“Allah is great, Allah is great.
There is no deity but Allah.
Allah is great, Allah is great
And all praises are for Allah.”
– Opening Takbir prayer Muslims say when Ramadan is declared over, and Eid al-Fitr begins
“It is true that You alone are the One Who judges,
proves, knows, and bears witness;
Who writes and seats, (counts and calculates);
Who remembers all that was forgotten.”
– from the Un’taneh Tokef prayer, recited by Jews on
“This is a day when all Americans from every walk of life unite in our resolve for justice and peace. America has stood down enemies before, and we will do so this time. None of us will ever forget this day.”
– President George W. Bush address to the nation on September 11, 2001
This year marks the first time since the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year), the Eid (festival) marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and September 11 have all aligned.
It is a poignant reminder that the faith of humanity moves as a clock, and will not be disrupted by angry men, violent weapons, and hateful words.
When this year’s Ramadan began, and it became apparent that 9/11 could end up being the first day of Eid al-Fitr, Muslim leaders in America became nervous. It could, after all, appear that the faithful, with parties and carnivals worldwide, were celebrating 9/11, rather than commemorating the end of Ramadan festival in their traditional way.
A spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations told the Associated Press when the month began, that he could “sense brewing” hate on the internet, especially with the Manhattan Islamic Center controversy inflaming tensions. “It’s getting really scary out there,” Ibrahim Hooper of CAIR told the AP.
As it turns out, the Saudi Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the Eid will begin in Saudi Arabia on Friday, which is September 10. Most Muslim countries are expected to follow the Saudi lead on this. Although in the U.S., one can expect the traditional Eid celebrations to be more muted than usual in deference to the 9/11 anniversary.
Although both Jews and Muslims follow a lunar calendar – with days and months delineated by the phases of the moon – the Jewish calendar is always adjusted to make certain that the appropriate festivals correspond to the appropriate seasons. Passover, for example, will always be in the spring, Shavuot in the early summer, and Rosh Hashanah in the autumn.
The Muslim calendar, in contrast, is not locked to the seasons. It slips about ten days a year, relative to the secular, Gregorian calendar. That is why Ramadan, a holiday where people fast during daylight hours, can come in the short days of winter or the long, hot days of summer.
A specific Muslim date will align with a specific Jewish date only once every 33 years. Some find the confluence of holy days significant. “Both Rosh Hashanah and Ramadan are opportunities for thauba or teshuvah, improving one’s character through introspection, increasing one’s commitment to doing good deeds,” according to an interfaith dialogue on one Jewish British website.
Some, like Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who just “suspended” his plans to burn Qur’ans on Saturday’s anniversary, have drawn brimstone lines in the coal sands of intolerance, hoping to rally the vapid minds of rabid ignorance to their side. Instead, their line has become a circle of light, uniting Muslims and Jews, and all those for whom the insanity of this hateful act was beyond the pale.
The “extended period of soul-searching,” as one author put it, present during both Ramadan and the Jewish High Holidays, must, Insha’Allah /Im Yirtza HaShem/God willing, “help bond our communities together.”