#6 Life in Afghanistan :: Muharram

Today has been packed full of people and things to do, so I’m using old material.
This is a piece I wrote back in 2011 for a news letter.

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I watch screaming, blood covered, children frantically running; mothers wailing, tear-streaked, sooty faces, desperately searching for loved ones; and fathers, laying on the side, limbless and lifeless. My heart skips a beat, I swallow hard, and then the tears stream down my face too. I see hate, fear, judgement, and despair, I see the people God loved so much that he gave up everything to save them, and I am undone. I cry out to God “Have mercy Lord! Let love overcome hate, let peace rule over fear, let forgiveness and grace be known, let hope replace despair, let YOUR kingdom come, and YOUR will be done!” I remember why I am sent, to show His love, to demonstrate peace, to tell of His forgiveness and grace, and to show them that there is hope. To point toward Jesus Christ the best that I can. I fail often, and I am weak, but it is in my weakness that His power is made perfect.

This month is known as Muharram, it runs from mid November to mid December most years. The month of mourning for the prophet Mohammed’s grandson. It is a month where day after day men and children as young as three beat themselves with whips, and leather thongs riddled with nails. They sit beating themselves for hours, chanting the koran, and prayers set aside for this time. Throughout this month mosques, shops, houses, and even offices have black banners above their door frames. It reminds me of the blood of the lambs painted on the door frames of the Israelites at passover, this is so similar, yet so opposite, and I wish they knew the power of The Lamb’s blood. Streets are lined with black arched banners, 90% of TV airtime is dedicated to showing men and children partaking in these rituals inside the mosques. It all escalates until the 10th day. On this day people gather on the streets and processions take place across the cities, solemn walking, chanting, beating, and self-flagellation, backs and chests raw and bleeding, some falling to the ground in agony. You can feel the oppression and darkness, and no follower of Christ is left unmoved, no follower left prayerless, no follower not longing for Christ to illuminate the darkness. It serves to remind us how in need of a saviour they are. Everyone is prepared for tragedy, the possibility of an incident is high, but when it happens, as it did yesterday, it is still shocking. I am glad my heart has not become hard, resilient, but not hard.

This is part of the 31 Day series

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5 Comments on “#6 Life in Afghanistan :: Muharram”

  1. This one made me cry. Still my fave 31 days. <3

    – Strings

  2. Amanda Hallas says:

    We need to know. Thank you for sharing so powerfully.

  3. […] Day Six :: Muharram (Chanting, Marching, and Bleeding chests) […]


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