Rare crossover of holidays leads to call for peace

Published April 9, 2023
Members of the clergy attend the Easter Vigil presided over by Pope Francis in Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on April 8, 2023. — Reuters
Members of the clergy attend the Easter Vigil presided over by Pope Francis in Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on April 8, 2023. — Reuters
Muslim women attend mass prayers known as ‘Tarawih’ during the first evening of the holy fasting month of Ramadan at the Great Mosque of Istiqlal in Jakarta, Indonesia, March 22, 2023. — Reuters
Muslim women attend mass prayers known as ‘Tarawih’ during the first evening of the holy fasting month of Ramadan at the Great Mosque of Istiqlal in Jakarta, Indonesia, March 22, 2023. — Reuters
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish people boil cooking utensils in water to remove the remains of leaven in preparation for Passover, in Haifa, Israel on April 3. — Reuters
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish people boil cooking utensils in water to remove the remains of leaven in preparation for Passover, in Haifa, Israel on April 3. — Reuters

WASHINGTON: This weekend the world’s three major religions are celebrating a rare crossover of holidays — Ramazan, Easter, and Passover — which only happens once in 30 years.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres availed this opportunity to urge people of faith across the globe to join their voices in a common prayer for peace.

“This is (an occasion) to come together and for those that believe in God (in) different ways, with different expressions, to join their voices in a common prayer for peace,” he said in his message.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken appealed to the people of all faiths to “use this time to remind ourselves of the common values of peace, harmony, and empathy — values that we all hold dear”.

Ramazan is a month-long observation focused on fasting, prayer, charity, and reflection. It marks the revelation of the Holy Quran.

Christians worldwide are celebrating a holy week, which includes Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday.

Passover, which began on Wednesday is also a week-long celebration, marking the Jewish people’s escape from slavery in Egypt.

Earlier this week, a synagogue — B’nai Tzedek, which is a conservative congregation — held an interfaith Iftar for Muslims.

When the time to break the fast came, a Muslim prayer leader, Imam Talib Shareef, was invited to do azan inside the synagogue as Jewish, Muslim, and Christian children distributed water, dates, and figs.

The evening (maghrib) prayers were also said inside the synagogue, followed by dinner.

Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt, the founder of the synagogue, in his welcoming address, said that he was inspired by the Muslim tradition of painting Quranic verses to put Hebrew letters on the building’s entrance.

The congregation’s name — B’nai Tzedek — also underlines the link between the Hebrew language, as Tzedek in Arabic is Sidq or righteousness.

White House Liaison for the Muslim American Community Moshtayen Ahmad urged people of faiths to come together so that “your voices are reflected” in the policy-making process.

The organisers also read a message from Governor Wes Moore of Maryland, recognising Ramazan as a holy month in his state. More than 35,000 Muslims from 60 different nations live in Maryland.

Representatives of various Christian sects also addressed the gathering, emphasising the need to promote peace and harmony and reject messages of hate, like Islamophobia and antisemitism.

Kersie Shroff, a representative of the Parsi community who grew up in Karachi, recalled that he enjoyed not only iftar but also having sehri with his neighbours in Pakistan.

Leaders of the Bahai and Sikh communities also spoke, emphasising the need for religious harmony across the globe. Anila Ali, who organised the iftar with Rabbi Weinblatt, spoke about the links between the three Abrahamic faiths — Islam, Christianity, and Judaism.

Some US television channels also did special programs on this occasion. In one of these programmes — “Morning in America” — Rabbi Denise Eger and Father Francis Hoffman discussed how the faithful can remain positive in a world that tries to take away their humanity.

Published in Dawn, April 9th, 2023

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