Wishing everyone a joyous Eid

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

So you’ve sat there wondering how that one Muslim colleague has managed to go nil by mouth, not swear, smoke or get involved in office gossip for a whole month, and now there’s a conversation about some event called Eid. There are 2 Eids in the Islamic calendar and this one, Eid-ul-Fitr is the festival to celebrate the end of Ramadan. Muslims will have made a point of rereading the Qu’ran, given at least 2.5% of excess wealth to charity and many will have fasted daily to support, what I call, the “resetting to our humble selves.” Eid involves prayer, food and communities getting together. Fasting and giving charity are 2 of the 5 pillars in Islam.

The ethos in Islam is grounded in equality, freedom of choice, respect and diversity

Muslims come from many countries around the world and Eid is a particularly exciting time to discover a whole variety of dishes to celebrate this joyous event. A variety of foods and customs from across the Asian and African continents feature heavily and are likely to be coming to an office near you soon! One of the best things about our country is the diversity and richness infused in our society. Whether mathematics or medicine, a good chicken tikka masala, modern colloquialisms or the people who lead in sectors such as healthcare, engineering, scientific, technology and finance.

We are, however, living in troubling times. Our society is divided with groups of people being played off against each other by those on the extremes, the media and people who should know better, such as senior politicians. Hate crime is on the rise, especially towards Muslims. Other parties have let this country down whether fanning the flames of Islamophobia, misogyny, anti-Semitism and homophobia or talking about immigration, whether wishing to cap it or scrap it as if it is a bad thing. The discourse in this country has in some quarters, disintegrated. People are talking with each other in ways we were never raised to do so. The respect and accountability for the words used seems to have evaporated.

#EidMubarak A wonderful time of year following a month of reflection on our lives and those who have life challenges different to our own. Every Muslim will give at least 2.5% of their wealth to charity. Today families and friends will come together to meet, eat and celebrate https://t.co/f6p0CUhJVf

— Cllr Humaira Ali (@cllrhumaira) June 4, 2019

People often look surprised when I talk about Islam as a liberal religion. The ethos in Islam is grounded in equality, freedom of choice, respect and diversity – no compulsion in religion and each individual is accountable for their own actions to God and to those they interact with. When the Prophet Mohammed created the Charter of Medinah, he was signing into law the protection of the rights and security of all people regardless of religion, colour, socioeconomics etc and setting the standard through his own conduct on how civil society would behave. In his final sermon he also declared, “an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor does a black have any superiority over a white, except by piety and good action”

Liberal Democrats are proud to be citizens of the world.

Liberal Democrats are proud to be citizens of the world. We embrace immigration, diversity and equality in all forms. We know that the solutions to our key issues such as the climate crisis, poverty, trade, jobs and security need us to work collaboratively with our European and international colleagues. I am especially proud that we as a party have adopted the APPG definition of Islamophobia – but we need to do more. Taking a stand to Islamophobia is no different to taking a stand to anti-Semitism, homophobia, chauvinism, disability inequalities or the multiple isms which lead to intolerance.

Now is our time to stand for equalities across the board and against hate. Let’s fly flags of all colours, and seek those in our country, who share our values, to join with us. We’re already hearing disillusionment on the doors and here in Southwark, our values-based campaigning is having a huge impact in switching voters over to the Liberal Democrats.

I want to wish everyone a joyous Eid Mubarak whether you celebrate or not. And in answer to a frequent question I receive, “Yes please do ask Muslims about anything you want to know about Islam.” Because knowledge breaks down the barriers.