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Jewish and Islamic holidays happening at the same time offer believers a chance to reflect
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This fall is a unique time for both Muslim and Jewish believers, as the two religious groups will see two of their religious holidays occur at the same time, according to Jewish Journal.

Specifically, the Islamic holidays of Hajj (the annual pilgrimage to Mecca) and Eid al-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice) will coincide with the Jewish Holy Days celebrations of Aseret Yamei Tesh-uvah (10 days of repentance) and Yom Kippur (the Jewish New Year), Jewish Journal reported.

This isnt a common occurrence since the Jewish and Islamic calendars arent aligned, according to Stephen Schwartz, executive director for the Center for Islamic Pluralism.

The Jewish and Islamic calendars were both originally based on the lunar calendar, which aligned their two holidays in the past, Schwartz wrote for HuffPost. But when the two calendars changed to coincide with the solar cycle, they each adapted different methods for doing so. The Jewish calendar simply added 30 days to its calendar seven times in 19 years, where as the Islamic calendar added one day to its calendar 11 times in 30 years, The Huffington Post reported.

Now, the holidays rarely coincide. But they both offer believers a chance for reflection, Schwartz wrote.

As different as the two calendars and their Western, secular counterparts have become over the centuries, the Jewish and Muslim calendars offer similar opportunities for spiritual reflection, according to The Huffington Post. The Jews of Medina fasted on Yom Kippur, as Jews around the world do today, and it is said that Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, was inspired by the sight of their practice to call for the full month of Ramadan fasting.

The biggest similarities can be seen between Hajj and Yom Kippur since both religious groups pause for reflection and work to cleanse themselves of sins and wrongdoings ahead of the new religious calendar year, Jewish Journal reported.

The Hajj, an important pilgrimage to Mecca, often asks believers to literally run between the Safa and Marwa hills near Mecca seven times to relive the sacrifice of Hagar, a mother, chasing mirages in search of water to quench the thirst of her baby, Ishmael a humbling exercise required of all who seek to cleanse their spirit, according to Jewish Journal.

Muslims will also use prayer and community activities to cleanse themselves of their sins, Jewish Journal reported.

After engaging in this exercise of empathy, they will ask for the forgiveness and mercy of the Almighty," according to Jewish Journal. "They emerge pure, as if newly born.

Similarly, Jews will recite and speak words of reconciliation and repentance for what theyve done in the last year, Jewish Journal reported.

When the gates of repentance close for the year, they will emerge cleansed and ready to engage the world and one another more productively and clearly, according to Jewish Journal.

Still, the coinciding of holidays hasnt pleased everyone. The Algemeiner, a Jewish newspaper, reported that there are fears among believers that the two holidays will cause friction between believers.

Far from carrying potential for Muslim-Jewish inter-religious dialogue, this coincidence could lead to friction between Jews and Arabs in Israel, due to the diametrically opposed nature of the holidays, The Algemeiner reported.

Despite the controversies and fears, the two holidays offer a chance for Muslims and Jews to unite and reflect on their lives, faiths and communities together, Schwartz wrote for The Huffington Post.

Appropriate activities at the time when the holy days of the two religions intersect include personal study of one another's sacred texts, commentaries on them, and prayers and recitations for an end to interreligious violence, Schwartz wrote. Mutual good wishes may also be exchanged. At this time, when the world is wracked by bloodshed, nothing could be more expressive of the essential Abrahamic message.

For more on Jewish holidays:

8 things to know about this year's Rosh Hashanah

Jewish Purim celebration spans world, includes DUI caution

Thanksgivukkah shines light on modern Jewish culture
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