A LARGE crowd of Muslims took to the streets today to carry out the annual Ashura parade in Bradford.

The parade took place in the Great Horton Road area of the city and attracted a vocal group of worshippers, who sang religious songs.

According to one Bradford man who was there, Sadaf Abbas, “people from across the United Kingdom” had come for the event.

Ashura commemorates the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, the grandson of the prophet Muhammad, who was killed in the Battle of Karbala in the year 680. It is considered a holy day in the Islamic calendar, significant for both the Sunni and Shi’a sects of Islam, and followers of the faith embark on a yearly parade to mark the occasion.

After the death of the prophet Muhammed in 632, there were arguments regarding who would be the new leader of the Islamic faith. Consequently, the religion split into several caliphates.

Tensions between the Ummayid caliphate, which was under the jurisdiction of Yazid I, and Hussain’s caliphate, culminated in the Battle of Karbala, which led to Hussain’s death by beheading.

As a result, the Ashura parade is intended to pay homage to and to mourn Imam Hussain, who is considered by many as a courageous leader who stood up for human rights.

Syed Mohibbul Hassan, who is from Bradford and was in attendance at the parade, said: “The principle purpose of this parade is to remember Imam Hussain and his protests against the tyranny of Yazid.

"We want to show the world that, as Muslims, we are not for tyranny or extremism, but we are for human rights for all.” He also argued that the Ashura parade is an inclusive practice, saying: “We welcome people of all colours, creeds and religious backgrounds.”

Another local man who attended the parade, Arfan, spoke on how Ashura is “not bound by religious or cultural divides”. Another parader, Akeel, commented “some people may perceive this parade negatively, but with communication comes knowledge” as he encouraged different religions, ethnic and cultural groups in his home city of Bradford to learn more from one another.

Faryal, a recent University of Bradford graduate who was working as part of the security team at the event, confirmed that Ashura was closely tied to the idea of “standing up against oppression”. She also added that “taking a stand against oppression doesn’t require a religion”, while “it is not just Muslims that need to come together in the name of justice, but everyone, regardless of their beliefs or backgrounds.”

In regards to the confusion that the parade may be met with by those who are unfamiliar with it, Faryal said “if you have no idea what’s going on and you see this happening on the street, it may be a bit of a shock. But when we talk to people, as well as when we hand leaflets and information about the parade out, it helps people to understand it better”