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Archbishop's 2009 Eid message

Monday 21st September 2009

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has sent his greetings to Muslim communities for the festival of Eid ul Fitr, marking the end of Ramadhan. The Archbishop's greeting celebrates the many positive examples of Christian Muslim encounter and engagement with the wider common good in the past year.

The full text of the greeting is below:

To Muslim friends and fellow workers on the occasion of Eid ul Fitr 2009

I am glad to be able once again on the occasion of Eid ul Fitr to send this message of warm good wishes to Muslim communities in this country and beyond and especially to those very many Muslim friends and colleagues with whom Christians have enjoyed good fellowship and co-operation in the past year. I hope that this time of Ramadan has been a fruitful opportunity for reflection and renewal and that you will enjoy the celebration and festivity that Eid brings with it.

The celebration of festivals is a distinctive feature of religions, giving a shape and pattern to the year and providing the opportunity for rejoicing and meditation, for inward reflection on the mystery that is God and for a reaching outwards to those amongst whom we share our lives. Where, as in many parts of this country, religious communities live side by side, their festivals impact on each other and whether this is a positive or negative impact will depend upon the nature of the relationships that have been built up over the years.

Much has been achieved in the building of relationships between Christians and Muslims in local neighbourhoods, in the workplace and in the very many dialogue and discussion forums that have grown up in recent years. There have been many occasions in the past year when I have been glad to join with Muslim friends and colleagues, as indeed those of other religious communities, for discussions on a wide range of subjects of common concern. I think particularly of the discussions leading to the preparation of the new White Paper on International Development, the highlighting of work towards the 2012 Olympic Games, the religious leaders' statement on the occasion of the G20 London Summit and the seminar on Faith and Finance arranged by the Christian Muslim Forum.

Engagement in this country has been paralleled by constructive and fruitful opportunities internationally. This year's Building Bridges seminar on religion and science which took place in Istanbul was an outstanding occasion, as was also the opportunity earlier in the year to open a relationship with the World Islamic Call Society. The continuing progress of the initiative on inter religious dialogue by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has been an important development.

There are nevertheless all too many darker episodes to set against these signs of hope and light: the provocative actions of small racist groups in recent months in Luton, Birmingham and Harrow; the conviction of young men of Islamic conviction for attempted mass murder in the air; the violence against Gaza and southern Israel; the killings of Christians in Pakistan and Nigeria; and the continuing detention of the Baha'i leadership in Iran. All these have contributed negatively to perceptions and to relationships, but they have been significantly mitigated by those who choose to stand against them and I was heartened by the way in which Jews, Muslims and Christians together contributed to humanitarian aid at the time of the Gaza crisis; and by the joint open letter from Dr Musharraf Hussain, Chair of the Christian Muslim Forum and Bishop Michael Jackson on the need for changes to the blasphemy legislation in Pakistan.

My great hope for the coming year is that our festivals will increasingly be occasions of mutual gladness for our different communities and for the wider society of which we are part. This will happen the more we come together to address the issues of our times and the more we stand out against the darker currents present in our society. In this spirit may this festival be a joy to you and a gladness to others.

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