what is Ashura?
In the month of Muharram 61 AH (approx. 20 October 680 AD), an event took place in Iraq at a place known as Kerbala on the bank of the river Euphrates. It seemed in those days insignificant from the historical point of view. A large army which had been mobilised by the Umayyad regime besieged a group of persons numbering less than a hundred and put them under pressure to pay allegiance to the Caliph of the time and submit to his authority. The smallgroup resisted and a severe battle took place in which they were all killed.
Imam Hussein went to Mecca and stayed there for four months. He visited different groups and wrote a lot of letters to Kufa, Basra, and to individuals. He went on apilgrimageto Kaba and he visited the tombs of diseased predecessors; he went to the Aboutalib Cemetery and visited the graves of his great grandfather, Aboutaleb (A.S), and his great grandmother, Khadijeh (SA). He said his prayers right there
Self-flagellation is forbidden (Haram) in Islam. Great Shia scholars such as grand Ayatullah Khamenei who is the leader of Islamic Republic of Iran and Ayatullah Sistani, the Shia Leader in Iraq, have prohibited any self-mutilation such as self-flagellation with knives or chains (Tatbir) and even walking on fire. You can see their Fatwas (religious opinions) on tatbir.org