This Saturday, Jews and Muslims across the United Kingdom mark the 10th day of this lunar month. For the strange synchronicity of this day is a time held as sacred by both Muslims and Jews.
For Jews it’s Yom Kippur, the solemn day of fasting, prayer, and most importantly “Teshuva” the Hebrew word for atonement and repentance.
For Muslims, it is Ashura, Arabic for the number ten, and a complicated day.
For Sunnis, fasting is recommended; for Shias it is not permitted, as it is a day of commemoration of Imam Hussein, the Grandson of Prophet Muhammad, who stood for justice in the face of tyranny. A revered figure for all Muslims.
What are you doing on the 10th day of this lunar month? We have been asking Jews and Muslims this question for many years, sharing stories of history and prayer and community and god. Let’s use the 10th day as a starting point, to delve deeper into what we share, but also to refine and embrace our differences for the better.
This is just one of the reasons why we are both so proud to be part of Faiths Forum for London, one of the United Kingdom’s leading interfaith organisations. At Faiths Forum for London we provide a platform for communication between faith communities, promoting dialogue and understanding between not only faiths, but wider society. That is why it is so important for each of us to continue to debate, communicate and engage on the issues that matter to us most. After all, education and debate is the greatest way to form genuine and long-lasting partnerships, offering opportunities for faith communities to share best practice.
Although we hold different religious views we both passionately believe in promoting mutual understanding, collaboration and strengthening relations between faith communities. We do this because the reality is that we are united by common concerns.
Over the coming weeks, months and years, perhaps we can use this day as a starting point to look at all the different ways our communities can improve understanding of each other. This is a time of coming together, respect, tolerance and togetherness.
Whether anti-Semitism or Islamophobia, both are crimes targeted at our respective communities and are becoming a greater challenge in modern day Britain. It is imperative that we come together to defeat hatred in all of its forms.
Whilst this weekend we will each follow our own different religious traditions and customs, we recognise it is a shared holy day. Perhaps what is most holy about this day is its potential to spark conversations. It is a time to reflect upon how we as Jews and Muslims share a sacred day while remembering that it is the unique qualities of our respective faiths that make the day so special.
- Mustafa Field and Rabbi Natan Levy, Faiths Forum for London.