This year the fasting month of Ramadan has been especially significant following the tragedies in Christchurch and Sri Lanka still fresh in our minds.
While Muslims have been performing the rituals of fasting by avoiding food and drink during the daylight hours, I am sure they have also been reflecting on life, and death, violence and conflicts in the world and how to go about it individually and collectively.
Ramadan, this year, I believe has brought out the best in us. The community at large, Muslims as well as people of other faiths have utilised this blessed month on a social level to bring the community together.
What best way to bring the community together than to meet one another, initiates dialogue over a meal by breaking bread together at Iftar dinners with fellow Muslims as well as with people of other faiths and no faith.
In Muslim countries, although the Eid festivals are celebrated in the community with people of other faiths joining the festivities, Ramadan Iftars are usually taken with families or with Muslim friends.
However, as the world becomes a global village with diversity in all societies, there is a trend to be inclusive in order to promote community harmony and this has led Muslims and now non-Muslims to organise community Iftars.
This year the bookings for Iftars started almost two months in advance and our calendars started filling up, not only on weekends but on weekdays as well.
I am part of an extended family who meets on a weekly basis on Sundays, so all my Sundays were booked out during Ramadan for family Iftars in accordance with our yearly planner calendar.
With my wide circle of AMUST contacts where I need to move in our diverse community, I encountered a number of clashes for Iftar invitations. Our AMUST team on occasions had to split in order to attend some of the Iftars and occasionally I had to split with my wife where she will be attending an Iftar in a different place to me. We accepted this family sacrifice in the interest of commitment to our greater community.
There were a number of Iftars I attended throughout the month of Ramadan this year while there were many where I had to send my representatives in order not to offend the hosts.
Community Iftars this year were hosted by parliamentarians, political parties, universities, trade unions, city councils, mosques, church groups, organisations, schools, professional bodies and businesses as well as families in their homes.
This indeed generated a great atmosphere of understanding, the opportunity for dialogue, sharing of grief and happiness and celebration of our diversity.
This AMUST issue#163 Ramadan/June has been devoted to showcasing these Ramadan Iftar gatherings in celebration of Australian multiculturalism and community harmony.