Ramadan reflections

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Once again, I find myself wondering where the days and weeks have gone as we approach the end of Ramadan!

The end of Ramadan brings the day of Eid, usually a day of joyous celebrations, congregating at the mosque and each other’s homes. In their excitement, my children have been busy putting their artistic skills to good use in creating decorations for the big day! A slight ease in lockdown means perhaps seeing my mum at her doorstep from a distance, but beyond that there will be no congregations or visitations this year. Instead, we are doing our best to create a festive atmosphere at home, with decorations, plans to wear traditional clothes and make traditional food, and of course plenty of Skype and Zoom calls with loved ones!

I won’t lie,  Ramadan under lockdown was tough. The communal prayers and breaking of fast are such an integral part of the month, not having them has been a disorienting experience. But there have been some major positives; I have had extra time with the children and a rare opportunity to reflect on my priorities in life.

One of the stand out moments in Ramadan for me was the #LibDemIftar. It was a great zoom event with members both of a faith or none. Muslim members shared their experiences of Ramadan and the impact of Covid-19 on the Muslim community.

There were plenty of poignant points; The fact that the first 4 BAME doctors who died of the virus were Muslim, how disproportionately ethnic minorities have lost their lives and why more research needs to be done. Some colleagues learnt how work places could be more accommodating to Muslims who were fasting, which is particularly important in the current climate since a high number of workers at the front-lines of the response to Covid-19 are Muslims, and would have been fasting throughout the month.

I was so pleased to see so many friends take part. Ed Davey became the first leader of a political party in this country to fast for Ramadan, a landmark moment in our party’s relationships with religious and ethnic minorities. He was joined by other senior party members such as Layla Moran, Christine Jardine and Siobhan Benita, in making an incredibly important gesture towards the Muslim community, one which was duly appreciated by many Muslims from all walks of life.

The Muslim Council of Britain, a national umbrella body for Muslims, were so impressed with the event that the Secretary General, Harun Khan personally attended the Iftar to thank everyone who took part in the initiative.

The significance of this event cannot be overstated, especially if we consider it in the wake of the 2019 General Election review recommendations for the need for the Liberal Democrats to reach out to more diverse communities. Doing this effectively will be a real learning process for us, but bold and innovative initiatives like the #LibdemIftar are exactly what we need. It demonstrated that the party is ready to learn from its diverse membership, to help us learn how to better represent the realities of contemporary Britain.

Of course these efforts must not stop at the Muslim community. Jewish, Hindu, Christian and other faith groups members have much to teach us about how  we can move on as party that truly represents this country’s diversity. This event must be followed up by many more, celebrating the traditions and festivals of the other diverse groups which make up our party.

Eid will be celebrated at home as we begin to see a light at the end of this coronavirus tunnel. But after this is over, I hope we have lots more to celebrate in our party with the many diverse members of our party in the future.

So from my family to yours, Eid Mubarak.

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

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3 Comments

  • Richard Underhill 22nd May '20 - 10:26am

    Hina Bokhari | Fri 22nd May 2020 – 9:50 am
    “The fact that the first 4 BAME doctors who died of the virus were Muslim”
    There is good news today.
    Did you see the breakfast programme on BBC tv?
    One recovery convalescing.
    Sitting between two female family members.

  • Richard Underhill 22nd May '20 - 3:01pm

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-52755473
    This is now up to the London Assembly.
    Will it trigger a leadership election in the Tory party?

  • I really appreciated and enjoyed taking part in #LibDemIftar – which reminds me that I need to write an article about my experience!

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