Burning tents

From wikishia
Burning tents
Burning tents on the Day of Ashura' in Tehran
Burning tents on the Day of Ashura' in Tehran
Ritual information
TimeDay of Ashura'
Iraq • Iran • India
OriginTenth/sixteenth century
Burning the tents of Imam Husayn (a) on the Day of Ashura'
Chest-beatingIftariFuneral ProcessionTa'ziya

Burning tent is one of the mourning rituals in Muharram held in Iran, Iraq and India. In this ceremony, a group in red clothes, which is the symbol of Ibn Ziyad’s soldiers, set fire to the symbolic tents of Imam al-Husayn (a). This ceremony is described as one of the oldest mourning ceremonies of Shiites, which dates back to Buyid dynasty (reign 322-448/934–1056-7). Today, this ceremony is held in different places.

Importance and position

Burning tents is one of the Shiite religious practices in Muharram mourning.[1] According to reports, the Shiites of Iran,[2] India,[3] and Iraq generally end Muharram mourning with this ceremony.[4]

According to historical reports, the tents of Imam al-Husayn (a) were set on fire by the troops of 'Umar b. Sa'd in the incident of Karbala in 61/680.[5] According to a story narrated by Makarem Shirazi from the book “The Tragedy of al-Husayn”, Imam al-Sadiq (a) stated his reason of sadness, when his house was set on fire by Mansur Dawaniqi, was remembering the day of 'Ashura and the escape of the girls and women of Imam al-Husayn’s (a) caravan from the tents.[6]

Sayyid Ali Khamenei, one of the Shiite marja’s, in his answer to a query, said that there is no problem in holding this ceremony if it is not accompanied by lies, corruption, or undermining religion with regards to the requirements of the time; although, in his opinion, elegies and the sermons about Imam al-Husayn’s sufferings are better.[7]


Burning tents with the name “al-Tashabiyya wa harq al-khiyam” is one of the oldest mourning ceremonies in the month of Muharram[8] and it is said that it dates back to Buyid time.[9] In this ceremony, the green, black, and white tents are erected on the first day of Muharram and symbolically set on fire on the tenth day of Muharram[10] to remind of the burning of Imam al-Husayn’s tents on the evening of 'Ashura.[11]

According to some reports, this ceremony started in Iran in the Safavid era (ruled 907-1135/1501-1722) in the city of Ahwaz.[12] In the Qajar period, the ceremony of performing ta'ziya was known by setting fire to the symbolic tents of Imam al-Husayn (a) on the day of 'Ashura. In this ceremony, a group wearing red clothes, which was the symbol of Ibn Ziyad’s soldiers, attacked the raised symbolic tents and set them on fire. During the reign of Reza Shah Pahlavi,[13] this method of mourning, like some other methods of mourning for Imam al-Husayn (a), was banned, and thus was held by people secretly.[14]

The tent-burning ceremony was held in Iraq in the 13th/19th century. According to Adib al-Mamalek, an Iranian traveler (d. 1336/1917-8), the mourners of 'Ashura gathered in the shrine of Imam al-Husayn (a) in Karbala, and after burning the symbolic tents of Imam al-Husayn (a) and his companions, ended their mourning. According to this report, during this ceremony, the mourners chanted “Wa l-khiyam haraquh” (translation: “Tents were set on fire”).[15]

Shiites in India also light fires in pits in Imambaras and walk on them with bare feet to mourn the burning of Imam al-Husayn’s (a) tents.[16]



  • Bulūkbāshī, ʿAlī et al. "Ḥusayn (a), Imām". Edited by Kāẓim Mūsawī Bujnūrdī. Dāʾirat al-maʿārif-i buzurg-i Islāmī. Tehran: Markaz-i Dāʾirat al-Maʿārif-i Buzurg-i Islāmī, 1392 Sh.
  • Hollister, John Norman. The Shi'a of India. : Oriental Books Reprint Corporation, NewDehli, 1979.
  • Ibn Aʿtham al-Kūfī, Aḥmad b. Aʿtham. Kitāb al-Futūḥ. Edited by ʿAlī Shīrī. Beirut: Dār al-Aḍwaʾ, 1411AH-1991.
  • Ibn Ṭāwūs, ʿAlī b. Mūsā. Al-Luhūf ʿalā qatlay al-ṭufūf. Qom: 'Uswa, 1383 Sh.
  • Makārim Shīrāzī, Nāṣir. ʿĀshūrā; rīsha-hā, angīza-hā, rūydād-hā wa payāmad-hā. Qom: Madrasa Imām ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib (a), 1387 Sh.
  • Muʿtamidī, Ḥusayn. ʿAzādārī-hāyi sunnatī-yi Shīʿayān dar buyūt-i ʿulamāʾ wa ḥawza-hāyi ʿilmīyya wa kishwar-hāyi jahān. Qom: ʿAsr-i zuhur', 1378 Sh.
  • Ṣāliḥī, Shahīdī. "Khaymagāh". Dāʾirat al-maʿārif-i Tashayyuʿ. Tehran: Nashr-i Shahīd Saʿīd Muḥibbī, 1380 Sh.
  • آشنايي با ريشه و تاريخچه مراسم خيمه‌سوزي در ايران و عراق. (Acquaintance with the origin and history of Burning tents in Iran and Iraq. (Persian)). Accessed: 2023/09/23.
  • مراسم خیمه سوزان در روز عاشورا. (Burning tents on the Day of 'Ashura. (Persian)). Accessed: 2023/09/23.