Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Concurrent holy days unite Jews & Muslims

http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070912/LIFESTYLE04/709120397/1003/METRO

Concurrent holy days unite Jews and Muslims

The dual observances of Rosh Hashana and Ramadan, which begin today, is 'rare occurrence.'

Mark Hicks / The Detroit News

What they are: Ramadan, the month of fasting and contemplation marking the archangel Gabriel revealing the Koran to Muhammad. Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year, starts the Days of Awe, when followers reflect and ask for forgiveness for sins.
When they begin: After sunset today

After sundown today, Tammam Alwan will be spiritually attuned.

The West Bloomfield Township native and interdisciplinary humanities major at Michigan State University will mark the start of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting and contemplation, by praying at the Islamic Center of Greater Lansing.

Between adjusting his fasting schedule and studying the Koran, Alwan, 19, also plans a spiritual expansion. Acknowledging Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year, which begins today and launches 10 holy days, he said he hopes to accompany a Jewish friend to a synagogue.

Examining relations during venerated times for both faiths "helps build bridges," Alwan said. "Relationships build unity. We can come closer to peace."

Tonight, some 200,000 Jews and Muslims throughout Metro Detroit will simultaneously begin their holiest periods -- Ramadan, the month memorializing the archangel Gabriel revealing the Koran to Muhammad, and Rosh Hashana, which begins the Days of Awe when followers reflect and ask for forgiveness for sins.

"It's almost once in a lifetime," Victor Begg, chairman of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan, said of the simultaneous holy days. "It's a wonderful opportunity."

To celebrate the dual holy periods, the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Michigan is partnering with the Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Congregation, a group of about 70 Jewish families, to coordinate an interfaith program by month's end.

While the convergence is a "rare occurrence," said CAIR-MI executive director Dawud Walid, joint observances can serve as a "reminder of our shared humanity and spiritual principles."(MORE)

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