Hosayniyya is a rather recent name for public buildings in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon that are used by the Shi'a for mourning ceremonies, especially during the months of Muharam and Safar (the first two months in the Muslim calender) wherein the martyrdom of Imam Husayn b. ˓Ali, grandson of the Prophet, is mourned. Their counterparts in India and Pakistan are called imambara or ˓azakhana, and in some places, ˓ashurkhana, dargah, and ˓alawi. Although mourning ceremonies have been common since the Buwayhid era, no definite date can be set for the emergence of the name hosayniyya before the last part of eighteenth century. Until that time these ceremonies were held in royal palatial halls, spacious houses, in streets, and open spaces. Apparently, from the second half of the Safavid era the tekkeyyeh and khaneqa (also khanakha), buildings that originally served as establishments of the dervishes, were gradually transformed into hosayniyyas, often assuming this name from the latter part of the Zand and early Qajar periods onward. Starting in the mid-1950s, buildings serving similar religious purposes have been named after other imams and Shi˓ite saints. For instance, in 1996 there were 1358 hosayniyya, 148 tekkiyeh, 34 fatimiyya, 32 mahdiyya, and 57 zainabiyya in the Khorasan province. Scores of such buildings built during the last few decades of the twentieth century in the city of Mashhad bear such names as sajjadiyya, baqiriyya, sadiqiyya, kazimiyya, radawiyya, jawwadiyya, naqawiyya, ˓askariyya, mahdiyya, fatimiyya, nargisiyya, and zaynabiyya.
Apparently, the religious influence of the Safavid era (1501–1736) led to the building of the ashurkhanas of the Deccan during the reign of the Shi˓ite Qutb-shahi dynasty, and Mir Muhammad Mu˒min Astarabadi (d. 1625), an eminent religious and political figure, is known to have built several of them in and around the city of Hyderabad, establishing a tradition that later spread to the north and other parts of India. The magnificent imambara of Asaf ad-Dawlah at Lucknow is perhaps the most impressive of this kind of structures ever built.