If there’s ever a time to strengthen community ties with and amongst the Muslim community and encourage sustainable, resilient, cohesive communities, it’s during Ramadaan.  

Every year, the Melbourne based, Australian Intercultural Society runs a variety of Ramadan dinner programs across Australia. One of the most exciting programs involves local Muslim families opening their doors to members of the community to share in the Iftar dinners.

These dinners offer welcoming platforms for dialogue in intimate settings where small groups of people are able to socially interact with a typical Australian Muslim household during the most blessed month of the year.

This year there’s been a substantial increase in interest for people wanting to attend and host Ramadhan dinners and the feedback received has been overwhelming.

One officer wrote this heartfelt letter following an Iftar dinner at the Eryegit residence,

“Thank you so much for having us at your home last night.  Your family’s warm welcome, kindness and openness made me feel like an additional family member.  I enjoyed the conversations and sharing of different perspectives and points of view.  The food that your family (particularly your mother) prepared was sensational.  The event was such a positive one for me personally that I spent a large part of last night reflecting on the events of the evening with my wife…”

Another high profile guest wrote a long email but this paragraph sums up his sentiments,

“It was a most positive and informative experience and I left last night with the feeling that I had learnt much but also with the added feeling that there was so much more to learn. My thanks to you and the family for putting it all together. Unfortunately, we live in a troubled world today but last night’s dinner only reinforced to me the need for more people to experience such an occasion as a means to better understanding our fellow man.”

It’s clear from the many emails and letters received following these Iftar dinners that many of the guests were braving unchartered waters by entering a Muslim household, only to find warmth and conversations that flow and good food shared in good company.  Our differences become a distant memory as topic after topic we demonstrate mutual understanding and mortar the bricks of resilience in our communities.

It’s necessary to recognise and applaud this innovative pioneering approach Australian Intercultural Society has established and maintained for many years to strengthening community ties.  If your organisation would benefit from holding similar events with your community or if you’d like to volunteer your time please contact them through the details on their website at http://www.intercultural.org.au