An Interfaith Ramadan Dinner – “The Month of Compassion” was hosted by Al Siraat College and proudly supported by City of Whittlesea with an attendance of almost 100 guests on Thursday 24 May.
It’s heartwarming to see that every Ramadan now we see more and more communities across Australia gather in acknowledging Islamic traditions and culture through interfaith events.
These platforms are a great way to strengthen community ties, network and build community resilience.
The event was MC’ed by student alumni Sumaya Mahad Ali and was attended by representatives from several community groups including Brotherhood of St Laurence, Whittlesea Interfaith Network, St. Monica’s College, Uniting Church, Epping Scouts and more.
Special guests included Mayor of the City of Whittlesea Cr Kris Pavlidis, Cr Lawrie Cox, Cr Tom Joseph and Victoria Police members including Superintendent Timothy Hansen and Acting Senior Sergeant Daniel Jamison.
The Welcome to Country was done by the truly remarkable guest speaker, a local Indigenous Muslim elder of the Wurunjeri, Br Hassan Andrew Gardiner.
Br Hassan fascinatingly explained that “there’s been contact between Muslims and Aboriginal people of this land for many hundreds of years. Some of the earliest rock art in the Kimberlys in Northern Australia show two-masted ships such as those you would see in the Nile River in Egypt.”
He mentioned the Indonesian fishermen and the Afghan cameleers and the peaceful relationship Muslims have historically had with aboriginal people.
“There’s been past wrongs and injustices against aboriginal people… and I find an affinity between what’s happening with the Palestinians now to be very similar.” Br Hassan said.
He called for greater awareness and advocacy to right those wrongs.
The guests were addressed by the Principal of Al Siraat College, Mr Fazeel Arain and Mayor of City of Whittlesea Cr Kris Pavlidis.
Mr Fazeel shared the simple but powerful message that for real change to happen in our communities we must first begin by changing ourselves. “That’s our message of the year, it starts with me,” explained Mr Fazeel.
Mayor Kris was proud to state that we have one of the largest culturally diverse regions in all of Victoria and that while on the surface we may be different, as people we, in fact, have a lot more in common than we realise most of the time.
In terms of faith, we all have the same value base. She reaffirmed the important message of improving ourselves and improving our community by “Valuing every member of our community and the contributions that they make and instilling a sense of belonging.”
Mufti Aasim Rashid gave a motivational speech on the Month of Compassion before the athan and congregational prayers, explaining that each Ramadan we should look to improve ourselves to become more efficient, more diligent, more productive and contribute positively to the world around us.
The event included a video presentation on the amazing humanitarian work of Al Siraat SRC and interfaith students under the guidance of Ms Noori Ahmad and Ms Nurdan Ors.
The event ended with reflections from guests and poetry by Esma Sure.