Religious harmony crucial to progress

For Muslims all over the world, the Holy Month of Ramadan is of very special importance. It is observed throughout the world with all sanctity and reverence that it demands.

It is a time for worship and reflection and brotherhood. It is a month that should encourage us to have care and compassion towards our fellow Muslims and non-Muslims. It inculcates patience, perseverance and everything good.

One of the basic tenets in Islam is ‘brotherhood of mankind.’

Every day, we are reminded of our moral and religious obligations. We are exhorted to perform good deeds and shun the bad.

Better Muslims

Ramadan is the time when Muslims, even as we continue with our daily routines, strive to become even better by strengthening our faith, carrying out more deeds of social responsibility and expressing gratitude to Almighty Allah for every blessing that we have received.

Fasting during Ramadan strengthens our spiritual and moral dimensions.

The month of Ramadan is also about doing good work for society.

For Muslims, Ramadan is important not only for its religious significance but equally for all that this holy month demands of them – patience, understanding of others and tolerance, forgiveness and the performance of good deeds, like acts of charity.

The Holy Quran states that those who do more good deeds during the blessed month of Ramadan will receive more rewards than usual.

Fasting rewards

Almighty Allah has also promised His mercy, forgiveness and the saving from hellfire to all Muslims as a reward for fasting in Ramadan.

Eid-Al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan.

Eid-Al-Fitr (Festival of Feast) is one of the two main festivals of Islam celebrated throughout the world, the other being Eid-Al-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice) which will be celebrated during the Hajj.

Eid-Al-Fitr is an occasion for ‘thanksgiving’ and seeking ‘forgiveness’ from Almighty Allah. It signifies ‘openness’ of the mind and heart.

It is definitely an occasion for the family and friends and the community as a whole to strengthen their friendship and bond.

Pluralistic society

Over the years, we have witnessed New Zealand evolving into a multicultural and pluralistic society encompassing a wide variety of ethnic and religious groups.

Certainly, the Muslim community of New Zealand has seen its number more than quadruple over the last 20 years and presently, the community is enriched by people from over 42 different ethnic backgrounds.

Ramadan and Eid-Al-Fitr may seem on the surface to be of religious significance to Muslims only but they offer opportunities for people of different backgrounds to come together.

Cherished values

They symbolise understanding, tolerance and togetherness, which are catalyst for peace and harmony.

The Muslim community of New Zealand is determined to uphold and cherish these values to live in peace and harmony with the wider community of New Zealand. Every one of us has a stake and a part to play in observing and promoting racial and religious respect and accord.

Religious harmony in a multi-racial society like ours is crucial for peaceful coexistence among various communities.

They help promote friendship and neighbourly bonding, ensuring harmonious living and social cohesion.

On behalf of the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ), I would like to convey Eid Mubarak to all my Muslim brothers and sisters and pray to Allah subhanahu watallah to shower His blessings and bounties on all those who have steadfastly adhered to observing their saum and performing their salat during the Holy month of Ramadan.

In the same vein, I take the opportunity to extend the greetings and best wishes of all Muslims of New Zealand to every member of the wider community and pray to God Almighty to keep us all united, happy, healthy and progressive.

Jazak Allah Khairan.

Wa-Assalamo Alaikum Warahmatullahe Wabarakatahu and God bless

Javed Khan is Vice-President of the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ) and lives in Auckland. The above was written by him for Indian Newslink readers when he was President of the Organisation several years ago.

Former MP Dr Ashraf Choudhary (left) with Sheikh Mustaq, Hafiz Zunid Hamid, Gul Zaman and Khalid Sharif at the Multi-Ethnic Festival held at Centre Park, Mangere (Auckland) on August 18, 2013 to mark Eid Al Fitr

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Editor’s Note: The number of Muslims living in New Zealand reached 46,194 as at March 5, 2013, accounting for a rise of 10,441 (28%) over the 2006 Census, according to Statistics New Zealand.

Census is taken every five years but the Government decided to postpone the headcount scheduled for 2011 in view of the earthquakes and aftershocks experienced in Christchurch. The country’s total population, placed at 4,242,048, showed an increase of 5.4% since 2006. Contrary to popular belief, there are only seven sheep per person in New Zealand.

The Muslim population includes ‘Sufis,’ subscribing to ‘Sufism,’ a branch of Islam defined by some as ‘the inner, mystical dimension’ of the religion. According to others, it is ‘a perennial philosophy of existence that pre-dates religion.’

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