By Ebuka Ukoh
Christians, Jews, and Muslims worldwide just celebrated an unusually holy week. Major holidays for the faithful fell on the same weekend, a once-in-a-generation coincidence (30-33 years make one generation).
April is recognized by many around the world as preparing for observances such as Ramadan, Passover, and Holy Week. These observances, though different in origin and practice, share similarities and provide valuable lessons and insights for the discerning.
Ramadan is a holy month in the Islamic calendar where Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. Ramadan is believed to be the month in which the Quran was first revealed to the Prophet of Islam. The purpose of fasting during this month is to purify the soul, develop self-discipline, and gain a better understanding of the sufferings of the poor.
Passover, on the other hand, is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the liberation by Prophet Moses of the ancient Israelites from slavery in Egypt. It is celebrated by the Seder meal, where families gather to retell the exodus story and partake in traditional foods and prayers.
The Holy Week leads up to Easter Sunday, the day Christians celebrate the resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ. It includes observances such as Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday, each with its own significance and symbolism.
Though each of these observances is distinct, they share commonalities. All three are occasions for introspection, reflection, and prayer. They remind us of the importance of sacrifice, compassion, and service to others. They also serve as an opportunity for individuals to connect with their communities and strengthen their bonds with family and friends.
Moreover, each of these events can provide valuable lessons for all individuals, regardless of creed. For example, Ramadan fasting can teach self-discipline, self-control, and empathy towards the poor. Passover can remind us of the value of freedom and liberation, and the importance of confronting oppression. The Holy Week can inspire us to reflect on the power of forgiveness, love, and sacrifice.
In a world of never-ending division and strife, these observances provide an opportunity for the faithful, even unbelievers, to come together and celebrate their common humanity. They serve as a reminder that despite our differences, we share a fundamental desire for meaning, purpose, and connection.
This coincidence shows that the Abrahamic faiths hold some valuable lessons for all of humankind. They remind us of the importance of sacrifice, compassion, and service, an opportunity for individuals to touch base with their home communities and strengthen their kith and kin bonds. This is necessary in a world in need of opportunities to come together and celebrate their humanness. This is instructive this season.
The next time we will experience this coincidence will take one generation. That is in 2053 or thereabouts!
Mr Ukoh, an alum of AUN, is a graduate student of Social Work at the Columbia University School of Social Work in the United States.