Muharram in Bahrain

Muharram in Bahrain: A Time of Mourning and Reflection

Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar, holds deep significance for the people of Bahrain. It is a time of mourning and reflection, as it marks the tragic events of the Battle of Karbala, where the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, Imam Hussain, along with his family and followers, were martyred. The event is known as Ashura in the local language.

Muharram is observed in Bahrain based on the Islamic lunar calendar, which moves 11 days earlier each year compared to the Gregorian calendar. This means that the exact dates of Muharram change every year. In order to calculate the start of Muharram, Bahrainis rely on the sighting of the new moon, which marks the beginning of the new Islamic month.


The observance of Muharram in Bahrain dates back centuries, as the country has a predominantly Shia Muslim population who hold deep reverence for Imam Hussain and the events of Karbala. The Battle of Karbala took place in 680 AD, but it is unclear when the people of Bahrain began commemorating Muharram. Nevertheless, the mourning rituals and events associated with Muharram have been an integral part of Bahraini society for generations.


National customs for Muharram in Bahrain

During the month of Muharram, Bahrainis observe various customs and rituals, many of which are unique to the country. One of the most notable customs is the organization of large processions, where people walk through the streets while beating their chests and chanting in remembrance of Imam Hussain and the martyrs of Karbala. The color black, symbolizing mourning, is prominently displayed during these processions, and many participants wear black clothing.

In addition to the processions, Bahrainis also attend religious gatherings known as majalis, where scholars and religious leaders recount the events of Karbala, deliver sermons, and recite poetry in honor of Imam Hussain. Many people also engage in acts of charity during Muharram, such as distributing food and drinks to the poor and needy.

Local customs for Muharram in Bahrain

While the national customs associated with Muharram are observed throughout Bahrain, there are also some local customs that vary between different regions and communities. One such local custom is the reenactment of the Battle of Karbala, known as Ta'zieh, in which the events leading up to the martyrdom of Imam Hussain are dramatized through street performances. These performances often involve elaborate costumes, props, and even live animals to recreate the scenes of the battle.

Another local custom is the construction of temporary structures known as sabeels, which are set up along the routes of processions to provide water and refreshments to the participants. These structures are often adorned with banners and decorations bearing religious inscriptions and imagery.


Muharram in Bahrain is a deeply spiritual and emotional time for the country's citizens, as they remember the sacrifice of Imam Hussain and the martyrs of Karbala. The various customs and rituals observed during this month serve as a reminder of the importance of faith, compassion, and self-sacrifice in the face of oppression and injustice. As the first month of the Islamic calendar, Muharram sets the tone for the year ahead, reminding Bahrainis of their religious and cultural heritage.