Keynote address at the Interfaith Iftar on Wednesday 20 April 2022 at Novotel, Parramatta.
I begin by thanking my dear brother and friend, Vincent Long, and my dear father and friend, Patrick, and the rest of the stakeholders of this council, for this kind invitation.

I am pleased to see you all in this gathering, which builds bridges of understanding and establishes love within our community. Tonight, we represent how our beloved country, Australia, remains a model of multiculturalism and acceptance.

Ladies and gentlemen: Religion in its true and divine essence, was and still is the founder of human civilization, the incubator of science, the guardian of the human mind, the protector of freedoms, the supporter of the oppressed and a deterrent to the aggressors.

Religion, as we learned from its pure sources, was and still is an approach to justice, protection for people, architecture for the universe, and an enemy of poverty, disease, hunger, and everything that humiliates human dignity.

It is a call for peace that rejects wars, and a call for security that rejects violence, terrorism, and intimidation of people.

It is an invitation to the mind to think and be guided, and an invitation to the heart to believe and be reassured, and an invitation to the soul to be filled with love and joy.

Respected guests: Societies in which racism and hatred prevail, and where regimes take an anti-religious stance, and do not trust its strength and ability to create values of love, tolerance, and justice, will fall into chaos because it will not be able to impose an external obligation on a person who has lost all sense of self discipline.

Ladies and Gentlemen: One of the biggest challenges facing religious leaders is that we live in a world that suffers from moral crises and spiritual drought, and in its dealings only the interests and ambitions that have brought us wars, ruin and murder, is known. Neglecting the great role of religion in the life of societies inevitably means social collapse and the dominance of violence and hatred, and the absence of moral values.

The thinker and writer, philosopher Voltaire, turned to this devastating danger when he warned, “Why do they doubt in the existence of God, without whom my wife would betray me, my children would disobey me, and my servant would steal from me”

And what this great thinker pointed out and warned against means that the absence of religions and the disruption of their role at the level of individuals, societies and countries constitutes a human catastrophe that creates areas of moral chaos that make extremists, racists, advocates of hatred and outlaws the ones who lead the world.

It allows them to hold the reins of legislation and laws and pushes their agenda to tamper and threaten the natural order of the universe.

One of the challenges that affect the credibility of religious leaders is that it is neither reasonable nor acceptable to turn our faces towards God in the places of worship and then turn our backs on the oppressed and homeless people in Ukraine, Palestine, Myanmar and the Uyghurs; they ignore rather than condemn the events in the city of Jerusalem, where worshipers are assaulted and prevented from attending their prayers in the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the most holiest of months.

This is unacceptable and needs to be addressed by our leaders loud and clear.

Hence, it is our duty as leaders of religions to ignite the light of faith in the depths of the human soul so that man returns to his instinct that promotes faith and what it contains of love, so that the purity of the soul, the radiance of the heart, and the genius of the mind return to him, and turn towards societal reconstruction instead of conflicts and wars.

Playing this role is a living response to the call of the great messengers to spread love and make peace.

Respected guests: We have the right to be happy because God chose us as advocates of love and peace. God is love, and John wrote in his first epistle:

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

He also said:

“Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.”

The same message was addressed by the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (s): When he said, “One does not enter Paradise until they believe, and you do not believe until you love one another, shall I tell you of something that if you do you it will cause you to love one another? Spread peace among you.”

Ladies and Gentlemen: I do not need to remind you that if it wasn’t for the Islamic and Arab culture, the works of Socrates and Aristotle would not have been known. As the Arabs and Muslims were the one who interpreted their work and dispersed it to the rest of the world.

Finally, let us be mindful of how the media can warp our views of one another. We must be wary of this and make the effort to truly understand without the hindrance of those who wish to divide us.

I would like to end with the verse:

“O you who have believed, enter peace completely [and perfectly] and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed, he is to you a clear enemy.” (Quran 2: 208)

We pray for peace to prevail across the world. May Allah protect Australia and its citizens.

Ramadan Mubarak to you all.