Tag Archives: ramadan

The Earth is not ours to abuse, we need to protect it for future generations

On 22 April 2021, The Leaders’ Climate Summit on Earth Day will bring together leaders of major economies, including some of the world’s main polluters. Hosted by Joe Biden, the two-day conference aims to “galvanise efforts by the major economies to tackle the climate crisis”.

In this month of Ramadan, Muslims globally should think deeply about climate change and steps they can take to address the issue.

Ramadan is a time when families and communities come together to celebrate and help each other. Muslims deliver food packages to the needy and recognise the importance of never wasting food, which in turn benefits the environment. Islamic teachings relate to the earth; planting a tree, for example, is like giving to charity, yet many Muslim’s awareness of this is staggeringly narrow. India, for example, has the world’s second highest Muslim population (as of 2018), yet is the world’s 2nd largest emitter of greenhouse gases. It is therefore countries like these where education and everyday changes to lifestyle habits are fundamental in helping to address climate change. It is not just the responsibility of a few countries, but of every country and every individual.

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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.

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You’re invited to our first #LibDemIftar

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Today is the the first day of Ramadan. And because of COVID-19, it’s different this year for Muslims. No family or friends to join the experience so this year it will be virtual. The meal at the end of day, the Iftar, can be shared on Zoom!

Thank you to all those who are joining MPs and others for the very first #LibDemIftar.

Despite it being tough to fast, some members have agreed to have a go and show solidarity with me and other Muslims. Muslims in the country and around the world will be abstaining from food and drink, for a month everyday, from sunset to sunrise. This year will be more challenging for Muslims across the country, like many other faiths, they will be staying at home and abstaining from sharing traditional activities with friends and family.

As a Muslim myself, I have seen many of my brothers and sisters from Christian, Jewish, Tamil and other faith and minority groups celebrate their special festivals on Zoom, through WhatsApp and FaceTime. This has been like no other time in our history. But the strength we can build from this can be mutual understanding. Even during a period when we are being told to stay home, we can still come together and support each other.

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Ramadan Mubarak

This is a special time of the year in our spiritual calendar. For Christians, it was the celebration of Easter.  Jews it was Passover.  For Sikh it was Vaisakhi. For Muslims it’s the start of the holy month of Ramadan.

For all those observing these important moments I extend my wishes. These are times for families and communities opening up and getting together and being with loved ones. Unfortunately, the reality is families are divided, empty streets, locked shops, uncertain future and empty places of worship.

Internet communities/initiatives are springing up, help from community hubs, people are going out of their way to help each other where they can.  That indomitable human spirit is coming to the fore.

As a Muslim and in this coming month of Ramadan I take inspiration from the essence of all these holy occasions as moments for reflection, remembrance and renewal.

On reflection: I thank the selfless health workers fighting this awful virus – and all those working to keep our communities going. Let’s remember our elderly, sick, vulnerable and our families. For me, in Ramadan, it’s time to renew my faith in God by drawing strength from my family, the good being displayed in these times as communities with our different faiths/beliefs and ethnicity that is the blend which is uniting our care for one another.  This is our common humanity and it will help us to defeat this virus.

Ramadan Mubarak

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#LibDemIftar – a first for us! 

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Would you like a date with a LibDem? Not in the romantic sense. This is the fruit you can eat as Muslims do when they end their fast for the day, the Iftar.

Next week, Muslims will be observing the beginning of the Islamic month of Ramadan and this year, the Liberal Democrats will be joining them! Acting leader Sir Ed Davey, MP Layla Moran, Siobhan Benita and other high profile Lib Dems, will join Muslim communities this Ramadan by fasting alongside them on Saturday the 25th of April. They will be taking this opportunity to raise money for a charity of their choosing – many that tackle hunger in the UK, an issue which has become more prevalent in the recent weeks, as our foodbanks come under greater pressure during the coronavirus outbreak.

During Ramadan, Muslims seek to focus on their faith and compassion for others, through abstaining from food and drink from dawn until dusk. They don’t even lie. This is also a time of great community spirit, as people gather together in mosques and each other’s homes, to take part in communal meals and prayers. This year of course, that won’t happen. Mosques in this country closed their doors just as churches, synagogues and temples did. Nonetheless, after weeks of minimal social contact, the curtailment of Ramadan festivities will come as a further blow for many who feel isolated from their communities. This is something that many faith groups relate to.

Our party deciding to fast with our Muslim neighbours, is therefore a significant display of solidarity during a difficult time for all of us. Muslims, and indeed many others, will be feeling a loss of community spirit. By taking part in this fast, and sharing our experiences over social media, we can help re-create the Ramadan spirit online.

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Celebrating Ramadan during the pandemic

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The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it many challenges, including the question about how Muslims can still join together, observe Ramadan, and break the fast (Iftar) whilst still exercising social distancing. Being apart at this time – especially from family and loved ones – seems alien to our values, but it gives us the opportunity to celebrate together in a different way.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, during which Muslims do not eat or drink during the hours of daylight. It is a time for spiritual reflection, prayer, undertaking good deeds and spending time with family and friends. This year Ramadan will begin on the evening of Thursday 23rd April.

Just like other churches, mosques will no longer be holding gatherings. A month ago, the Muslim Council of Britain called for the suspension of all congregational activities at UK mosques and Islamic centres. In a press release, Secretary GeneralHarun Khan said: “We all have a public duty to protect one another from harm, and it is evident the most effective way to do this now is to avoid social contact as much as possible. This includes all walks of life, whether social, work or the mosque.”

