JEDDAH – Wednesday, September 19 was a very special day this year, seeing both world Muslims and Jews fasting together to mark religious occasions, a rare coincidence that occurs a few times each generation.
“This coming year may become a very good year because this year both Jews and Muslims worldwide are fasting together on the same day,” Rabbi Allen S. Maller wrote.
According to Rabbi Maller, the Jewish new year 5779 CE, began with the new moon arriving on Sunday evening, September 9, 2018, making it the first day of the Jewish month of Tishri.
Meanwhile, the Muslim new year, 1440 H, began with the new moon arriving on Tuesday evening, September 11, 2018, making it the first day of the Islamic month of Muharram.
“The Day of ‘Ashura will follow on Thursday, September 20th, the 10th of Muharram. Muslims intending to fast on both the 9th and 10th of Muharram, i.e. Wednesday, the 19th, and Thursday, the 20th of September 2018. Jews fast on Yom Kippur the 10th of Tishri, from the evening of September 18th till sunset September 19th,” he added.
“Thus, both Jews and Muslims this year will fast on the same September 19th day.”
Maller goes on to show similarities between Islam and Judaism since early ages.
“When the Prophet [peace be upon him] arrived in Madinah in 622 CE, he found the Jews there observing fast on (what we Muslims count as) the 10th of Muharram, and so he asked them the reason for their fasting on this day. They said: ‘This is a blessed day. On this day Allah saved the Children of Israel from their enemy (in Egypt) and so Prophet Musa fasted on this day giving thanks to Allah.’
“The Prophet said: ‘We are closer to Musa than you are.’ Thus, he fasted on that day and commanded Muslims to fast on this day.”
Fasting the 9th and the 10th of Muharram is a Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) that goes back to a long time before Imam Hussein.
For Sunnis, `Ashura’ marks the day that Prophet Musa, peace be upon him, was saved from Egypt’s pharaoh.
Muslim scholars have agreed that it is good to fast on the day of `Ashura’, although it is not obligatory.
`Ashura also marks the killing of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him) in the year 680 AD in Karbala.
Black flags, which represent a symbol of sadness for Shiites during `Ashura, are seen over Karbala.
Shiites make up around 15 percent of Muslims worldwide.