Common Word, Common Lord

In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring

THIS YEAR, the juxtaposition of the Islamic New Year and Rosh Hashana is, I believe, a message from God to the Jewish and Muslim communities to come together in their common faith in God and His prophets. Yet, there is a similar message that, I also believe, is sent from God to the Muslim community every single year: the holy day of Ashura.

Ashura is the tenth day of the first month of the Islamic New Year, Muharram. For Sunni Muslims, it is a day of fasting and commemoration of the exodus of Moses and the children of Israel from bondage in Egypt. For Shiite Muslims, it is a day of great theological significance, where they commemorate the tragic murder of Imam Husayn, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

Although Sunnis and Shiites commemorate the day differently, the fact that this day (and month in general) has great significance for both communities should be taken as a message from God for the two communities to come together.

For years, I have written about how it is important for Muslims, Jews, and Christians to come together in their common faith in a common Lord and God.It is just as important for Muslims themselves.

Yes, there are differences in theology; yes, there are differences in application of Islamic law; yes, there are differences in political and religious philosophy. Those differences, however, must pale in comparison to the fact that we share the same God, same Prophet (pbuh), same Scripture, AND the same love for the Prophet’s family.

No Sunni Muslim would argue that love for the family of the Prophet (pbuh) is not important. The same goes for Shiite Muslims. This is the thing around which our two communities can come together: our common love for the family of the Prophet (pbuh). No, I am not commemorating Ashura like my Shiite brothers and sisters. That does not mean, however, that I am not terribly pained by the horrific manner in which Imam Husyan – whom I love ever so dearly – was killed all those years ago. I can understand the pain that my Shiite brothers and sisters feel on the day of Ashura and reach out to them in peace and brotherhood.

We desperately need more of this today.

All over the world, and especially in the Middle East, scores of innocent people are dying because of this geopolitical rivalry between Sunni and Shiite. This must stop. No difference in creed is worth the loss of life. None.

I pray that my Shiite sisters and brothers are blessed with peace, safety, and comfort during this Ashura season. I pray that our two communities – Sunni and Shia – may come together around our common love for the family of the Prophet (pbuh) and live in peace. And I pray that the killing and violence against the innocent – wherever it may be – ends once and for all. Amen.

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