On Thursday, 22 April 2021, Al Siraat hosted another Interfaith Ramadan Dinner and celebrated Whittlesea Interfaith Network’s Fifteen Years of Interfaith Engagement.

Whittlesea Interfaith Network has a long and proud history of developing platforms for Interfaith dialogue in the City of Whittlesea and was first founded by former mayor Kris Pavlidis.  Their members are made of the many religions represented in the region and they welcome new members from all faiths to participate in their programs that encourage greater social cohesion and harmony.

Manal Shehab (left) Inspector Geri Porter

The purpose of WIN is to acknowledge and promote faith as a community value and to provide opportunities for Interfaith dialogue, peace, understanding and harmony across all faiths and cultures.

The Interfaith Ramadan Dinner was a wonderful opportunity for members from local community groups and organisations to reconnect.

Women leaders of Whittlesea region

Respected guests from St Monica’s College attended, including coordinators Clare Turner, Denis Zucchett and Jessie as well as student leaders. Al Siraat and St Monica’s share a long and proud history of interfaith collaboration and friendship.

Noori Ahmed, coordinator for Student Interfaith Leadership, was pivotal in coordinating all the background work for this event and continues to be a strong advocate for grassroots interfaith engagement.

Lisa Thorpe, CEO of Bubup Wilam Aboroginal Child & Family Centre, Manal Shehab, Muslim Indigenous Elder Andrew Gardiner and his wife Sadika Kassab

The masters of ceremony were College Captains Layla Rashid and Humza Ghouse.

Mufti Aasim Rashid gave a talk on ‘Ramadan – the Month of Gratitude,’ before maghreb prayer and breaking of the fast (iftar).  The event began with a beautiful Qur’an recitation by Hifz student Farhaj Faheem with translation by Da’wah Leadership student Yunus Benamar.

Muslim Indigenous Elder Hassan Andrew Gardiner

Muslim Indigenous Elder of the Wurundjeri Hassan Andrew Gardiner performed the Welcome to Country, reflecting on the shared history between Indigenous First Peoples of Arnhem Land and the Makassan Muslims dating back long before settlement. College Principal Fazeel Arain shared an inspiring story on the importance of gratitude, especially after you have been blessed with abundance and prosperity.

Fazeel Arain, Principal at Al Siraat College

Federal MP Andrew Giles shared his reflections on gratitude and celebrated our great diversity of the region. He expressed that “With everything that’s going on in the world, it has never been more important to have more platforms for interfaith engagement.”

Justin O’Meara gave a heartfelt speech on behalf of Craig Lloyd, the CEO for City of Whittlesea reflecting on the month of gratitude and our diverse community made up of people from over 140 different countries.

College captain Humza Ghouse interviewing guest Fatih Erol Tuncer

The formal presentation closed with a speech by the founder of Whittlesea Interfaith Network (WIN), Kris Pavlidis, where she spoke very highly of all the members of WIN and celebrated their commitment to fostering greater social cohesion. Kris was presented with a plaque of appreciation, from Al Siraat College, produced on campus by the Art & Technology Team, and presented officially by Federal MP Andrew Giles.

This event would not have been possible without the generous support of the Parents & Friends Community leadership, namely Ms Serap Bulli and Ms Rihana Penitito making this event truly memorable.  

Interfaith Ramadan Dinner was a part of the Interfaith Youth Forum Project, proudly supported by the Victorian State Government and hosted by Al Siraat College in collaboration with Whittlesea Interfaith Network & St Monica’s College, and proudly supported by City of Whittlesea & Victoria Police.

Director of Planning, Justin O’Meara

Federal MP Andrew Giles

Former Mayor Kris Pavlidis

Student MC Layla Rashid

Hifz Student Farhaj Faheem