Celebrations of Yom Kippur, Eid test years of religious violence


Letter to the Editor


Unfortunately, in the last century the narrative of Jewish-Muslim relations has been marred by episodes of violence and hate. Ignored by many, however, is that both religions derive from the same source: Abrahamic monotheism. Therefore Judaism and Islam are not related just functionally — as are all faiths — but share a mutual history, hence the two religions need not to be seen as adversaries but more like siblings, the spiritual children of Ishmael (Muslims) and Isaac (Jews).

On Sept. 23, in a rare sign of inter-religious cohesion, both Muslims and Jews spent the day in intense introspection, becoming cognizant of previous wrong-doings and purifying future intentions, for it was the day of atonement for both religious groups. Yom Kippur for the Jewish community and Yawm al-’Arafah for the Islamic community falling on the same day is most surely a special occasion worthy of note, since Muslims follow a lunar calendar causing alignments like this a once in a millennia occurrence. For Jews the day consists of fasting, refraining from food and drink, along with a variety of observances, but the major focus is on repenting for one’s sins. Similarly for Muslims, particularly those not on Hajj, fasting and the recitation of certain prayers are the means of repenting for sins. These acts are the expiation of sins, cleansing oneself for the coming year for Jews and the year prior and post for Muslims.

For Jews, Yom Kippur signifies the reception of the ten commandments by Moses, whereas Yawm al-’Arafah for Muslims signifies the day prior to Abraham’s binding of his son. Both events are recognized by Jews and Muslims, and they have an overlaying transcendental message of sacrificing one’s own desire for the greater good. If Jews and Muslims were to reflect these values, the unfortunate narrative of the previous century could be replaced with the familial affection both truly have for each other — hence, true atonement.

Shabbir A. Abbas is a graduate student in the Department of Religious Studies, studying religion and conflict.


Shabbir A. Abbas

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