Islam, far from being an alien Eastern religion, is an integral part of the Abrahamic tradition that binds Judaism, Christianity and Islam. This shared heritage connects more than half of the world’s population and is a crucial tool in our efforts to increase co-existence in the world.
This makes it all the more tragic that many of the events that unite the three religions are eclipsed by divisive – or even downright racist – rhetoric pushed out by the Far Right. First amongst these events is Ashura, which falls today. This event is commemorated by Muslims and followers of other religions, even including some Hindus who are known as Hussaini Brahmins.
Ashura is the annual commemoration of the murder of Imam Hussain, the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, at the hands of Yazid, an early ruler of the brutal Umayyad dynasty. It was an event that happened 1300 years ago, but many Muslims see it as the culmination of Islam’s Abrahamic heritage and a pivotal date in world history.
Ashura is a date in the Muslim tradition that has been significant in the lives of patriarchs revered in what is often termed the Judeo-Christian tradition. Starting with Adam, through to Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus, all those Prophets have had, from the perspective of many Muslims, huge life events on the day of Ashura.
Both the raising of Jesus’ soul to heaven (analogous to the crucifixion in Christian belief), and the splitting of the Red Sea by Moses (celebrated by Jews during Passover) are believed by many Muslims to have occurred on Ashura, the tenth day of the month of Muharram in the Islamic calendar.
And the themes of the slaughter of Imam Hussain are universal enough that they can help non-Muslims relate to Islam in a way that can sometimes be difficult in the current climate.