On the anniversary of the Prophet Muhammad's birthday, peace and blessings be upon him, I want to share with all Fijians a lesson on resilience that he once gave his followers - a message that rings as true today as it did those many centuries ago.

"Happy is the man who avoids hardship, but how fine is the man who is afflicted and shows endurance."

The hardship of the pandemic -- which we have borne alongside the rest of the world -- has brought out the very finest attributes of the Fijian character. We have endured it. We are overcoming it. And we are stronger and safer for Fiji for doing so together.

Now, we have earned the privilege of looking hopefully to our future. And because we have so decisively rolled out COVID-19 vaccines, we can look to that future together, seated together in our houses of worship, working together in our businesses, and enjoying together the freedom to gather, play sports, and share meals at our neighbor's tables. If we hold fast to the spirit of togetherness that carried us here, we can build the future we are striving for -- a stronger Fiji for all Fijians; a society that is caring, just, and equitable; and an economy that moves all people forward without costing us our environment, reefs and ocean. We would be unwise not to expect adversity, but we also know from experience that our national character, strength and endurance will see us through.

I wish all of our fellow Fijians celebrating the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad peace and blessings on this day and every day after.