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A Season of Understanding

Remarks by David Kilgour, Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific)

and Member of Parliament for Edmonton Southeast at the

Ninth Iftar Mahil Celebration of the Canada-Bangladesh Muslim Community

St.Laurent Complex, Ottawa

November 16, 2003


Assalamu Alaikum.

Thinking back to our celebrations at this time last year and in the fall of 2001, I can't help but believe that that it was with great foresight that Allah chose this lunar month to reveal the Holy Qu'ran to the Prophet Mohammed (PBUM).  Because of this timing, for the past few years Ramadan has fallen at around the same period as celebrations of equal importance in various other faiths including Christmas, Hanukkah, Diwali and others.

As Canadians and as citizens of this shrinking planet, we have a choice:  we can observe our traditions within only our own faith communities - as we are, of course, free to do.  Or we can recognize this intersection of timing for the powerful message it represents: in Canada, in Bangladesh and around the world, the need for genuine understanding between faiths is more important than ever before and the unprecedented opportunities to reach out and build bridges between communities must be seized.

Indeed, fasting is common to virtually all faiths (Abrahamic and non-Abrahamic ones alike).  It is a simple, yet powerful practice that bears a universal message to all humankind.  As Nazreen Tareen writes in her article, 'Fasting and Ramadan:' "Fasting teaches us self-control, patience, perseverance, selflessness, salvations and self-restraint.  Fasting is direct communication between God and the individual."

Fasting brings us closer to Allah, and in doing so, also brings us closer to all of our brothers and sisters on this earth.  By sharing the tradition and spirit of Ramadan tonight, you have extended your arms to undertake a much-needed dialogue - a gesture that deserves to be reciprocated many times over.

Assalamu Alaikum. 



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