Abrahamic Convergence

Today is both the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah and the first day of the Muslim month of Ramadan. To begin with, let me just wish L’Shana Tova and Ramadan Mubarak to all readers who celebrate these holidays.

At Beliefnet, Shahed Amanullah has some salient thoughts:

This Ramadan happily coincides with the start of the Jewish High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah, which I feel is particularly serendipitous because of the similarity of both holidays. Both have a focus on seeking forgiveness and spiritual renewal, and both feature an extended period of soul-searching. And for one day, on Yom Kippur, both Jews and Muslims will be fasting until the sun sets.

I hope both faith communities take this opportunity to share at least part of this time celebrating under one roof. After all, this opportunity only comes around every 33 years. Two years ago, during my last year in graduate school at Georgetown, I organized a joint Rosh Hashana-Ramadan celebration for our fellow students, who enjoyed baklava, apples & honey, stuffed dates, challah, Turkish delight, and Indo-Pakistani sweets in between classes. It went over very well and help bond our communities together. (link)

As is common when bloggers get into religious holidays, the theme quickly turns to food, which is just fine with me; I’d rather have ‘taste diplomacy’ than more disputatious arguments over matters of religion. (All we are saying, is give sweets a chance…) Appositely, Sepoy at Chapati Mystery, has some intense memories of rising before dawn to eat before the fast as a teenager growing up in Lahore. Again, I just can’t get over the food:

The blast of the anti-aircraft guns to signal the breaking of the fast. The mounds and mounds of dates. The fried foods and fresh fruits piled on the same table. The 7Up in Milk cold drink. The pakoras. The uncle sneaking a cigarette smoke behind the tree. The unexplained weight gain on certain people. The never-ending taraveeh. Qur’an on a loop on the telly. The fetishization of color. And an ever-growing sense of invincibility in my 14 year old self. (link)

And one more: here is a blog post about Ramadan from a Sunni Sister in Jordan that’s worth checking out.

23 thoughts on “Abrahamic Convergence

  1. I remember looking forward to Ramadan when growing up – not because of any desire to soul search or fast – but because my mom is an awesome cook. It was a month long feast of yummy things every evening. My mom prides herself on her extensive repertoire and we never had the same thing twice if she could help it. Drool….

  2. L’Shana Tova and Ramadan Mubarak!!

    It’s getting me in the mood for the Hindu religious season marathon! It’s probably good that Navratri and Eid don’t coincide because I know (at least in my family) we EAT UP A STORM during our “fasting” :)

  3. when the abrahamics fast us hindus redouble our repast and engorge on schnitzel and hummus leaving not a svelte one among us

  4. Amardeep, while no opportunity should be lost to foster mutual understanding between religions, and I was (am) treading very carefully around this one – both Ramadan and Rosh Hashanah signal the beginning of a period of penance, fasting, etc. ‘Ramadan’, for example, is derived from the Arabic word for intense heat, scorched ground, and shortness of rations. Although the fast is broken at sundown, every day, the big day is at the end of the month.

    Normally, I’ve never heard anyone say ‘Ramadan Mubarak’, it’s the Eid that’s at the end of Ramadan that is the celebration, just as Ash Wednesday signals the beginning of Lent, and nobody says ‘Happy Ash Wednesday’ but ‘Happy Easter’. And Yom Kippur, coming at the end of the period of fasting and penance that Rosh Hashanah signals, is the ‘Happy’ day, in my understanding.

    Ganesh Chaturthi, on the other hand, is a day of fairly raucous festivities – for the ‘zoomorphic’ Hindu God, Ganesha:

    The festivities include fund-raising, building all kinds of innovative forms Ganesh idols, organizing public performances of music and dance, cooking grand feasts and making a lot of noise. The festivities end when the idol of the year is immersed in water (visarjan), accompanied by loud shouts of Ganapati Bappa Moraya!


    Interestingly, it was not observed in quite this manner until fairly recently:

    the festival was not celebrated until the times of Lokamanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, who used it a great means to unite Hindus all over India and educate them the evils of colonization.
  5. Chachaji, You have it absolutely right. Ramadan is certainly not “celebrated” in the traditional sense of the word. I think it is nice to have people remember that it is an important time in the Islamic calendar so “Ramadan Mubarak” is not something that I take offense at. If someone I knew well said it, I’d take it as an opportunity to educate (as you have done!) but other than that I kind of let it slide. Ofcourse, I am not at all religious so I speak only for myself.


  6. This Ramadan happily coincides with the start of the Jewish High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah,

    The Bash of the Civilisations?

    M. Nam

  7. I’ve heard a few “Happy Good Friday”s in India. Of course, never did I see a Christian take offense at that because most people around would have already embarrassed the “country” greeter by laughing in his face.

  8. It’s okay to say “Ramadan Mubarak” It’s just a simple gesture, no biggie. My Muslim friends and I say it to each other all the time.

  9. 12: Chachaji, “Normally, I’ve never heard anyone say ‘Ramadan Mubarak’,”

    I was watching Star Voice of India an hour ago and it had RAMDAAN KAREEM on the screen. Can someone explain the word, Kareem? Chachaji?

  10. I think ‘kareem’ conveys the approximate sense of ‘holy’. You don’t just say ‘Ramadan’, you say ‘Holy Ramadan’, sort of like you would say ‘Holy Week‘, the last week of Lent.

  11. I just did a web search, and not only are there lots of ‘Ramadan Mubarak’s out there, but ‘Ramadan Kareem’ is used as a greeting. In this case, ‘Kareem’ may convey a sense closer to ‘blessed’. ‘kareem’ is an adjective derived from ‘karam’, which usually means ‘benevolence’.

    All this said, I’m not an expert on Arabic, barely know some Urdu!

    Ramadan Kareem!

  12. I had the term rhamadan kareem coined to me by a colluauge in Saudi Arabia in an email so it seems to be widely used over there.

    i had to also look it up.

    It just amazes me how closely muslims and Jews are in their holidays and if you compare lifestyle/dress of the orthodox jews how that resembles the observant muslims oing about their everyday life (covering up of the women, separation of men, women at weddings etc)and yet sadly there is this big massive distrust. obviously the fanatics on either side want it this way in the middle east…..

    Just glad to see it possible to break this sometimes.

    Now better go make some samosa’s and pakora’s to take to an iftar party….