pain in this season,” Jane says.
She sees Ashura as the perfect time for Christ-followers to pray. “[Pray] that they (Muslims) will actually discover a God that experienced sacrifice and pain as well, that experienced suffering as well. A God that meets them in their pain and actually wants to bring in healing that they don’t need to stay in this place of historic pain and suffering, but that they can actually receive healing from one that understands sacrifice,” Jane asks.
“We want to pray specifically that they, in the midst of the mourning…when they reach the bottom of their pain, that they will actually discover God there.”
This understanding of sacrifice and suffering has already changed lives and deepened understanding.
How to pray
“They are searching for God, they are searching for understanding, they, are searching for comfort. So let’s pray that God will meet them in their searching,” Jane says.
Pray for believers living alongside Shia Muslims. That they will know how to connect and share their stories and not look away.
“Share stories of the love of Jesus, the forgiveness of Jesus, and the ultimate sacrifice that he has made for all of that. And that that is the sacrifice that we need to hold onto not the sacrifices of man.”
Learn more about the mission of Cry Out Now and join them in prayer here.
* – Name changed for security purposes.