At the outset, I wish to convey my heartiest Ramadan Mubarak Greetings to the New Zealand Muslim community.
Thanks to God, we have been given yet another opportunity to fast during the Holy Month of Ramadan.
The glorious month will be observed throughout the world with all sanctity and reverence. The act of fasting not only tests our physical endurance, but also trains us to observe patience in battling desires.
The Holy Month also encourages sympathy, care and compassion towards fellow Muslims and Non-Muslims.
It inculcates in us the virtues of patience, perseverance and everything good and keep away from sinful activities.
Ramadan is a very special time for us. Even as we continue with our daily routines, we strive to become better by strengthening our faith, carrying out more deeds of social responsibility, expressing gratitude to the Almighty for every blessing received.
Fasting has always empowered us to remain resilient to challenges.
We are grateful to the Almighty Allah that we are able to observe Ramadan with our families, relations and friends in peace and harmony in New Zealand.
The Muslim community in New Zealand under the banner of the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ) is united and collectively makes strides to uplift the wellbeing of its members.
In this regard, FIANZ, with its main objective of upholding Islamic values, has been playing the vital role of maintaining unity among the Muslim community, ensuring that we are able to integrate well with the mainstream New Zealand community.
It is my sincere hope that this unity will continue forever in the spirit of Islam for peace, happiness and progress of New Zealand and the human society.
The history FIANZ began in 1979. With the development of separate associations across the country, the need arose for a national body to assist the individual associations to relate to each other and to regulate contacts between Muslims in New Zealand and other countries.
In the last 33 years, FIANZ has made significant contributions in the overall development of Muslims by working with a wider spectrum of the community, government agencies, other interfaith communities as well as other national and international non-governmental organisations.
In addition to providing a unified voice for the New Zealand Muslim community on religious, social and political issues and being an internationally recognised and respected Halal certification authority, the objectives of FIANZ are to do the following:
Establish and maintain the highest standard of Islamic practice in accordance with the teachings of the Holy Quran and the traditions of Prophet Mohammed (Peace be upon Him).
Undertake Da’wah (outreach and dialogue), education, welfare and other Islamic activities
Strengthen Islamic unity and assist in the development of the Muslim community in New Zealand
Promote good relations between Muslims and non-Muslims and help Muslims to better integrate with the wider New Zealand community
Establish and foster good relationships with Muslim countries and International Muslim organisations and institutions.
Promote and explain the message of Islam to the wider New Zealand community.
While adhering to our Islamic faith, FIANZ will continue to play its important role in ensuring that Kiwi Muslims are proud and determined to contribute towards the preservation of the multiracial, multi-religious and multilingual society of New Zealand.
We have done this by living in harmony with our neighbours, fellow workers in our work places and in our interaction with the wider New Zealand society.
This is a testament that Kiwi Muslims take racial and religious harmony seriously.
I urge members of my community as well the wider interfaith community to use the upcoming Islam Awareness Week (August 27 to September 1, 2012) to reach out to each other and help us to create a more peaceful and cohesive New Zealand.
Dr Anwar Ghani is President of the Wellington based Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand. He lives in Hamilton.