Guildhall and City of London Police mark end of Eid
The City of London Corporation’s Deputy Town Clerk, Susan Attard, speaking at Friday’s event after the end of the important Ramadan period, told an invited audience of staff and guests:
Assalamu Alaykum and Eid Mubarak! Welcome to the historic Guildhall for an evening celebrating Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim ceremony which marks the end of the month of fasting – Ramadan.
Fasting the month of Ramadan, for Muslims, is the third of five essential pillars of the faith. The practice allows Muslims to renew their closeness to God through reflection, spirituality, and charitable giving.
The month challenges Muslims, tests their strengths and reinforces the willpower necessary to persevere throughout the day without food or water between dawn and sunset. And it’s definitely been a challenging month this year through those long summer days, so it is fantastic to witness today so many British Muslims and those of other faiths and none, come together to celebrate this joyous occasion here at the Guildhall in the City of London.
The City of London is the ancient heart of the capital. London itself is home to 40% of the nation’s Muslim population. A city with a unique and proud commitment to tolerance, valuing diversity, sheltering those seeking refuge from tyranny, whether that is religious or political, whether they are Christian, Jewish or Muslim. London – 270 nationalities; 300 languages; a skyline of cathedrals, synagogues, minarets and mosques.
This Ramadan, London has demonstrated some encouraging and heartfelt interfaith connections. Synagogues across the capital opened their doors to the Muslim community and provided meals in the evening for the purposes of breaking the fast at sunset. And similarly Muslim communities opened the doors of the mosques to the general public to witness the sense of community reinforced during Ramadan.
Muslims hold dear to the words of God in the Quran, the holy book of Islam: “Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed to those before you” and use it as a basis for interfaith dialogue. The verse calls for Muslims to recognise that other faiths do indeed also fast, such as the fasting on Yom Kippur and during Lent from Jewish and Christian traditions respectively. Fasting and abstinence, regardless of faith, fulfil one aim; getting to know oneself better.
Muslims are further informed in the Quran that “God has made you from a single pair of a male and female and spread you into nations and tribes so that you may come to know one another”. Encouraging people of diverse nationalities, races and creeds to come together and learn about each other.
The City of London Corporation too has begun to look at itself through looking at our staff, and ensuring that staff are represented, valued, treated equally and that diversity is recognised.
At the City Corporation, we are committed to supporting and encouraging the establishment of diversity and inclusion Staff Networks. We recognise the benefits and opportunities to foster employee engagement, enthusiasm and collaboration around important equality and inclusion issues.
The aim of the Networks is to provide employees an inclusive, safe and confidential forum to network and support each other; share ideas and best practice, and to help the City Corporation to better understand the people who work for it and consequently for the business to perform better. We are committed to having Networks that are inclusive and not exclusive to build organisational knowledge and understanding.
This year Eid fell on 17th July. While Eid marks the completion of Ramadan, it also celebrates the common values that unite us in our humanity and reinforces the obligations that people of all faiths have to each other, especially those impacted by poverty, conflict, and disease.
Ramadan and Eid are special times for our Muslim friends as they think about their role in the world. One of the biggest strengths for the British Muslim community is it’s passion for helping people worldwide. And when looking at aid relief in countries from Syria, to Iraq, to Gaza, that passion is clear.
It is something that gives us an opportunity to reshape the way that the world sees the UK, making a difference with overseas Muslim audiences that would not be possible through diplomatic channels alone.
However as many of you in the room will know, as British Muslims your ability to help people thousands of miles away is helped so much by the strength of your communities here in the UK.
And let’s take a moment to look at the phenomenal contribution Muslims make to British life. British Muslims play an essential part in the economic and cultural life of this great country. They contribute an astonishing £31 billion to our economy. More than 100,000 British Muslims work in senior management positions in Britain - as doctors, accountants and lawyers. Here in London, Muslim businesses create more than 70,000 jobs.
And there are countless British Muslims who are role models in every part of our cultural life. From Olympic hero Mo Farah, to England cricketer Moeen Ali to former One-Direction superstar Zayn Malik.
I know that Islam is a religion which prides itself on the values of peace, love, charity and prosperity for all. Everyone should take the time to truly experience and understand the contribution of British Muslims. And not give a distorted and unfair view of your community.
Islamic values of service to the poor, loving our neighbours and being upstanding members of our society are absolutely part of British values. These values are the same ones that British Christians, British Sikhs, British Hindus and British Jews share.
Events such as this help bring communities together, promote better understanding and create a healthy environment to foster real change. I would like to thank the City of London Corporation’s Muslim Staff Network and the Association of Muslim Police for organising such a wonderful event and inviting me to speak to you today.
I hope you enjoy the rest of your evening and have the opportunity to network over a brilliant dinner!
(Pictures by Rooful - http://rooful.pixieset.com/eidinthecity2015/)