Fellow citizens, today, the entire national community joins with Muslims across the nation and the world to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr, the Festival of Breaking the Fast.

Eid marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, a solemn period of fasting, prayer and contemplation, all of which are undertaken for one objective and for one objective only – of earning closeness to Almighty God.

What a transcendentally wonderful objective this is. In a very real sense, drawing closer to Almighty God is the objective of all religions and, ultimately, the objective of all human existence. How truly blessed we are in Trinidad and Tobago to be led at this time, in our quest for closeness to Almighty God, by our Muslim community.

During Ramadan, Muslims are challenged to engage in rigorous self-discipline and sacrifice and consciously to demonstrate greater compassion, mercy and forgiveness towards one another and their fellow citizens. In fulfilling this critical pillar of Islam, they re-energise their faith and reap the abundant spiritual and physical blessings graciously bestowed by the Creator. What a wonderful national transformation there would be if all of us – every man, woman and child – followed the example of our Muslim community and committed ourselves to rigorous self-discipline and to sacrifice, and to greater compassion, mercy and forgiveness towards each another. What hills we would climb. What mountains we would conquer. What scourges we would overcome.

For those who have successfully completed their sawm (fast) and for those who are encouraged and fortified by the principles demonstrated and lived by the Muslim faithful, Eid is a time of joyful celebration. As Trinbagonians all, we, too, find joy and comfort in the generosity, brotherhood and kindness which are on full display at Eid. Charity is distributed among those in need, meals are shared among family, friends and strangers alike, and people rejoice and celebrate life with one another. Eid is therefore a time and an experience that both embodies and reflects the very soul of our nation.

As the entire nation joins our Muslim brothers and sisters in celebrating Eid, let us try to do more than merely applaud their commitment, their sacrifice and their dedication. Rather, let us agree to make those qualities and dispositions realities in our daily lives. Drawing inspiration from the Muslim community, let the lessons of Ramadan rouse us to show more acceptance, love, compassion and care towards one another. Let us join with our Muslim brothers and sisters this Eid, and always, in following their commitment, their sacrifice and their dedication. And, in so doing, let us all build a nation together.

I extend to the Muslim and wider national community sincere wishes for a happy and Holy Eid.

May Almighty Allah accept and reward your efforts.

Eid Mubarak!