Old Islamic Rite Bringing Together Iranian Shiites, Sunnis

‘Carrying the Sword Alam’ is among old Islamic rituals in Iran whose performance provides the country’s Shiite and Sunni populations with a chance to come together regardless of their religious differences.

Carrying the Sword Alam, a traditional rite which dates back to 900 years ago, is one of these old rites that unite Sunnis and Shiites in Iran. The ritual is annually performed in the southern Persian Gulf island of Qeshm

The rite is performed in a ceremony to commemorate the martyrdom anniversary of the third Shiite Imam, Imam Hussein, during the first decade of the first month of the lunar calendar, Muharram.

Each year, a larger group of people, including Shiites and Sunnis, take part in the ceremony, according to a Farsi report by Fars News Agency.

During the one-day ceremony, the participants carry with bare foot the Alam from Ali ibn Abitaleb Mosque in Qesh to the village of Homeiri, which is about 11 kilometres away.

The ceremony comes to an end in the afternoon when the Alam is returned to its place in the city amid warm welcome of the crowds.

Interestingly enough, the size of the Alam as well as its colour and form have not changed even slightly over the past hundreds of years.

The number 110 inscribed at the top of the Sword Alam connote the name of Imam Ali, the first Shiite Imam.

The historic rite in Qeshm Island attracts each year a large number of people from across Iran who defy cold and warm weather to open their way into the Homeiri village.

The Alam is also taken on certain days to the houses of some revered religious figures of the village.

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