The Holy Month of Ramadan is once again upon us.
I want to acknowledge our Muslim population and offer them our best wishes for this Holy Month.
I hope that your month-long focus on fasting, spiritual reflection, abstinence, prayers and personal evaluation, following the teaching of the Holy Quran, will be successful and rewarding.
In recent months, I have had the privilege of attending a number of events held by our Muslim community and have been particularly appreciative of the extent to which Islamic leaders have been presenting the scriptures and teachings of Islam in a very accessible manner to non-Muslim New Zealanders.
In a country like New Zealand, we can never do enough to increase the understanding of all citizens of the spiritual beliefs of our citizens. Only real understanding will contribute to acceptance and respect of all our religions and cultures.
The month-long focus on Salaat and recitation of the Holy Quran will no doubt provide a heightened awareness of our own vulnerability and that of many others with whom we interact as well as those who are just images on the screen.
There has probably never been a time when we needed a greater effort on world peace, trust, and respect for each other.
I ask you to remember in your prayers those who live with their vulnerability every day and can see no ready solutions or exit from their predicament.
I understand that the Holy Month of Ramadan is also a time to make peace and strengthen ties with family and friends.
The modern complex family is not exempt from violence, abuse and neglect. These matters impact our loved ones in ways we might find hard to contemplate.
Ramadan provides us all with another opportunity to reflect on our families and friends and search for the pace we all desire.
The rituals of daily fasting for a whole month will no doubt make demands on all participating Muslims. The intense focus on our spiritual dictates provides a special satisfaction for the individual, family and community.
At the end of the Holy Month, you will celebrate Eid Al Fitr on or around August 9, depending on the sighting of the New Moon.
I look forward to celebrating Eid with my Muslim friends on this day, whether it is in a large gathering such as the event at Eden Park held last year or in your own homes.
I have heard of some proposals to mark the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan as a Festival, attended by people from other faiths and cultures.
I support such a proposal and hope that it can be organised in a manner that is in- keeping with the importance of the Holy Month of Ramadan as well as the diverse society in New Zealand.
Once again, I wish you all a joyous Ramadan, a month of blessings, full of forgiveness and guidance for you and your family.
Dr Rajen Prasad is Member of Parliament on Labour List and the Party’s spokesperson for Ethnic Affairs and Social Inclusion.
Ramadan brings together Muslims to pray and listen to the Holy Quran