Greetings for Muharram 1432 and Hanukkah 5771
by Stephen Suleyman Schwartz
The Center for Islamic Pluralism greets Shia and Sufi Muslims as well as Jews on the two sacred occasions that will fall this year during the first week of December in the common calendar. These are Muharram for the hijri year 1432 and Hanukkah for the Hebrew year 5771.
The conjunction of the two commemorations is significant but contradictory.
The first 10 days of Muharram, or Matem, are an occasion in which Shia and Sufi Muslims recall the martyrdom of Imam Husayn ibn Ali at the hands of the Umayyad Muslim tyrants in Karbala in 680 CE. The period culminates in Ashura, the 10th day of Muharram, when mourning for Imam Husayn is publically expressed and a special item of food is consumed.
Hanukkah celebrates the reconsecration of the Jewish Temple after its liberation from foreign conquest, and the miracle in which oil for the temple light, which was only sufficient for one night, lasted eight nights. These events took place in the second century before the common era.
Members of CIP believe equally in the dedication to justice of Imam Husayn and the divine grace by which the Jews were liberated. Both observances express the ideals of freedom within religious tradition.