The national community of Trinidad and Tobago stands side by side in solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters, and indeed with Muslims around the world as the holy month of Ramadan begins.
For Muslims this holy month of fasting, self-discipline and sacrifice represents fulfillment of one of the five pillars of Islam, the other four pillars being belief, worship, charitable donations and the pilgrimage to Mecca.
For all of us as a united people bound together by deep appreciation of our diverse heritage and cultures, it stands as a reminder of the supremacy of God, the strength of faith and the value of sacrifice and uplifting our less fortunate fellow citizens.
The month of Ramadan marks the anniversary of the Quran being revealed to Prophet Mohammed. It is said that part of Ramadan’s purpose is to feel the hunger that the poor face every day; to appreciate the sorrow of the sick, and to review our lives and get closer to Allah.
This is a valuable lesson for us all.
As we progress, as people and as a nation, our success must never be so formed, that we forget about the hardships that we faced, and that some still face.
As our homes are filled with joy and energy, we must not forget the sadness faced by our neighbours and friends because of illness or daunting circumstances.
And as we reach deeper within ourselves, in search of balancing our physical needs and spiritual goals, we must always keep our hearts open to understanding that, though different, we all stand equally in the sight of God.
The wisdom taught to us by our Muslim brothers and sisters, of fasting and prayer must be upheld as teachings of discipline, sacrifice and spirituality.
Islamic wisdom must also be upheld as a permanent reminder that as much as we progress in this world and spiritually, we must always be willing to review our lives, rethink our decisions, give more thought to our vision and ideas, and then proceed.
In my role as Prime Minister, when moments come that I must seek counsel from elders, and the advice of spiritual leaders, Islamic wisdom has always been very important to my decisions and in strengthening me in seeing things through.
Let us all give more thought to the wisdom of our Muslim brothers and sisters, and the teachings that they have so keenly shared with us for decades.
As a nation, our greatest strength must never be counted in dollar terms, or in economic achievement terms. Our greatest strength must always be underlined by our unity, our compassion for each other and our dedication to live well, share, uplift and move forward together.
There is no greater time to consider our shared unity and compassion, than in those moments when our focus is on the things we see and think on differently. As human beings, diversity extends beyond our background, and includes the way we think, act and pursue our ambitions.
As we stand together in our ethnic and cultural diversity, so too must be we always stand together in the amidst of our differences of thoughts and ideas.
As the Holy month of Ramadan begins, I wish the Muslim community peace, introspection and fortitude as you undertake a period of fasting and sacrifice that stands as a strong example of the indomitable human spirit.
To all of our citizens, I ask you to join with me as we stand side by side, walking in the footsteps of God, fulfilling our destinies, together.
THE HONOURABLE KAMLA PERSAD-BISSESSAR SC, MP
PRIME MINISTER OF THE REPUBLIC OFTRINIDAD AND TOBAGO