Dear Head Teacher,
Re: Request for a day off to commemorate Ashura on 29th
I am writing to request for a day’s special leave for my child
on 12th October 2016 to commemorate the Day of Ashura
(10th of Muharram 1438 AH) – a religious event in the
Islamic calendar for Shi’a Muslims.
You may already be aware that for Shi’a Muslims the month
of Muharram (first month of the Islamic year) brings with it
the commemoration and mourning of the martyrdom of
Hussain, the grandson of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace
and blessings on him and his holy progeny).
I would like to take this opportunity to inform you about the importance of
this event with a humble request to share this during a school
assembly to support inclusion for Shi’a Muslim children who
are ignored as a minority community living within the Muslim
Who is Hussain?
Hussain was the grandson of the Holy Prophet Muhammad
and the son of Ali (the first Shi’a Imam and the forth ruler
(Caliph) of the Muslims).
Hussain was revered as a knowledgeable, pious and generous
man, who took seriously his responsibility in looking after the
poor and needy people in his town. Because of his stature and
lineage, he was, and still is regarded as a beacon of guidance
and the perfect role model for all those who wish to walk the
path of righteousness.
What happened on Ashura?
The 10th day of Muharram is called Ashura to commemorate
the event that took place in the year 61 AH (After Hijra),
(approx. 20th October 680 AD). On the Day of Ashura, a
conflict took place in Iraq at a place called Kerbala, south of
Baghdad. A large army (in its tens of thousands) had been
mobilised by Yazid, the Caliph of the Umayyad regime, to
besiege a small group of around one hundred people, led by
Hussain. The group also included women and children. The
aim of the ruler was to pressure Hussain into paying
allegiance to him.
Hussain refused to submit to the authority of Yazid who was
unjust, oppressive and openly defiant of all the Islamic values
and norms which he was expected to uphold as the Caliph.
Failing negotiations, a battle subsequently took place in which
Hussain and all his loyal companions including his family
members were martyred. Subsequently, the women and
children of the friends and family of Hussain were taken
captive to endure a long and arduous journey from Kerbala,
Iraq to Damascus in Syria where they were imprisoned.
Why do we still remember the Day of Ashura?
The actions of Hussain represented a conscious choice to
courageously resist tyranny and sacrifice his life for a higher
cause. At the time, almost the entire Muslim nation had failed
to address the malpractice of Yazid, the then Caliph. Instead
they had acquiesced to his authority and given their obedience
even though he was an oppressive tyrant.
In such circumstances, passiveness by Hussain would have
signalled the end of the religion of Islam only some 75 years
since its inception. Thus Hussain took the heavy responsibility
of restoring the Islamic faith upon himself that is evident in
his famous quote:
“I have not risen to spread evil or to show off, nor to spread
immorality or oppression. But I have done so for the
betterment of the Islamic nation and to propagate goodness
and forbid evil”
Muslim communities around the world congregate in their
respective centres each night throughout the month of
Muharram, in particular during the first ten nights where these
events are narrated and their moral lessons are discussed. The
commemoration culminates on the 10th of the month, the Day
of Ashura, when the actual martyrdom took place. This day is
spent in prayers and in eulogising the tragedy that befell
Hussain. His gallant sacrifice is acknowledged by famous
personalities from across the world. Here are a couple of
“I learned from Hussein how to achieve victory while being
oppressed.” Mahatma Gandhi
“If Husain had fought to quench his worldly desires…then I
do not understand why his sister, wife, and children
accompanied him. It stands to reason therefore, that he
sacrificed purely for
Islam.” Charles Dickens
For further information, please visit
This year the Day of Ashura will be on 12th October 2016. I
would like to request the school to allow my child to take the
day off. As a parent I also wish to extend my appreciation in
advance of your cooperation and understanding in this matter.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any queries.