The Office of Ethnic Communities was thrilled to be a part of parliament’s celebrations last night acknowledging Eid ul-fitr (Eid) – the end of Ramadan and the beginning of Shawaal (the tenth month of the lunar Islamic calendar).
The event was hosted by the Minister for Ethnic Communities the Hon Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga with the Prime Minister, members of New Zealand’s Muslim community, academics, religious leaders and members of the diplomatic corps.‘These occasions recognise and celebrate the diversity of our nation,’says Office of Ethnic Communities’ Director Berlinda Chin.
‘By being able to share this significant event in the Muslim calendar at parliament with community and religious leaders across New Zealand both Muslim and non-Muslim is a wonderful example of inclusiveness and participation.’
Around 120 people gathered in parliament’s Grand Hall yesterday for the event which was opened by the Master of Ceremonies, the humorous and engaging Mr Sultan Eusoff, Executive Manager of the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand Inc (FIANZ). This was followed by a recitation from the Quran then an introduction from the Minister for Ethnic Communities and a speech from the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon John Key.
Guests then heard an inspirational speech from Wellington College student Ahmad Fachry Agam on the meaning of Ramadan. Ahmad spoke about the general recognition of Ramadan as a period of fasting but deeper than that is the time dedicated to self-reflection to be a better person both in yourself and how you see others. Ahmad was strong and clear in his message to not judge others on their culture or religious beliefs but as fellow human beings. Only then will we find everlasting peace
Members of the Muslim community were then invited to join in the Maghrib prayer reception whilst remaining guests were treated to a wonderful impassioned speech by 11 ½ year old Sara followed by a beautifully delivered Nasheed (prayer).
Formal proceedings then concluded with a speech from Mr Hazim Arafeh, FIANZ President after which guests had the opportunity to network and take photographs.
‘Eid is a formal religious celebration acknowledging the accomplishment of the month long period of Ramadan’ says Berlinda. ‘However Ramadan is not solely about fasting, it is a time for contemplation and reflection that also promotes self-control and generosity, which is something we can all identify with. As a globally recognised multicultural country, key events such as this are an opportunity for all New Zealanders to learn more about the many cultures, the many threads that weave together the colourful patterns of our diverse society.’