This year, 11 March – 9 April marks the holy month of Ramadan, the ninth month on the Islamic Calendar.

Ramadan, one of the five pillars of the Islamic faith, commemorates the revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and serves as a time of spiritual renewal and deepening of the faith for Muslims around the world.

From sunrise to sunset each day, observers refrain from consuming any food or drink, focussing their time on prayer, charity, and acts of kindness.

This year, Ramadan coincides with the Easter festival, celebrated by Christians all around the world, and both have important teachings of community cohesion and togetherness that stretch far beyond.

At its heart, Ramadan reminds us of the value of empathy, and solidarity.

Fasting serves as a reminder of those less fortunate, who have to live the struggle of going without food and water on a daily basis, reinforcing the importance of acts of charity and supporting our communities.

That drive to support others has been taken up by Muslims right across the country, and we are no different here in Greater Manchester, where we have a very diverse and active range of Islamic communities.

I have been truly honoured to have been invited to many Iftars, the meal taken and shared with friends, family, and neighbours, to break the fast after the sun has gone down.

These have ranged from charity iftars to support care for those living with Diabetes in Pakistan, , to an Iftar at Manchester Pakistani Community Centre, where political leaders from across the region joined together with the Muslim community to break the fast.

By throwing the doors of their mosques and community centres open to everyone, regardless of their background, there is so much that those of us outside of the faith can learn from.

The embracing of diversity, celebrating the richness of our community rather than drawing up arbitrary dividing lines.

It reminds us of the importance of mindfulness and reflection in an increasingly fast-paced world, urging us to pause, contemplate, and connect more meaningfully with ourselves and the world around us.

In living these values throughout Ramadan we are not only marking an important and sacred tradition for the Islamic faith, but embracing a spirit that transcends religious divides and gives meaning to all of us in our daily lives.

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