Message From His Excellency Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona ORTT, SC President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago On the Occasion of Eid-Ul-Fitr – 2017

Eid-ul-Fitr culminates the Holy Month of Ramadan, a period of fasting, genuine sacrifice, prayer and selfless devotion. This Holy period helps build and sustain cohesion, cooperation and holistic neighbourly living between and among families and communities through the daily Iftar celebrations at Masjids around the country. It must be indeed a nostalgic, uplifting moment for the Islamic community as it reflects on the many relationships forged and bonds strengthened with friends and family. In Trinidad and Tobago, we will all do well to follow this exemplary sense of community practised by our Muslim brothers and sisters especially during Ramadan and develop among ourselves those good, wholesome values of family and being each other’s keeper.

Islam reminds us of our duty and responsibility to serve one another, moreso those less fortunate among us and to do so graciously, without fanfare and with compassion. Now, more than ever, with the recent visit upon our shores of Tropical Storm Bret, we are called upon to come together, to help each other and rebuild, through a philosophy of genuine community. Today, many of our citizens are faced with great financial loss, unemployment, emotional hardship, displacement and a sense of hopelessness. It is not easy, for there are many quietly suffering in the dark trenches of our society. We must therefore, draw guidance, sustenance and hope from the teachings of Islam and Almighty Allah the Beneficent. The five pillars of Islam can be lightning rods in our daily lives. One such pillar is Zakat. Zakat involves the giving of alms to the economically vulnerable and the impoverished. We must all therefore not hesitate to assist a brother or sister in distress, be it by way of financial assistance, by being a supportive neighbour or by giving of our time and efforts. That gift of genuine volunteerism is immeasurable. We need each other more than ever. In giving, we must give both in material things and in kind.

For Muslims in this Republic and globally, this is a special time for spiritual renewal and recommitment to the values of Islam- gratitude, compassion, generosity and salaam, meaning peace and from which the word “Islam” derives. In these challenging times, when a few peddle hate, violence and terror in the name of religion – when it has become easy to blame an entire religion for the transgressions of the few who do not represent the genuine Muslim faith- we must not forget that Islam is a beautiful religion, whose core teachings emphasise peace, love, humanity, respect and inclusivity. Indeed, these principles are universal and should serve to bind and guide us all, as we reaffirm our pledge to respect and uphold the dignity of everyone, regardless of our differences. In Trinidad and Tobago- this rich melting pot of cultures- it is as much those differences as our commonalities, which make us together, a great Nation.

The healing power of fasting must not be lost upon us. It is not only about abstinence from food and material things but abstinence from evil thoughts, words, actions and selfishness. It is through the power of prayer, spiritual reflection and introspection, devoting ourselves to Allah the Merciful and the Beneficent that individual and collective conflict in our society can be resolved and ameliorated. Restraint and forbearance are some of the inspirational messages of Eid. In this age and era of profligate excess, Islam demands a commitment to perform good deeds, exercise great humility and forgive those who have done you wrong. I therefore urge the Muslim community to continue the Taraweeh prayers nightly, every day of your life if we wish to pay heartfelt homage and unstinting devotion to Allah the Mercy and The Beneficent. This is a day of great blessing, peace, harmony and celebration that must become part of our daily lives.

I especially salute the women of the Islamic faith who are constantly confronted by religious prejudice and unjustified stereotypical notions of their roles, functions and place in the society- but who have yet soldiered on, to achieve the highest heights of respect in the corporate world, in governance, in the home and the community. Your stewardship and resilience will inspire a little girl somewhere to do great things. Muslim women are women of great influence and outreach. Continue to be custodians of love, compassion peace and harmony in the home, community and Nation.

On behalf of my wife Reema, my son Christian and daughter Anura, I wish the Muslim community and by extension Trinidad and Tobago, Eid Sa’id and Eid Mubarak 2017. May Allah’s choicest blessings, abundant joy and happiness pour on the Muslim Community and by extension everyone in the blessed Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

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