Reflections on the identical meanings and spiritual derivations of the two terms in Islam and Judaism
This year the Jewish High Holy Days and the Holy month of Ramadan started on the same day. This is indeed was an auspicious occasion for all of us who work in interfaith relations and the spiritual welfare of our communities.
To celebrate this important conjunction, a unique meeting was organised in association with New North London Synagogue and Muslim representatives of major Muslim organisations in London including the Muslim College, Al-Khoie Foundation, Muslim Cultural Centre, British Muslims for Democracy, League of British Muslims, Muslim Schools and several mosques.
More than one hundred members of the congregation and Muslim guests attended the meeting. Andrew Dismore MP for Hendon gave the opening remarks. He emphasised the importance of interfaith co-operation as an integral part of a multifaith democratic society.
Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg and Imam Shahid Raza, Principal of the Muslim College, discussed the similarities of Taubah and Teshuvah, two major themes of Yom Kippur and Ramadan. The two terms literally meaning “turning” away from the wrong which we have committed and “re-turning” to our Creator who is Merciful and Forgiving show how closely the ethical and theological interpretations of the two terms are shared by Jews and Muslims.
The participants shared an Iftar and the ending of Shabbat together and it was agreed unanimously that a sustained programme of meetings and co-operation between the synagogue and the Muslim institutions will be implemented through the Joseph Interfaith Foundation.
The event was reported by the BBC Arabic service and national Muslim press.