The ongoing contribution by financial members, as well as the self-sacrifice of many volunteers over the years has played a pivotal role in the advancement of member services, educational programs and social activities provided by the Albanian Australian Islamic Society (AAIS) today.
Another equally important aspect of the Society is that it has always provided financial members with the opportunity to complete their religious obligations in the form of collecting and distributing Fiter, Kurban and Zakat (Charity) to people who are less fortunate in the world.
More locally, the AAIS was one of the very first (since 1971) Islamic Societies to mobilise its community to donate towards the Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) appeal.
The annual RCH collection and donation, which has become a tradition at our Society, is still conducted to the present day and it is strongly supported by financial members and their families.
Additionally, over the last twenty years or more, the AAIS’s Executive Committee and Women’s Committee have greatly expanded the Society’s ‘Broader Community Engagement’ portfolio by initiating and actively getting involved in a number of social programs that have had a direct and positive impact on the lives of many people in the broader Australian community.
Such initiatives have provided a lot more opportunities for the Society’s financial members and their families to physically participate in extra charitable and public-spirited programs – something that many may not possibly have found time to perform on their own in the past.
Some of the local initiatives include: the biannual Group Blood Drives, annual Cars & Coffee (RCH), Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea (Cancer Council), as well as the purchase and distribution of Back-Pack Beds for Melbourne’s Homeless community.
Since September 2017, the AAIS Executive Committee started working together with Community Care Network (CCN) to support their weekly Feeding Melbourne’s Homeless program.
Through the arrangement of volunteer teams and the active participation of members from our Society, the AAIS has continued to support the program on a regular basis.
Recently, the AAIS organised three (3) more teams of volunteers that took part in three separate sessions of the corresponding program (i.e. 14 July 2018, 4 August 2018 and 15 September 2018).
What is really pleasing to see is that there are always new faces from the AAIS community joining our volunteer teams, as well as the fact that everyone who takes part in the program thoroughly enjoys the whole experience – actually, many have expressed their interest in joining the AAIS volunteer team again to participate in the program.
Acts of charity are deeply ingrained in Islam and Muslims are encouraged to be charitable throughout the Holy Qur’an:
“Worship none but Allah (God). Treat with kindness your parents and kindred, and orphans and those in need; speak fair to the people; be steadfast in prayer; and practice regular charity”(Qur’an 2:83).
With so many references to charity in the Holy Qur’an, Islamic communities understand the importance of being charitable – hence why Muslims are naturally always ready to give something towards charitable causes.
This being the case, I strongly believe that Islamic Societies in Australia are perfectly positioned to form volunteer teams within their respective communities to regularly support local social programs.
Organisations like CCN, who feed Melbourne’s homeless on a weekly basis, are always seeking volunteers to assist with their work and I have no doubt that there are many brothers and sisters from Australia’s Muslim community that would gladly join volunteer teams to participate in such programs.
AAIS continues to directly engage in charitable programs, such as Feeding Melbourne’s Homeless and Blood Donations, so that more avenues are presented to its members and their families to collectively participate in good works in the local community.
Doing so, not only provides Muslims with extra opportunities to fulfil their social responsibilities, but also earn the pleasure of God.
Vahid Goga is the former President of AAIS.