For the second year in a row, the Jewish (Rosh Hashanah) and Islamic (Ras al-Sana) new years fell on the same date on the Gregorian calendar, September 20. Which means that the tenth day of those respective years, Yom Kippur for Jews and Ashura for Muslims, also fall on the same Gregorian date, which is tomorrow–or sundown tonight to be more precise. I don’t have any idea how the Jewish calendar works, and actually had no idea that it was aligned with the Islamic calendar again until, well, a couple of hours ago to be honest. Rosh Hashanah didn’t really register with me for some reason. I assume there were some leap days or a leap month in the last Jewish year (I have no idea how the Jewish calendar works, sorry) that caused it to align with the Islamic calendar for two straight years. They will fall out of alignment again next year.
It’s fitting in a way that Yom Kippur and Ashura should fall on the same day. Ashura was one of the first holidays Muhammad established, and it’s meant to commemorate the Israelites’ delivery out of Egypt, a la Passover. It also commemorates the day Noah was able to leave the Ark. But it is commemorated as a “day of atonement” like Yom Kippur–the Arabic for “day of atonement,” yawm al-ghufran, is essentially “Yom Kippur,” which illustrates Arabic’s close relationship with Hebrew.
Ashura carries a much deeper meaning for Shiʿa, as it marks the day in the Islamic year 61 (October 10, 680) when Imam Husayn, Ali’s son, was killed in battle with the Umayyad army at Karbala, in modern Iraq. Observant Shiʿa may undertake a pilgrimage to Husayn’s burial shrine in Karbala, participate in a reenactment of the battle, fast, and/or join in public mourning. These public mourning events involve chanting, poetry, and often some form of self-mortification. The crowds can get quite large, as was the case last year in Tehran:
Best wishes to those celebrating either holiday.