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Ramadan Iftar Dinner 2014

Caption: Nick with Shiek Youssef Nabha

 

Good evening distinguished guests, members of the Australian Muslim community including Muslim leaders, Councillors Stephen Agius – Mayor of Kogarah City Council, Cr George Katsabaris and Cr Sam Stratikopoulos, and all of our distinguished guests. To all the guests tonight, Ramadan Kareem.

 

I cherish the opportunity to mark this important event with you all, as the Federal Member for Barton, an electorate that is culturally diverse, with many Muslim constituents; a perfect microcosm of multicultural Australia.

 

Our nation is built on a myriad of cultures, languages and customs. We are an open community that is inclusive and representative of divergent ethnicities. This is what makes Australia unique and welcoming.

 

Our national community embraces differences and we are proud to have divergent values such as equality, tolerance and democracy. It is these differences, inclusiveness of cultural insights that makes Australia a welcoming nation to all of its citizens.

 

Indeed, our freedom to choose religion, the right to worship as we desire, are hallmarks of our multicultural, diverse nation. Australians of any faith can congregate to celebrate their holiest of days, including Ramadan as part of our harmonious, pluralist society.

 

As I speak, I acknowledge the 1.5 billion Muslims around the world and in Australia, over 340 000 Muslims are participating in Ramadan, unanimously partaking in spiritual journeys and collective religious festivities.

I am proud that Australia’s Islamic communities are leading examples of positive cultural integration.

 

This holiest month of the calendar is steeped in tradition and metaphor. Ramadan is a time for introspection, reflecting on individual self, families, communities and societies. Beyond the religious obligation, fasting extends to the philosophy of life and as humans, our purpose in this world.

 

Ramadan allows Muslims to revive the meaning of mercy, compassion and empathy. These are essential values that unite the Islamic communities and teach current and future Australian Muslims core life values.

 

Tonight’s dinner is a reminder of human solidarity, of the common dimension that defines fasting.

Fasting is the beginning of self-purification, a reminder through abstinence, notions of justice, patience, selflessness, forgiveness and mercy. These are indispensable for all peaceful and just communities and societies.

 

Fasting is one of the 5 pillars of Islam which every Muslim around the world observes. One must learn self-control and demonstrate to God true understanding, from mouth to limb. In order to truly understand hunger, one must experience it first-hand. And it is from this experience in knowing, can one truly empathise with those less fortunate, and express gratitude for their fortunes in life.

 

Fasting allows cleansing of the soul and focus purely on God, and truly practice selflessness. Ramadan requires one to abstain from food, drink, intimate relations, ill will, ill talk and human temptations to rise above from baser desires. The ability to exalt from base desires distinguishes humans from animals.

 

This holy month is one of peace and solace, of kindness, charity and caring. These are positive values we instil in our children. Much like Christmas and other festivities in the Western world, Ramadan symbolises the common humanity we share with one another, and imparting a true understanding of what it is to be human.

 

The Prophet Muhammad said that God has no need for the hunger or thirst of someone who hurts others, violates their dignity or usurps their rights. Thus, this is a time for meditating and assessing the trajectory of our lives, ensuring we remain on track with the values and objectives God has set upon us.

 

This holiest month allows us all to demonstrate our love to the Most Loving One, and to our parents, our children, and fellow human beings.

 

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a wonderful evening and I hope you all have a great Ramadan celebration.