With the coming celebration of Passover, we recall the Jewish exodus from the tyranny they faced of the Egyptian Pharaoh. Sunni Muslims recall a similar exodus, in escaping the tyranny they faced of the Quraish tribe in Mecca. Though these holidays are also celebrated in October, during Yom Kippur and the ‘Day of Ashura’ they have similar meaningful explanations during the feast of Passover.
On the Day of Ashura, the majority of Sunni Muslims celebrate by performing many rites including fasting. While the celebration of this holiday differs for the Shia, who represent 10% of the Muslim population, it has similarities with the Jewish celebration of their exodus from Egypt.
However, what most non-Muslims don’t know is the reason behind this fasting celebration which Prophet Mohamed commanded his followers to observe. Most non-Muslims believe this holiday is when we Muslims commemorate the tragic death of Al-Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Mohamed, and his family members who were killed by their rival, the Ommiad army, over the historical and controversial issue of who was more worthy of inheriting the Caliphate after the death of the Prophet. Moreover, many Muslims missed the same wisdom behind their celebration, and over time confused it with the tragic event of the death of Al-Husain. This date coincided with another great event that occurred on the same day, yet preceding it by 2000 years. That event is Passover, the miraculous flight of the Jews, led by Prophet Moses to escape the tyranny of the Pharaoh of Egypt.
The story began when Prophet Mohamed made his “Exodus” with his followers from the tyranny of his tribe, Quraish, in Mecca, to the safety of Medina. When he arrived, he noticed that the Jewish tribes of Medina were fasting on that day, the 10th of Mahram. When Prophet Mohamed asked the reason why, he learned of the day when God miraculously saved the Jews, allowing them to cross the Red Sea, led by Moses, peace be upon them both and all prophets. Prophet Mohamed then made a commandment stating that this day should be honored, and to this day it is honored by 90% of Muslims.
“Since we Muslims share Prophet Moses with the Jews, we should share with them their joy and praise to Allah,” as Prophet Mohamed reasoned. Thereafter, he fasted during those days of celebration, and so have most Muslims for the last 14 centuries.
The moral behind this is that we, all faith followers, are actually closer to each other than most of us know. However, and on such a great day when Allah saved Moses and his Jewish people from tyranny, we only say, “Happy Passover to all Jews” in the hopes of celebrating the same safe “Exodus” from tyranny to freedom for hundreds of millions of Muslims who remain under the yoke of dictatorship.