Muharram is the first month in the Islamic year and fasting during this time holds a very special place within the Alevi, a community in Turkey that belongs to a branch of Shia Islam.

Turkish Alevis participate in a Cem ritual in the eastern Turkish city of Sivas, Turkey.
Turkish Alevis participate in a Cem ritual in the eastern Turkish city of Sivas, Turkey. ( Reuters Archive )

This month, the Alevi community in Turkey commemorates the historic battle of Karbala, where Prophet Mohammad’s grandson was killed during a siege. The Alevi community belongs to a branch of Shia Islam that do not fast during Ramadan but for 12 days during the month of Muharram.

Muharram commemorates the martyrdom of Hussein, the son of the fourth Caliph of Sunnis, cousin and the son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad, Ali ibn Abi Talib, at the battle of Karbala. 

Alevis have previously been persecuted but Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has tried to improve relations with the community. 

"We have the same pain, we pray in the same direction, we have the same book and the same prophet and his family," President Erdogan said in 2014.

TRT World's Andrew Hopkins reports from Ankara.

Source: TRT World