Good afternoon. Our first item of business this afternoon is time for reflection, for which our leader is Mr Ameed Versace, strategic engagements director of the Scottish Ahlul Bayt Society.
Mr Ameed Versace (Scottish Ahlul Bayt Society):
Presiding Officer and members of the Scottish Parliament, thank you for having me here on this particularly poignant day, which throughout the Muslim world is commemorated during the month of Muharram. We reflect on the year 680 AD, when an extraordinary individual passed from this world. He was just 54 years of age, but he spent his entire life serving humanity. His name was Hussain ibn Ali. He called people to faith and supported people of all faiths and those of no faith in equal measure. Inherent in him were the same very fine qualities as those of his father, Ali ibn Abu Talib. They were men of true conviction and higher purpose. They were tolerant of others and had the courage to stand up against the tyranny that prevailed at the time.
Sadly, both men were martyred, but those divinely inspired personalities made their mark and their legacies will never be forgotten. Respect for humanity was fundamental to what they believed in, and it became the premise on which Islam should be demonstrated. The Imams, as we reverently call them, taught us that working in harmony makes strong bonds, which benefits and improves life for all. Our views may differ, but it is from the common ground that a powerful force for good emanates.
In a letter to the Governor of Egypt,
Imam Ali said:
“infuse your heart with mercy, love and kindness for your people ... for they are your brothers in faith or your equal in humanity.”
Our honourable Qur’an guides us and tells us:
“Oh mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another.”
In the Scottish Ahlul Bayt Society, where I serve with the amazing team who are in the public gallery, we engage with a plethora of organisations. We work with health, education and sporting organisations, and our interfaith and intrafaith work is something in which we take a great deal of pride. It enables us to have a deeper understanding of one another in a culturally rich Scotland. The Scottish Ahlul Bayt Society will never waver from its intended path in serving people, just as our Imams taught us to do.
Finally, as a very proud Scotsman—I wear my flag on my sleeve—it is my earnest hope that this esteemed Parliament will successfully serve and lead Scotland and will make us a model nation that is committed to equality and the greatest human values throughout the 21st century and beyond.
It has been a great pleasure. Thank you.