The second Eyes Wide Shut Forum was held on Thursday 24 August 2017 at Prest Theatre,  University of Melbourne raising awareness of critical issues that concerned the community.

Mental illness, drugs, alcohol and support for refugees and Muslim reverts were all among the topics discussed at the second Eyes Wide Shut Forum (EWS) session hosted by the National Zakat Foundation (NZF) in conjunction with the Muslim Students Association (MSA) of Victoria at the University of Melbourne.

The Eyes Wide Shut forum is a monthly series of discussions initiated by the National Zakat Foundation in recognition of the need to start conversations to address critical issues facing the community and to provide a platform for professionals, community members and those affected by any of these issues to come together and create positive dialogue within the community.

Summayyah Sadiq-Ojibara, a counsellor, psychotherapist and life coach spoke about the pains caused by mental illness. An issue that many are in denial about. Mental illness impacts not just the individual, but their immediate family & wider community if not recognised and addressed.

Summayyah Sadiq-Ojibara, on Mental Illness.

Heba Bendak from the Federation of Australian Muslim Students and Youth said, “It is sad to see that majority of people who advocate for this issue [refugees support] are the non-Muslims, while most of the refugees come from a similar background to ours. Shouldn’t we be the front line who protect our brothers and sisters in Islam?”

The challenges faced by Muslims moving to Australia were highlighted by George Green, a revert and an author who had migrated to Australia from the United States and is an active community member working with those affected by drug and alcohol abuse.

“I got so confused when I first came here. In USA, we don’t have different mosques for different communities. Everyone comes together as one. It’s so difficult to offer help to a segregated community,” George commented.

Al-Hajj George Green, on Drugs and Alcohol Abuse.

Abdul Karim, a revert and the Victorian president of SPIN (South Pacific Islamic Network), further highlighted the challenges reverts, majority of them being female faced in Australia, ranging from death threats and abuse to social exclusion and homelessness.

Munir Abdella, head of Zakat payer services at NZF, discussed the importance of the role of local Zakat in financing many of the initiatives needed to support those in need here in Australia.

Heba Bendak, on Refugees Support.

He pointed out that one of the outcomes of us being in denial of these issues in our community is the lack of understanding for the need for local Zakat collection and its local distribution. This results in most of our Zakat being sent overseas, ignoring the need of our support for our immediate neighbours. This greatly cripples the capability of the Muslim community to support our own local community.

In order to join the next EWS Forum, please visit website www.nzf.org.au; facebook page facebook.com/NZFAus or give NZF a call on 1300 663 729.

Munir Abdella, on Role of Zakat.