This Eid We Are Determined to Celebrate Togetherness

11/07/2016 11:47 | Updated 11 July 2016

Eid marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. Celebrated by Muslims in the UK and around the world, it is a time when families and friends come together and offer thanks to God Almighty for having given them the strength and will to observe fast, devote more time to worship and give to charity.

While Eid marks the end of the holy month, it also symbolises a new beginning for Muslims, many of whom will feel refreshed and reinvigorated after exercising their will power, determination and resolve to come through this intense spiritual experience. Among British Muslims, Ramadan revives our sense of community spirit, and imbues us with a strong desire to carry forward these lessons learned throughout the year.

In reflection, this Ramadan has been particularly challenging for British Muslims, both spiritually and emotionally. At home far-right extremist groups have sought to hijack national debates over our place in Europe as an opportunity to promote anti-Muslim and anti-ethnic minority hatred as well as stoke fear among the public of those they wrongly portray as the 'other'.

In other parts of the world, we have seen hundreds of our Muslim brothers and sisters slaughtered by terrorists supposedly in name of Islam. In Baghdad, an attack by Daesh terrorists killed over 200 people including many young children and those preparing for the Eid celebration.

In Saudi Arabia, a suicide bomber killed four people and injured at least five others in an attack in Medina, the holiest city in Islam after Mecca. This attack in particular, targeting Muslims in a holy place at a holy time of year, was not just an attack during Ramadan, but an attack on Ramadan, and on Islam more generally.

Despite all the negative news headlines, this Ramadan has also brought many powerful and moving moments. One poignant and touching occasion was when Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, broke his 19-hour Ramadan fast at an event that watched by millions around the globe.

At Lambeth Palace, the Archbishop of Canterbury hosted an Iftar event, which brought together people of different faiths, including the Chief Rabbi. Community Iftar events were held across the country, at homes, mosques, churches, synagogues and community centres, as well as at the Savoy Hotel for the very first time.

These community Iftars were aimed at connecting people from different cultures and backgrounds, providing opportunities to make new friendships and experience the feeling of community and generosity -that is, after all, what Ramadan, Eid, and Islam are all about.

As we mark Eid in Britain this year, our thoughts and prayers are with all those who over the last month have been affected by various brands of terrorism and extremism as well as those without food, water and shelter around the world due to conflict, violence or natural disasters.

However, we must also celebrate with optimism and positivity, and shine a light on the examples that show that despite all the challenges we have faced over the last month, community spirit not only survives but in some ways is stronger than ever.

As Muslims and non-Muslims, we can take this Eid as our collective new beginning, and exercise our will power, determination and resolve to ensure that the acts of solidarity, generosity and community spirit that took place across Britain during Ramadan continue throughout the year. Ultimately, togetherness is something we should all celebrate.