Welcome back. I hope that you had a decent break over the Easter period. And, equally, I hope that the return to school and college has been positive and enjoyable.
The run-up to the Easter period for Christians is significant, leading up to the holiest period in the Christian calendar; through Lent into Easter. If you are of that disposition I know that Easter will take on a real importance for your faith and is not about bunnies and eggs!
As a consequence of the shifting lunar calendar we find that the holiest month of Islam has coincided, to some degree, with the Christian holy period. Easter is now behind us and the period of fasting and devotion lived by Christians, through Lent, has now come to an end. Just after this weekend we come to the end of Ramadan, the holiest month of the year in the Islamic calendar. For Muslims, it’s a time for spiritual reflection and growth, to help those in need, and to spend time with loved ones. As you will know, it’s also a time when Muslims, around the world fast during daylight hours. I want to state quite clearly that my admiration and respect goes out to all of our Muslim colleagues and friends, for being able to sustain such self-control and self-discipline over such a sustained period of time.
Although we know that Ramadan is a sustained fast it does not aim to deliver hunger, thirst and sensual deprivation, more subtly, it does seek to furnish believers with a greater awareness of their faith and their devotion. It is a tough month. Abstinence during daylight hours is incredibly difficult at any time but it is always more difficult when the days are longer and the weather is warmer. To my Muslim friends, colleagues and the wider community I take my hat off to you. You have my admiration and respect. It’s not something that I would find easy or manageable.
And as with the celebrations of the Easter weekend, at the end of the holy month of Ramadan we can break fast and celebrate with Eid al-Fitr. This is a period of time where families and friends come together to share food and spend time together reflecting and celebrating. It’s also a time when all Muslims are obliged to offer Zakat. Zakat is charity or giving and many Muslims will end the period of Ramadan and celebrate with Eid al-Fitr by giving food to others and by offering significant payments to charitable organisations. Some Muslims will give up to 10% of their annual wealth in Zakat, others will give something to the community. The amount and value is not relevant, it is the obligation to contribute which is most important.
When Ramadan does end and we move into the Eid celebrations there will be a time for rejoicing, as much as reflection. If you are celebrating Eid in the coming days Eid Mubarak. Congratulations you have earned the time that you will get.
We stand together in this community whether you have a particular faith; be that Christianity, Islam of other faith or whether you are somebody without necessarily having a spiritual dimension to your lives. We are all part of something greater and we behave in a supportive and respectful manner towards each other.
‘The philosophy of fasting calls upon us to know ourselves, to master ourselves, and to discipline ourselves the better to free ourselves. To fast is to identify our dependencies, and free ourselves from them’. Tariq Ramadan
And on faith. Keep the faith and the fingers crossed Rotherham United just need a win away at Gillingham to be promoted to the Championship. Come on you mighty Millers!
‘We had enough in the end’. Paul Warne