The Tuwayrij Run (Arabic: ركضة طويريج), a Nineteenth Century religious invention, occurs on yearly basis on the Day of Ashoura, whereby hundreds of thousands of Shiite men run from Tuwayrij in Iraq towards nearby Karbala as a mobilization force intended to metaphorically save al-Imam al-Husayn and His family from the army of Yazid ibn Mu‘awiya ibn Abi Sufyan.
Tuwayrij is located about 22 kilometers from Karbala, but the Run starts at bridge located five Kilometers from the center of the holy city.
The runners leave towards the Shrine of al-Imam al-Husayn in Karbala after performing the Noon prayers, as the Imam was murdered at noon time.
Upon the arrival of the participants, the Run organizers burn several tents, symbolizing the tragic end of the Battle of Karbala and the too tardy arrival of the Shiite mobilization force.
The Tuwayrij Run was invented by the Mirza Saleh Qazwini, a mullah, who led the militant runners while he was on horseback.
Althoug the Tuwayrij Run is a religious invention, it was nevertheless justified by the testimony of Grand Ayatollahs who proclaimed witnessing al-Imam al-Mahdi among the runners.
The Run became very popular among the Shiites residing outside of Iraq. It is now practiced in many countries with Shiite communities, such as Iran and Bahrain.
The apparent message of the Tuwayrij Run is regret for letting down al-Imam al-Husayn and an expression of the desire to sacrifice one's life for His sake. Needless to mention that the Run is also a display of military power by the Shiite mullahs. Indeed, the Run was invented when the Shiite Persian Empire was at odds with the Sunni Ottoman Empire and Holy Karbala was occupied by the latter.
Such a display of militancy was not practiced by the Infallible Imams who succeeded al-Imam al-Husayn. Indeed, the Tuwayrij Run is an example of how religious communities change over time and pick up new traditions and rituals that may be a deviation from the original, but serve a worldly purpose.