i want to send my very best wishes to everyone observing the holy month of ramadan.
this is an incredibly special time of year for muslims at home and abroad a time for charity, forcontemplation and community.
first, charity. this is one of the things that islam is all about. here in britain, muslims are ourbiggest donors – they give more to charity than any other faith group. we see this spirit ofgiving all year round from the mosques running sports clubs for local children to the muslimgroups selling poppies for remembrance day, to those people from around the country who puttheir wellies on, rolled their sleeves up, and went to help the families hit hardest by thiswinter's storms.
ramadan is a time when that spirit comes to the fore and i am so proud when i hear, everyyear, about the millions of pounds raised for good causes for those less fortunate than us herein britain, and those who are suffering in wars and in famines overseas.
second, ramadan is a time for contemplation to fast, and to pray, and to think deeply aboutothers.
this ramadan, i hope that we can reflect upon a key aspect of our shared history, the braveryof those who fought and died for our freedoms nearly 100 years ago. just days after eid, we willbe marking 100 years since the first world war. more than a million men and boys from indiafought with our troops during that conflict and many thousands of them were muslims. theytravelled across the world to fight to defend our freedom, guided and sustained by theirbravery, comradeship, and, above all, by their faith. their selflessness and their couragehelped to secure the liberties we all enjoy today, so this ramadan – and this centenary – wewill remember them and reflect upon their sacrifice.
third, ramadan is a time for community. and there is nothing that exemplifies this more thanthose nightly afters, when the fast is broken, the dates are opened, and all that great food isserved.
last year i was delighted to see how many community iftars were taking place across thecountry, in mosques and in community centres, in parks and even in tents. again this yeargovernment is supporting the big iftar programme, with hundreds more communities, fromleeds to luton, woking to manchester, throwing open their doors, so that people of all faithsand none can break bread and get to know their neighbours.
so wherever you are this holy month, let me wish you, once again, ramadan mubarak.