April is one of the holiest months of the year on many religious calendars, including the Passover, Easter and Vaishaki. This year, however, traditional gatherings have been pushed online with observers participating in services and celebrations remotely. One of my challenges as a councillor and community leader is making sure that residents can break their fast together whilst being apart. For the younger generation and those who are fortunate enough to have access to mobile phones and the internet, they can communicate with friends and family via FaceTime or WhatsApp video. For those who are not digitally inclusive, I have been teaching them how to use Zoom, ensuring that they are not left out. It is also essential to make sure that people are safe when they fast during COVID-19 and to direct them to appropriate health professionals for advice and assistance.

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Chag Pesach Sameach

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My daughter was really upset last night when she looked at her calendar. “How can we celebrate Ramadan without our family?” She like many children from different faith groups are having this conversation, Easter eggs hunts have been cancelled, Sri Lankan and Tamil New year celebrations halted and this week Passover begins for the Jewish communities across the country but this year will be like no other.

In these difficult and concerning times for our nation, it seems out of place to talk or write about anything other than the pandemic gripping our country, but I think it’s important that we continue to find moments of hope and joy, and it is in this vein I would like to wish everyone “Chag Pesach Sameach”.

It has been a challenging few years for the Jewish community, with anti-Semitism on the resurgence in our society, including at the highest echelons of power. As a Muslim, I can strongly empathise with being made to feel like you don’t belong. As we commemorate the Jewish exodus from Egypt, we must ensure that our society never resembles the one established by the Pharoahs, where the Jewish minority was exploited and discriminated against.

This isn’t the easiest time to be commemorating a religious festival. Our nation is facing an unprecedented crisis, and our attentions will be focused on supporting the most vulnerable around us. As a Muslim, I will be in the same boat as the holy month of Ramadan begins in a couple of weeks, and I have myself been thinking about how I will be spending the month, in the absence of communal rituals. These festivals are usually meant to be times for families and communities to come together and share in what is most important. To lose this, at this most challenging of times, will not be easy. We must not underestimate the impact that this loss will have on already isolated individuals, some of whom may be vulnerable to mental health issues.

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Vince Cable’s message for a peaceful Ramadan

Over on the Lib Dem website, Vince Cable has wished Muslims a peaceful Ramadan:

Across the country, British Muslim communities will be taking time aside to engage in acts of charity, prayer and self-reflection.

The contributions of British Muslims to Britain are ever-growing; adding to the richness and diversity of our nation. However, we are witnessing a worldwide resurgence of exclusionary, right-wing nationalism that has led to acts of terror against the Muslim community. We demand better.

The attack in Christchurch earlier this year was a reminder that we must do all we can challenge those who seek to erase or limit religious freedoms. As a party we have adopted the APPG on British Muslim’s definition of Islamophobia: we all have a shared duty to challenge hate and intolerance.

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Vince Cable’s message as Ramadan begins

I was standing at the bus stop yesterday morning in already warm sunshine wondering how on earth I’d cope if I couldn’t have anything to eat or drink before the sun went down which, in Scotland is nigh on ten at night. The answer is not very well.

I have nothing but admiration for my Muslim friends who take part in Ramadan every year. For them it is part of the annual routine and they just get on with it, however challenging that might be in our northern hemisphere long days. It’s important to remember that the majority of a quarter of the world’s population will be taking part in the fast.

I found this article on the Everyday Feminism site, about how to support friends during Ramadan, helpful. A lot of it is about asking people what would work best for them.

Vince Cable has recorded a message of support for all those who are fasting:

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Tim Farron’s message for Ramadan

Here is Tim’s message at the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

As-Salamu Alaykum

Today I join the many Muslims in the UK and across the world in welcoming the Holy Month of Ramadan.

We in the UK are privileged to have in our society the benefit of many religions and many cultures, that have weaved over several decades, in a rich tapestry of friendship and togetherness.

I know that for all of these communities, and especially for Muslims during Ramadan, the refugee crisis is at the forefront of our thoughts, with Ramadan reminding us all to remember the daily struggles of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.

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Moving exams in Ramadan “sensible and inclusive” says Farron

Tim Farron has reacted to the needless controversy surrounding the decision by exam boards to move certain popular exams so that they take place before Ramadan with a perfectly sensible, liberal statement:

The idea that this is an attack on British values is ridiculous and depressing. Rather than seeking to divide people by their faith, we should see this sensible move as an opportunity for inclusion and understanding.

 This is a simple rescheduling of some school exams, recognising that a number of students will be observing Ramadan. As a person of faith myself I think it is entirely reasonable and decent to consider such things when planning exam dates.

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Sal Brinton’s message for Ramadan

Party President Sal Brinton has recorded a message of thanks and support to British Muslims for their holy month of Ramadan. The text is below.

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Nick Clegg’s message for Ramadan

The values of peace, empathy and charity are an essential part of this holy month of Ramadan and evident within the invaluable contribution of British Muslims to strengthen communities across the UK.

So said Nick Clegg in his video to mark the start of Ramadan, also available on You Tube here.

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Nick Clegg publishes his message for Ramadan

You can find it as Muslim News – here’s an excerpt:

We in the Liberal Democrats have always championed religious tolerance, and we are proud of the diverse traditions in our country. We recognise the importance of the principle of Zakat to Muslims, especially at this time, and I deeply regret that Islam can be unfairly portrayed in many parts of the media especially when Muslim communities in this country do so much excellent charitable work.

The full article is here.

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