Common Word, Common Lord

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

I tweeted out my happiness at an interesting happenstance that occurred this year:

Kinda cool that the #IslamicNewYear and #RoshHashana are at the same time. May God bring our two communities together in peace.

By the grace of our Lord, it was warmly received by many people. 

And this made me think: the pervasive negativity that has engrossed our country because of the politics of this election has repulsed so many people, including myself. There is so much division, so much animosity, so much hatred. 

We are being made to suspect one another, question one another’s patriotism, and look at each other with suspicion and fear. This is even more acute between many communities of faith, including the Jewish and Muslim ones. Despite the fact that Muslims and Jews have so much in common, there are forces that are hard at work to push us further apart. 

Enter this accident of the calendar: both the Islamic New Year and Rosh Ha-Shana (the Jewish New Year) fall on or at almost the exact same time. 

For both communities, it is a time of reflection over the year that was and the year to come. For both communities, it ushers in a particularly holy time. For both communities, it is a time of renewal and hope that the year to come will be better than the year that was. 

Or, was it an accident? 

Is the Lord our G-d telling us something? Is He wanting us to stop and reflect over our divisons and challenge us to a higher road? Is He wanting us to resist the lower demons of our nature and live up to standards He wanted for us all along? I believe He is. 

He says it Himself in the Qur’an:

Unto every one of you have We appointed a [different] law and way of life. And if God had so willed, He could surely have made you all one single community: but [He willed it otherwise] in order to test you by means of what He has vouchsafed unto you. Compete, then, with one another in doing good works! Unto God you all must return; and then He will make you truly understand all that on which you were wont to differ (5:48).

Compete, then, God says, with one another in doing good works

Yes, we are going to have differences: differences in faith; differences in theology; differences in origin; differences in language; differences in perspective. But we can’t allow ourselves to use those differences to divide. We must allow our common faith in our common Lord make us see past our differences to work together for the common good. 

The calendar is telling us something: we are more alike than we are different. It is telling us to resist the siren song of hatred and be the communities God wanted us to be. If we fail to do this, then I fear the space between the “rock” and “hard place” will suffocate us all, with consequences too devastating to bear. 

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