As Muslims across the U.K. and the Commonwealth observe the beginning of the holiest of months in the Islamic Calendar, the month of Ramadan, I just wanted to convey my heartfelt best wishes to you all, and to tell you just how much my wife and I are thinking of you at this special time of year.
In different circumstances, this would have been a joyous time. Mosques would be filling with life. Muslim families would be coming together to share food and prayers; and many of them would be inviting their neighbours and friends, of all faiths and none, to join them.
This year, of course, due to our ongoing public health crisis, none of this will be possible in the usual way. I can only begin to imagine, therefore, how desperately difficult and sad this must be for all of you who cherish this special month, and everything that it normally brings.
If I may say so, what has moved me greatly has been to hear of all the wonderful work being carried out by Muslim volunteers and local initiatives through Mosques – including working in partnership with Temples, Gurdwaras, Churches and other faith groups – to support all members of all communities in such difficult times.
Many British Muslims, of course, will spend this Ramadan on the frontline of the Covid crisis, working in our N.H.S. or in other key roles. Most tragically, I know that a number of highly experienced and invaluable doctors and nurses from the Muslim community have lost their lives to this pernicious virus. To their families and colleagues I can only convey my deepest sympathy; and to everyone on the frontline, of whatever religion, I offer my profound admiration and heartfelt gratitude for everything they are doing – for all of us.
At the same time, very many Muslim families continue to be cruelly affected by this epidemic. Older people, who I know hold a very special place within many tight-knit Muslim families, are, of course, particularly vulnerable to this virus, but younger people are being affected too. I was utterly heartbroken by the tragic story of Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab, a previously healthy thirteen year old boy, who passed away without the comfort of having his family by his side. Every bereavement, from whatever cause, is made even harder for families by the current restrictions on funerals. I can only too well understand, therefore, how agonizing this must be for those affected and I know their enormous sense of grief will be shared by countless others – including myself.
Under these appallingly challenging circumstances, my wife and I can only offer you all our kindest and most special wishes and stress just how greatly the contribution of Muslims to the life of the United Kingdom is appreciated and valued. I have every confidence in your remarkable capacity to rise to the challenges posed by this crisis, whilst embodying the Ramadan spirit of charity and selflessness. As the Quran says “God does not burden any soul with more than it can bear”.
We hope that you have a blessed and fulfilling Ramadan.
Peace be upon you all.