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Excellence and the Month of Ramadan

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

and Member of Parliament for Edmonton Southeast,

to the Canada-Bangladesh Muslim Community

St Laurent Complex

December 1, 2002

Assalamu Alaikum.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this year's Iftar Mahfeel. Congratulations to you students for your academic achievements.  You are future leaders of our nation.  Morley Callaghan said this: "the real friend of this country is the [person] who believes in excellence, seeks it, fights for it, defends it, and tries to produce it."  This is my challenge to you.

Ramadan is a very significant month in the life of Muslims, a time to renew and reshape one's spiritual outlook on life.  Muslims focus on Allah and the true purpose of life without the normal distractions and by sharing with others.  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."

Striving for excellence is part of the process of reshaping one's outlook on life.  We all know what the recipe for excellence is: working hard and never giving up.  It is not always easy; it is certainly not always fun.  Sometimes we have to deny ourselves the pleasures of life.  Sometimes we need to push ourselves to work  beyond what we think is possible.   This is the spirit of Ramadan: the idea that self-sacrifice can and will bring you closer to Allah.

Ramadan and the striving for excellence go hand in hand.  Excellence is extremely important for our daily lives, whether at work, in school, or in our relationships.  The goal of excellence is important in faith.  What better time to strive for excellence in spirituality than during Ramadan?

Canada bears the imprint of differing beliefs in the existence of God, each of which in their own way have shaped Canada’s character. Our society has the values, ways of thinking and living inspired by numerous religions. Our national character owes its roots to a pluralist religious education based on numerous concepts and attendant ethical systems.

Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to take part in discussions on Muslim beliefs and traditions, and I have learned a lot from the members of your religious community. We are fortunate to live in a country that promotes multiculturalism. We all learn from one another’s  differences, and grow collectively as Canadians.

Ramadan, and the lessons of Ramadan, are not confined to one month of the year.  The patience, selflessness, and self-restraint that is so important during this month continue to be important elements of everyday life.  I trust that you have been both encouraged and challenged this evening.

Recently I was reading an author who says that in the post Cold War world, religion will be the only ideology that motivates people.  Communism, facism, socialism, liberalism, conservatism: they have all lost their appeal.  Also, religion motivates people to love others–of all faiths–and to work for peace.   First, we must learn to understand each other.  God will help us.

Assalamu Alaikum. 



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