Wednesday, May 25, 2016

2016: Year Judaism and Islam Get Together at Sundown, October 11th

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                      
Our Book of Life where everything we do is written down:
Only we ourselves are responsible, and no one else pays for our sins but us,
so we ask forgiveness and better mean it, for G-d will know.  "
The Talmud,  (Rosh Hashana 32b),  says that on Rosh Hashana, God inscribes everyone's name into one of three books. The righteous go into the Book of Life, the evil go into the Book of Death, and those in-between have judgment suspended until Yom Kippur."
Blowing the Shofar on Rosh Hashana and Yom KippurThe shofar blast marks the beginning of a period of amnesty which is known as The Ten Days of Repentance. Repentance is based on the fact that since humanity has been given free-will, and our actions are not pre-determined, we must take responsiblity for our actions. The ability to repent teaches us that our future is not bound by our past and that by changing our behaviour we have the ability to change our past.
Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of Atonement, falls on October 11, 2016 at sundown.  It's a remembrance day that starts with a special large dinner with the family and friends in preparation for the next 25 hours of fasting and being in the synagogue asking  for forgiveness for our sins against G-d..  Jews were directed by Moses to hold this holiday in perpetuity. ...In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and you shall not do any work ... For on that day he shall provide atonement for you to cleanse you from all your sins before the L-RD. -Leviticus 16:29-30 This is our most holy and  important holiday of the year.

This year, a holiday I did not know about, Ashura, is also celebrated by Muslims at the very same hour, sundown of October 11th.  This is celebrated differently by Sunnis and Shiites.  With Sunnis,   (who refer to it as The Day of Atonement) as the day on which the Israelites were freed from the Pharaoh (called 'Firaun' in Arabic) of Egypt.   
Celebration of Shiite Muslims during Ashura showing extremes of the day. "Ashura is an islamic holiday that only the Shi’ites celebrate like this. Ashura is the day in which the Shi’ites repent for the loss of Husayn, Muhammad’s grandson." This is something they cannot pin on the Jews.  Ashura is also a day of fasting for some Sunni Muslims. The basis for Ashura in Sunni Islam, according to tradition, is the prophet Muhammad's adoption of this practice after observing Jews in Medina fasting on this day. 
Shi'a Muslims who are mainly found in Iran,  reject these stories and maintain that Ashura is a day of great sorrow due to the tragic events of Karbala so atone for letting Husayn get killed in battle.  .
  The Battle of Karbala took place on Muharram 10, in the year 61 AHof the Islamic calendar (October 10, 680 CE)  in Karbala, in present-day Iraq.  The battle took place between a small group of supporters and relatives of Muhammad's grandson, Husayn ibn Ali, and a larger military detachment from the forces of Yazid I, the Umayyad caliph.  
A revered Torah, a scroll

It is important to remember at this point that Judaism is far far older than Islam.  We attribute our Torah being written by Moses, who was already 80 years old when he trekked back to Egypt to talk to the Pharoah, his relative by adoption, about freeing the Israelite slaves.  That would have been in about 1311 BCE, and he wrote down his messages from G-d for the next 40 years, and died in 1271 BCE.  So our Yom Kippur day of atonement is 3,326 years old, and Jews still abide by this day.  
Middle Ages-in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur,
Carrying the Torah for everyone to see and touch

Mohammad lived in the vicinity of Jews in Arabia, who resided in Medina.  Amazingly, here are Muslims now celebrating on this special day, something they learned from him who learned some of our Jewish history when it was already 1,942 years old, for he was born in 570 CE and died in 632 CE.  They are not celebrating the same holiday, however.  They have mixed this day with our Passover (Pesach) celebrated in the early Spring. 
Jews praying on Yom Kippur in Israel

Yom Kippur on October  11th is the Jewish day of Atonement, but to G-d for sins. 

Passover was this past April 22nd at sundown when the Israelites were freed from the Pharaoh.  

Then again, the Shiites have a different concept. " Shiite commemorations of the Day of Ashura have traditionally included rituals which have been condemned by many Shia religious authorities recently under the claim that such practices are wrong or unislamic."   

Karbala was a time of a great battle.  "The Battle of Karbala took place on Muharram 10, in the year 61 AHof the Islamic calendar (October 10, 680 AD)a in Karbala, in present-day  Iraq.  The battle took place between a small group of supporters and relatives of Muhammad's grandson, Husayn ibn Ali, and a larger military detachment from the forces of Yazid I, the Umayyad caliph."  There were 3 of them.  Yazid I (680-683) of the Sufyan Branch, and ; Yazid II (720-724) of the Marwan Branch, and Yazid III (744) of the Marwan Branch.  

What they are remembering is an ambush of Husayn ibn Ali where he was killed.  In 680, when Yazid became caliph, Husayn refused to acknowledge him and secretly left Medina to join his own followers in Kufa, who had already proclaimed him caliph.  Unfortunately for Husayn, the plot was discovered and the small band, including women and children, was ambushed in Karbala, and oasis south of modern Baghdad.  Most of the men were killed.  Husayn, the grandson of the Prophet, was beheaded;  and the women and children were taken captive.  

This was the culmination of a series of unsuccessful political moves on the part of the partisans of Ali to secure the caliphate.  The ambush could have been recorded as another political failure, and at the time it did not create much excitement.  Later, it assumed important religious significance.  Ali and Husayn became more formidable foes of the established caliphate through their deaths than through their lives.  Husayn was considered the prince of martyrs, and his death in 680 became a rallying time for opponents of the caliphate.  The followers of Ali separated themselves from the main body of Islam and formed their own theology and philosophy of its own.  

Interestingly, Marwan, founder of the Marwanid branch of the Umayyads, came to power in Damascus with the help of the southern Arabs.  

The Umayyads expanded Islam throughout the world from 661 to 750 CE.  Then the Abbasids took over.  Perhaps they all learned from the Byzantine Empire previously who did the same thing.  "It's riches beckoned the fighters of Islam, and the possibility of its conversion kindled the hopes of many Muslims."  

Resource:  CE (Common Era) and AHof =AD (anno domini.from (year 1-2016)  Yom Kippur
College text: MIDDLE EAST-PAST & PRESENT, by Yahya Armajani, Thomas M. Ricks, pp 55-58.

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