Noah's pudding and the Story of Ashura

Noah's pudding and the Story of Ashura

On Sunday, 15 February 2009, our Muslim friends from the Cape Town Interfaith Initiative (CTII) surprised us with a neighbourly gift. Halil Yurtsever, his friends and their families had prepared boxes full of portions of ‘Noah’s Pudding’ to share with us at our coffee hour, a delicacy of apricots, figs, barley, chickpeas, beans, almonds and rice, amongst other ingredients! Halil is a familiar face at RUC: he joined us for one of the Interfaith Conversations last year, and also introduced us to an expert in Muslim calligraphy. The sharing of the pudding, recalling the story of Noah and his family, is a Turkish tradition that serves to bring together Christians and Muslims as friends and neighbours. This symbolic gesture is part of the effort of the Interfaith Foundation in Cape Town to encourage dialogue and understanding between the Abrahamic faiths. We at RUC hope to continue to be part of this effort.
by Karl Jechoutek
 
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The Story of Ashura

 

Ashura is a fasting day among the Muslims observed on the tenth day of the month of Muharram. Ashura shares many characteristics with the Jewish Day of Atonement, celebrated on the tenth of Tishri (Lev. 16:29, 23:27). The name is an Aramaic form of the Hebrew word ‘Asor’ (the tenth).
 
It was thousands of years ago, a thousand years after Adam. A community again was at the threshold of a catastrophe. This community abandoned worshiping one God; they had become a community of pagans. Adultery spread, those with power were oppressing the ones without power, and there was no justice. The level of humanity was no better than hyenas in the wildness.
 
The Great Creator, because of His All-Compassion to them all and to all humanity, sent Noah to guide them. Therefore, literature has called this community, Noah’s People. Noah called them to one God, made sure that justice was founded and maintained, he eliminated all evils in the society, as did Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, Jesus, Muhammad (upon them be peace) and the ones whose names we do not know, but believe in.
 
For 950 years Noah asked his people to leave paganism, and called them to the true way, the truth – believing in one God. But people teased him and called him crazy. Later his wife joined the pagans in their betrayal. Noah suffered with his people for 800 years. He was very sincere in his faith to the Lord.
 
One day God sent the Angel Gabriel to order Noah to build a ship. Inspired by God, Noah built the ship.
 
God ordered him to take two of every creature, along with the believers and his family, except his wife, in the vessel. Noah again told people about the flood, and warned them against it. But their response remained same. The believers and animals boarded the ship and supplies were loaded.
 
Then, God said to the sky ‘O sky! Let your water pour down’. He said to earth ‘O earth, hold your water’. The water began to rise. As all non-believers were drowning with their vices, a long and hard journey was awaiting Noah and the believers – a long tumultuous journey. Days had passed, and food was scarce. They were facing starvation. No food by itself was enough to make a decent meal. Noah gathered available food and, mixing them, obtained a delicious meal. Believers survived through famine. The very next day, the flood receded. Today we call the meal Noah prepared ‘Noah’s Pudding’.
 
Ever since that day, Muslims prepare Noah’s Pudding every year in the month of Muharram, according to the Islamic calendar. In remembrance of what Noah and his people went through, this pudding is made for sharing with friends and neighbours. (This story was inspired by the verses of the Holy Qur’an.)
 
This day has historical significance. On this day: God accepted the repentance of Adam after his exile from the Garden of Eden; God saved Noah and his companions in the ark; God spoke directly to Moses and gave him the commandments; Job was restored to health; Jonah was taken out from the belly of the whale; the sea was divided as the nation of Israel was delivered from captivity and Pharaoh’s army was destroyed; Jesus was raised to the Heavens.
 
by Halil Yurtsever from CTII