Millions of people in Iran marked the anniversary of the martyrdom of the first Shia Imam, Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (PBUH), who passed away on the 21st day of the holy fasting month of Ramadan some 14 centuries ago.
Black-clad mourners from different social backgrounds and age groups have converged in mosques, places of worship and religious sites nationwide attended Shia mourning rituals.
During the ceremonies, poems were recited and sermons delivered in honor of one of the most revered figures of Shia Islam.
Imam Ali was struck in the head with a poisonous sword by Ibn Muljam while he was saying his prayers in the Great Mosque of Kufa, which is located in Iraq now, on the 19th of Ramadan 40 AH (27 January AD 661). He passed away two days later.
Imam Ali, Prophet Muhammad’s son-in-law and cousin, is highly respected for his courage, knowledge and deep loyalty to the Prophet as well as for administering justice.
Imam Ali’s martyrdom is a national day of mourning in Iran.
The night before his demise is believed to be one of the three holy nights known as the Laylat al-Qadrs (the Nights of Destiny), which represent an unparalleled opportunity for Muslims to dedicate much of their time to praying.
The Night of Destiny is believed to be the night when the first verses of the holy Qur’an were revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) more than 14 centuries ago.
It is also thought to be the night when the blessings and mercy of God are abundant, sins are forgiven, supplications are accepted, and God decides the fate of people for the coming year.
Throughout the Night of Destiny, Muslims recite the holy Qu’ran, hold vigils until dawn, and pray.