Celebrate the New Year with family, friends, and feast but then, be mindful. For the next ten days, God will be watching what you do, and judging what benedictions to proscribe for you in the coming year. And the tenth day… Oh the tenth day of the year, who can describe it’s holiness? Observe that day and respect it’s importance! Fast on the tenth day of the year, attend services, and make sure you say your five prayers. Pray for forgiveness, for enlightenment, recognize your sins and atone for them; for on that day shall God finalize his judgment of you, and as the sun sets on the tenth day your next opportunity for redemption will be a year away.
My Shia Muslim friends know well what I am referring to. But so do my Jewish friends. The above paragraph could just as well describe the first ten days of the (Shia) Muslim new year as the Jewish new year. Starting tonight, my Jewish friends will observe the solemn holiday of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. During this day, they will foresake all other activities and distractions and fast and pray for forgiveness, that G-d may finalize His judgment of them, and seal the Book of Life with positive benedictions for them for the coming year.
In November/December of this year, my Muslim friends will do… exactly the same thing. We will celebrate the new year with a feast, then spend the next ten days reflecting on our actions and remembering Allah in an attempt to purify ourselves. On the tenth day, Yom-e-Ashura, we will fast and pray, and spend the day in services. We will foresake all other distractions, so that Allah may judge our actions on that day and deem us worthy of His benedictions.
In then end, children of the same father are brothers; and the Jews and the Muslims, as children of Abraham, are truly brothers. Though we may have many outward differences, our core is the same. The unity of those core beliefs should transcend the different manifestations of our faith. It is that core that we must keep in mind, and love our brothers despite (or perhaps because of) our differences.
So, in the spirit of our fraternal bond, I wish all of my Jewish brothers an easy fast and a spiritually fulfilling day. I know from experience that come Yom-e-Ashura, they will do the same for me.