A large number of community Iftar dinner parties held all over Sydney during the first ten days of Ramadan have brought together people of diverse background in an atmosphere of mutual understanding and harmony.
Iftar constitutes the evening meal at sunset to break the day long fast called Saum that Muslims observe during the fasting month of Ramadan in the Islamic calendar.
This year Ramadan started on Thursday 18 June and will end on Thursday 16 July with the celebration of Eid-ul-Fitr, thanksgiving prayers and feast on Friday 17 July and possibly Saturday 18 July.
The Premier’s Iftar Dinner was held on Monday 22 June at the Parliament House attended by almost 500 invited guests from all sections of Australian Society including leaders from the Muslim community as well as parliamentarians from both sides of the politics, government officials, academics, businessmen, media and representatives of interfaith groups.
Mr John Ajaka, the newly appointed Minister for Multiculturalism replacing Mr Victor Dominello welcomed the guests with the Islamic greeting of Assalamu Alaikum, proudly stating his Lebanese ancestry while expressing his excitement for being responsible for the multicultural portfolio and assured all those present of his strong commitment to community engagement while tackling extremism and radicalization.
Mr Mike Baird, the Premier of NSW greeted the guests with Ramadan Mubarak and disclosed that both him and Mrs Baird were following Ramadan by fasting on the day and breaking bread together with all the guests present at the event.
Mr Baird reflected on how fasting, denial of food for developing self-restraint made one to appreciate food and satisfying hunger with availability of food was a privilege that we take for granted.
“There are many disadvantaged people in the world that do not have this privilege and we have the onus of responsibility to look after them,” he said.
“When you are fasting, you notice every piece of food within 100 meters and all this food advertisements are not very helpful either”, Mr Baird admitted, based on his personal experience of fasting.
Listen to Mr Baird’s full speech below
There were a large number of community Iftars organized during the last half month of Ramadan and many more are scheduled to take place during the next half till the day of Eid.
On Tuesday 23 June, the Police Multicultural Iftar Dinner was hosted by Superintendent Dave Eardley and Superintendent Michael McLean, Commanders of the Bankstown and Campsie Local Area Command respectively as well as Assistant Commissioner Frank Mennelli, Commander of the South West Metro Region. The event held at Jasmin1 Restaurant in Bankstown and attended by a number of Muslim community leaders where the NSW Police Muslim Chaplain, Sheikh Ahmed Abdo recited and explained the Alfatiha, the opening chapter of the Quran.
On Wednesday 24 June Clr Linda Downey, Mayor of Bankstown and Clr Brian Robson held a special Iftar dinner at the Croatian Club in Punchbowl attended by a large contingent of local community and invited guests from all over Sydney.
There were four major Iftars held on Saturday 27 June. Considered the most lavish and popular annual Iftar, it was organized by the University of Western Sydney at its Parramatta campus which was booked out within 24 hours after the opening of its on-line registration. More that 500 guests were greeted by the Vice Chancellor of UWS, Professor Barney Glover and heard the keynote speaker Ms Maha Krayem Abdo, a UWS alumni, sharing her personal story of growing up in Australia.
Other Iftars on the same night included a fundraising dinner for raising fund for the construction of Australia’s 1st University campus for Islamic studies held at Grand Royale in Granville; Australian Relief Organisation (ARO) Iftar at Renaissance in Lidcome and Human Appeal International – Australia 18th Annual Fundraising Iftar at the Emporium Function Centre in Bankstown.