Assalamu Al aikum. On behalf of the Government and people of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago I extend warm greetings to the Muslim community on this most auspicious occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr. May Allah continue to shower you, and our beloved nation, with blessings of peace, harmony, wisdom, and prosperity.
We have recently ended the Holy Month of Ramadan, represented by sacrifice and the challenge to deepen our spiritual appreciation for life and service to our brothers and sisters and members of the wider communities. The aim of this month-long activity was to increase our iman, taqwa, and self-control and also to be kind and considerate to the less fortunate in our society. Most importantly, it was, and continues to be, a total submission to Almighty Allah.
Integral to the celebration of Eid are the buying of gifts, new clothes to wear, and of course by preparing traditional foods in thanksgiving to Allah for the happiness, blessings, and protection received. Aside from enjoying the occasion, many people also visit the sick and pay zakat. The money derived from this is shared with the poor and the needy.
Interesting enough, the Holy Qur’an does not restrict the concept of charity to merely a donation in cash or kind. It encourages Muslims to voluntarily participate in welfare projects. The philosophy is to share and transfer knowledge and expertise to the needy and poor thereby improving their economic plight.
In Ch.34:V.38 it states: “And it is not your riches nor your children that will bring you near Us in rank, but those who believe and do good works, will have a double reward for what they did”.
It is quite clear that we must all do much more than giving from our treasure. We must also give of our time and talent in making the lives of the less fortunate such that it reflects their innate and sacred dignity as human beings.
Fellow citizens, the contribution to national development by the Muslim community can never be underappreciated or taken for granted. Appreciation of such an ongoing national contribution has allowed us to be seen as a model of peaceful diversity in the world through mutual respect, tolerance, and acceptance of the spirit of family togetherness.
Sadly, when we look at our world today we see so much violence – wars started, and terrible atrocities perpetrated – all in the name of religion. We are so blessed in this our beloved nation of Trinidad and Tobago to have peoples of all ethnic persuasions and religious beliefs live in such harmony with each other.
As Prime Minister, and as a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago, it warms my heart when I see all of our peoples – regardless of race, colour, or creed – come together to recognize, celebrate, and participate in each other’s various religious festivals. It is a most telling sign of our unity and maturity as a nation. Though small we are on the world map, a mere dot, we show the world how to live in in peace and unity in this most vibrant and cosmopolitan country of ours we all call home.
Fellow citizens, religion must seek to unite rather than divide peoples and nations. The celebration of Eid-ul-Fitr becomes all the more meaningful as its message of unity, brotherhood, peace, and forgiveness becomes a lived reality.
Let us all continue to work together, holding hands in a spirit of unity and peace, and, building on the firm foundations laid by all our ancestors, make Trinidad and Tobago a place where there is prosperity for all.
May the blessings of Allah fill your life with happiness and open all the doors of success now and always.
The Honourable Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC, MP
Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago