Benevolence Australia concluded its third annual ‘I’ll Fast with You’ campaign this Ramadan in order to supports converts to Islam during the challenging fast of the month of Ramadan.
Weekly opportunities to break the fast, pray, and meet other converts were provided with the aim of support in living this pillar of Islam. Attendance this year from new Muslims surpassed the preceding two years, and Benevolence anticipates this trend will continue.
Meriem Abida is the Internal Programs Manager at Benevolence Australia and says, “Convert Care programs are prioritised at Benevolence. The campaign’s success this year would not have been possible without the support of MAA International, our active volunteers and all Bene-Hubs.”
Nonetheless, feedback from converts suggests more assistance is required from the entire Muslim community, in Ramadan and beyond.
So, are we as a Muslim community doing enough to support new Muslims?
Asiya Sian Davidson is a Melbourne woman who has also attended the ‘I’ll Fast with You’ iftars. She converted to Islam 17 years ago and shares an optimistic outlook with respect to convert care.
She says, “I think there have been so many positive changes in the last 10-15 years. I’m impressed with all the things that are currently on offer. The things Benevolence, for example, is doing for new Muslims.”
Josh Yee converted to Islam approximately 5 years ago. Of Ramadan he says, “In the Muslim community Ramadan is a really wonderful time with all your family and friends. As a convert, you don’t have that experience. I feel that Eid, is the day more than any other day, that converts are forgotten about by most Muslims.”
He is referring to the enormous sense of isolation experienced by many converts to Islam. Josh feels the ‘I’ll Fast with You’ iftars are very important. He says that converts aren’t invited to many iftars, and so knowing that there are some that can be relied on is wonderful.
Islamic history provides a template for how the first converts were treated during the Hijra at the time of the Prophet (Peace be upon Him). They were eagerly welcomed by the Ansar (Helpers) of Medina and afforded hospitality and assistance in varying areas of daily life.
What’s different between then and now? Today reverts still need assistance with transitioning into an entirely different way of life.
Amie Kanshlo, has been a Muslim for approximately 3 years, and does volunteer work for the Australian Labour Party in Melbourne. She feels support for converts varies.
She says, “I think there are still not enough resources around in Melbourne today to fully support the convert community.” However, she was happy with the diversity of events offered during Ramadan this year.
Ramadan 2018 has just ended, we experienced an abundance of generosity and solidarity, as the Muslim community inspired each other towards better.
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