Finding the Easter spirit

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I am a Muslim. But since I was a child I have been influenced by many religions. My father, the late Naz Bokhari was a champion of interfaith work in his community, and instilled in us a healthy respect of other religions. When we were young he would even sing school hymns in the car on long journeys and tell us stories from other cultures and faith groups.

Later when we were older, he would encourage respectful engagement with the observances and celebrations of others, believing these to be opportunities for different communities to come together and celebrate the shared values underlying these ancient practices. This is why I was honoured to be involved in organising the first ever iftar (breaking of the fast for Muslims) meal at Lambeth Palace, which was hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Christian traditions and festivals are part of my childhood and I have particularly fond memories of Easter: taking part in Easter Egg hunts, joining in with the festivities, and of course drastically increasing my chocolate intake! I was also able to relate to those who were fasting for Lent – given my own experiences fasting in the month of Ramadan. These traditions are now being continued wholeheartedly by my children; we enjoy our annual Easter egg hunt, and taking part in festivities with my Christian in-laws.

I am deeply saddened that this year, Easter celebrations will not be able to go ahead as usual. We may be able to fit in a walk and find children’s paintings of eggs on windows and have a mini egg hunt in the house but due to the lockdown restrictions our usual gatherings are no longer possible. Despite this, nothing can dampen the Easter spirit; the spirit which I celebrated as a child, which I continue to see celebrated by my children. The spirit of hope through the power of self-sacrifice.

We may not have Easter gatherings, but let’s make sure we remember the Easter story. Two thousand years ago, a group of broken, suffering people, thought they had lost their last spark of hope, only for it to be reignited with a blaze that is still experienced and commemorated today. This story resonates throughout the ages, because time after time, humanity finds itself in situations where all hope seems to be lost. It is times like these that call for acts of selflessness which inspire others, something which has been in plentiful supply during the Covid-19 outbreak.

It is this message of hope and self-sacrifice which attracted me to the Liberal Democrat party, with its selfless community activists and the centrality of hope in its politics from top to bottom. It has been a challenging few years for our country, and there are more difficult times ahead. However, through a combination of selfless community work and forward looking policy making which provides hope to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged, I firmly believe that the Liberal Democrats will continue to embody the Easter Spirit in the years to come, giving Britain the resurrection she needs.

* Hina Bokhari is a Liberal Democrat member of the London Assembly.

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  • Richard Underhill 12th Apr '20 - 1:54pm

    Best of luck.
    We watched the Archbishop of Canterbury today and the Pope, who seemed to be deeply saddened.
    The Roman Catholic Church wants to improve relations with Orthodox Christians, which might take 1,000 years, but there is long-term thinking.
    Structural relations might be difficult because the Orthodox exist separately in each country. If the country divides the church may need to as well. Consider Ukraine for instance.

  • Sue Sutherland 12th Apr '20 - 4:08pm

    Thank you so much for your message Hina. I have been struggling to find the Easter message this year because we usually get together with our children and grandchildren, our own hope for the future, and enjoy the fun of Easter Sunday.
    You are so right that the spiritual message we can take away from this pandemic is the triumph of hope over fear through self sacrifice. So many people are willing to do what Jesus did, even in this world of greed and opportunism and a huge number of those are people whose talents and caring are totally undervalued. This must be recognised and celebrated. In this new world the last shall be first and the first shall be last.

  • For a variety of reasons, some good, some bad, many people in this country are wary of religion and politics coming to the same table, but it is good to hear from a serious, outward-facing Muslim who deserves to be on the London Assembly.

  • Angie Harris 13th Apr '20 - 8:25am

    Hear hear Hina!

  • Happy Easter, Angie. Very best wishes and look after your good self.

  • @Geoff Reid: You are right that people are often wary of religion and politics coming together, but Hina Bokhari has that approach which allows the meeting of these two forces in influential conversation to be beneficial. I often find myself bringing together my faith and my politics. The relationship between organised religion and politics is complicated, but one important message is given in a book by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks; that we do not want ‘theocracy’, because it is wrong for one religious organisation to be in a position of political power. “When religion seeks power, the result is disastrous, if not immediately, then ultimately.” (from his book, “The Home We Build Together”)

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